Is someone using SAP HANA

Since the IT giant SAP presented its new ERP software SAP S / 4 Hana around two years ago, it has been a constant topic in many companies. No wonder: After all, this is not just any software update, but a major intervention in the company's ERP landscape, which only happens every decades.

The number of milestones to date is manageable: The ERP system SAP R / 2 came onto the market in the 1980s, followed by SAP R / 3 in the 1990s. Many companies still think about how long and nerve-wracking the transition was. "Large corporations in particular need up to 15 years for such a change," explains Jörg Kaschytza, Director Presales & Business Consulting and expert for SAP S / 4 Hana at IT consultancy SNP. As soon as SAP R / 3 is running smoothly, a changeover is necessary again - that annoys some companies now.

Large corporations are starting to switch to SAP S / 4 Hana

Nevertheless, there is no getting around S / 4 Hana, after all, according to today's information, SAP will only offer the maintenance of R / 3 until 2025. Apart from that, many companies are also hoping that the new software will offer great advantages, as it should make it possible to display a huge amount of data in real time. In a future in which big data, predictive analytics and Industry 4.0 are the defining terms, such software would be a must.

However, since the changeover is so lengthy and complex, one looks in vain for case studies. The expected costs still deter many companies from making the switch from R / 3 to S / 4 Hana. Only some smaller companies or corporate divisions of corporations have already made the changeover, such as Airbus DS Optronics, which belongs to the DS Electronics and Border Security division of the aerospace and defense group Airbus. Most large corporations have at least already begun with the changeover, the implementation just takes longer for them.

Siemens wants to move away from SAP in-house developments

So does Siemens. "We dealt with it immediately after the release of S / 4 Hana in March 2015 in order to create a timetable for the group," remembers Andreas de la Camp, Head of Line Europe, Center of Expertise ERP / SAP at Siemens. The changeover is a must for the group, which has significantly expanded the share of its software business in recent years: In order to make Siemens into a “leading provider of technology for Industry 4.0”, as requested by CEO Joe Kaeser also bring your own ERP processes up to date.

Siemens also wants to use the changeover to put the previous ERP landscape to the test. “Much has grown historically, it may be possible to reduce the number of systems,” explains Andreas de la Camp. The group wants to move away from the in-house developments that the company has been working with since the introduction of SAP R / 3, and instead want to rely more on standard software.

The company is not alone in this: While it used to be the measure of all things to adapt the systems as much as possible to the needs of the individual company areas, many companies now see this as critical, as it increases the effort to adjust the data from the various areas for reports.

A proof of concept should give Siemens orientation

At the beginning of its project, Siemens first carried out a Proof of Concept (PoC), i.e. a feasibility study, for the Finance division in order to gain initial experience with S / 4 Hana. Siemens in the Mobility Division tested the migration of old data into the new system. The division offered itself because the ERP system there is complex and contains a large number of types of business. Based on the experience with this migration, Siemens now believes it can estimate what needs to be considered when converting other complex systems in the group to finance.

Especially in large corporations with many different systems, a PoC is standard in advance, says Jörg Kaschytza from SNP. There, for example, important questions could be answered that are relevant for the future project design: "Do I start with a new process design on a new system or do I want to continue using my current system as much as possible?" Before migrating, companies should definitely check whether Kaschytza advises how the transfer of historical data with further structural changes and adjustments is possible.

Siemens has already switched to Hana

When converting to S / 4 Hana, Siemens will benefit from the fact that the group switched to the new Hana database some time ago, which is the technical basis of the new S / 4 Hana ERP system. Although the group-wide introduction of Hana took about two years, this first step was still much easier for Siemens than the switch to S / 4 Hana, as it did not involve any changes in the business processes.

When converting the ERP system, on the other hand, change management will play a major role, as the finance departments of the giant corporation also have to change their working methods in some cases, says Andreas de la Camp from Siemens. "We have had a familiar ERP system for 20 years now, so it can be difficult to get involved in something new," he fears.

It will be a long time before all parts of the company have migrated to S / 4 Hana. De la Camp hopes that Siemens will be ready by 2025. After the PoC has now been completed, according to the plan, a first pilot company will try out the real switch to S / 4 Hana in April 2018. If everything goes well, the other Siemens divisions will follow suit.

julia.schmitt [at] finance-magazin.de

SAP has launched its new ERP system SAP S / 4 Hana - and is promoting the new possibilities. For many companies, however, the forced changeover is initially stressful and expensive. You can find testimonials and advice on our topic page on SAP S / 4 Hana.