The reality of an S/4HANA transformation can sometimes feel very different to a software supplier’s glossy slides. But that doesn’t mean success is out of your reach. The first step for any business in this position, as I’ve discovered, is to research and prepare thoroughly.
The failed digital transformation at confectionery manufacturer, Haribo, is probably one of the best-known cases of an expensive project like this flopping. It caused a logistics nightmare which took the form of a succession of wrong deliveries and many sad children surveying supermarket shelves to find no gummy bears.
But Haribo wasn’t alone. Deutsche Bank, the Lidl retail chain, and the mail order company Otto all suffered similar difficulties. But unlike these incidents, Haribo didn’t give up. It fought its way through its challenges successfully.
It’s this case study that demonstrates the real grit, determination, and time it can take to achieve success – perhaps a very different picture to the one painted by a vendor’s marketing department.
With knowledge of other businesses’ failures or at least near-failures, it’s no wonder that reactions to the decision to move to the S/4HANA range may quickly go from “hooray!” to “help!”.
In this blog, I want to outline how Fujitsu can support user companies (their tech and their people) when transforming with S/4 HANA by focusing on three areas.
1. Bring in resources
Lack of skills, knowledge, and experience in companies is one of the biggest hurdles of transformation. As outsiders with experience from transformation projects in different companies and industries, Fujitsu is trying to close the gaps by becoming an external partner, rather than just an IT provider.
For example, I supported a transformation at a large German energy supplier. The company had inherited an outdated system from its parent company, but it didn’t align with its processes, so needed to transform. The energy company was aiming for lean IT and, in an ideal world, wanted a greenfield approach. However, because it had special data migration requirements to meet, we implemented a mix of greenfield and bluefield approaches alongside our partner SNP.
The situation at a leading food producer we worked with was completely different, but they similarly needed expertise. They only wanted to establish an innovation platform, so that we could convert the system in a one-to-one brownfield approach. To achieve this, our work began, as it always does, with a precise preliminary study that identifies the customer’s use cases. This is the basis for both the roadmap and the estimate for time and financial effort.
2. Creating a high level view
An SAP transformation is perhaps the best proof that an intelligent enterprise is an integrated enterprise. IT, departments, and business are no longer siloed. As a result, those who use SAP are rethinking their processes which has caused big changes for roles and technology.
In response to this, Fujitsu offers co-creation workshops to bring all stakeholders to the table to create a supportive and innovative culture around the extensive change.
3. Enthusiasm for SAP – but at a distance
In-house developments are traditionally viewed as a product of an individual company’s value. However, as the world becomes increasingly globalized players from a wide variety of industries are joining forces to form eco-systems – resulting in innovations such as self-driving cars and rolling computers.
While we may need new standards to suit this new way of working, not every company can or wants to tear everything out and start from scratch. From a people perspective, there are many employees who appreciate the stability of established hierarchies, while others aim for innovation and disruption. Fujitsu aims to overcome this by retaining and gaining the best of both approaches by finding a converged approach suited to the unique needs of individual businesses. It’s ultimately about striking the right balance.