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SAP Readiness Check 2.0 for SAP S/4 HANA Conversion

Abstract:
Many companies are planning to convert their SAP ERP (ECC) system to an SAP S/4HANA System as the ECC maintenance end date is fast approaching. ECC Customers want to use the SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA to check the readiness of their SAP ECC system for Conversion. The SAP Readiness Check is the tool to identify whether the existing SAP ECC system is ready for Conversion to S/4HANA. SAP note 2758146 is the starting point for the SAP S/4HANA Readiness Check 2.0 and it is only available for SAP ERP Systems. It is a new version of the SAP S/4HANA Readiness Check Tool.

SAP Readiness Check 2.0 became available as of 17th May 2019. If SAP S/4 HANA Conversion consultants have not yet started their Readiness check on their customers’ system so, they should verify the new SAP Note 2758146 for Readiness Check 2.0. This is the recommendation from SAP, to use the SAP Readiness Check 2.0 to benefit from new and improved functionalities.

If you have already started to implement the prerequisites for SAP Readiness Check 1.0 you can continue to create a new analysis until September 20th, 2019. After that no new analysis can be created for SAP Readiness Check 1.0. Customers can still view the results of the old SAP Readiness Check until 31st December,2019. The Readiness Check is optional and provides high level analysis.

Introduction:
During the Discovery phase of and SAP S/4HANA Conversion Project, SAP ECC Customers want to know more about the technical and functional impacts to plan for system conversion.

To know this, Customers need to perform the SAP Readiness Check analysis during the discovery phase of the Conversion project. The SAP Readiness Check Report was released in 2017. The SAP Readiness Check is designed to assist Customers with planning and preparation activities necessary to convert an SAP ECC system to SAP S/4HANA. They can execute to verify different aspects of an existing SAP ERP system. Example: Custom code impact, SAP S/4HANA sizing, Recommended Fiori apps to replace existing transactions, Relevant simplification items, Business process analytics, Data volume management, Etc.
SAP Readiness Check Report can be executed on SAP ERP 6.0 (On any EhP, (0 to 8)) and the database can be non-Unicode or Unicode
See: https://help.sap.com/viewer/product/SAP_READINESS_CHECK/200/en-US

SAP recommend following SAP Note 2310438 to perform the SAP Readiness Check directly in your SAP ERP system. The SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA can run on SAP Solution Manager as well. For that, perform the additional setup according to SAP Note 2290622.

What will it do for you?
It checks for SAP S/4HANA conversion compatibility and necessary conversion preparation steps. The results are consolidated in an interactive dashboard for internal examination or for SAP communication.
This Readiness check evaluates some specific areas and provides information to the customer. Example: Technical system information, Installed SAP add-ons and 3rd-party add-ons, and their compliance with SAP S/4HANA targeted version. system size, custom code analysis grouped by application area.
There are two options for the SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA. Manually and using SAP Solution Manager

Use Case 1:
SAP Readiness Check 1.0

If you have already started to implement the prerequisites for SAP Readiness Check 1.0 you can continue and create a new analysis up to 11th July 2019. After that date no new analysis can be created for SAP Readiness Check 1.0. You can still view the results of your SAP Readiness Check 1.0 analysis until 31st December 2019.

Use Case 2:
SAP Readiness Check 2.0

To perform impact analysis on an existing SAP ERP system based on simplification items, SAP recommends performing the check using the production system or at least a copy of the production system.
The SAP Readiness check 2.0 report is designed to provide better analysis to ensure smooth transition to SAP S/4HANA. It checks how ready the existing SAP ECC system is to convert to SAP S/4HANA.
If you have not yet started implementing the prerequisites, please refer to SAP Note 2758146 for Readiness Check 2.0. SAP highly recommends using the new SAP Readiness Check 2.0 for you to benefit from new and improved functionalities

APIs are needed to execute the SAP Readiness Check report. SAP Notes should be installed in a sequential order. The SAP Readiness Check should be executed in the production system and must be run in the productive client. This is to ensure all checks are executed properly. If you are using a copy of the Production system (Sandbox system copied from PRD) you must follow additional steps from SAP Note 2568736.

What to do if you are using a Copy of Production for Readiness Check
If copy of the production system is used to perform the check, one issue is that the ST03N data cannot be copied. In this case, you can utilize the function provided by SAP Note 2568736. Implement the corrections attached in SAP Note 2568736 on the Copy of the Production system and also in the production system. You must also implement SAP Note 2399707 in the Copy of PRD, where the SAP Readiness Check will be performed.
SAP Note 2758146 should be referred to for the new SAP Readiness Check (Version 2.0). This SAP note provides basic setup that is needed to conduct the Readiness check and also to generate the file to request SAP Business Scenario Recommendations.

The following SAP Notes are required to perform the SAP Readiness Check analysis:
2185390 : To find the relevant custom code
1872170 : This note will enable the HANA Sizing
2399707 : This note is a prerequisite to execute SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA. (Enabling simplification item check)
2745851 : This note will enable the business process analytics
2612179 : This note will enable the DVM data collection. Some additional prerequisite notes, like 2693666 are required to implement as well
2758146 : This note is a prerequisite to execute SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA. Then, Implement the correction instructions of this note using only SNOTE. This a new note for SAP Readiness Check 2.0

Once SAP notes are installed, Execute program : RC_collect_analysis_data in the production system or where these notes are installed ( that may be copy of Production) to download all checks except the consistency check in the ZIP file.

SAP S/4 HANA Readiness Check 2.0 Steps:

Step 1: SAP Notes
If you have implemented old SAP notes, you have to un-install them. In case of ABAP class inconsistency, you need to clean up the class details.
Transaction Code : SE24

Give Object – Click Change > Provide access Key> takes you to next screen
Menu > Utilities> Regenerate Sections

Step 2: Install SAP notes 2185390 for Custom Code Analysis:
As per SAP recommendation you run the Custom Code Analyzer SYCM_DOWNLOAD_REPOSITORY_INFO in the development or test system in order to prevent the creation of the where-used index in the productive system.
Refer to SAP Note: 2185390 – Custom Code Analyzer for complete information and Manual steps that are to be done.

Step 3 : 1872170 – ABAP on HANA sizing report:
Read complete Note carefully. This note has below attachments too.

Please Note:
This SAP Note provides an ABAP report to estimate the memory and disk space requirements Business Suite on HANA, S/4HANA systems. The result of the report should be cross-checked with the sizing method for HANA main memory described in SAP Note 1793345. The report output is only an estimation of the memory requirement of HANA. SAP makes no warranties with respect to the accuracy of the result of the report.

  • If you do not have the required ST-PI and do not wish to install it, you can install the report ZNEWHDB_SIZE manually by following the steps described below in the “Solution” section. Prerequisite is SAP_BASIS 620

To run the report for all tables, run it in background mode

Sizing Report Specimen:

Step 4 : Enabling simplification item check , SAP Note : 2399707 – Simplification Item Check
It is a prerequisite SAP note to execute SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA 1809. Implement only the correction instruction from SAP Note 2399707. Read the description carefully to avoid unnecessary work. SAP Note 2502552 is not required for SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA in the discovery phase.

When running the simplification item check Report via SE38, /SDF/RC_START_CHECK), to prepare for a conversion from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA or to do an upgrade to a higher SAP S/4HANA version, this report will do two types of checks.
Transaction Code SE38

Select the appropriate version

• Relevance check
• Consistency check
Relevance check which tells you whether an item is relevant to the system or not. The relevance is calculated based on rules maintained in the simplification item catalog

Consistency check which checks whether the system is in a consistent state to ensure that the conversion can happen with Software Upgrade Manager (SUM). Only the items which are relevant to the system will be included in a consistency check. All remaining inconsistencies need to be solved before SUM enters downtime.

Step 5: Enabling business process analytics analysis – SAP Note 2745851
This note will enable the business process analytics data collection. If you want data on your analysis, make sure to use the latest version of this note. Please read the description carefully .The user who will be executing the program RC_COLLECT_ANALYSIS_ DATA should have the authorizations as described in SAP Note 2745851. Make sure authorization object SM_BPM_DET with the Characteristic of ‘OBJECT_MS’ (collected KPI´s) is assigned to the user who is executing the report. This is a new note for SAP Readiness Check 2.0. Refer to SAP notes for complete information.

