“There is nothing wrong with having other priorities than to convert to SAP S/4HANA, but the lack of information or even wrong facts about it shouldn’t be the reason.” - HassoPlattner, SAP, November 30, 2015

More than a year after HassoPlattner’s statement, it still seems that a significant portion of our clients wrestle with a lack of information that prevents them from embarking on the journey to SAP HANA. This is particularly true for the area of custom code, which is a sensitive topic for many companies.

Undoubtedly SAP has greatly improved the availability of information pertaining to SAP HANA and S/4. There are now countless case studies, roadmaps, guidelines and tutorials with the necessary tools.
 

So what problem remains? – Time to switch the approach

 “After all the positive feedback, there is still some uncertainty among our customers”1.The information push did surprisingly little to alleviate the uncertainty that Mr. Plattner called out. Particularly in the area of custom code changes the situation still seems in flux. This has resulted in confusion about what will stay, change, or be discontinued.

So if more information is not the solution, what is? One could argue the case for education over just providing pure information, but I want to go a step further and make a case for learning by doing.
 

Take it for a test drive – Get it done within two weeks

Joshua Greenbaum, the principal analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting, voiced what I firmly believe is the right approach: “SAP should just make an S4/HANA sandbox available to everybody free," Greenbaum said. "That's the test track -- you know, take the keys, take the car out with your family, and come back in a week. When it's such a new driving experience -- I know my metaphor isn't perfect -- you kind of want to do that, take it for a test drive.”2

While I do not think SAP will start handing out free S/4 Sandboxes, there is the option to run a free trial in the cloud3. The hardware costs to run a HANA Sandbox are very much manageable. Early on SAP has optimized the needed infrastructure for non-production systems, which lowers the overall costs you need to spend on infrastructure4.

The primary question is if you can free the resources to make the necessary technical changes to your custom code to get to the meat of functional changes that you really want to test. Following that question naturally is how you get your data, or at least a subset of data into the sandbox to start testing. Naturally, if you use the free cloud trial there is the question of security of such data.
 

Just do it – It’s not that big of a deal

Don’t misunderstand me; an S/4 migration can be a daunting project. Setting up an S/4 Sandbox is not, though. The mistake that many companies make is to choose a waterfall approach when you should be agile. The planning can take months and increase the anxiety on all sides once it becomes clear how much work needs to be done.

I advocate for a different approach; if you are unsure about costs, benefits and HANA in itself make a sandbox an integral part of your planning. Become agile in your project planning and integrate learning from your sandbox environment into your planning as well as into your business case.

If you should reach the conclusion that SAP HANA is not for you, kill the sandbox and call it a pilot or POC instead of killing an expensive full-fledged implementation project when it is too late.

 

The hook – How we can help you to make smarter decisions

Setting up the sandbox is unfortunately only half the battle. The purpose of taking S/4 for a test drive is to explore its full capabilities and test your processes on the new database. There are still substantial technical changes that need to be performed before you can test what really matters to you. Otherwise, you will be stuck fixing the tires unable to take it for a spin and never get the chance to start tuning the engine.

This is where smartShift Technologies can help you. We are committed to the paradigm of ‘seeing is believing’. Hence with our patented automation technology, we can help you to set up a SAP HANA Sandbox in two weeks with your custom code running on it. This enables you to start testing immediately and gain the necessary information to make a better decision about your IT Roadmap.

If you would like more information about how we can deliver 100% HANA-compliant custom code in less than two weeks for your company, or you would like to use the same technology in your actual project, get in touch!
 

Sources

1 - https://news.sap.com/how-to-understand-the-business-benefits-of-s4hana-better/

2 - http://searchsap.techtarget.com/news/4500243503/SAP-S-4HANA-roadmap-seems-uncertain

3 - https://blogs.sap.com/2015/07/28/sap-s4hana-on-premise-edition-trial-ava...

4 - https://blogs.saphana.com/2014/08/12/cost-optimized-sap-hana-infrastruct...

 

“Bastian is responsible for the business development in EMEA for smartShift Technologies. He has been helping clients to realize their HANA roadmap and leverage smartShift’s automation technology to remove roadblocks.”