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Shape your SAP S/4HANA transformation journey with the right approach

David Lowson
22 Feb 2024

In today’s fast-paced world, there is often a tendency to rush into things without taking the time to carefully plan and strategize. This is no different when it comes to embarking on a transformation journey, especially when it involves configuring a complex system like SAP. 

It may be tempting to return to the past and immediately start configuring SAP, hoping for quick results. However, this is a mistake that can have long-term consequences.

When it comes to implementing a new system like SAP, it is crucial to invest the necessary time and energy upfront. This means taking the time to carefully plan and strategize before diving headfirst into configuration. By doing so, you are setting yourself up for long-term success. Rushing into configuration without proper planning can lead to costly mistakes and inefficiencies down the line. Starting out slowly and investing the necessary time and energy upfront may seem counterintuitive when you are eager to see quick results. However, taking this approach can actually expedite your transformation journey in the long run. By carefully planning and strategizing, you are ensuring that you have a solid foundation in place before beginning configuration. This will help you avoid costly rework and delays later on.

If you are looking to make a change that is not just temporary but also sustainable and value-creating, you must shape your transformation program. One of the key outcomes mandated by Stage 1 of our ‘SAP S/4HANA Large-Scale Transformation Program’ is to comprehend the forces driving change and to ensure that the transformation ambition is precisely defined, accepted by executives, and clearly communicated to and understood by the various business stakeholders.

How then do we achieve this clearly defined transformation target, also known as the Business Case for Change or the Why Change?

We use the following five steps to guide the Stage 1 – Shape Program activities that result in achieving the required Stage 1 outcomes.

The following are the five steps and their main objectives (although this is not a complete list of the tasks required to accomplish the stage results):

  1. Identify the goals of the business and the value levers needed to achieve these goals. To do this, we interview a number of CxO-level and senior business stakeholders to learn about their pain points, goals, and priorities. We also try to comprehend the business’s capabilities and operational models, and we submit that information, along with the compiled and analysed interview notes, for evaluation in step 2.
  2. Next, we move on to step 2: Value Stream Mapping. Wave 1. Value Stream Mapping is the method we use to comprehend the real, end-to-end business value streams and the business scenarios to which they are applicable. Understanding these supports the understanding of the current and target maturity for each capability change (the value lever) necessary for the transformation to take place in addition to helping us define the LTP boundary conditions, which are outputs from step 1.
  3. Once we have a clear picture of ambitions and benchmark of current state against target, we can finalize the high-level scope of changes and target Enterprise Architecture models.
  4. We’ve reached the fourth and final step, where we can use all the data gathered to model the business case scenarios, giving us a range of targets (from low to stretch) to choose from as we move on to the next LTP Stage. Determining the business engagement strategy is a crucial parallel task that must be completed now (and even earlier in the process), as it will determine whether or not one of any program’s most challenging aspects, and especially one of a large-scale transformation, will be successful. We must make sure that every stakeholder is involved in the process from the beginning and that they are not just spectators but active participants. When a transformation succeeds, everyone succeeds, and when it fails, everyone fails.
  5. Once the business engagement strategy is in place and a target transformation has been determined, it is time to present the Business Case for Change to senior leadership to make sure they are all pulling in the same direction and committed to not only sponsoring but also inspiring the transformation.

The goal of these 5 steps is to reach the 6 mandatory Stage 1 outcomes, which make sure that solid foundations have been laid and can be built upon in the next stage of the transformation journey.

These 6 imperative results are:

  1. The preliminary evaluation of the business case
  2. The initial roadmap for the transformation, which includes program resources
  3. Agreement on Business Engagement Strategy
  4. A target for the initial enterprise architecture
  5. Agreement on program governance, tooling, and the following Stage plan
  6. Executive agreement and approval

And even though all of this may seem overwhelming and be viewed as unnecessary by organisations, particularly if they have already made the decision to simply replace their system, Stage 1 must be completed in order to truly transform and deliver sustainable business change that adds value. It must be done well and is not an option.

This blog was originally published on LinkedIn by David Lowson on July 10, 2023


David Lowson

Expert in ERP Implementation, Package Solutions
As a seasoned expert in ERP deployment with an impressive 32-year track record, David has an extensive portfolio of clients and projects under his belt. He possesses an unparalleled understanding of the ever-evolving landscape of SAP S/4HANA. David possesses an unwavering commitment to clean core and has unshakable belief in the power of PAAS and SAAS. He is a true visionary, constantly seeking innovative ways to deliver unparalleled benefits through SAP S/4HANA deployment.