Step 6: Enabling IDOC analysis, 2769657
This note will enable the IDOC data collection. Make sure you always use the latest version of this note. Implement version 40 or higher. This a new note for SAP Readiness Check 2.0

Step 7 : Enabling Data Volume Management analysis – SAP Note 2612179 This note is to enable the DVM data collection. Some additional prerequisite notes, like 2693666 need to be implemented as well. Also consider SAP Note 1159758 . For Oracle based system, check SAP Note 1482296.

Finally Setting up SAP Readiness Check – SAP Note 2758146:
This note is a prerequisite to execute SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA. Implement the correction instructions of this note using SNOTE. This is new note for SAP Readiness Check 2.0.

SAP Readiness Check Execution:
To run the check as a stand-alone:

  1. Schedule program SYCM_DOWNLOAD_REPOSITORY_INFO as background job in the development system to download the custom code header information in one zip file.
  2. Execute program TMW_RC_DOWNLOAD_ANALYSIS_DATA
    • 1. Click the button “Schedule Analysis” to schedule a job to collect data
    • 2. Click the button “Download Analysis Data” after the job is completed.

Importing data into the SAP Readiness Check application by uploading the two ZIP files using the “Import Analysis” button in https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#readiness.
The SAP Readiness Check analysis can access when the status is changed to “Ready” (this usually takes 30 to 40 minutes).

The above steps are an overview of the new SAP Readiness Check 2.0

What are SAP Business Scenario Recommendations?
You are planning to convert your SAP ERP system to SAP S/4HANA and want to use SAP Business Scenario recommendations to find out the most beneficial scenarios that would improve your business processes. “SAP Note “2758146 – SAP Readiness Check 2.0 & Next Generation SAP Business Scenario Recommendations” allow you to generate the file to request the SAP Business Scenario Recommendations.
The below is an overview to request the SAP “Business Scenario Recommendations” report for SAP S/4HANA. The report will provide tailor-made recommendations based on data extracted from your existing ECC system. It helps with the decision making process on SAP S/4HANA.
After analyzing the existing Production system, this report identifies specific Business value scenarios that are relevant to your business. This is called Business Scenario Recommendation for S/4 HANA.
To be able to request the SAP business Scenario recommendations Report, you have to implement SAP Note 2758146 and 2745851. ( if SAP note 2310438 is already installed, uninstall it)

To be able to get the BSR, your source system should be:

• SAP ERP 6.0 (EHP0 – EHP8) •
• The analysis is run only for productive SAP ERP 6.0 systems
• ST-A/PI version 01S or higher Assigned authorization object SM_BPM_DET with the Characteristic of ‘OBJECT_MS’ (collected KPI´s) to the user who is executing the report •
• Once you have generated the file you will then be able to submit your request from the website www.sap.com/next-generation-BSR
The following are included in the analysis: Finance, Sourcing and Procurement, Sales, Supply Chain and Manufacturing. Human Resources is not part of the analysis

Below is overview to request the Next-Generation SAP Business Scenario Recommendations report for SAP S/4HANA. The report will provide recommendations based on data extracted from your SAP ERP system. It will help business decision makers to understand the value of moving the current SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA.

SAP Business Scenario Recommendations Request Process Overview

  1. Step1: Implement SAP notes and Extract data (Run data extraction report and download ZIP file)
  2. Step2: Initiate your request (Fill in the form, upload the extracted ZIP file and submit your request)
  3. Step3: Confirm your request (After your request you receive an e-mail to confirm email your address, then SAP starts generating the report)
  4. Step4: SAP will send you the results report (SAP will send report via e-mail)

STEP 1: SAP notes Implementation (implement the latest available versions of the two notes)
Implement below two SAP Notes in your PRD system
SAP Note 2758146: This note contains the overall framework for data collection

SAP Note 2745851: This note contains the functionality needed to extract the business process performance metrics

STEP 2: Run Extraction Program in PRD system: ( PRD System copy shall not be used as not all the logs are available) The user who is executing the report must have assigned authorization object SM_BPM_DET (with the characteristic of ‘OBJECT_MS’).

STEP 3: Schedule the Job for Data Collection

STEP 4: Download Collected Data. Download the file to your local PC

STEP 5: Review Collected Data and do necessary checks
Verify contents of the ZIP file. Check that the right zip file is shared, the file name should start with BSR_ANA_DATA followed by your system ID and extraction date.

STEP 6: Enter your Request and Upload the ZIP File
After the file is extracted, we have to request the SAP Business Scenario Recommendations report https://msmproda7afccce3.hana.ondemand.com/Request/BSN/
Fill out the form and upload the original ZIP file. Then hit the submit button

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A look at few common SAP S/4 HANA Conversion Complication Factors

(This article is based on SAP S/4HANA 1809)

Abstract:

Aim:  To describe some of the important risk and complication factors when converting from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA.

SAP S/4HANA Conversion experts agree that SAP ECC system conversions pose the greatest risk, while there is a common misconception it is simply Data Migration and moving data from non-HANA databases to HANA databases. In some cases, Companies take the view that it is an unnecessary investment and activity. In a few cases, it could in fact be the opposite; Companies may spend more, assuming more risk than is necessary to perform SAP ECC system conversions. Complication factors and risk factors vary from system to System.  Conversion Consultants, who have the experience necessary, greatly reduce conversion cost and risk as well as being able to help migrate data from ECC systems to SAP S/4 HANA in a non-disruptive manner.

Based on my SAP S/4 HANA Conversion and upgrade project experience, I would like to provide you with some of the most important factors that contribute to the risks associated with conversion projects. I will also share with you some challenges you may face with SAP S/4 HANA 1809 conversions.  IT Departments should leverage a vendor Company, who has adequate knowledge in all of preparation and realization tasks and has experience Converting SAP ECC systems with multiple application components. This helps organizations to reduce risks and costs for the system conversion now and upgrade to newer versions of SAP S/4 HANA for the future. It will help reduce operating costs and prevent technological becoming obsolete.

Introduction:

Organizations implement new business Software Applications to replace the functionality delivering of current legacy systems. Complications may arise when there is an attempt to do this transformation without proper planning and preparation. More often, the data structure of the present legacy system maybe different from the new application. The differences may not be limited to table names, field names or attributes, but sometimes database types may be different and diverse.  To the business units, entire data being held in the current legacy system is critical for their business and decision making. To bring the data from the legacy system to the new system, Data Conversion and migration must take place in an efficient way. Very often Data Conversion and migration process tend to be risky as both the systems have different data models. Conversion consultants must analyze the data at source (Legacy) system and ensure all transactional data is complete and correct. They do this activity to check whether all documents in the source system are complete. Consultants use the result of these checks to correct inconsistent documents before starting the data migration. If data integrity checks were not strictly enforced, entire conversions and data migrations activities would fail. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced consultant on the conversion projects, who has a sound and methodological approach for conversion. This will help to address unpleasant surprises at later stages and resolve data migration issues in a quick and effective way.

SAP Customers might have invested massive amounts of time and money on their SAP ECC system (Source System). Moving to S/4 HANA   is an inevitable as SAP ECC system ends by 2025. SAP ECC system Conversion has some challenges. If you can understand the challenges in SAP S/4 HANA Conversions, they can be avoided. In this paper I will write about some of them from my experience working on Conversion and Upgrade Projects, sharing the strategies that have worked for me. Below are some of the complication factors:

  1. Pre-Migration Impact Assessment & Readiness assessment
  2. ECC System Preparation for Conversion
  3. Profitability Analysis in ECC systems
  4. House banks Migration
  5. Material Ledger and Actual Costing
  6. Migration to New Asset Accounting
  7. Technical Check of Transactional Data & Enrichment of Data
  8. Cheap & Best Policy

1. a) Pre-Migration Impact Assessment & Readiness assessment

System Conversions are always a big challenge. To understand both technical and operational complexity, “Conversion impact assessments and Readiness assessments” are done in the SAP ECC system. This helps to determine the scope of the migration, to create or review configurations in the SAP ECC system (Source system) and to ensure appropriate software and hardware exists to support any conversion activity. It also helps to lock the scope of the project and to avoid scope creep and estimate downtime, based on the hardware and software of the existing system.

