SAP S/4HANA Implementations: Fastest Path To Value

We recently read this article on SAP S/4HANA implementation by Tim Clark (SAP) that he wrote while attending SAPPHIRE 2016. 

While short, I enjoyed the points he covered in the article. I think the key takeaway there was the “crawl, walk, run” approach that Topco implemented by creating an “office of no” within the organization. This office challenged every single proposed customization throughout the implementation of their SAP S/4HANA platform. They rejected or deferred 65% of customization requests, which is quite the accomplishment.

Having spent most of my career in small, agile, software development shops, Topco’s approached seemed very similar to the concept of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). From a startup software company’s perspective, an MVP is essentially the first version of your product that delivers just enough value to get a company or individual to pay you money for it. So, the product is only viable when someone is willing to give you a dollar. By staying focused on the MVP, a startup is essentially going down the “fastest path to revenue”, by avoiding investing in the development of features that won’t necessarily make the company money in a shorter period of time.

In the case of Topco, they embraced this very concept, but they were focused on the “fastest path to value”. We’ll call this a “Minimum Viable Implementation” (MVI). They essentially asked themselves, “What do I need to do, at a minimum, in order to implement this solution and begin deriving value from it?” They did this, of course, knowing that the 65% of customization rejections or deferments weren’t permanently gone. I’m sure the leadership team knew that once they delivered the MVI that they would begin small and fast iterations that would incrementally add value to the overall solution (assumption on my part).

The discipline of staying focused on your MVI doesn’t occur naturally. It’s something that is learned and requires significant effort to adhere to. We recommend that all of our SAP S/4HANA implementation clients stick to this methodology to avoid bloated and unnecessary implementation costs that will result in a much longer path to value. 

If you have liked our content on this piece, you might also like our webinar on SAP S/4HANA Implementation.


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