So, you’ve made the business case for S/4HANA. The next step is to formulize your plan of action.
As we’ve said before, S/4HANA isn’t a simple update. It requires significant investment, and a timescale that could be as long as a year. Projects of this magnitude can’t be rushed: they need to be properly planned in advance.
And that means taking the time sit down and create a detailed roadmap.
A key point is to not underestimate the amount of preparation work that’s needed. I’m talking about things like code remediation, enhancement package updates, data archiving, master data alignment, CVI strategy, infra-structure/platform decisions, interfaces to upstream and downstream systems etc., in other words, pre requisites that need to happen before the project can even get off the ground.
It’s also really important to remember to take a holistic view of an initiative like this, as S/4HANA touches on many aspects of the business, so it’s best to bring the end uses and line of business owners into the conversation as soon as possible.
The full picture
Taking a holistic view means looking at the particulars of your business, and planning accordingly.
There are many things that could increase your timeframe by as much as several months. Do you have multiple line of business? Are you trying to consolidate siloed business units? Do you operate in multiple regions? And if so, will S/4HANA be a global rollout based on a template?
You also need to factor in your company’s strategic calendar over the course of the migration. Do I have internal resources available to spend time on the project? Are there any major product launches planned? Any new lines of business? Or critically, will you be making any new acquisitions or divestitures? The latter in particular can really make an impact on your plans.
Keep your finger on the pulse of organization. Bear in mind where you are and where want to be build, and build your plan around your business priorities. S/4HANA needs to enable your business – don’t let your roadmap hold it back.
A culture of change
I can’t overstate how important culture is to transformation.
It’s something that’s often overlooked. We are so focused on technology, we forget that at the end of the day it’s people at the heart of business. And those people need to be onboard.
You need a plan of attack for the organizational change management. And that needs to start at the preparation stage. Before people are trained to use the new technology involved, they need to understand why it’s there, to start with. So reach out across your organization, keep managers involved, and remind people of the benefits that will come. S/4HANA is not change for change’s sake – it’s a gamechanger.
In my experience, colleagues fall into three categories when faced with change: first, you have the champions – the people who proactively go out their way to sell your vision. Secondly, you have folks that are neutral - people that will follow along. And thirdly, you have the resistors – they love the status quo.
It’s this third group you’ll really have to contend with. Resistors can drag their feet, and bring down the morale of the entire team. You don’t necessarily need to convert them to champions, but you do at least need to stop them being a bottleneck.
So be sure to really listen to negative voices, and address their concerns and pain points the best you can.
Another strategy to convert people is to create momentum by really emphasizing the small victories. Front load your roadmap with low-pain achievements that can make a difference right away. Nothing turns a resistor to a champion faster than a quick win.
Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You will face challenges – and they will be highly individual to your business. Anticipate as much as you can, and try to build in flexibility for what you can’t expect.
But more than anything else, stay positive. A number of different teams should be involved, and they need to know their effort isn’t going to waste. Draw up a plan that clearly defines goals and KPIs, track your victories, and be sure to constantly inform achievements, and decisions.