Impact analyses help in Plotting Smooth Paths for Conversion. Companies spend a lot of money on migrations/conversions, but up to 60 percent of migrated/converted systems fail to meet expectations often because of flaws in the conversion process. The team will have complete visibility of the source system and transaction data which can help identify potential problems. If Conversion teams start Conversion projects without a readiness assessment and impact analysis, it is risky and the project may go over budget and could exceed allotted times and schedules.

1. b) Readiness Assessment on ECC system

When you are planning for system conversions to SAP S/4 HANA, it would be ideal to do an SAP Readiness Check against SAP S/4 HANA to verify the different aspects of the existing SAP ECC system. Such as:

  • Custom code impact
  • SAP S/4 HANA sizing
  • Replace existing transactions
  • Relevant simplification items
  • Business process analytics

The Readiness Check runs as of ERP 6.0 system. To run SAP Readiness Checks for SAP S/4 HANA, APIs are needed. To install these supporting APIs, implement the latest SAP Notes that are specified in relation to Readiness Assessments.  The Readiness Assessment helps with the transformational process and identifies any potential challenges. Therefore, doing conversion/migration projects, without Readiness Assessments, can be risky.

You can visit the help portal for Readiness Assessments via the follwing link https://help.sap.com/viewer/product/SAP_READINESS_CHECK/200/en-US

2. ECC System Preparation for Conversion

System Conversions may be hard but planning and preparing for it doesn’t have to be. The preparation phase is the most important area to success. Planning for Conversion tasks in each phase of Conversion projects is essential. It involves technical preparation, functional preparation as well as analyzing the data in the source system.

Technical consultants will verify system requirements for conversion, supported start releases, Unicode or non-Unicode, SAP ERP Java components, Data Volume, Custom code etc…

Basis Consultants will do the necessary preparation to execute a Maintenance Planner to do the conversion to SAP S/4 HANA, to verify Add-ons to your system, to verify Active business functions in your system and Industry solutions etc… The Basis Team will install the necessary Simplification item check relevant notes. The SI-Check is delivered with SAP Notes 2399707 and 2502552. SAP Note 2399707 delivers the new check report; SAP Note 2502552 delivers the check classes via transport-based correction instructions (TCI) and prerequisite notes.

All Functional consultants execute SI-Checks to identify the simplification items, relevant to the system, using transaction SE38. Report /SDF/RC_START_CHECK.

The SI check report returns a list of relevant and irrelevant simplification items. SAP recommends that you check every relevant simplification item for the impact.

Some simplification items have a consistency check. The consistency check identifies inconsistencies in the system that would be a problem during the SUM process. It also provides additional information on how to resolve the problem

Some simplification items do not have a consistency check, but nevertheless are relevant. This means that from a technical perspective a conversion of your system is possible without any action from you, but there will be an impact and you should investigate it. For example:

The SI-Checks checks the ECC system for data consistency and effects on the data after the conversion. The severity of the resulting messages indicates whether there are no inconsistencies, warnings you should look at or inconsistencies you need to resolve. The results are provided as green, yellow, or red messages as shown in the screen prints above. You might encounter problems when migrating (and executing the SUM tool) if you do not address all of the warning and error messages. SUM execution delays and project get delayed and downtime may cross scheduled downtime.

3. Profitability Analysis in Source Systems (ECC systems):

When doing system conversions, we need to pay attention to CO-PA as it is somewhat of a complicated area. Some of the important points are specified below:

a) There are many CO-PA operating concerns in the system, for which account-based profitability was active before the conversion to SAP S/4 HANA. Therefore, there are many left outer joins to CE4xxxx tables in the (generated) ABAP managed database procedures. READ_ACDOCA_12X_MATCH and READ_ACDOCA_COEP_ONLY of class ZCL_FINS_MIG_UJ_HDB_GENERATED.

You may get an issue during the execution of migration activity MUJ “Data Migration into Unified Journal: Line Items”. Refer SAP Note 2721709.

b) Check “type of Profitability Analysis” is activated in your system.

  1. If costing-based CO-PA is currently used, analyze what workarounds are being used to reconcile the profit and loss statement with costing-based CO-PA to determine whether these will be required in the future.
  2. If you currently work with costing-based CO-PA, you can continue to run both approaches in parallel, by making the appropriate settings in the controlling area. There is no direct migration from costing-based CO-PA to account-based CO-PA – you must activate Account based CO-PA manually and configure the same and generate during Year beginning.
  3. If you work with record type A: incoming sales orders, in costing-based CO-PA, these are covered in the predictive accounting approach in SAP S/4 HANA 1809.
  4. When reversing a logistical document, after Conversion to S/4 HANA, in the costing-based line items in table CE1XXXX, certain characteristics, which are filled from information in the logistical document, are initial whereas they are filled in the original line items. For example, characteristic KNDNR.
  5. For addition information, refer below to the following SAP notes 2176823 FAQ on CO-PA issues in S/4 HANA Finance (SFIN), 2439201 S/4 HANA Finance: Derivation logic when determining “attributed” profitability segments and
  6. 2399030 Splitting the costs of goods sold in S/4 HANA

4. House Banks Migration:

House banks Migration is a somewhat critical area in Conversion projects. You may get issues in this area so I would like to provide some of the issues I have encountered and resolved.

The below path is to be used to migrate existing house bank account data to the bank account master data in Bank Account Management.  To migrate house bank accounts, you can transaction FCLM_BAM_MIGRATION or menu path.

Before the migration, you must do the necessary configuration in the SPRO. See the below screen print:

Before you do a House bank migration, Check if your user ID has been assigned with the authorization object ‘F_CLM_BAM’

When the migration has finished, if you encounter any issues, that may be caused by improper configuration in the above screen or lack of essential notes specified above, you can see log FCLM_BAM_MIGRATION.

Example Error:  After migration, you get the message that the migration was successful. However, you cannot see any house bank account record in the table T012K.

To resolve this, Table Redirection may be helpful.

  1. Go to APAP dictionary view by using transaction code SE11.
  2. Fill in T012K in the filed Database table.
  3. Choose the Display button. 2.4. Choose Utilities -> Runtime Object -> Display in the menu on the top.

In the header of the active runtime object section, make sure the field Physical Table has value V_T012K_BAM.

If there is no value in the field, you must redirect the table and generate CDS Views.

Another example is where, on occasion, migrations might be successful and you will be able see house bank accounts in the table T012K. However, when you try to do transactions using these house bank accounts, you receive an error message stating that “Entry xxx does not exist in T012K (check entry)”.

To resolve this issue, check the version of the NetWeaver support package as follows:

  1. Log into the system.
  2. Run System -> Status… in the menu on the top.
  3. Choose the Other Kernal Info. button

Check if the Kernal release is 773. Please upgrade Netweaver to at least Kernel release 742, support package 36.

5. Material Ledger / Actual Costing 

Material Ledger Migration is a somewhat complicated area. If SAP’s Conversion guide, Simplification guide and Relevant SAP notes are not followed 100%, there is a high probability any conversion will fail!

The material ledger migration is needed when you are doing:

  1. Conversion from SAP ECC to SAP S/4 HANA (if you are using ML in ECC or even if you are not using ML in your existing system – ML migration steps are mandatory)
  2. Conversion from SAP Simple Finance 2.0 (1503) or 3.0 (1605) to SAP S/4 HANA

Material Ledger Migration is not needed when you are doing SAP ERP to SAP S/4 HANA Finance (Simple Finance) 1503 or 1605.

When we are converting an SAP ECC system to SAP S/4 HANA, on-premise edition 1809, even if you are not using Material Ledger, it will be activated during the conversion process.

