Thought Leadership

Design in Agile mode on SAP S/4HANA

How to successfully design a project in agile mode on SAP S/4HANA? What are the steps? An article by Gauthier Casano, SAP Project Manager VISEO

Gauthier Casano, SAP Project Manager VISEO, talks to us about project design in Agile mode on SAP S/4HANA, illustrating it with our intervention at a logistics service provider.

SAP projects often have a reputation for being long and expensive, large projects in which integrators and customers can get lost from the design stage. The complexity of the issues, the difficulty of moving from one system to another, the change in culture, vocabulary... are all points that put at risk these transformation projects, which are nevertheless necessary for these companies whose ERP is no longer adapted to their growth.

By applying some principles of agility to a project for a logistics service provider, we will see how to make the classic SAP project design model more flexible: an iterative mode, simplified documentation, flow-based thinking and modeling. All these principles will make it possible to "soften the mammoth" and avoid the famous tunnel effect inherent in traditional SAP designs.

Well-prepare the design

If in a classic design we only plan the theoretical workshops to come, agile design preparation means showing the tool very quickly. The availability of the system from the beginning of the design is therefore imperative. With SAP S/4HANA, no more showing old, often outdated and complex interfaces, everything now happens on FIORI. SAP's new infrastructure recommendations require much more work and implementation time for the BC team.

This 2-week mini preparation phase was also essential for the functional team. It allowed to get to know the actors of the project (domain managers, key users, consultants and technical team). These first sessions were essential to discover everything that the specifications do not say: the personality of the actors, their knowledge of the flows as well as the challenges and priorities expressed directly by the person in charge of the domain. This allows the consultant to know how he will be able to orient his future models. Without this first contact, there is a risk of being off topic at the first sessions, which tends to undermine client confidence.

In addition, this mini phase allows the infra team time to make the necessary installations and validate the list of business flows to be set up.

A design in continuous control mode

Once the design is launched, all the deliverables to be achieved are defined as well as intermediate modeling milestones that will allow the project management to follow these steps.

In order to speed up this phase as much as possible, we have minimized the administrative aspects. We no longer speak of a workshop but of a session and therefore no longer of a workshop report. Based on a PowerPoint Concept Document Template, the consultant opens it at the beginning of each session and completes it as they go along. During the sessions, each point raised is either written into the design document as a business rule or will be the subject of an open point recorded on a shared platform.

This method avoided validation delays and surprises. Key domain and user managers had already seen and reviewed the design documents when they were validated and, with one exception, we did not receive any "But we never talked about that" from our interlocutors.

The modeling and contribution of SAP S/4HANA

We must not hide our faces, the modeling on FIORI at the same time as the design is a real challenge for the consultants but the gains are undeniable.

The main benefit for the customer is to project themselves easily into the solution: FIORI's more ergonomic and user-friendly interfaces make it easier to understand the SAP solution and better visualize business process changes ("adopt rather than adapt"). In fact, for project management, it is a gain on the fewer specific programs.

Thus the project actors have less apprehension towards the tool because they have seen it work on their flows several times (with their own data when possible).

Finally, for consultants, having to build mock-ups facilitates cross-functional work with consultants from other fields. Above all, it allows them to immediately see the difficulties and potential bottlenecks (we immediately take ourselves "the wall") to avoid unpleasant surprises in more advanced phases of the project. We are also happy to be relieved of administrative tasks.

Design in agile mode with SAP S/4 HANA

Agile design with SAP S/4HANA does not save time at the heart of the design phase because administrative tasks are replaced by mock-ups. On the other hand, it saves time on the validation of design documents. The main gain is on the implementation phase with fewer specific programs and on the fact of respecting the standard more for a more stable and scalable solution. This method, together with the FIORI interfaces, has proven to be a win-win choice.