The possibilities of Blockchain extend well beyond those relating only to cryptocurrency. In his latest podcast, use cases for Blockchain that allow companies full transparency in monitoring their Supply Chain Management and the full lifecycle of their business processes.
By Jereme Swoboda and Jake Eisbart
A celebrity requires an entourage of people to keep them relevant, informed, and as successful as possible. Your company’s SAP Landscape is the celebrity of your business and the entourage that keeps it performing to its highest standard is Solution Manager 7.2. Let’s break it down…
Just as an entourage is the central management tool that empowers a celebrity so is Solution Manager to that of the SAP customer. Not only does Solution Manager reduce total operating costs by providing tools designed to support the entire lifecycle of SAP applications, but now, with Solution Manager 7.2 many of the functions have been completely redesigned to focus on providing business value and making it a tool that the business can utilize to support business critical operations.
If you would like more information on Solution Manager 7.2, please contact Jereme.firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael and NIMBL Integration Architect, Hari Sonnenahalli, discuss building the business case for moving to SAPCP, the development tools with integration services, requirements for learning SAPCP-IS, and more.
If you would like to see more of Hari’s blogs on SAPCP-IS, click here: https://people.sap.com/hari.Sonnenahalli
On the heels of all the attention given to SAP S/4HANA Cloud at Sapphire 2017, I had the opportunity to sit down with NIMBL’s VP of Delivery and S/4HANA Cloud Lead, Michael Jolton, and the S/4HANA Cloud Architect Anthony Plute to discuss NIMBL’s own implementation of S/4HANA Cloud and the lessons they learned in the process.
Q: What were some of the major factors that compelled NIMBL to Implement S/4HANA Cloud?
Michael Jolton: There were a couple factors. NIMBL wanted to be a lighthouse partner and get direct implementation experience with the tool, so that we would get lessons learned and know what we were getting into going into the customer implementation. The second reason is that NIMBL is a growing concern. And as a growing concern we are outstripping our use of QuickBooks and as a result we need a better, more robust accounting system and S/4HANA Cloud presents a great opportunity to move to a world class system.
Q: Can you break down the specific skillsets you needed to successfully complete the implementation?
Michael: You need a few different types [of skillsets]. You’re going to need a project manager who coordinates everything. There are a lot steps involved. You’re going to need a technical resource who’s savvy on the network architecture because you need to make sure that you have the bandwidth in your wireless network or your hardwired network for moving to a cloud based application like this. It’s not a huge requirement but it is something that you should double check so there are no surprises when you go live. Also, there is, for printing, some downloaded software that’s required that would need to go onto a server. So you want to know someone who knows how to put that software onto a server. Next you need a functional resource depending on what scope you’re implementing. If you’re implementing core finance only then you’ll need a functional finance resource…someone who is versed in financial processes, understands the “close the books” processes, understands everything about chart of accounts and general ledgers, accounting , accounts receivable, and so on and so forth. That person should also be skilled on S/4HANA…whether that’s on premise or cloud. Obviously cloud is preferred, but on premise is also fully acceptable.
Q: What if you’re looking to do more than core finance?
Michael: If you’re doing more than core finance, if you’re also doing order to cash, procure to pay, plan to produce, or professional services, you’re going to need different functional skills for them. It would follow that same pattern. You are also going to need at least one of those resources who is able to go in and modify forms. That’s not a heavily technical process so they don’t need to be technical but they will need to understand Adobe Forms Designer. Depending on the size of the source data or your legacy data, you’ll need a resource to do the data migration. That team is first going to scope out what historical data is being migrated from the current legacy system over to S/4HANA Cloud. Then that person is going to download data from the source system; they’re going to go through the migration process using the S/4HANA migration cockpit, and then they’ll upload the information in. That’s generally a data manager-type role…someone’s who’s done data migration.
Q: What were some of the technical and functional challenges when it came to the implementation?
Anthony Plute: I would say, a functional challenge is understanding “what is self-service configuration versus expert configuration?” I think that’s key. I mean, once you do it, you understand it, but if you come from the on premise world, you’re so used to doing so much different configuration that’s not expert configuration. So discovering that difference [self-service vs expert configuration], I think is a challenge.
Michael: Yeah, that’s actually a role I left out, the subject matter experts. You have to have your business area subject matter experts separate from your configuration team. Building on Anthony’s point about challenges, the master data, there’s a lot of codes and it’s not always clear what those codes stand for or how they impact processes down the road. That’s where it really helped having Anthony who knew S/4HANA and the SAP code structures.