Step 1:

Execute the following steps in the ECC system prior to the Conversion to SAP S/4 HANA (Preparation Phase).

  1. Firstly, apply the corrections that are provided in note 2240666: This note contains the ABAP check class that is called, by the ABAP program, FINS_MIG_PRECHECK_CUST_SETTNGS.
  2. Then apply the corrections of this note 2129306 to create the report.
  3. Afterwards start the program FINS_MIG_PRECHECK_CUST_SETTNGS to perform the checks.

In case the result list of this program contains error messages, you can find information about any root cause and potential solution in note 2245333.

The program FINS_MIG_PRECHECK_CUST_SETTNGS shall be started in all clients <> 000: In client 000 no checks will be performed, since the customizing content in client 000 will be overwritten anyway by the sFIN content during the upgrade to sFIN.

After your system is upgraded to S/4 HANA Finance or S/4 HANA, please check whether the corrections of note 2209641 are relevant, since the report can also be executed after the upgrade.

Step 2:

Verify if Material Ledger Actual Costing has been activated already in the system before the conversion to SAP S/4 HANA. (in the ECC system)

You can verify if Material Ledger Actual Costing is active for one or more plants via IMG / SAP Customizing Implementation Guide (transaction SPRO) or at table T001W, field MGVUPD. ‘X’

With S/4 HANA the data model for material ledger has been changed a lot, especially when actual costing is active.

Before system conversion is started, all ML costing runs, no matter if actual costing (transaction CKMLCP) or alternative valuation run (transaction CKMLCPAVR) must be completed. For example, step ‘post-closing’ should be successfully executed.  There should be no errors.

For all ML costing runs created in the source system, the post-closing step needs to be finished. It will not be possible to process costing runs created earlier in the new release.

No materials with status ‘open’.

After system conversion to SAP S/4 HANA, it will not be possible to do any changes on costing runs created before the system conversion.

However, you can just display old CKMLCP runs although you cannot make any changes. After the migration of the material ledger data to S/4 HANA you want to display a run created before the migration, you can use transaction CKMLCPOLD or CKMLCPAVROLD. The create/ change functions are not active.

For all ML costing runs created in the start release, the Post Closing step needs to be finished. It will not be possible to process costing runs created earlier in the new release.

You can create new costing runs for previous periods or for the current period, after data conversion in the new system, but it is important to have no incomplete costing runs, where just some steps have been started and kept incomplete. You are also not allowed to change Material Ledger costing runs, nor to run steps of Material Ledger costing runs during the process of system conversion (before closing the cockpit). It is not possible to activate or deactivate Material Ledger Actual Costing during the process of system conversion for one or more plants.

Step 3:

Define the currency and valuation types that are relevant for Material Ledger using transaction OMX2.

Afterwards, assign this ML Type to your valuation area using transaction OMX3.

The following preparation steps are necessary in SAP S/4 HANA..

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SAP S/4 HANA: A Digital Supply Chain and Intelligent Enterprise

The goal of many enterprise organizations is to conceive, build and deliver an innovative product to customers at the right time and right price.  This involves a chain of events, which need to be perfectly orchestrated and then repeated over and over again. This requires many solutions functioning in an intelligent and coordinated way to ensure the organization achieves its goals. SAP has multiple solutions available, which enable an organization to build a supply chain digitally. Let’s touch upon some of them in this Blog article.

This Blog post will help Pre-sales and Business experts, who need to possess a broad understanding of many SAP solutions allowing them to evaluate customer situations and propose an appropriate SAP solution. In fact, they need to orchestrate SAP solutions as a Digital Supply Chain, to satisfy customer’s requirements.

Three key pillars of any product organization can be shown as follows:

Exhibit-1

Research & Development and Engineering the Product

In Process Industries, the end-product is typically a compound or solution (for example, different shades of paint in paint industry) based on different formulations using different ingredients. Developing such recipes for different end products is a huge R&D exercise. Managing such specifications, formulations and other such information digitally in central systems helps the R&D and Engineering teams’ organization. SAP Recipe Development can handle these and it also helps in streamlining the formulations, real-time simulations, define equipment requirements and all related needs around R&D.

R&D Innovations require collaboration with suppliers and customers on a real time team work basis. SAP S/4HANA Cloud for Intelligent Product Design solution offers a collaboration platform for such needs. It has features to exchange product data, documents, Bill of Materials and it also has workflows to control data/document movements. 

In discrete manufacturing industries, the end-product is typically a physical object made of iron, aluminium or other such materials. R&D in these industries involves visualising a product, adhering to physical attributes such as shape, size etc…. The challenges here are entirely different from the ones in Process Industries (talked above). The diagram below in Exhibit-2 shows the product life cycle complexity in a nutshell. Product visualization is an important aspect of designing a product. Also creating holistic definitions for complex products is important. SAP Engineering Control Centre and SAP 3D Visual Enterprise are solutions to handle these requirements.

Exhibit -2 (Credits: SAP SE)

Managing costs for New Product Developments, and customer specific engineered products, is very important for an organization. It is natural that organizations would like to minimize the cost of products, early on at the stage of development itself, to understand the cost drivers and simulate the cost for various levers that influence product cost. SAP Product Lifecycle costing is a solution that handle these requirements.

Mainly in Process Industries, and also at times in Discreet manufacturing industries, there are quite a few legal regulations that comes into play. Some of these require attention at the time of product development and some after the product is manufactured. These require credible auditable data captured, especially during the development stage. SAP S/4HANA for Product Compliance is a solution that handles these requirements.

R&D and Engineering a product is a large program sometimes running into many years. It becomes complex when multiple products are in concurrent development. Any organization that constantly innovates new products, must continuously collect ideas, evaluate them and document the most appropriate ones to turn them into products. Then comes:

  1. the tasks of launching them as projects
  2. assigning skilled resources
  3. allocating budgets
  4. controlling their costs
  5. ensuring collaboration with suppliers and third parties as needed
  6. ensure compliances
  7. manage to bring out a new product for market launch.

SAP Portfolio and Project Management is a solution that handles the entire set of requirements, we mentioned above.

Plan and Manufacture:

Providing the product at the right time, price and place in terms of customer requirements, needs a well-oiled supply chain. It involves the following:

  1. Developing accurate statistical forecasts for short-term and mid-term demand
  2. Ensuring an optimum level of inventory (finished goods and raw material) to satisfy customer demands and manufacturing requirements
  3. Having an optimal business plan to ensure revenue growth and market share
  4. Automate manufacturing processes and resources to manufacture products efficiently and of good quality
  5. Gather manufacturing data and gain insights to ensure lower operational costs of manufacturing, across multiple plants/geographies

SAP Integrated Business Planning is a solution that handles most of the planning related requirements. Its Sales and Operations Planning functionality provides a cross-departmental plan which balances inventory, profitability and customer service levels. Inventory optimization functionality provides optimal inventory levels which also provides a buffer to meet unexpected demands. The Forecasting and Demand management function, provides short term, midterm and long-term forecasting based on demand sensing and statistical forecasting abilities.  

SAP Manufacturing Execution is a solution that digitizes manufacturing processes. It integrates the business systems in a cost efficient and resource efficient manner. Based on Industry 4.0 technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT), it helps to improve operational visibility with near real time information. Using near real time data, it helps to identify and resolve product quality and productivity issues quickly. It has abilities to meet individualization requirements of products and still maintain quality, productivity and margins in products.

SAP Manufacturing Insights is a solution that gathers data based on IoT. It is integrated with SAP Cloud Platform to provide holistic analytics across all manufacturing operations. It has preconfigured industry standard manufacturing Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and also provides for building organization specific KPIs. It has abilities to allow businesses to build customer specific processes for planning, execution, maintenance and quality. It provides for global visibility of manufacturing KPIs across all the plants segmented by site, regional or at global level.

