Your organisation is unique, but is your cloud ERP strategy?

22 June 2017

Julien Delvat

Julien Delvat

SAP S/4HANA Consultant

Global SAP User Groups surveys made it clear: every SAP customer is different. So why are SAP S/4HANA implementations still approached as cookie-cutter ERP projects?

At Bluefin, we have developed a roadmap discovery process delivering a personalized strategy that is relevant to an organization’s unique business model, platform, and vision. The customers who have been through our program gained clarity and a tailored roadmap for their journey. The following is an exclusive look at some of the decision criteria used to formulate a cloud strategy.

Cloud First. Or Second. Or Not.

Out of the 563 respondents to the ASUG Research 2016 survey, a majority (38 percent) have opted for an on-premise deployment for their S/4HANA solution [1]. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions as to why, but the usual suspects come to mind: availability, regulation, cost, trust, etc.

There is an assumption that IT is moving towards the cloud. Gartner estimates that “by 2020, more than $1 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to cloud during the next five years” [2]. The truth is, if “Cloud First” is recommended for software developers and vendors, it is up to customers to select the right type of cloud: software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), or even Business-Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS). These decisions should be driven by the business and its individual needs, not by the service provider.

Cloud Everywhere. Or Not.

Believe it or not, S/4HANA is not always the best solution! Yes, your organization’s core processes in key regions should definitely be supported by a reliable and scalable ERP like S/4HANA, but what about non-core processes or smaller markets? The traditional answer here has been to rely either on Excel or smaller accounting / logistics packages or, worse, outfit small entities with the burden of an outsized ERP. These alternatives contribute to the complexity of the landscape and require costly integration efforts for the collection of information at the right level of granularity and frequency. In such scenarios, a cloud ERP enables a faster time-to-value and reduced TCO, while supporting the business requirements that even small entities demand, as well as an easier integration back to the main ERP.

As an SAP Lighthouse Partner for S/4HANA Public Cloud, SAP’s Cloud ERP, we’ve seen this “two-tier ERP” approach at several customers. We highly recommend it for organizations that are looking to combine the flexibility of the cloud for non-core locations with on-premise deployment for the core processes or geographies. With solutions provided from the same vendor and with a shared code-base, the volume of non-core ERP systems is reduced and master data and business processes can be shared, hence reducing manual reconciliation and enabling corporate optimization.

Greenfield, Brownfield or Phased?

It goes without saying that your business operates unlike any other one. In a perfect world, your organization would have a single instance of the latest SAP ECC / BW and corresponding enhancement / support packs with no custom code at all. In the real world, the situation is of course very different. You will need to evaluate the feasibility of a conversion to S/4HANA (especially if the system is not Unicode compliant), how much data needs to be converted, provision for custom code remediation, etc. 

In addition to the purely technical aspects, your business might also have changed since its initial implementation. We’ve had a customer tell us: “Our current ERP systems can only support today’s business model; we need a digital platform to enable tomorrow’s business.” For them, a greenfield approach (most of the master data will be converted, but most transactional data will be archived or discarded) was more relevant.

Beyond ERP

Cloud deployment is relevant to more scenarios than just ERP. Have you thought about including analytics, integration, big data, CRM and IoT?

During a discovery workshop for a consumer product customer, we focused only on analytics and together we devised a strategy combining on-premise operational reporting supported by BW on HANA and Analysis for Office with cloud-based solutions for the collection of PoS data in the cloud and integration with SAP Vora and HCP.

As you can see, most organizations need way more than a typical off-the-shelf template solution. Recognising your unique needs means building your own strategy to help your business grow today and lay the foundations to unlock your potential for transformation in the future.

How to create a strategy that’s right for you

Your organization is unique. So are its business model, architecture, platform, and history. Therefore, your organization’s ERP strategy should also be unique.
Bluefin’s individual process enables organizations to develop an organization strategy, including Cloud options, that takes into account specific IT constraints, prerequisites and target solution, in order to build the right business case. You can benefit from these insights by requesting a discovery workshop for your organization. To find out more click here.

[1] ASUG Research - How ASUG Members Look at SAP S/4HANA in 2016
[2] Gartner Says by 2020 "Cloud Shift" Will Affect More Than $1 Trillion in IT Spending

About the author

Julien Delvat

SAP S/4HANA Consultant

With over 15 years’ experience of developing cost management applications at SAP Labs France, coupled with significant experience of architecting, designing and implementing these systems for clients across the globe and industries, Julien is perfectly placed to offer Bluefin’s customers unrivalled expertise in the colliding worlds of finance and technology. It’s not with good reason he’s known as a ‘Costing Geek’!

When it comes to collaborating with clients, Julien likes to get under an organisation’s skin. He wants to know what makes a company tick, what their priorities are and what the reality is on the ground. Doing this assists him to build information systems that reflect their true business needs.

Julien’s contributions to the SAP Financials community have been recognized through publications in professional blogs and journals like and SAP Expert, as well as multiple speaking and panel opportunities at conferences like SAP Financials, SAP Controlling, Sapphire / ASUG, and SAP TechEd. He is most passionate about his roles as an ASUG volunteer for the Financials community and as an SAP Mentor, working as a trusted advisor to build new communication channels between SAP and its customers.

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