In the ever-evolving landscape of enterprise technology, the successful implementation of SAP S/4HANA is a matter of strategic importance. Recently, we came across an insightful article penned by Tim Clark of SAP, based on his observations at SAPPHIRE 2016.
The “Crawl, Walk, Run” Approach to SAP S/4HANA
While concise, the article explores key concepts that are worth delving into. The paramount takeaway from Clark’s account is the “crawl, walk, run” approach adopted by Topco, an organization that embarked on an SAP S/4HANA implementation journey. Central to their success was the establishment of an “office of no” within the organization—a body tasked with scrutinizing and challenging every proposed customization request throughout the implementation process. Remarkably, they managed to reject or defer 65% of such requests, a noteworthy achievement that underscores the significance of disciplined decision-making.
Topco’s approach to SAP S/4HANA implementation, as highlighted by Clark, bears resemblance to the concept of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a well-established principle in the realm of small, agile software development. For startups, an MVP represents the initial version of a product that delivers just enough value to entice customers to pay for it. In essence, the product becomes “viable” when it garners financial support. By adhering to this principle, startups navigate the “fastest path to revenue,” strategically avoiding investments in features that may not yield returns in the short term.
Topco, on the other hand, embraced a parallel concept, which we can term the “Minimum Viable Implementation” (MVI). They asked themselves a pivotal question: “What is the minimum we need to do to implement this solution and begin extracting value from it?” Notably, this approach acknowledged that the 65% of rejected or deferred customizations were not permanently discarded. It is reasonable to assume that Topco’s leadership recognized that, after delivering the MVI, they would embark on a journey of small, rapid iterations aimed at incrementally enhancing the overall solution.
Staying committed to the principle of the MVI is not an innate behavior; it is a learned skill that demands diligence and effort. We advocate for all our SAP S/4HANA implementation clients to embrace this methodology to avoid the pitfalls of bloated and unnecessary implementation costs. Such expenditures can extend the path to value realization considerably. By diligently adhering to the MVI approach, organizations can streamline their implementation efforts, optimize resource allocation, and expedite the journey toward reaping the full benefits of SAP S/4HANA.
The SAP S/4HANA implementation journey is replete with challenges and complexities. Yet, the case of Topco’s “Minimum Viable Implementation” offers a valuable lesson in strategic decision-making and disciplined focus. In an era where efficiency and agility are paramount, organizations should consider adopting a similar approach. By adhering to the principles of the MVI, they can sidestep unnecessary costs, reduce implementation timelines, and embark on a swifter path to unlocking the true potential of SAP S/4HANA. In doing so, they will position themselves for success in an increasingly competitive business landscape.
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