Transport and Deliver:

The transportation and delivery of goods to the customer poses its own challenges to every organization. It varies from organization to organization depending on the type of products, customers, demand, geographies, transportation modes and distribution network. The following three key areas are relevant in this context:

  1. Handling and managing the transportation units in the Yard
  2. Organizing the manufactured products in warehouse and shipping them efficiently
  3. Ensuring the shipment reaches the customer, whatever the mode of transport might be

SAP Yard Logistics is a solution that provides a link between the distribution & transportation operations and the warehouse. It has functions to streamline planning, execution and settlement of yard tasks with full integration into back-end processes. It handles IoT based data capture. It is simple to adapt yard processes for different transportation means and yards. It helps to efficiently utilize workforce and assets in yard. It has integration with both SAP Transportation Management and SAP Extended Warehouse Management solutions. It also has a function for Gate-IN and Gate-Out Processes of transportation units. The following exhibit-3 brings the reader to a context of this solution:

Exhibit-3 (Credits: SAP SE)

SAP Extended Warehouse Management is a solution that handles all the operations related to tasks within a warehouse. It has functions to coordinate the selection of correct items from warehouse racks, packing of the products, staging of the packages to relevant loading areas and enabling the loading operations. It has functions to automate warehouses by integrating the material handling equipment and data collection devices. It also provides for product returns handling.

SAP Transportation Management is a solution that provides for freight, fleet and logistics management to get real time visibility into domestic, as well as global, transportation across all transportation modes such as road, rail, air and sea. It has functions to manually plan or map-based plan or automated planning and dynamic re-planning options. It can track and manage driver resources. It can build pallets with rule-based optimization. It can automatically update freight documents and truck information. It can handle freight costing and settlement. It also has integration with SAP Order management. 

Summary:

It is imperative to have a seamless and digitally connected supply chain from conceiving a product until its final delivery to customers, to run a profitable organization and to beat the competition. SAP has provided a variety of intelligent and connected solutions to handle each stage efficiently. They provide a lot of exciting opportunities, for Consultants and Pre-Sales experts to build their capabilities and orchestrate an end-to-end process according to customer needs, using these solutions and components.  In essence, we may confidently say, “Building a digital supply chain helps to build an Intelligent Enterprise”.

Author : Ravi Srinivasan , SAP Alumni

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IDOC Management and Error Handling in SAP S/4 HANA

“For every process, an IDOC”. That’s the sales pitch from SAP, and there is no doubt that IDOCs offer a useful way of linking two different systems and passing data between them. This is useful in Electronic Data Interchange functions (EDI). 

Processes within the same system can also be managed via automated IDOCs too. 

So what is an IDOC? The acronym stands for “Intermediate Document” and is simply a container which houses data and is passed to another function either within the same system or to another system. Both inbound and outbound IDOCs are supported in SAP. 

The IDOC itself is made up of three tiers: 

Tier 1 – The Control Record 

The control record shows you the direction, basic type and message type of the IDOC. It also shows you the sender and recipient partners. 

Tier 2 – The Data Records 

The data records houses all the segments of the IDOC. Each segment contains data which is used in the recipient system to fulfil the process in question. 

Tier 3 – The Status Records 

Shows all the status records which the IDOC has gone through in its lifetime, in reverse chronological order. 

So where can you see IDOCs in the system? There are numerous places in S/4 where you can see IDOCs. A traditional ECC6.0 approach uses area menu WEDI, which is also available in Fiori.  

From WEDI, a functional consultant can define all EDI processes through IDOC management. There is plenty of documentation out there as to how the EDI process can be configured; this blog post does not cover that area. 

Traditional approaches to error handling in IDOC management will use transactions such as WE02, WE05, WE09, WE19 and BD87. This can be frustrating navigating between the various transactions for a Help Desk analyst who is trying to identify errors. 

However, SAP S/4 HANA has addressed this and offers an improved version of all these with transaction WLF_IDOC (Fiori app “IDOC processing”): 

This app acts as a cockpit for all the former ECC6.0 transactions mentioned above. All varieties of selections are available here on the various tabs on the selection screen. The “Criteria for data record” can be used to search within segments for specific data (as is possible in the traditional WE09 approach). 

From this cockpit, you can navigate directly to the IDOCs and execute all the functions you require. 

Functions of the new app:Details icon: Details icon:

1. Display IDOC

This icon shows you a summary dialog box with the details from the Control record: 


2. Display IDOC:

This opens up the IDOC in a new style view from the traditional views in WE02, WE05 or BD87. The control data record is not shown as this can be seen from the Details icon (see above). Instead the IDOC segments are shown on the left and details are displayed in the bottom right section of the window. The Status Record of the IDOC is shown in the top left and can be hidden. 

3. Edit IDOC:

This is the same as the display function but the segments are available for editing. 

4. Process:

This allows you to process the IDOC in the event of the IDOC being as yet unprocessed, or in error state. The options displayed when hitting the “process” button are Online (process the IDOC in the foreground), dialog BD87 (process the IDOC using the traditional BD87 route) or background (process the IDOC in the background). 

5. Change View:

This option controls the layout of the view of the IDOCs. The options are: 

Selecting “by Status” will group the entries by status as below. In this example, we have one IDOC in error status (status 51) and three with status 12, dispatch OK. These are grouped on the right-hand side by message type. 

Selecting “by Type” instead of “by Status” will group the IDOCs the other way around. 

6. Send IDOC via RFC

This option allows the IDOC to be sent out to a specific RFC destination. Spot the standard SAP spelling error! 

7. Compare IDOC

This is a really useful tool to compare two IDOCs (such as the two above) which look the same but one has failed. In the event that the status message you receive from SAP against the failed IDOC is not necessarily enough to identify the error, you can list out the differences between a successful IDOC and the unsuccessful one and go through each segment to see where you have an issue. 

8. Change Control Record:

Does exactly what it says on the tin – you can use this function to change the control record of the IDOC. 

9. Copy IDOC and Delete Segment

Here you can create your own copy of an existing IDOC with a specific segment deleted. SAP will ask you for the segment name when you hit this option. There is a similar option in the “More” functions to run the traditional WE19 option to create a copy version of the IDOC: 

10. Change the status of an IDOC

Fairly often, if an error in an IDOC is manually corrected in the document, the IDOC status should be changed to reflect that. In the past, this had to be done by running programs such as RC1_IDOC_SET_STATUS. However, by selecting this option, SAP allows you to amend the status in the IDOC (normally to status 68 – “Error – no further processing”): 

So who should run the IDOC error handling functions within your business? This is really a question only you can answer. Accepted wisdom suggests that if your use of ALE and EDI technology is relatively light, then the monitoring process can be handled by your SAP help desk. However, normally if companies use IDOCs, then they are too numerous to handle within the IT arena. My advice would be as follows: 

  • Set up or allocate an existing team with the authorisation to display, edit, change the status and reprocess IDOCs. This team should be a centralised function and be comprised of “super users” within your organisation. 
  • Set up a custom Fiori tile with a function module in the background which runs a variant of WLF_IDOC to show all IDOCs in “error” status. The function module should show the number of errors on the front. This will enable the centralised team to see immediately how many IDOCs need addressing without having to run reports. It also means that you do not need to go to the effort of setting up workflow processes in SAP to email users in the event of failed IDOCs. The dynamic Fiori tile should look something like the following: 
  • Any error messages which cannot be resolved (and you will inevitably get these) should be passed by the centralised team to the IT team to handle.  
  • The aim should be to keep the number of error IDOCs at zero. Any which cannot be resolved should be manually addressed in the documents and then the IDOC status amended to 68. 
  • Once ALE/EDI processes are in train, the monitoring of the errors must begin immediately. 

If handled correctly, IDOC management can revolutionise your business, streamline your process flows and allow a greater degree of automation of key functions. 

Good Luck!

Author: Jon Simmonds – Solution Architect

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One of my tasks, in a recent project I was involved in, was to automate the creation of outbound delivery together with picking of goods and post goods issue. For that purpose, I used SAP Java Connector and SAP HANA JDBC Driver.

In this blog post, it is not my intention to discuss the code itself (as usual, it consists of successive calling of appropriate SAP BAPI’s). Rather, I wish to point out the two choices I have made which, in my belief, can serve as good practice if you are looking for a simple, elegant solution to a complex issue.

