Nearly a century ago, Hasbro began its journey to disrupt the play and entertainment industry forever with a simple mission: deliver the best play experiences for people across generations.

While Hasbro has become synonymous with experiences like family game nights and has expanded into emerging areas such as esports, the global play leader is well aware that business success isn’t just all fun and games. To move the company into its next century of disruption and facilitate growth areas, Hasbro’s leadership has spent years strategically investing in technology to drive its digital transformation journey forward.

For Luis Ydrach, Hasbro’s director of IT Services, this has meant reimagining how Hasbro’s IT solutions can propel the business to new horizons and create new, valued experiences for the company’s loyal, cross-generational customers.

On a recent episode of the ongoing Experience SAP S/4HANA series, Ydrach virtually sat down with Richard Strattner, global vice president of ERP Product Marketing at SAP, and integration partner Infosys to share its story of success and innovation using SAP S/4HANA.

Why Hasbro “Entertained” SAP S/4HANA

A long-time SAP ERP customer, in 2018 Hasbro started to make the case for why an eventual upgrade and move to SAP S/4HANA would make sense for its business and strategic growth plan. The upcoming 2025 deadline around SAP ERP Central Component was one factor, but for a company that always has innovation top of mind, it simply served as a spark for a more strategic rationale: getting the right infrastructure in place to support where the business wanted to go in the coming years and decades.

“When we were justifying this to the business, it was initially about staying current as our platform is critical to our business,” Ydrach said. “We knew the longer you wait, the bigger the delta.”

The next significant consideration for Ydrach and his team was whether to launch SAP S/4HANA on premise or in the cloud. As noted by Ydrach, for years Hasbro had experienced firsthand the benefits of running several areas of its businesses on cloud-based SAP solutions, including SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain solutions. However, the move to SAP S/4HANA would impact multiple lines of business, including finance, sales and logistics, so out of caution and in alignment with its existing strategy to refresh its hardware, Hasbro chose to maintain its ERP on premise.

Planning, Planning, Planning

For a company famous for iconic brands like Monopoly and Nerf, Hasbro knows strategy is everything. Converting to the new SAP S/4HANA, Hasbro had firm goals to achieve this as fast as possible, minimize disruption, and maximize utility for end users.

One other important benefit was top of mind for Ydrach and team: “Get us to this new platform and then have a plan and the ability to incrementally take advantage of SAP innovations in the new platform.”

To achieve its goal, Hasbro initiated its planning in 2018 and began execution the following year. Two of the biggest factors for the company’s successful project were SAP tools and its trusted systems integrator Infosys, known for its Safe Passage methodology for SAP S/4HANA conversion projects.

“Using Infosys S4Assist, a tool for comprehensive conversion impact analysis, report output, we identified additional areas such as pre- and post-work for the third-party add-ons, technical inconsistencies, and additional scope for international trade management in the area of intrastat,” said Satinder Pal Singh, SAP S/4HANA architect at Infosys. “Most importantly, we were able to identify the activities that we could complete in production system upfront with zero impact to business, which later simplified the conversion cycles and the production cutover.”

Lessons Learned from the Sandbox

The global pandemic turned the world upside down last year, right while Hasbro was in the middle of its transition to SAP S/4HANA. However, Ydrach and team had years of experience leading challenging IT projects and knew how to respond with agility. When COVID-19 first impacted workforces in North America, Ydrach’s team proactively decided to execute the remaining portion of the project remotely.

In the early days of uncertainty, according to Ydrach, “We were still in the office when we were executing our second-to-last cutover simulation. However, we didn’t know what was going to happen, there was a chance that we would be locked out of the office, so we proactively said: ‘Let’s execute 100% remote.’”

Joining the list of IT leaders who have showed grit and experience managing successful projects remotely during the pandemic, Ydrach gathered a few useful learnings that he hopes others can leverage, including:

  • Collaboration between IT and the rest of the business is a make-or-break ingredient.
  • The value SAP S/4HANA will deliver for the business after implementation must be crystal clear.
  • Take advantage of free SAP conversion tools and the customer care program, available to customers that are considered early adopters for newly released SAP solutions, as Hasbro was when it first adopted SAP S/4HANA.
  • Speak often with other SAP reference customers as these conversations generate a wealth of useful information.
  • Select an integration partner that has proven accelerator tools.
  • Execute the SAP Readiness Check tool and for a better understanding of what a project will look like, use the maintenance planner, even before engaging with an integrations partner

In the end, Hasbro managed a successful and seamless SAP S/4HANA implementation that will generate business value for its users for years to come. This year, Hasbro continues monitoring for additional capabilities that SAP brings to market and where additional innovation can help the company build on the early results it has seen from SAP S/4HANA – a sign the global play company is ready to lead its industry for another century.

The SAP S/4HANA Success series features content by leaders from SAP North America focused on highlighting customer success with SAP S/4HANA . Learn how customers in this region manage successful implementations with the partner ecosystem and SAP Services as well as leverage the platform to transform their industries.

Lloyd Adams is senior vice president and managing director of the East Region for SAP North America.