Becoming an adaptive, fast, and innovative business is not a marketing promise — it’s about surviving in a constantly accelerating world of unknowns. So, until time travel becomes a reality, intelligent cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) software from SAP is the ticket to knowing what the future will bring to your business.

Most businesses depend on an agile environment to run their operations on a global scale. In most cases, a complex landscape of highly customized, configurable applications manages everything from forecast planning and material management to production. Meanwhile, cost control remains elusive because financial management capabilities are outside the scope of their legacy ERP system.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. According to Guido Schlief, senior vice president and head of Services in Middle and Eastern Europe at SAP, our team of services and support experts regularly encounter organizations that rely on self-managed, on-premise solutions. “Whether or not they have an internal IT department or self-managed technology infrastructure, they all reach a point where the desire for usability improvements and digital innovation signals a shift to the cloud,” he observes.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud is increasingly the ERP software of choice for SAP customers looking to resolve such a dilemma. Regarded as a starting point for next-generation process optimization and digital innovation, organizations are reaping the benefits of an integrated system of accelerators, cloud data, and infrastructure services delivered through SAP Business Technology Platform.

Implementing Core Business Requirements

During the initial phase of adopting SAP S/4HANA Cloud, most SAP customers want to implement every capability that enables them to build the technology assets they need at the moment. This goal is achieved by setting up production orders and routing rules through solution design and configuration, typically taking less than two months.

Once all stakeholders are satisfied with the workflows, processes, best practices, and automation that the intelligent cloud-based ERP supports, the rollout process begins – first with a pilot, then a sequential global go-live in three steps. Customers can have SAP S/4HANA Cloud up and running throughout their business within less than six months.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the implementation experience is the ability of SAP services and support experts to deliver critical customer expectations, specifically:

  • Fast implementation executed with significant ease
  • Innovation that replaces individual, non-integrated tools such as spreadsheets, e-mails, and siloed collaboration applications

By releasing customers from overly customized solutions rarely compatible with future digital innovation, SAP S/4HANA Cloud helps evolve existing business processes and enable the adoption of new ones by following SAP best practices. SAP experts also further support stabilization measures, including training users on SAP standards, gathering user feedback to improve user experiences, and establishing a communication platform for stakeholder buy-in.

Extending the Full Value of SAP S/4HANA Cloud Company-Wide

After setting an agile digital foundation and establishing core business processes and innovation assets, organizations should consider extending the cloud ERP to close process gaps often prevalent in legacy integrations. This next adoption phase improves the user experience and global adoption of nonstandard functionalities and process automation.

Generally speaking, cloud technology – including SAP S/4HANA Cloud – may seem limited with respect to customization and enhancements. But with SAP Business Technology Platform, customers can integrate ERP with SAP and third-party solutions and develop their own intelligent applications. Furthermore, workflow management and intelligent robotic process automation could be added to their solution architecture.

By following this path to digital innovation with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, organizations can facilitate critical capabilities such as:

  • Reporting and monitoring of the innovation build process
  • Cross-department work and simplify routing
  • On-premise purchase and asset management capabilities

When extending SAP S/4HANA Cloud, there are many aspects to consider. While on-top solutions or functionalities require customer-managed maintenance, a wide range of integration options are available. Plus, a regular release cycle of upgrades and new capabilities takes advantage of the inherent nature of rapid implementation and innovation in the cloud.

Resources to Run an Enhanced, Agile Business

Cloud is the solution for bringing businesses and IT to the next level in their digital innovation journey. SAP S/4HANA Cloud is our response to that opportunity.

With access to the right data models, platform, and services and support, SAP customers can enhance and integrate their IT ecosystem without disruption. But most importantly, they have the foundation they need to drive meaningful global change now and for years to come.

Accelerate your digital transformation journey with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, essential edition. Learn more about SAP Services and Support on sap.com.

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Matthias Uhrig is a principal business consultant for Business Transformation Services in the Consumer Product Goods and Retail Industries at SAP.