The choices I am referring to are listed in the points below, together with their advantages:

1. Using SQLScript to express business logic

Advantages:

  • avoids massive data copies to the application server and leveraging sophisticated parallel execution strategies of the database;
  • reduces complexity of SQL Statements by breaking up a complex SQL statement into many simpler ones.

2. Using the same anonymous SQLScript block in all HANA landscape systems

An anonymous block is an executable DML statement which can contain imperative or declarative statements and is defined and executed in a single step.

All SQLScript statements, supported in procedures, are also supported in anonymous blocks.

Advantages:

  • you can pass an anonymous block as a string parameter in the JDBC executeQuery method
  • there is no need for transporting stored procedures across the HANA system landscape (DEV –> TEST –> PRD).

The screenshot below shows an example of fetching all sales order items that can be delivered to a customer:

The local table variable main_dlv_items is bound to the select statement which returns sales order items on sales stock filtered for one particular sales order type and customer. The filtering is essential for reducing the amount of data as early as possible, especially before the Join operations.

The local table variable dlv_obj_level1 is bound to SQL, which consumes table variable main_dlv_items in the FROM clause by joining it with subquery for level 1 items. In the same manner, the local table variable dlv_obj_level2 is bound to SQL, which consumes table variable dlv_obj_level1 in the FROM clause by joining it with subquery for level 2 items.

In the end, the union of all three mentioned table variables is returned.

To keep an anonymous SQLScript block identical in all HANA landscape systems, I use the sessionVariable: connection option in the JDBC connection string. Session variables are defined in key-value pairs, and I use the CLIENT key to pass the client value:

String hanaConnStr = “jdbc:sap://host:port?databaseName=PRD&sessionVariable:CLIENT=”+CLIENT;

In the SQLScript, I can read the value by using the SESSION_CONTEXT function with ‘CLIENT’ as an argument. When you execute your anonymous SQLScript block in the DBACOCKPIT transaction, the client session variable is passed implicitly.

The changes are tracked in one place – the Java IDE with integrated support for Git, Mercurial, Subversion, CVS or ClearCase repositories.

This screenshot shows a code excerpt which relates to the described solution:

Epilogue

It may be worth comparing this solution to the initial SQL based solution which I also tried using for the same purpose:

Obviously, the SQL is less readable and, on top of that, it unnecessarily executes marked joins three times, which is both time consuming and resource intensive.

Appendix

Another example uses an anonymous SAPScript block for creating reports in Microsoft Power BI Desktop. The customers and vendors in cash management and liquidity forecast are assigned to a planning group that reflects certain characteristics, behaviours and risks of the customer or vendor group. This enables you to categorise incoming and outgoing payments based on the amount, the type of business relation, or the probability of the cash inflow or outflow.

Our sales report returns the three greatest sales orders by net value for top ten customers in a particular planning group:

Summary

In SAP, most of the business logic is implemented in the application layer.

This architecture has two major drawbacks:

  1. algorithms implemented in ABAP/Java do not automatically scale with the amount of data that needs to be analysed
  2. data transfer time is growing with the amount of data that needs to be transferred from the database into the application layer.

The data-intensive application logic should stay at database level as much as possible. We can achieve this goal by using SAP HANA SQLScript, which is designed to provide superior optimisation by using massive parallelisation on multi-core CPUs.

By using an anonymous SQLScript block, we can combine the power of SQLScript with “good old” ABAP/Java imperative development paradigm.

I hope you have enjoyed this quick look into SAP HANA Development. Stay tuned to Eursap’s SAP Blog, where we will be looking into other interesting SAP HANA Development in the coming weeks.

Author: Tomislav Milinovic 

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Housekeeping in SAP OTC (S/4HANA and ECC6

We all know that the SAP Order to Cash (OTC/O2C) solution is a flexible, all singing, all dancing solution for complicated industries; almost all scenarios are catered for within the standard SAP offering. However, with this flexibility comes complexity. All too often, companies implement SAP along linear team structures without accounting for a more holistic overview of the Order to Cash function. What this can lead to, if not addressed, is unknown bottlenecks, “missing” documents and the general feeling that there is an SAP Black Hole sucking up documents and potential revenue.

Never fear! SAP has standard solutions for all these issues. The traditional ECC6 approach demands knowledge of a suite of transactions to address this. The world of S/4 HANA simplifies that somewhat with some handy apps but also provides the opportunity to group together the housekeeping transactions, into a Fiori User Group, for assessment – more of this later. Further opportunities in Fiori lie in developing custom tiles and apps to drive work out to the users in question.

Let’s start with S/4, where SAP provides a few useful tools in its frontend, Fiori.

The app “My Sales Overview” is a sales cockpit containing many Fiori “cards” displaying various components:

Inside the cockpit, firstly you have the ability to filter all the data on the cards by numerous criteria:

The cards can be seen below. From each one you can navigate to the relevant documents.

The most useful in terms of housekeeping are the following cards:

From these cards you can drill into the details and see what the issues are:

The same screen also highlights the options you have available when you select a line. For example, when I select this line, SAP realises that the only options available are to reject, resolve the incompletion log, remove the billing block or display the process flow. By clicking on the option, the action is carried out.

Fiori offers more opportunities to highlight housekeeping activities which need carrying out. Tiles can display dynamic data on the front to show how many of a certain type of document match the criteria. For example, this tile shows that there is one order or contract which is blocked for delivery:

These tiles can be very useful and are extremely easy to write yourself. If you have a customised Z report, you can add a tile to it in Fiori as standard, but then link that tile to a customised function module which calls a variant of the report. The options here are to display the number returned from that variant on the front of the tile, in differing colours depending upon your criteria. Even small graphs can be displayed on the front of the tiles.

Not let’s turn our attention to ECC6, which is still the most prevalent SAP system around.

It’s a worthwhile exercise adding all the transactions into a Favourites folder such as below, for ease of access. Remember, if you are using S/4, you can still do this in Fiori by creating a user group for all the relevant transactions to group them together. You can even overlay function modules on the tiles to display the relevant quantities.

What are the main housekeeping points in Order to Cash which need addressing?

  • Master data checks: customers
  • Incompletion logs
  • Expired quotations
  • Expired contracts
  • Duplicate documents
  • Sales documents blocked for delivery
  • Sales orders blocked for billing
  • Billing documents not transferred to accounting
  • Sales to purchasing error handling

1. Master Data Checks: Customers

SAP provides us with two handy transactions for checking customers’ master data: OV50 and OV51.

OV50 is a high-level report which can be used to check customers who are not set up in sales areas or company codes.

The output of the report is not great, but it can be used as a simple checking tool.

OV51 can be used to view all changes to customers.

It can also be used to show “creations” by sorting on the “new value” in the output screen.

2. Incompletion Logs

Documents such as sales orders and deliveries can be incomplete and just sit there, not going anywhere until someone addresses them manually. These need to be picked-up and quickly; this is a potential source of missing revenue which cannot be ignored!

SAP provides various transactions to get to these documents, but the overall transaction for all incomplete sales documents is V.00.

From here you can navigate directly to the sales document and correct the data, thus allowing the document to progress.

Other transactions exist for each document type:

  • V.04 Incomplete Quotations
  • V.02 Incomplete Sales Orders
  • V.05 Incomplete Scheduling Agreements
  • V.06 Incomplete Contracts
  • V_UC Incomplete Outbound Deliveries

3. Expired Documents

  • Quotations

Expiring or expired quotations can be viewed using SDQ1 and SDQ2

Expiring or expired contracts can be viewed using SDV1 and SDV2

4. Duplicate Documents

Transaction SDD1 will show potential duplicates.

The system carries out checks for duplicates by comparing:

  • Customer (sold-to)
  • Net Value
  • Material
  • Quantity
  • Creation date
  • Customer reference

The output of the report shows a traffic light status, grouped by customer.

  • Green for the customer means no duplicates.
  • Yellow means potential duplicates (some fields above match including customer, creation date and material)
  • Red means duplicates exist (all fields above match)

5. Sales Orders Blocked for Delivery

Transaction V.14 can be used for this.

