Sizing up Your SAP S/4 HANA Implementation – Key Considerations to Estimating Your Effort Right | Blog

Incorrectly estimating the size of your team and effort in implementing SAP S/4 HANA can be a costly mistake that can be avoided by carefully reviewing the activities in each stage of greenfield and brownfield deals. To learn how to make a smart measurement of what it will take to successfully adopt this intelligent Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system solution in your enterprise, read on. 

Enterprises embarking on the digital transformation path often kickstart the journey by modernizing their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, which form the backbone of any application landscape. Although multiple options are available in the market, SAP has become the primary choice for many customers over the last few decades.

SAP revamped its offering in 2015 by launching S/4 HANA suite as an enhanced version of its highly successful ERP Business suite – SAP ECC. Over the last few years, it also changed the product positioning of S/4 HANA from a “Future-ready ERP” to an “Intelligent ERP,” leading to increased traction in the SAP S/4 HANA implementation market.

However, despite being in the market for quite some time now, we often see effort and cost overruns, and project delays in SAP S/4 HANA implementation deals. Inaccurate solution estimation is one of the major reasons for this occurring in most scenarios.

Seven considerations to forecasting project magnitude better

To avoid miscalculations of the total project, the following criteria should be considered at the start when evaluating the overall effort, team size, and associated cost across various phases and activities in SAP S/4 HANA greenfield and brownfield implementations:

  • Discovery and impact assessment: Studying the existing processes and technology landscape to assess the impact due to S/4 HANA implementation is critical and can be explored by using design thinking workshops, accelerators, and interviews with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The associated effort will vary significantly depending on the implementation strategy for these two types of deals:
    • Brownfield: Major activities should include identifying existing customizations, reviewing S/4 HANA readiness checks and Business Scenario Recommendations (BSRs), and identifying the business process impact and delta design or configuration required
    • Greenfield deals: Among the factors to evaluate are the number of processes to be included in the solution, implementation complexity that the solution architect foresees for each process, customization or the number of development objects included as part of the solution, and the data migration complexity involved
  • Build phase: Review the following carefully as this stage constitutes a major part of the overall implementation effort, and oversizing or under-sizing can significantly impact the overall effort and cost:
    • Functional configurations: To accurately estimate the associated effort, take into account not only the number of processes to be configured or modified but also their complexity
    • Technical customization: Having a clear view of the extent of customization involved is critical. This is depicted by the number of newly created or remediated technical objects during the solution implementation. Greenfield implementations require a fresh development of objects. As a result, the effort is higher compared to a brownfield scenario, where the undertaking depends on the number of violations in the existing objects, as identified by tools such as ABAP Test Cockpit (ATC)
    • Fiori apps activation: This may require a dedicated team involvement depending on the number of standard Fiori apps to be activated and/or the number of custom apps to be developed afresh
  • Testing: The testing team is responsible for functional and non-functional testing of the implemented solution. When forecasting the associated effort, consideration should be given to the build effort that has gone into implementation, the automation maturity, and the availability of test documentation and collateral materials
  • Data migration: This activity primarily applies in greenfield implementation and the associated effort depends on the approach followed (such as “Load only” or “Data Transform and load”), the number of data objects and their complexity, and the number of mock cutovers
  • Basis and security: The technical basis and security support required during implementation should not be overlooked. We recommend having a core team for the entire implementation that is augmented by a flexible pool of resources depending on the increase in requirement
    • The basis effort is dependent primarily on two factors – the number of environments (development, quality assurance, pre-production, production, etc.) and the complexity of non-production environments. The role of basis support is even more important in brownfield implementations because of its technical focus. Basis resources are responsible for monitoring Software Update Manager (SUM) and Database Migration Option (DMO) work, installation of systems, client creations, establishing connectivity, patching, High Availability (HA)/Disaster Recovery (DR) activities, etc.
    • The SAP security effort can vary based on the number of roles created or remediated for end-users across various workstreams. The effort also should consider testing whether the roles and authorizations granted to the users meet policies
  • Organization change management (OCM): While this is a critical activity, especially in greenfield implementation, it does not typically get a great deal of organizational effort. This layer is responsible for key activities such as business process harmonization, educating clients, and training core users, which are mainly driven internally. Don’t overlook its importance since any miscalculation can have a huge bearing on the cost
  • Deployment and hyper-care support: The number of mock cutovers along with the duration of hyper-care support planned are the key factors that influence the associated effort. In many cases, we have observed the effort to be taken as a certain percentage of the core implementation effort, which is the combined effort for build and testing phases

In sum, no one size fits all for estimating S/4 HANA implementation deals. With the lack of standardization, the probability of making a miscalculation during the eventual implementation can be high. By carefully calculating, enterprises and service providers can more accurately predict the total price and cost, resulting in more successful implementations.

To share your experiences with S/4 HANA implementation, please reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

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