Q: What is the profile of the company that you see benefiting most from S/4HANA Cloud?
Michael: There’s a couple of different profiles. Certainly the company that is running SAP today…they’re on an outdated version of ECC…they’ve overly customized it…not necessarily because they have an overly unique way they do accounts receivable or process orders but because they didn’t fully understand how to use the system. Maybe when it initially rolled out it didn’t meet their needs, so they created customizations and over time that functionality had been built in – but because they created customizations, they weren’t able to upgrade. The list is long. The point is, if you have a company that really has basic ERP usage requirements, but is on an outdated SAP system: they become a great candidate to move to S/4HANA Cloud very quickly. The same goes true if you’re on an outdated Oracle or J.D. Edwards or any other system that you’re paying maintenance for and you’re not getting any value out of that maintenance because you can’t do the system upgrades. Another excellent customer is the two tiered scenario where you’ve got a parent company that’s a huge multi-national conglomerate and they own many subsidiaries. They’ve been chasing the holy grail of having every business unit on a single platform and the different business units are different enough that they really can’t go onto one single instance of SAP and they’re not big enough that they would justify an on premise customized solution like S4 on-prem. Therefore, they become – all these subsidiaries or separate strategic business units – excellent S/4HANA Cloud candidates.
Q: Would the reverse be true? Meaning if you have a company that is running S/4HANA and they want to create a parent company. Would the parent company be a candidate for S/4HANA Cloud?
Michael: Absolutely. That’s the other two tiered example… where you’ve got a company that is running SAP or S/4HANA on premise – either way – and then they decide to create a parent company. The parent company would not have all the necessary manufacturing requirements that would come with S4 on premise and so you could just implement S/4HANA Cloud just for the financial support and then integrate that way…even though the subsidiary is actually bigger and running the bigger system. A third type of customer is the growing customer, like NIMBL …one that is outstripping its current application. Whether it’s cloud based or on premise, the functionality doesn’t meet the company’s needs anymore as it’s getting bigger and more sophisticated.
Q: What advice would you give to a company considering implementing S/4HANA Cloud?
Michael: My first piece of advice is: this is an ERP, so don’t take it lightly. Don’t expect the integrator to do it to you or for you. They need to do it with you. You need to have your business people involved in this. The second piece is, again, this is an ERP, this is a big project and even on a small scale there is a lot of coordination. You’re going to want a project manager coordinating everything.
Anthony: I would agree. You’re looking for total devotion, participation, and buy-in from your subject matter experts and management. I’d say…and we heard this from another company whose doing an implementation right now…make sure that your master data is as cleaned up as possible. At the end of the day, the business owns the data and they need to make sure that the data is pristine, strong, accurate and that will make things a lot quicker and easier. And definitely make sure that the business and the people [of the company implementing] are ready to adopt business best practices into the solution.
Michael: Exactly. This is a paradigm change. You, as the company, are adopting best practices. You’re changing your business to meet the software. A perfect example is the chart of accounts. The SAP best practices has a full chart of accounts: 724 accounts or something like that that’s out there. If you don’t like those accounts, the first question has to be, “Well can we use the same account structure and modify what’s within…in terms of you changing the name of an account or just to be more specific?” As an example if you’re talking about magazine sales vs newspaper sales. You’re still working within that structure. You don’t want to add new general ledger accounts unless it’s absolutely mandatory. You can do that, but you want to try and live within the best practices first.
If you would like to see a more comprehensive presentation of this journey, please register for the upcoming webinar, “Diary of an S/4HANA Implementation”: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/gzhkqm13yc7l&eom
As a preview to SAP Press’ upcoming “Practical Guide to Solution Manager 7.2”, author Jereme Swoboda takes viewers through some of the highlights including: the top 5 “Gotchas” when upgrading to Solution Manager 7.2
Ever since the advent of ERP software, large multi-tiered enterprises have been in search of the cost savings and overall process improvement that would come from unification of business systems. For several reasons, this search has become their Holy Grail. Some of the major obstacles have been:
- Varied Business Processes: Individual business units or subsidiaries often have work flows that do not match up with the rest of the company, requiring independent ERP configurations
- Varied Master Data: Customer names, product codes, and much more can differ across (and even within) business units, making consolidation a challenge and integration almost impossible
- Varied Business Models: Companies have often needed to have separately configured instances or even separate ERP solutions to meet unique functional requirements
- Subsidiaries Too Small: Often the size of a subsidiary or separately operating strategic business unit is too small to justify the enterprise class needs of the parent or other related business units
SAP, with the advent of S/4HANA Cloud and S/4HANA, has provided a guide for this search, allowing the previously unheard of to become reality. S/4HANA is a full, enterprise class ERP – the latest version of the business software that has made SAP the gold standard. S/4HANA Cloud is a pre-configured version of S/4HANA, utilizing the same codebase. The pairing of these two solutions in a two-tiered ERP model, addresses each of the issues previously preventing ERP standardization:
- Chicken then Egg: Often in dealing with varied business processes, companies get stuck trying to decide if processes should be standardized and then the ERP implemented or vice-versa. With S/4HANA Cloud, business processes are already defined based on SAP Best Practices, garnered over years of ERP experience across every industry and every business size. Companies that adopt S/4HANA Cloud, by definition, adopt these best practices, creating a standardization across business units. In the same way, Master Data must follow the same structure, driving consistency through the data migration in the implementation.