This is a VERY simple report for information only. Can be used in list mode or summary mode:

List mode with drill down to document functionality.                       

Summary mode with drill down to customer or material functionality.

6. Sales Order Blocked for Billing

Transaction V23 will show you sales orders which are blocked for billing. The restriction here is that it only shows orders where the block is at header level. Item level blocks are not considered.

You can navigate to the sales order from the transaction itself.

7. Billing Documents Not Transferred To Accounting

Transaction VFX3 shows all billing documents where an accounting document does not exist. This is useful for the finance team to see where errors in the transfer have taken place. From the report, you can release the document using the green flag and then view the error log.

8. Sales to Purchasing Error Handling

SAP delivers two very useful transactions to trouble shoot your third-party sales orders.

Transaction VA07 shows sales order numbers next to their respective purchase requisition and purchase order. Any discrepancies are shown up in the report. From the report you can navigate to the individual documents themselves. Once the error is cleared, it will no longer show on the report. The report can be run by sales order number or by deviation category (the SAP error message).

Transaction VA08 is almost identical, except the selection screen offers the opportunity to run all sales orders for a given sales area.

Conclusion

By managing your transactional and master data effectively, using either Fiori Launchpad tools or ECC6.0 transactions, you can get on top of the game, maximise your revenue and identify all your pain points in advance. That at least, should be music to your business leads’ ears.

Author: Jon Simmonds – Solution Architect

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SAP Hiring Managers can identify the best candidates for SAP jobs through technical screening but should also consider that they need more than just hard skills – they need to hire for values and the right attitude in order to successfully build a team that can deliver a successful SAP implementation.

Hiring Managers (Interviewers) can identify great candidates for their SAP team through skilful questioning. Below are some of our suggested questions for SAP interviewers. SAP candidates (interviewees) can also benefit from reading these, to understand an interview from the interviewer’s perspective. Interviewees should also read Eursap’s previous blog post: “How should I prepare for an SAP Interview? – SAP Interview Tips“.

1. Imagine that an SAP system goes live soon – what is a possible worst-case scenario for the go-live and how will you handle it?

In the final stretch of an SAP implementation, a consultant will be flooded with last-minute changes and troubleshooting. Despite all these conflicting orders, the go-live date doesn’t change. A good candidate will be able to recall from experience and demonstrate the worst thing that can happen in this scenario and provide a solution. This requires a good handle on setting priorities, even if everything is urgent, which is often the case. A project manager wants someone on their team who can manage time and expectations, someone who can make intelligent decisions when given the choice between urgent and important. Someone who can anticipate worst case scenarios so that they are ready to resolve them – or prevent them from happening in the first place.

2. What are the top 3 SAP modules that you can talk about in detail?

No SAP consultant can work as an island. Teamwork requires one’s intention and ability to understand other team members and their work. A project manager wouldn’t want a candidate who is very good at their module but disregards others. A good candidate will have competent cross-component functional knowledge.

Talking about SAP modules, apart from the one(s) they specialise in, will help demonstrate a candidate’s intention to work in synchronicity with other members of the group. For example, the procurement process in SAP Materials Management (MM) ends with paying a vendor for delivered goods, which is in the domain of SAP Financial Accounting (FI). Processing a customer’s sales order in SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) is considered complete upon handling a customer’s payment, which is managed in SAP Financial Accounting (FI). Cross-component knowledge allows an SAP consultant to paint a bigger and clearer picture to diverse stakeholders they will interact with. SAP integration is also an important point for any SAP Consultant – knowing the touching points between the different related modules.

Having an interest in more than their own modules of speciality also demonstrates a candidate’s drive for growth.

3. Can you explain this SAP business process to me as if I was a 12-year-old?

A lot of candidates can talk about their vast knowledge in SAP. They can tell you their history, how many modules, how many companies and successful implementation cycles they have been involved in etc…. A real master can translate the same enthusiasm and knowledge to any audience – even a 12-year-old!

In the real world, consultants encounter clients who may not necessary understand SAP and its inner workings. It is important that a consultant knows enough of the subject to relay aspects that are relevant to the client, in a language that they will understand. This helps ensure meetings and correspondence are smoother between consultant and end user. An SAP Consultant who can only explain things at one level (to one type of audience) is not going to do well in an implementation project.

4. What can you say about traditional project methodologies Vs Agile?

Not all SAP consultants may be knowledgeable in project management concerns such as implementation methodology. But Agile has been a pervading trend for years and anyone who keeps themselves updated will have an opinion about it. It will also be an opportunity for the candidate to show their wider know-how, experience, and openness and ability to adapt to change.

5. What’s more important, completing the scope perfectly or completing on time?

This question does not have one correct answer. Different PMs will have different opinions, but a candidate’s answer will show what’s important to them, what their strengths are and what kind of values they have. Some will put a higher value on doing everything right the first time whilst others will see the benefits of responding to business requirements fast and improving along the way. There is a lot that can be learnt from a candidate’s working style and ethics based on the defence of their answer.

6. How will you incorporate a company-specific business process that does not align with SAP best practices? Will you change the process or customise the SAP system?

With this question, the project manager will be able to assess the candidate’s conflict-handling skills. Deeper than that, their resolution will demonstrate their business acuity. They should recall a concrete example from experience from a specific industry. They should be able to assess how important the deviation is from best practices. An industry expert may be able to approach the challenge from a process perspective – after all, SAP is a technology that enables businesses to run well. The candidate may be knowledgeable in new SAP features that may solve the problem. They should be able to assess whether the effort and cost to develop ABAP customisations will benefit the business.

7. What was the worst situation you have ever had with a client and how you did you handle that situation?

SAP consultants will have to deal with different personalities and different user groups such as IT, other SAP consultants, project managers etc… and even stakeholders! In an important investment like an SAP implementation, it is likely they will face some tough situations with the client. A good SAP candidate should be up for this challenge and know how to deal with the various problems that may arise along the way.

Describing their worst situation will demonstrate what irritates the candidate, how patient they are or what attitude they prefer from the people they work with. More importantly, their answer to this question will show how well they are able to handle pressure. If they are good at coping with a hostile environment, they will be excellent when working with a nurturing team.

8. How long and how often do you think update meetings should be?

Once again, there are many ways to answer this question. Some prefer daily stand-up meetings whilst others prefer publishing updates in a communication tool and only require face-to-face meetings for clarifications. Others are comfortable facilitating frequent meetings but follow a strict protocol to make them as effective as possible. A project manager will be able to better understand a candidate’s leadership skills, ability to delegate, and approach time management. Perhaps the PM can even pick up a new idea or two about meetings.

9. What tools do you use to document your work?

A lot of people dislike documentation – it’s tedious and often takes you away from the work you should be doing. But it is a must! Smart candidates will have creative ways to get their documentation completed effectively and efficiently, through apps, a distribution scheme or other tactics. Their answer to this question will also give the project manager a clue relating to their organisation skills. A lot of the team’s effort can be protected if only everybody documented and filed things neatly and diligently.

10. What did you like best about Bill McDermott’s latest SAP keynote?

Updating oneself with the latest in their profession takes only a few minutes of online research. A project manager will want an SAP consultant who believes in the product, in helping the client achieve their business goals through SAP, and cares enough to know the latest in the SAP community. If a client talks about the latest news in SAP, they would expect their SAP Consultants to know and have an opinion on these.

A professional recruiter’s advice:

“Don’t be afraid to challenge a candidate during an interview. If you suspect they might have an issue in a certain area, you should really test them on that point. Don’t just ask them about it, make them experience it in the interview itself. I’ll give you a couple of examples:

If you suspect that a candidate may not be able to handle time pressure, ask them a difficult question and give them 60 seconds to give you ten examples/answers. This is a great way to see if their performance changes once the clock is ticking. SAP Consultants need to think quickly and deal with time-pressure, especially in the crucial latter stages of an SAP Go-live.

