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(3-4 min read)
A lot of companies have already taken the time to understand the power that S/4HANA can bring to their business, leveraging its in-memory capabilities and enhanced user experience provided by SAP Fiori, to name only a few of its facets. It is widely acknowledged from companies across all industries that this could be the next logical step to take in the ERP world if they have not already done so, but the main challenges that constantly arise in relation to this are “When?” and “How?”
When would be the right time to implement S/4HANA? In some cases, this question may now have taken a lower priority, with the news earlier this year that SAP are extending support of ECC to 2027. In the case where an “ever-decreasing support window” was the primary motive for migration, a lot of companies would be forgiven to now take a “wait and see” approach, particularly bearing in mind the constantly evolving functionality with each new S/4HANA release. However, the urgency triggered by the previous support deadline might not be the only motive for change.
One alternative might be a need to improve functional capability, and an example of this is in the Advanced Planning space. For those who do not currently have Advanced Planning & Optimization (APO PP/DS) as part of the Supply Chain Management (SCM) suite of tools, they are now able to leverage new functionality, such as:
- MRP Live, which provides a “one-stop-shop” to plan all of their materials at enhanced speed and performance, which will please those growing frustrated by ever expanding overnight planning schedules, where batch runs for large volumes of materials seem to take an eternity
- Embedded Production Planning & Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS) functionality within S/4HANA On Premise, which may whet the appetite of those businesses currently struggling to finitely schedule resources within their factories and associated multiple constraints, while using relatively “clunky” and largely manual methods within SAP ECC or an alternative ERP system.
It may also be of interest to those using alternative scheduling software for which licenses or support contracts are due to expire. Other possible reasons may include:
- Business Acquisition or Disposal,
- A change in Digital Strategy – e.g. move to a cloud hosted platform
- A more urgent need – e.g. a “Burning Platform”.
In summary, available options within SAP software for Scheduling & Execution have changed over time and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Be aware that if you currently use PP/DS in APO, there is currently no like-for-like module available in the successor product IBP. As a result, you will need to evaluate the functionality being offered in standard S/4 HANA and its ‘Advanced Planning’ add-on, for which additional licence fees would be applicable. Careful planning is essential to avoid being left behind, and to prevent navigation towards options which may prove fruitless.
With these points in mind, whatever your reason, now is the time to assess your level of readiness for the next stage of your journey. By allowing us to answer your questions now, we can help you acquire the information you need, provide guidance, and help you to understand options with regards to your next steps.
Whether the need for movement is imminent, or even if your company is just “dipping their toe in the water” and very much at the exploratory phase, the key question for a lot of businesses is “How do I get there?”, and more specifically from a Supply Planning point of view “What does it mean for my Supply Planning landscape?”
It is very important for all businesses at this stage to take time to put together a roadmap for their S/4HANA journey. This should be in line with their overall Digital Roadmap, with specific focus on integration between systems. For planning functions this is key, as the flow of data between Demand Planning, Mid-Term Supply Planning and Short-Term Planning & Sequencing is critical for a fully functional planning process. If an implementation of one or more elements of the landscape is not yet fully rolled out, it is also vital that appropriate care is taken to understand what implication this would have on the design, and how migration to S/4HANA overlays this. There are also various possible deployment options, so it is important that all are thoroughly considered, and potential strategies considered for each, alongside advantages and disadvantages presented by each scenario to be able to make a fully informed decision on a way forward.
The roadmap itself, and the main points of interest throughout this process widely differ depending upon a number of different factors, including the size of the organisation, level of technological maturity, complexity of their planning problem, and their current platform. As an example, for those that are not currently using PP/DS, they would be very interested in added features that they are able to exploit now that co-deployment is an option, as well as mapping their Business Processes to this. Whereas for current users of PP/DS within APO, the focus would switch to being able to understand what simplifications in S/4 mean to current business processes, as well as technical options for migration.
Implementing S/4HANA can provide significant benefits to companies at various stages of their digital roadmap, including functionality in the Advanced Planning space. The steps required for an organisation to get to that point can differ depending upon several factors. It is vital that detailed analysis takes place now, to understand the various options for deployment that are available to allow you to arrive at the right end solution for the company to maximise return on these benefits. That can be achieved through the creation of a well structured and thoroughly defined roadmap.