5 minute read 21 Oct 2019
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How you can intelligently rethink the SAP S/4HANA® transformation

5 minute read 21 Oct 2019

Intelligent automation and machine learning can help business fundamentally change the economics of the SAP S/4HANA transformation.

As new capabilities in SAP S/4HANA® software bring companies transformational benefits, from simplifying the design of financial systems and processes to the many innovation opportunities enabled by SAP® Leonardo, organizations are developing business cases, and making strategic decisions on when, where and how they will make the leap.

Organizations can get to SAP S/4HANA much faster, more efficiently and with less risk than most realize, if they reimagine how they approach the transformation process.

By thinking differently about how to structure and execute the migration, decision-makers can form a clear business case for moving quickly, accelerate value and enhance the experience of the transformation.

How companies can redefine ERP transformation

1.  Stratify the process: adopt, adapt and innovate

In a traditional ERP transformation, each process is converted following uniform methods and comparable cost and resource.  But not all processes are uniformly important in the context of innovation and opportunity or critical to an organization’s strategy. Through data mining and analytics, organizations can gather detailed insight into how existing processes and users are working within the current SAP environment. This eliminates the need for laborious efforts to elicit current process information and understand pain points from the end user. 

Using the knowledge of what works well and what doesn't, organizations can stratify their approach. They can adopt some processes into the new SAP environment as they are, adapt some to work differently within S/4HANA and innovate in areas that have transformational potential.

In areas being adopted or adapted, the full migration to S/4HANA can be dramatically simplified and accelerated through intelligent automation and machine learning. This frees up resources to focus on innovation that will drive the most value from the new platform’s capabilities. 

For example, an organization may choose to use intelligent automation to adopt inventory management “as is” and shift resources to design a new financial chart of accounts to take advantage of S/4HANA’s transformative general ledger capabilities – an innovation that might have seemed too substantial an effort to tackle when following a traditional migration approach.

2.   Maximize SAP performance

Most of the work involved in a large SAP migration can now be automated, and this significantly contributes to SAP performance and return on investment. Automation drives efficiency which reduces internal and external project costs.  It also speeds the project timeline which can accelerate time to value considerably.

The use of bots reduces human error and improve project quality, so organizations can focus resources on transforming processes and rationalizing and refining upstream and downstream functions.  And, by changing the operating model to include automated roles, organization can create long-term savings. 

3.  Enable continuous automation

Analytics and automation are not just tools for the migration to S/4HANA. They can be tools for continuous automation and monitoring once S/4HANA is in production. Companies need more than a point-in-time view of how their processes and people are performing.

An on-demand dashboard, built from the process and user analytics that drove the migration, can help a process owner monitor if processes are operating as designed once in production. It is also a tool to keep processes efficient and maintain the health of the overall SAP environment.

Similarly, robotic process automation programs from the migration can be re-used in the new SAP production environment to cost-effectively process transactions. Automation enables processes to be executed the same way in production that they were in the test environment which reduces risk and improves standardization.

Four ways companies can benefit from SAP S/4HANA:

An approach that is underpinned by data mining, analytics, intelligent automation and machine learning from the outset can fundamentally change the economics of the migration to S/4HANA.

Companies can:

1. Increase migration speed

The use of data mining, analytics, intelligent automation and machine learning reduce typical S/4HANA migration time by at least half.

2. Accelerate return on investment

Resources are allocated more effectively over a substantially shorter migration timeline with differentiated spending on areas that will drive the most value.

3. Reduce risk

The comprehensiveness and non-disruptive impact of automated testing can substantially de-risk migration. When using robotics to test, they can scale as needed. Testing can run continually without disrupting the business. Tools can automatically extract and organize data and bots can execute every transaction, which enables people to focus on identifying root causes.

4. Provide a better experience

By accelerating the migration’s speed to value and freeing resources to focus on those areas of highest priority and value, organizations can be confident that the journey from SAP ECC to S/4HANA will be more predictable, controlled and manageable.

SAP S/4HANA holds great opportunity for business innovation, better performance and competitive advantage.

SAP S/4HANA holds great opportunity for business innovation. An intelligent transformation approach can help build a strong business case for the S/4HANA migration and for a wider business digital transformation. Once the SAP S/4HANA transformation is complete, companies will be poised for further innovation, better performance and competitive advantage.  


Organizations can get to SAP S/4HANA much faster, more efficiently and with less risk if they redefine how they approach the end-to-end migration process.  An intelligent transformation ­that uses data mining, analytics, automation and machine learning throughout can help build a strong business case for S/4HANA migration and for a broader business digital transformation.

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