SAP has had a long and fruitful history with Eskom, starting its journey in 1997 with financials and culminating at the end of 2017 with one of South Africa’s first S/4 HANA implementations.

Neophitas Antoniades, chief adviser: group IT and SAP Centre of Excellence at Eskom, points out that the organisation runs most of the ERP modules, and also has an extensive range of complementary SAP solutions to cover the full IT environment.

Eskom is an SAP-certified centre of customer excellence, and has integrated the news S/4 HANA system with the suite of installed SAP systems.

“It is a complex solution that we have,” says Antoniades. “We have 29 SAP solutions in production and 63 non-production environments.”

In addition, Eskom has more than 100 databases and 200 applications servers.

There is a high demand for group IT to automate processes, Antoniades says.

In considering S/4 HANA, Eskom had to ensure it was in line with its digital strategy.

In addition, it is the only supported platform in the SAP roadmap, and it was beneficial for Eskom to migrate at current pricing.

The new system promised improved reporting, with realtime and flexible offerings.

S/4 HANA promised faster access to data as well as a modern user experience with Fiori.

The technical benefits included performance improvement, lower storage costs and a simplified SAP landscape, Antoniades says.

When it came to project scope, the organisation had two options: to migrate to S/4 HANA with some functionality changes; or Suite on HANA which would have been a technical migration to HANA, with no new functionality during the implementation period.

The decision was made to convert to S/4 HANA on the ERP systems, with the other SAP systems on a technical migration that moved from Oracle to a HANA database.

On the supplier relationship management side, it was decided to use procure to pay.

Master data governance is now embedded in S/4 HANA, while business planning and consolidation is a new implementation, as is cash management and new asset accounting.

The decision to implement Ariba has been put on ice, and Eskom has opted for a limited SAP Fiori implementation covering only what is needed in the SAP ERP system.

The S/4 HANA project scope was moving ECC6 (EHP7) with an Oracle database running 7Tb and 80Gb of memory to S/4 HANA 1610 with a HANA database of 5Tb and 4Tb of memory.

ERP modules were all included in the implementation.

Eskom used SAP as its partner in the project, and had an SAP Value Assurance Panning Service contract.

The project started on 10 April 2017 and went live on 12 December 2017, with the project ending on 12 January 2018.

The conversion cycles were:

* Sandpit – using interim hardware, Eskom tested the upgrade and migration/conversion steps; created and upgraded the migration cookbook, did functional testing, basic systems validation, and defined the technical downtime.

* Development system – using interim hardware, the organisation defined the soft freeze for Delta Code adjustment, implemented a testing environment for sanity checks, did unit tests and transport queue testing, and made system adjustments.

* Quality assurance – on interim hardware, the team enhanced the cookbook, in the testing environment it performed full function tests, full role tests, full migration tests and UAT tests, and did the volume test preparation.

* Mock rehearsal – on new HANA production hardware, Eskom did final functional adjustments, started the soft freeze period, defined and verified business downtime, and in the testing environment performed load tests, and infrastructure HA.

* Dress rehearsal – on production hardware, the organisation did a product test conversion, started the hard freeze period, did a cutover rehearsal, and verified business downtime.

* Production go-live – full production go live was 12 December 2017.

The go-live started on the Friday at 13h00 just after month-end was completed. The team created a reference client for finance to start running their reconciliation and reports while the cut-over took place on the core system. The technical migration ran from 18h30 n Friday to 00h30 on Sunday morning. From then until 11h30 on the Monday, transports were cut over, and financial migration took place. At that stage, the reconciliation report was run and balanced back to the reference client. That took until 17h30 on the Monday, and balanced.

At that stage the system was opened up and users unlocked.

Before it was handed over to business, if any issues or discrepancies were picked up, there were six hours built in for roll-back – fortunately that didn’t happen, Antoniades says.

There were some challenges, he adds. However, most of these have been resolved.

One of the biggest issues was the fact that reports in S/4 HANA ran substantially slower than before, an issue that has been resolved thanks to optimisation.

Eskom has also optimised its customer code reports to improve the technical performance on the top 45 frequently used Z-reports. Meanwhile, business process monitoring is used to create automated reports.

Eskom was looking to a cloud strategy via HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC), but eventually opted for an on-premise implementation of S/4 HANA.

The result of the implementation is that Eskom now runs 30 databases and 97 tenants with a total database size of 34Tb, 101 SAP systems, and various SAP versions.

The organisation has embraced embedded analytics, which is included in S/4 HANA, so there are no additional licence fees.

Embedded analytics is being used within finance, purchasing and plant maintenance, managing critical targets using Fiori KPI design.
Antoniades points out that the embedded analytics eliminates the extraction of data from ERP to BW, which results in lower solution support costs.

On the Fiori side, Eskom is currently training users and has recently gone live with 18 Fiori aps. The next goal is to get an additional 66 apps live within the next weeks.

Going forward, Eskom will move to HANA 2.0, then S/4 HANA 1809.