Our experiences of implementation (part I)
In December 2018 it was proposed that Sothis acquire the S4HC product for both the operational and financial part of the business. This proposal is part of the company’s strategic plan in the development of new products and technologies, making a clear commitment to the Cloud. With this purchase, Sothis joins SAP’s Lighthouse partner program, becoming the second partner in Spain under these conditions.
The project officially begins on February the 28th with the Kick-Off to the entire organization, with the general management to the front and the general managers of the three business units, Automation and Monitoring, information systems and SAP, in addition to the managers of the areas of personnel, organizational development and finances. The scope, unlike other implementations in Spain, was not only financial but also operational, implementing the Professional Services solution for service companies. The go-live took place on October the 1st and the project was executed in 6 months, including within those 6 months the training of the team in the new tool and methodology.When we talk about a Cloud project, we are not talking about the traditional SAP implementation project as there are important differences:
- SAP is the provider of the product and the Cloud service.
- The product is updated quarterly.
- The implementation consultant will help the customer in their transformation to the Cloud world.
- The implementation methodology is mandatory and not optional. Therefore, the consultant and the customer must be familiar with it and apply it.
- Communication with SAP is continuous and must be fluid.
- Suitability of the customer to a high degree to the standard of S4H Cloud. It is not S4H in the Cloud, it is a different product.
When carrying out any SAP project one of the most important components is the team. They need to have business knowledge as well as knowledge of the tool. In this case, we were faced with the problem that there were no consultants in Spain with sufficient knowledge of the tool and therefore training in the tool took place in a way that was different from other occasions. Our decision was to incorporate consultants with knowledge of SAP along with junior consultants so they were trained in this strategic project. We also had the collaboration of SAP in order to train the team with specific workshops in the Cloud and we also use the Learning Hube and Certication Hube tools so the consultants would learn and be certified in S4HC. Sothis made a firm commitment to the Cloud and the training of people so that the staff would be highly qualified for current and future implementations.
However, if the theoretical training is only spoken about in consulting and it is not applied then it is not consolidated. The idea of implementing Cloud in us first was to consolidate that knowledge in order to be able to apply it correctly to our customers.
The training of the team in the tool was important but it was also important to become familiar with the new SAP methodology, SAP Activate for the Cloud. For 2 years Sothis has been working on the application of the Activate methodology in its projects and trying to take full advantage of the methodologies provided by SAP. In the case of the Cloud and unlike with on-prem methodologies, it is not optional – it is mandatory. The methodology is the gateway in order to work with SAP in the project.
The methodology consists of the following phases:
- Discover: This is the most commercial phase and it can be said that it is the phase prior to the implementation of the project.
- Prepare: This is the phase where you start to prepare the project team, detailed planning of the project, final scope of the project and its phases, Kick-Off planning.
- Explore: This is one of the most important phases. It is where we will carry out the “Fit to standard”. It was formerly the analysis phase and in the Activate methodology it changes with respect to the on-prem.
- Realize: This is the phase where we will work on the configuration of the system, integrations, extensions (developments), migrations and the tests.
- Deploy: Trainings, loads and final adjustments in production.
- Run: Work on the tool in the production process.
From the point of view of Sothis, the methodology is based on three key elements:
- Fit to standard
- Quality Gates
Fit to standard
In the Explore phase, the “Fit to standard” process takes place. This is the most important process of a Cloud implementation, since it is where the work is done to make the company adapt to S4HC and where the Gaps that have to be worked on in the next phase are identified.
In order for a good “Fit to standard” process to occur, the consultant must know the business of the company, they must be able to work on change management and be very familiar with the S4HC product. If the consultant is not up to speed in any of these areas, the project will suffer, leading to user dissatisfaction.
In order to avoid setbacks in the Realize phase, it is better to devote the necessary time to the “Fit to standard” process. This will allow us to ensure that the client meets the standard, that all the necessary configurations have been identified and, most importantly of all, that all the GAPS necessary for the company have been identified.
In the case of Sothis, this phase was carried out for all the business units, identifying that the business unit that best conformed to the standard of the Professional Services solution was the UNE SAP. Like at the corporate level, it was differentiated from the rest of the businesses and it was possible to limit the scope to this company that best fit the needs of Sothis. In this way, by narrowing the scope, we accelerated the implementation times.
We also identified those necessary integrations with external systems in order to work on the operational in a more optimal manner, as well as some extensions (developments) mainly forms, additional fields, customized reports or email sending. No major extension or major development was identified.
With the completion of the “Fit to Standard” process, we moved on to the next critical process within the Quality Gates methodology.
Within the methodology, the Quality Gates are steps or doors that have to be passed through and that SAP must approve in order to facilitate, for example, the Q system. These steps guarantee that the necessary work has been carried out as stipulated by SAP in order to be able to continue to the next phase.
In the Cloud, SAP is not only a seller of your product, but it is also directly involved in the implementation and support of the service sold. Therefore, their involvement is now greater, overseeing in a more exhaustive way the implementations and configurations adopted by the implementer.
The QGs allow this supervision for both SAP and for the customer, as well as for the implementer, which allows you to ensure higher quality projects.
The Realize phase is based on the Scrum implementation methodology. Therefore, it is developed with sprints of one or two weeks where a functionality is worked on, presented to the customer, tested, reviewed and transported to production.
The aim is to shorten the implementation periods of the functionalities taught to the Key Users.
Lessons Learned (part I)
- S4HC is a different product in the commercial, implementation and support areas.
- It was a good idea to carry out the first implementation in-house as it allowed us to learn the good and bad aspects. What to do and what not to do, to consolidate the theoretical knowledge and then apply it in a practical way.
- The team needs to be trained and updated quarterly in S4HC.
- The methodology should not only be known but also applied.
- Realistic scope and planning that allows for coordination with SAP.
- “Fit to standard” is the backbone of the Activate for Cloud methodology. It is important to be very familiar with the business of the company and the product in order to be able to assist customers who would like to use the Cloud in the process of transformation and adaptation to the standard in the most appropriate way.
- Work using the Scrum philosophy, which will allow for a fast realization phase, tested and approved by the client, with those problems due to changes in scope due to misunderstandings between customer and implementer identified as soon as possible.
In the next blog post we will talk about Systems, Extensions, Data Migration, Testing and Integrations within what our implementation experience in Sothis has been.