Experiencing Your SAP S/4HANA Future
How Experiencing a Hands-On Business Simulation Can Supercharge Your SAP S/4HANA Project
By Robert Holland, VP and Research Director, SAPinsider
For those deploying SAP S/4HANA, one of the most important requirements they must fulfill is educating business users and executives on SAP S/4HANA features. While this can be partially achieved by attending webinars, demonstrations, and listening to what other customers have to say, it is still difficult to understand exactly how SAP S/4HANA will work. And more specifically, it is extremely hard to gain insight into what workflow and processes will look like in SAP S/4HANA compared to an organization’s existing ERP system.
Simulation and Education
To gain insight into learning about SAP S/4HANA, SAPinsider sat down with Guy Couillard, CEO of Baton Simulations. With the experience that Baton has with educating customers on ERP systems for more than 10 years, as well as specifically developing solutions that simulate SAP S/4HANA in various scenarios including distribution, logistics, manufacturing, and public sector, they are uniquely qualified to help customers address education challenges that they face with adopting SAP S/4HANA.
“C-level executives want to understand what they’re going to be spending a large amount of money on,” said Couillard. “What does it bring to the organization? What can it do to the organization from a value standpoint? And from a people, process, and technology alignment standpoint?” Baton’s ERPsim solution allows users at all levels of the organization to learn and understand more about SAP S/4HANA and get hands-on experience using the solution.
Educating users can be approached in several different ways, but something that traditional training lacks is the ability to see a broader enterprise perspective. You may walk through the features of the software and learn how they work, but it lacks insight into how the process chain can work across the organization. “What are the consequences of their actions in the system downstream?” says Couillard. “Exploring and understanding the enterprise view as opposed to the detailed function.” Educating users to help them understand how processes interact with one another goes beyond learning how to make sense of a solution, to being able to understand it.
Making education collaborative and engaging is also a very important part of ensuring that education is effective. “People don’t want to read online documentation or online help,” Couillard said. “They want to react to something. They want to be engaged. They want to collaborate.” Baton has built their simulation tool on top of the SAP Business Technology Platform which allows them to provide capabilities to extend SAP, particularly the user experience. Because SAP S/4HANA has a separate presentation layer, this means that they can adapt and simplify screens for educational purposes without needing to touch the underlying application. Having this level of interactive education and training can be a key differentiator in the level of success of your own SAP S/4HANA deployment.
Understanding the Value of SAP S/4HANA
Quantifying the business value of SAP S/4HANA was selected by more respondents to SAPinsider’s research on deploying SAP S/4HANA than any other challenge, with a quarter of the respondents saying this was their top challenge. Typically determined while building the business case, part of the challenge can be explaining that value to business stakeholders. This is also a challenge that a simulation like that Baton provides can help address.
“We will often hear someone say that ‘I need to bring our business stakeholders on board for this project and make sure that we’re aligned on the realization’,” said Couillard. This does depend on the type of SAP S/4HANA deployment being done, for example in a technical move where there is a goal of changing as little as possible for end-users there will be limited value, but Baton often finds that after experiencing the simulation decision-makers will have a new understanding of the benefits.
Being able to educate the business teams involved in your SAP S/4HANA project can help them understand the end-state that the business is aiming to achieve. “It’s very much associated with value realization of your technology, investment, and accelerating and facilitating decision making during the project and down the road,” says Couillard.
Understanding this value can also be extremely significant in the day-to-day usage of the software once it is deployed. Couillard provided an example of how if a user encounters a problem in an SAP system, they are usually not the ones at fault. Typically, the issue has been in a process that is upstream of them, or possibly with master data. Traditional training doesn’t address this overall enterprise process perspective. It is more transactionally focused – this is how you perform a particular task in the system. It’s not about understanding the broader perspective.
What Baton has seen many times is that when people participate in their simulation, they gain a more complete understanding of what a system can be like. This deeper understanding of the enterprise process provides this insight and can make them champions of an organization’s digital transformation effort. “If it’s unclear what you’re being asked to change,” says Couillard, “you’re going to resist. It’s human nature. It’s risk aversion. But if you can paint a clear picture or actually allow people to experience what the future could be, there is no more resistance.”
This can lead to changed thinking across an organization. Couillard provided an example of an organization that participated in their simulation and the heads of the different teams conducted a debrief following the session. The traditional view was that, unlike the way the simulation had been configured, users should only have access to what was relevant to their individual roles. But another department head disagreed. They believed that if the production team had visibility into the profitability of the production run it might allow them to prioritize their production in a more beneficial way for the company, rather than what was more convenient in the plant. This type of thinking, based on insights gained from a broader understanding of SAP S/4HANA and the way it works, can lead to broader business transformation.
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?
Baton is the only organization that offers an SAP S/4HANA simulation like their ERPsim solution, although they regularly conduct online courses, which they encourage multiple members from the same team to attend together and work closely with SAP to offer sessions as part of the SAP S/4HANA Movement program. But how can you benefit from what Baton has learned?
- Focus on ensuring that business users and decision makers are a part of the education process for SAP S/4HANA. While organizations may want to ensure that their technical teams are enabled on the new platforms that SAP S/4HANA will be running on, or on the functionality that they will need to ensure that the deployment process proceeds smoothly, it is critical that business users and those who are making decisions on the project are part of that education process as well. Their education will focus on the features, functionality, and particularly the way in which processes interact, but this is just as important to the overall success of your deployment as is training your BASIS team on Linux or SAP HANA.
- Explore the value that SAP S/4HANA offers, not just the features. While much of what is available for organizations to learn about SAP S/4HANA focuses on the features of the solution, the change to the Universal Journal, or the different table structure in the database, to gain real insight business users need to understand the value of the solution. Without this understanding of the value, for example in the embedded analytics and machine learning, or in the ability to collaborate across functions, they will not truly understand the benefits that it offers.
- Translate education and understanding of value into business transformation. Most of the organizations that SAPinsider has spoken with have said that the most successful projects start with a thorough understanding of how all the processes within the organization work, and dedicated resources from business teams that are assigned to the project for its entire duration. This can be a significant commitment from those individuals which won’t be provided if they are not fully on board. But by focusing on educating users and explaining value, users will be able to see the benefits that SAP S/4HANA offers to enhance their traditional workflow, and they will support the business transformation that is required to provide more than just a technical upgrade.
About Baton Simulations
Founded in 2009, Baton Simulations is a Quebec, Canada based company that offers solutions designed to help organizations embrace new tools and technology, engage and educate people, and ensure successful digital transformation. Baton’s DAS solution is available on the SAP App Store.