An example of Greenfield SAP S/4HANA Implementation
A question customers often ask their software consultants is “How much time is it going to take?” In what concerns the timeline for the SAP S/4 HANA implementation, the answer cannot be a standard one. The duration depends on many factors in each separate instance. Companies have their particularities, collaboration teams work differently, and sometimes even unexpected factors are the differentiator. What can be said is that our teams make all their best and bring their experience in various industries to the table. If an average time can be provided, it’s only an estimate, at least in the incipient phase.
However, neutral, objective examples can also serve as orientation. This is why an SAP case study regarding a Greenfield SAP S/4HANA implementation that took 15 months caught our eye. We thought of summarizing the process, as presented on the sapinsider website, for our readers.
A $10 billion industrial gas and chemical company “that predominantly sold large volumes of customers relatively inexpensive products” was divested to an independent $1 billion company “selling a handful of customers specialized and highly regulated mixtures of gases and chemicals”. The tremendously complex transitioning included the opportunity to have a fresh IT start with a Greenfield SAP S/4HANA implementation.
The SAP S/4 HANA implementation duration in this case
Between 2017 and 2018, the implementation took 15 months in this case, out of which 4 months for the design phase, 11 months for building and testing, and five days “to cutover to the new SAP S/4HANA system”.
The company already had a 20+ years old SAP ERP system. They could have chosen to clone it and run a copy for the newly created environment. They could have gone with a Brownfield implementation (see our previous Greenfield-Brownfield article on this blog, if you need to check the differences between the two methods).
Nevertheless, after asking around, consulting experienced people in the ERP field and following careful consideration, they choose the Greenfield SAP S/4 HANA implementation, in view of its unique opportunity “to clean up (their) system, wipe the slate clean, and implement processes that worked for (their) business”.
The article also captures the reason they chose to go with SAP. Besides having their employees already familiarized with this system, they appreciated that SAP “ticked all the right boxes regarding the industry’s legal regulatory requirements and from a change management perspective”.
The 4 guiding principles of the implementation process were: standardize, harmonize, simplify and scalable.
This company in the example holds a global supply chain that involves more than 10 countries. Having a standard phased rollout would have meant “putting temporary interfaces in place to feed data from the previous system to the new system to allow for a country-by-country go-live” – which was simply too long and complicated for this organization.
What they did was go for a big-bang type of rollout, which fortunately went very well, simple and without problems. They went in fact for a plethora of SAP-powered solutions
“not just a rollout of SAP S/4HANA 1610, but a variety of other SAP solutions — including SAP Business Warehouse optimized for SAP HANA, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, SAP Global Trade Services, SAP Gateway to support SAP Fiori, the SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization component of SAP Supply Chain Management, SAP Solution Manager, SAP Process Integration, SAP Data Services, and SAP governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) solutions — and a host of other SAP solution extensions and non-SAP applications”.
The project involved using the standard solutions, layered with industry-specific templates from both SAP and the SAP partner that contributed alongside. Their wish was to stick with the standards (perhaps you remember how in a similar example on our blog, we summarized a project that illustrated exactly the opposite, so both are possible with SAP solutions), and this was focal to the way various supporting solutions were picked, combined and reviewed. The SAP Product Availability Matrix also came in handy, as the “tool that evaluates your system and tells you what you need to upgrade or what version of a solution is compatible with another”.
A satisfied client, an early adopter of SAP S/4HANA who understood the way it evolves even in the short time span since they implemented it, and who plans for a major upgrade in 2019, to get the more mature version of what already has proven to be a great solution for such a big, complex set of operations as theirs.
Image credit: Versum