Why Your SAP System Integrator Isn’t the Silver Bullet You’re Looking For

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: July 31, 2018

Choosing the right SAP system integrator is as important – if not more important – than the choice to deploy S/4HANA in the first place. Unfortunately, the right choice here doesn’t solve all of your problems, either.

We work with plenty of clients who spend considerable time evaluating Deloitte vs. Capgemini vs. Accenture and other SAP system integrators. This is indeed an important activity, but even these best SAP system integrators have competency gaps to be filled.

This is an important aspect of ensuring a successful SAP S/4HANA implementation. Your system integrator is an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s up to you to put together the puzzle and fill in the missing pieces. Recognizing this early on will help you develop a more complete, realistic, and effective implementation plan to start.

Here are some of the areas where SAP system integrators typically need help:

Program management and governance

SAP system integrators are typically strong at managing their own project teams and activities, but those are part of a broader program that needs to be managed. Internal resources, risk mitigation, and non-technology related activities all need to be integrated into a single program. It is up to you, the implementing organization, to create an overarching program governance structure and plan that pulls together various workstreams and resources.

Independent project quality assurance

SAP S/4HANA projects can get off track pretty quickly. As good as your system integrator may be, they are too entrenched in the functional and technical details of your program to recognize risks percolating along the way. And, they are only as good as their last few S/4HANA implementations. For this reason, it is important to have a third-party provide SAP project quality assurance to act as an extension of your program management office to keep your project on track. Independent experts such as Third Stage Consulting can help in this area.

Strategic organizational change management

We find that Deloitte, Capgemini, Accenture, and other SAP system integrators are fairly good at tactical organizational change management, but not at the more strategic aspects. For example, you will need to address organizational design and job descriptions as part of your digital transformation – something that falls outside the realm of SAP organizational change management. This is especially true for organizational change on global SAP implementations.

Also, it is important to recognize that system integrators are typically very good at what they do (functional and technical SAP consulting), but not so good at what they don’t do (organizational change management). This is where independent, third-party expertise can help. Companies such as Third Stage Consulting can help provide organizational change competencies required for success.

Data cleansing and migration

SAP system integrators often treat data conversion as an afterthought. As long as the software works, what difference does the data make anyway, right? Not really. Data is a key component for keeping your business running smoothly during the transition. It is also the key to taking advantage of predictive analytics, machine learning, business intelligence, and other advantages of the software.

Dedicated focus on data cleansing and migration will be key. Your legacy data probably needs some TLC, so ensure that you have someone helping you through the process. Data is typically on the project critical path, so delays in this area are more likely to delay the overall transformation program. There are independent third parties specializing in data migration that can help address this critical component better than your system integrator. Third Stage Consulting’s data team, for example, can help.

Building internal SAP S/4HANA competencies

Overdependence on SAP consultants is a problem that many face. Another common problem is deferring too much to your SAP system integrator because you don’t know enough about S/4HANA. Both challenges can be mitigated by better building your internal competencies to become self-sufficient sooner.

Taking time to build these internal competencies early on will help ensure success in the long-term. Knowledge transfer from your system integrator won’t occur through osmosis, so you will need something more deliberate. Below is an example of some of the activities we helped a recent client through as they ramped up their S/4HANA implementation.
These are some of the things required to augment your SAP system integrator’s deficiencies and make the best use of their strengths. This also helps ensure that you are being as effective and deliberate as possible with your system integrator.

What are you doing to better manage your SAP S/4HANA implementation and position for success?

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Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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