Considering the significant role that SAP systems play in the day-to-day functions of an enterprise, if the performance management of a SAP solution is not optimised, it can have a dire and costly impact on an organisation.

While many companies are already preparing themselves for the migration to S/4HANA, they should assess whether their existing SAP ECC solution is fully optimised and delivering the actual benefits that it is capable of, enabling daily operations and reporting to run smoothly.

The challenge that many enterprises face is that they actually don’t know whether their existing SAP solution is delivering full value and, as such, should take note of this before planning a migration to S/4HANA.

There is a host of possible reasons why companies often implement a SAP ECC solution, yet are not optimising it to its full value. Often, a company is not aware or does not understand the full range of possibilities and capabilities that SAP ECC offers. To add, most companies lack the appropriate resources (personnel and funding) to exploit and maximise the value potential.

Furthermore, a misalignment with the organisation’s strategic plans and needs at any given point could result in poor SAP systems optimisation, as each company has varying priorities, needs and workflows. In some cases, companies simply receive very poor advice and are led in the wrong direction.

Standard functionalities

Poor SAP systems optimisation is often the case, where most companies integrate their SAP solutions with third-party systems, or customise their SAP systems. The issue is that they do not realise there are standard functionalities within SAP that better suit their needs. By way of example, the manufacturing sector is inherently riddled with this dilemma due to its very expansive nature that uses historic and customised software.

It is clear that these organisations need to take steps to identify the areas of their SAP systems that can be optimised. To do this, it is vitally important that they find a specialist and certified SAP partner with relevant experience, know-how and track record. This partner should not only be able to run the prescribed toolsets used to analyse the organisation’s readiness, but also guide and assist in creating an optimal SAP transformation strategy and adoption of best practices.

It is important that companies complete this exercise before planning a move to S/4HANA, as it would speed up their migration. One of the biggest benefits is that it provides customers with full transparency of their existing environment, taking into consideration many key factors such as level of customisation, organisational change management, security, database sizing and data archiving/historisation. This allows customers to make key decisions earlier in the process and plan ahead to business downtime, thus mitigating risks and associated costs during the project.

Opportunities for improvement

In addition, partners can help identify opportunities for improvement. Customers are looking for value-adding benefits, and S/4HANA offers both tangible and sometimes intangible benefits. These benefits include speed of processing, ease of use, productivity improvements, intelligent automation, visualisation, improved governance controls, real-time reporting and an overall improved user experience.

Some SAP partners offer a ‘Jump Start’ programme that allows for efficient and low-cost engagement, at a speed that is right for the customer. Following a readiness assessment, these programmes are designed to present a business case and roadmap for their migration path to S/4HANA.

When seeking to optimise their SAP systems, companies must realise that effective change management and user training are key, and this needs to be enforced and re-enforced periodically. The full capabilities of SAP are often not well understood, both from an integration point of view, as well as the range of functionality. As such, the decision to stay with SAP or even choose SAP is a long-term decision that should include a long-term strategic partner that offers objectivity and sound guidance.

While SAP has been innovative in its market entry and engagement, offering easily accessible, fit-for-purpose solutions over the past few years, the overall SAP landscape has become bigger and more complex over time. Optimising SAP systems should be seen as continuous, detailed and absolutely crucial to the success of an organisation, regardless of the industry.