Many industries must reinvent themselves. Automotive, manufacturing, and retail, to name a few, face changing customer expectations, technological transition, digitization, and now the COVID-19 shock with its effects on consumer behavior and the supply chain.

Nevertheless, SAP is facilitating the go-live of an SAP S/4HANA customer every hour of every working day. For many companies from shaken industries, this could be a start of a brighter future.

COVID-19 has forced entire industries to rethink and transform business models and core processes. Many companies have found themselves in need of fundamental change. Right now, many companies seem to be pushing even harder to renew their business systems.

For Uwe Grigoleit, SAP senior vice president and general manager for SAP S/4HANA, this is a logical response to the dramatic challenges of the crisis: “We are observing that many companies have just now realized how important the cloud and SAP S/4HANA are for them to adapt faster and efficiently to the new reality.”

Implementation and Go-Live with Remote Support

Time is of the essence, regardless of whether it is a matter of managing critical situations in a supply chain and stores, enabling employees to work more flexibly and effectively, or gaining more transparency into the current financial and operational situation.

As a result, companies want to implement innovations faster and the demand for SAP S/4HANA Cloud is growing. “With SAP S/4HANA, companies can create an environment of resilience to combat the uncertainty of these difficult times. When our customers need us, we – and our worldwide SAP partner ecosystem – are there for them,” Grigoleit says.

Every implementation project and go-live of SAP S/4HANA can be supported and executed remotely. The success of this is proven by the fact that 75 percent of all SAP S/4HANA Cloud customers that had planned to go live in the second quarter of 2020 went live. Given the adverse general conditions with lockdowns and many home office employees, this is astonishing.

Supported by SAP partner Capgemini, the De Nora Group, a global supplier of sustainable technologies, completed its SAP S/4HANA implementation at its U.S. water technology subsidiary – fully remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown. De Nora Group now benefits from the extended integration and standardization of accounting processes across all its companies. Other advantages include innovative, cross-functional, and multi-level reporting models, optimized data use via mobile devices, and more efficient, consolidated infrastructure security. These are crucial prerequisites for faster reactions and improved resilience to fundamental shifts in market demand in the future.

Which Operation Model Fits Best Now?

SAP offers a comprehensive, modular cloud suite. The entire value chain can be operated in the cloud. However, customers can decide which model is best for them as well as when and which areas they want to move to SAP S/4HANA and the cloud.

This is particularly important in the automotive and manufacturing industries, where the pandemic has put the entire supply chain under pressure while, at the same time, major investments are required to set a new strategic course.

In these industries, it is vital – now more than ever – to use existing budgets carefully and with strategic foresight. Cloud solutions in the pay-as-you-use model open decisive advantages here because they relieve companies of major investments in equipment, software, and a workforce to run and maintain everything. Operating expenses instead of capital expenses leave more budget for other important business investments that are pending.

Smart Transition with a Hybrid Model

The transition from on-premise structures to a hybrid enterprise resource planning (ERP) landscape with SAP S/4HANA is easier than many people imagine. Three key service packages – SAP S/4HANA for central finance, SAP S/4HANA for central procurement, and SAP Extended Warehouse Management – help SAP customers to make progress in key areas and build powerful hybrid solutions. This allows them to innovate their business models decisively, quickly, and more securely than others. Manufacturers can prepare their shift for the subscription-based economy or execute B2B2C strategies, while retailers might drive a seamless omni-channel shopper experience and be prepared for sudden changes in demand.

Suited for Companies of All Sizes

These benefits are not limited to large corporations. A good example is the midsize company Mondou, a Canadian market leader in the sale of products, services, and accessories for the health and well-being of pets. The company has a large distribution center and more than sixty-five stores throughout Quebec. Due to the pandemic, Mondou’s retail and online sales skyrocketed in one day without warning.

“Before the COVID-19 lockdown, we had one team working and one shift filling orders. However, after the lockdown one team was not enough, so we quickly had to expand warehouse space to add more workers and ensure adequate social distancing space,” says Lyne Hervieux, SAP practice manager at Mondou.

To keep pace with customer demand, Mondou successfully brought a second warehouse online in only two weeks. Thanks to SAP S/4HANA, the warehouses of Mondou ran 24 hours a day for the first time, without interruptions for financial reporting or system maintenance. “There’s no way our old ERP could have kept up,” says Hervieux. “We always had problems with material blockages, and background jobs took all evening.”

Starting with a Clear Focus

To support companies in their decision to become an intelligent enterprise with decisively more resilience, agility, and responsiveness, SAP offers custom-made value starter packages, which inspire process optimization and innovation. Current examples from other companies illustrate the benefits SAP customers can achieve with SAP S/4HANA, namely becoming more resilient and fit for the future.

Oliver Schoenborn is interim head of SAP S/4HANA Cloud Product Marketing.