- Reach Beyond Bounds: For business units or subsidiaries that don’t need a full scale ERP but still need non-traditional functionality that is not in S/4HANA Cloud, side-by-side extensions can be built on the SAP Cloud Platform that provide the same look and feel and don’t create maintenance nightmares because they don’t impact the ability to upgrade.
- Size Doesn’t Matter: For large enterprises with extensive customization and functionality requirements, S/4HANA will fill the bill. For small to mid-size business units or subsidiaries, S/4HANA Cloud will provide the necessary functionality from an enterprise class solution on an affordable and manageable Software as a Service basis. The two systems then have built in integration to allow for interoperability.
Everything that sounds too good to be true usually is and the devil is always in the details. Those clichés noted, the combination of SAP’s S/4HANA and S/4HANA Cloud to create a two-tiered ERP provides a clear vision and roadmap to consolidate ERP platforms and business processes.
For more information on S/4HANA Cloud, please feel free to contact Michael.email@example.com.
As with all versions of Solution Manager, SAP regularly releases new Support Packages providing enhancements and corrections to known issues. Usually the even number support packs contain corrections only while the odd numbered support packages contain corrections and enhancements. On May 9th 2017, SAP released the latest version of Solution Manager 7.2 with Support Package 05. This release provided enhancements in a variety of areas.
One of the more notable changes is an entirely new capability within Process Management. SAP has now provided an option for exporting and importing Solution Documentation. With this, you can export the entire contents of a branch within a single solution and import the contents into another branch or into another solution manager entirely. You also have the ability to save all KW documents, TBOMs, or Test Configurations assigned to a branch to a transport request. The transport can then be moved to a different SAP Solution Manager system as a target within a transport landscape. Keep in mind job documentation is not currently supported for export and import. Beyond that, the graphical editor for creating business processes has also been enhanced. They have improved the overall design of the editor making it more usable and the global diagram elements have been improved. This includes new Universal diagrams that can be used as a starting point for building your own business process diagrams. Diagrams can now be exported and imported as well.
Business Process Operations has also seen some valuable enhancements. You now have the ability to export all types of monitoring objects, Alerting Objects, Analytics objects and job monitoring objects. Within Application Operations there have been a wide variety of improvements as well. Interface and Connection monitoring allows for the monitoring of STAD records (statistical Data) for web services. Flat File interfaces can now be monitored for the last updated folder. SAP has also added an analytics page to the SAPUI5 dashboards for Job, HANA/BI Monitoring, PI Monitoring, and Message Flow Monitoring allowing for additional views of the monitoring data.
Furthermore, Change Control Management and IT Service Management have also seen some modifications. The most notable of these changes includes a new Quality Gate Management SAP Fiori App to enable for the pass, not pass, and reset Q-Gates, allowing approval or rejection of urgent changes. Also Downgrade protection is now available for non-ABAP systems, supporting the imminent downgrade and predecessor checks. ITSM has a new Resolve and Dispatch incidents Fiori app, enabling the ability to send incidents back to the reporter with an immediate solution, request further information from the reporter, or dispatch incidents to other support teams. Lastly Data Volume Management also has four new Fiori apps: Data Aging, Unused Data, BW Savings and BW Savings Potential.
For a complete list of all changes and new enhancements please check out the SAP Help Website at: https://help.sap.com/viewer/10e6d9cb3bc740e6a4c41588d9fc07a3/7.2.05/en-US/61f48903f1e240eb8419c8f657aa7481.html
If you would like more information on SAP Solution Manager 7.2, please contact Jereme.firstname.lastname@example.org