Why customers should look at solutions and not systems

14 December 2010

Mark Chalfen

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

We're approaching a period where much of the SAP talk will move towards the new functionality available that is being released within the latest Enhancement Packages. There will be stacks and stacks of information available that people will be busy digesting to understand whats actually out there. When reviewing all of this information it is really important for customers and consultants to learn what is available, however you need to look at why and how this could be beneficial.

The standard release documentation from SAP will look at system functionality that is either brand new or an enhancement of existing.  Some of the new functionality might look good but is this just a shiny new view of an existing process or will it improve your business? Nowadays customers do not implement new functionality because it is simply new. They want much more. They want to understand the business benefits they will obtain if they implement the new functionality.

Upgrade pains

There are a significant proportion of clients that have either recently upgraded version of SAP or are currently in the middle of this exercise.  Some of these upgrades would have been both time consuming and expensive with little return in terms of realised business benefits. The last thing customers want to do is to implement new functionality for the fear of those previous experiences.  No two customers have the same experiences however when reviewing the new functionality customers need to ensure that they are looking to enhance customer business processes by reducing costs or improving performance.

Measure, measure and measure some more

When reviewing new functionality you need to see where it will fit in your current landscape and why this would add benefit to your organisation. Whilst some new functionality might seem to be attractive you need to be strong to ensure you put to the back of the wish list the nice to have’s and focus on the true business benefit solutions.  There will be some real gems out there, and so it is worthwhile reviewing each area in detail to work out what is the best for your organisation. Tools such as the business function predictor are aimed at reviewing your current processes and then recommending system functionality based on potential business benefit.

Enhancement Package implementations

The one clear message any customer who has implemented functionality from an Enhancement Package is that this is not an upgrade. The whole process is not as time consuming or complicated as a system upgrade. Where the functionality you are planning on implementing does not currently exist, the volume of testing can be significantly low. Further to this, if you plan to release new functionality in varying modules they do not need to be done at the same time and can be implemented in isolation. So when you review the various functionalities you plan in to implement do not feel restricted if the functionality is different. Implementing new business solutions via Enhancement Packages provides your organisation the chance to become more Agile in the way new functionality is release to the business users.

Enjoy the next few weeks, I believe there has been a lot of anticipation as to what will actually be in the various enhancement packages. SAP will provide some business solutions that will be beneficial to your organisation, and SAP now also provide the tools to implement them via an agile methodology providing the benefits in a more precise and accelerated manor.

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About the author

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

Mark tells it straight - as an ex-boxer, what else would you expect?  Both his knowledge and experience of SAP products allow him to cut to the chase dispelling myths and hearsay.

As a result of working closely with various SAP Finance Product Management teams on product development, Mark understands these products inside out. This depth of understanding has led to him become a ‘thought leader’ in his field; after all, it is not often SAP consultants have helped shape and develop the very product they are selling.

Having such a strong relationship with SAP alongside being an SAP Mentor and Moderator means that Mark has an extensive network within SAP. For clients, this relationship proves to be a huge advantage and leads to configuration issues being resolved rapidly.

Mark has worked on short proof of concepts through to year-long multi-million pound global roll-outs. However, no matter how large or small the project, the true value Mark brings to his work is in the guidance he provides to senior stakeholders. In essence, he assists them to implement more effective processes and drive better behaviours within their finance teams.

Helping organisations transform their business with SAP S/4HANA is Mark’s current focus. The benefits of S/4HANA are numerous, including the simplification of tasks, embedded analytics and improved user engagement. Whilst the eventual move from SAP Business Suite into S/4HANA is inevitable, the journey to it is not always clear. Mark’s ability to understand an organisation’s needs coupled with his deep understanding of S/4HANA provides clarity and eases their transition.

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