It's Time to Get Excited About Real-Time Data Availability
SAP S/4HANA is SAP’s latest enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. It’s the official successor to SAP ECC and SAP R/3 and runs on the SAP HANA in-memory database architecture. Both on-premise and cloud-hosted implementations are supported.
The new S/4HANA solution uses memory more efficiently than its predecessors and employs better data compression technology. Some companies have already upgraded their corporate ERP systems to this next-generation solution, and numerous others are considering doing so in the future.
SAP S/4HANA boasts multiple business benefits, including these:
- Simplifying business processes by supporting more automation and real-time data retrieval and processing instead of delayed batch processing
- Improving business performance by enabling management to generate reports and analytics based on live data, and execute upon them
- Speeding data processing and analytics, even for large volumes of data and for transaction data
- Enhancing the ability to gain insights from data in real-time—which supports rapid decision-making
Clearly, there are many reasons for moving to the S/4HANA platform. But the most important way it generates increased business value for enterprises is by making their data more readily available - more quickly.
Current Status of S/4HANA Migrations Varies Widely
Let's take a closer look at the situation in individual enterprises today.
Various companies are taking very different approaches to managing their ERP solutions. Some rely on a single SAP ERP system; some use several SAP ERP instances and others turn to multiple vendors’ completely different ERP solutions.
Their plans for the future of their ERP systems are similarly varied. Some intend to move to the S/4HANA Cloud, while others will deploy S/4 on-premise or create a hybrid solution. Some organizations are formulating a "big bang" approach to the transformation, while others will be more gradual, starting with a single area such as "finance first". For the migration project itself, companies will turn to diverse sources of support, including SAP-designed frameworks such as SAP Activate (https://blogs.sap.com/2018/05/03/sap-activate-guides-every-step-on-your-journey-to-sap-s4hana-cloud/), external consultants and third-party implementers.
With SAP S/4HANA, "Garbage In, Garbage Out" Still Rings True
Even if everyone had hoped otherwise, the same old principle, “garbage in, garbage out” still applies with S/4HANA. Although any enterprise can migrate to S/4, yours will only see the full benefits of the product if your data is of adequate quality.
The migration process is a busy time for most companies. They’re occupied with (re-)defining processes, shifting responsibilities, improving governance, and refining their ways of thinking and working. The majority of firms receive support from the SAP framework and external partners to facilitate these changes.
In our experience, many organizations neglect to focus on data quality during the hectic migration period. It’s easy to forget that the full benefits of S/4HANA demand sustainable high data quality—and that data quality is much more critical than it was with legacy solutions. Enterprises that have deployed S/4HANA need to ensure that their data quality supports not only business transactions, but also the instantaneous analysis of information.
S/4HANA Is a Game-Changer that Makes Quality Data Nonnegotiable
In summary, S/4HANA makes it possible to take advantage of advanced analytics, machine learning and real-time decision support capabilities, but its implementation also introduces new challenges. There’s less time to correct master data errors when that data is being used in real time. However, ensuring data accuracy is even more important when it feeds the analytics that drive your decisions.
SAP launched the discussion of this issue on their blog in 2015 with the article "S/4HANA – Game Changer that makes Quality Data the Immutable Rule!".
Prioritize Data Quality Now!
Our recommendation for everyone who is already involved in an S/4 project as well as for those who are planning future migrations is simple: make sure that you are setting yourself up for success by prioritizing data quality now!
The best idea is to begin the preparation phase of the SAP Activate Framework with a data audit. If you instead discover data issues during the explore phase (when “data load preparation” should take place), or even later, such as during the realize phase (when “legacy data migration” should occur), your S/4HANA project will likely encounter significant delays.
Need help sorting out your data requirements or cleaning your data? CDQ’s DQaaS services are available to support you in improving your data quality and preparing it for migration. Contact us now to learn more!