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Attention! Tripping hazards!

If you take a forward-looking approach to planning and keep an eye not only on the technical level, but also on the strategic, process, structural and cultural levels, you increase your chances of success.
E-3 Magazine
July 7, 2022
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Matthias Uebel and Markus Czeslik from MGM Consulting Partners talk about what to look out for in the individual Hana and S/4 pre-project, design and implementation phases.

E-3: There is a transformation framework for S/4 customizing. What is it all about?

Markus Czeslik, MGM: Our framework is based on our experience and that of our business and IT contacts in the affected companies in various industries along the entire S/4 transformation process. The eight phases of the framework are based on the SAP Activate methodology and complement the pure system implementation view with all change-relevant aspects including their strategic framing.

Markus Czeslik, MGM
Leaders must. Absorb resistance and fill motivation holes that will exist with information. Markus Czeslik, Principal Consultant, MGM Consulting Partners

Matthias Uebel, MGM: The first phase begins with a joint orientation of the management. This involves the business view of digital transformation and the question: What is our common digital guiding star? Together with management, strategic goals are defined and prioritized, and the question of how the potential of S/4 contributes to the digital strategy is discussed. After all, S/4 is not the goal, but always only a means to an end, such as advancing the business or further developing the organization.

Matthias Übel
After all, S/4 is not the goal, but always only a means to an end in order to advance and develop the business. Matthias Uebel, Director Digital Transformation, MGM Consulting Partners

Czeslik: It is very important to focus on these opportunities and not to view the changeover as a technical necessity. It also helps to leave the internal perspective behind.

E-3: Where are the stumbling blocks in this first phase?

Czeslik: You can do a lot of things wrong before the program has even started. And the first thing I would see is that you don't have the right people on board. Most of the time, the usual top performers and often yes-men are involved, but they have other programs running alongside them.

Uebel: I see a stumbling block in the collaboration between business and IT. Thorough preparatory work is needed here. It is often the case that IT is seen as a service provider, according to the motto that IT should save the world. But an S/4 transformation is not a pure IT project. Rather, it is about reaching a common digital agenda with the business. In other words, taking the business along with us in the run-up to such a transformation and meeting the business at eye level from the IT perspective.

E-3: Let's move on to the next phases. What is the content of the next three phases? 

Uebel: This involves setting up the project team, sensible program planning, prototyping, technical transition planning and, above all, the fit-gap analysis, i.e. the discussion and evaluation of deviations from the standard. This is also the key to the technical success of the project, where it is defined what the business requirements are for the S/4 system and how high the degree of coverage is with the SAP standard processes. 

Czeslik: In this early phase, the question also helps: What happens if nothing happens, that is, if we do nothing? Movement only comes about when there is a certain pressure to suffer. There is also work to be done here from a leadership perspective. Managers have to absorb resistance, fill motivation holes that will inevitably exist with information. Managers who do not involve their knowledge carriers, ignore feedback or simply ignore critical questions have a demotivating effect. Or when strategic messages contradict each other within management.

Uebel: In order to increase intrinsic motivation among employees for the S/4 implementation, we have to ensure a high level of participation in this project from a change management perspective and an intensive exchange between key users, users and managers. We have to initiate this to a certain extent. Otherwise, a lot comes from the employees themselves, who are curious and ask questions.

E-3: A lot of time is spent on analysis at this stage, but where is the focus?

Uebel: In parallel to the fit-gap analyses, the focus here is on the so-called change impact assessments. And here the question is: What does this system adaptation actually mean for various levels of the organization? What will change in the processes? And this also means: What variants of processes are there? And how much flexibility is there in their execution? What roles and responsibilities are defined? Who exercises them? What is changing there? Which ways of working will make sense in the future? How will the business units work together in the future, also with regard to end-to-end digitization?

Czeslik: In this consideration, we must not forget the benefits that should be looked at, especially in connection with business case calculations. In other words, we should go into detail about the benefits and look as closely as possible at what, for example, more efficient processes save in terms of time and effort. And then communicate this without raising expectations too high.

E-3: And what should be avoided if possible?

Uebel: Of course, never forget the employees and managers. It pays to think about a very broad participation concept. And the second point: Don't underestimate the impact of professional change management. It is not enough to stubbornly follow a best practice; it is always a matter of subjecting the measures to a review. Change management does not follow a fixed script, but often has to be adapted to the situation.

E-3: Let's move on to the final stages. In summary, what is this all about?

Uebel: Essentially, it's about implementing the technical configuration, possibly also using agile project management practices. This involves carrying out technical integration tests, data migration, preparing the cutover, and also preparing the infrastructure. There is a lot to do on the IT side. But we also have to implement training concepts accordingly and then systematically track the learning progress.

Czeslik: The training courses should be prepared at a very early stage; a few months before go-live, the actual training needs should first be analyzed together with the executives. Where are there still gaps? Where can teams be combined in training sessions? Where do we want to break new ground? We recommend not offering standard training courses, but rather embedding the training courses with exercises directly in everyday life, close to the user at the workplace and adapted to his or her specific profile.

E-3: And if Go-live has been successfully mastered, what then?

Czeslik: Then please don't forget to also communicate the project as a success story - and to celebrate this highlight. Such projects usually take many years. It's important to pause for a moment and really appreciate the team's achievements.

E-3: Thank you for the interview.

E-3 Magazine

Information and educational outreach by and for the SAP community.

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
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June 5 and 6, 2024

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28 and 29 February 2024


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The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.