If you suspect they may not cope well with criticism, don’t just ask them “how do you handle criticism?”, instead find a mistake or poor aspect of their SAP CV or application form and highlight this to them. It will give you a far better insight into how they handle constructive criticism and whether they are able to deal with it positively. Are they able to acknowledge their mistakes? Are they able to stay cool and calm and defend their position? Can they give reasons/examples for why you should not rule them out due to this one mistake? Or will they take offence and give an unprofessional response?

Don’t be too soft during an interview! SAP projects can be difficult, pressurised and full of challenges – recreating some similar scenarios during the interview will be far more revealing than just a friendly chat. It is however important to strike the right balance during an interview. It is a two-way process (the interviewee is also judging you, and deciding if they want to work for your company!). You want the overall experience to be a positive one, leaving a good impression.

Don’t start the interview with a deeply challenging approach, sandwich this part between some more pleasant topics later on in the interview. Such challenging should only be done if the traits you wish to test are deemed as essential for the job itself, and if the candidate has given you good reason to have doubts about this specific area.

Not every interview should be the same. An experienced and skilful interviewer will know how to get the balance right and how to adapt their interviewing approach as per the specific situation”

Daniel Patel – SAP Recruitment Delivery Director Eursap  

Final remarks:

For SAP Hiring Managers it can often be a hard task to decide between candidates that are all technically strong. Hiring managers should not only consider the technical skills but also the values and soft-skills of the candidates – making sure they are a good fit for the company and the team! This can be achieved through carefully planned questioning: Open questions, which allow the candidates to talk in detail; probing questions that give a deep insight and prompt experience-based examples.

SAP candidate screening can be a difficult and time-consuming process, often involving many steps. The financial and time cost of a bad hire can be astronomical! SAP Hiring Managers may wish to consider the use of an SAP specialist recruitment agency like Eursap to handle the bulk of this workload and expertise for them.

Authors: Marvi Torres and Jawad Akhtar

Are you looking for an SAP Specialist Recruitment Agency to handle the time-consuming initial screening/interviewing for you? – If so, Eursap is ready to help. Contact us today to see how we can help with your SAP recruitment needs: info@eursap.eu / +44 (0) 203 1500 318

The post 10 Questions an SAP Interviewer Should Ask an SAP Interviewee. appeared first on Eursap.

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One of the important goals of a finance team, in any organisation, is to publish an annual audited consolidated financial statement to its shareholders in a timely manner.  This is the most challenging time for finance teams in any organisation, as many tasks must be accomplished with 100% accuracy within a limited timescale. There were targeted solutions, such as Hyperion, available to organisations to achieve consolidation functions for more than a decade. The growth of business requirements nowadays demands high performance in every function of the organisation almost on a continuous basis. Leveraging better IT solutions and availability of telecom infrastructure, organisations have already moved or are moving into newer operational models such as centralised shared services.

SAP S/4HANA Central Finance (CFIN) is an innovative solution to address organisations’ need for consolidations and centralisation of certain functions on a real time basis. This article helps Solution Architects and Strategy Consultants to have an overview of SAP Central Finance, approaches necessary to adopt Central Finance and new centralisation functions which can leverage Central Finance as a pivot and bring more value to customers.

SAP Central Finance is an SAP S/4HANA system, which can be an independent instance, receiving real time financial transactions via replication servers from SAP or Non-SAP systems. There are many benefits of using Central Finance. It provides real-time planning and consolidation of transactions. It facilitates a scalable local as well as central process execution in a complimentary way to source ERP systems. It helps customers to leverage advanced finance data architecture such as “Universal Journal”.

Many times, organisations have legacy SAP instances, such as SAP ECC or even SAP 4.x, along with non-SAP systems and certain point-solutions. It would be a huge challenge for them to migrate from those systems into SAP S/4 HANA. This is one such situation where SAP Central Finance can help. Let us see the key use cases below.


Exhibit -1 (Credits: SAP SE)

Cases for Central Finance:

The following common use cases exist, where Central Finance can bring innovative solutions:

  • As a Migration Path to S/4 HANA
  • To Centralise Processes across the organisation
  • During Reorganisation and/or Mergers
  • For Corporate Consolidation and Reporting

As a Migration Path to S/4 HANA:

The current customer landscape has many instances of SAP and Non-SAP solutions. The cost and effort involved are huge in completing a Business Process Re-engineering exercise study and implement a unified solution to replace all the “island solutions” using the “Big Bang” approach. However, competition in the market does not provide the organisation with enough time or resources to undertake such a massive exercise. It is imperative to adopt innovations available in S/4HANA in a quick and agile manner to stay in the market and gather momentum to build an intelligent enterprise. Keeping existing instances and systems as they are, a standalone green field implementation of SAP S/4HANA Central Finance is done at corporate head offices. By establishing the necessary connections from existing instances/systems, real-time data flows into Central Finance for selected finance, accounting and business planning scenarios.  This helps the team to achieve quick results, learn S/4 HANA architecture and innovations “on-the-go” and back-work on how to re-engineer existing processes. This acts like a Proof of Concept in real time, specific to their environment. This approach helps organisations to gain knowledge & time and plan the migration of existing systems to S/4HANA in a phased manner.

To Centralise Processes:

Geographically spread organisations have typically decentralised operational functions, such as AR, AP, GL at each of these locations, when operations initially began. Advances in IT and telecommunication infrastructures enable organisations to centralise and optimise certain processes, for example cash management, liquidity management, vendor payment processing, payroll processing etc… This is typically done by establishing “Shared Service Centres”, which handles these processes for all the locations, which in turn leads to cost efficiencies and faster processing times. Again, keeping the existing instances as they are, a green field Central Finance instance implementation can help establish a “Shared Service Centre” within a short period of time. It also helps organisation to move in phased stages to SAP S/4HANA.

Due to Reorganisation and/or Mergers:

Business needs can cause organisations to forge alliances with other organisations or at times to reorganise their existing operations, for example divide into different verticals. When there are mergers and acquisitions, different IT systems must be consolidated. Central Finance can connect with these systems for process integration and show the consolidated financial data without disrupting existing IT systems. However, it is dependent on many factors specific to each situation.

For Corporate Consolidation and Reporting:

Large corporations with multiple subsidiaries or multiple manufacturing/sales locations have a need to consolidate their financial results periodically for controlling & statutory and legal regulation compliance. Collecting data and consolidating is a very time consuming and error prone activity. Central Finance instance can connect with a multitude of systems with ease and provide the necessary control and timely accurate data.

Let us look (below) at some of the new centralisation functionalities which can leverage Central Finance as the pivot and bring more value to customers.

1. Centralised Payments:

The central payment function in SAP Central Finance helps an organisation to make payments from central locations, typically corporate headquarters, and perform centralised clearing activities rather than having to do this in different locations. This functionality is activated per company code. Once activated, invoices posted in the source systems are technically cleared and replicated to the Central Finance system and paid there. Related to this is Credit Management, which can also be activated in Central Finance. If done, credit checks are triggered in the local system (at sales order entry) and carried out in the Central Finance. Cash and Liquidity management can also be activated in the Central Finance system. This is an important function for achieving efficiency in funds management, typically a requirement in many large companies. More information on Cash Operations is available in this earlier SAP Cash Management Blog post . More information relating to the activation of Central Payment can be found in SAP Note: 2346233.

2. Group Reporting

“Group Reporting” is a component of SAP S/4HANA. This component provides functions for management reporting, group accounting by supporting processes for data quality control, consolidation process control and reporting.  The application component in SAP is – FIN-CS (SAP S/4HANA for Group Reporting). This works also with SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Analytics Cloud.

Assuming Central Finance is implemented, Group Reporting using this as the data source. Group Reporting has a feature to generate “consolidation org units” based on units in the transaction. Group method of balance sheet valuation/currency conversions, and posting them as manual journal entries, are supported. It also has functions for intercompany elimination of payables/receivables etc… are part of the functionality provided in group reporting. It is also possible to create hierarchies for master data specific to consolidation. This component leverages “Universal Ledger” as a single source of truth. More information relating to group reporting is available in here.

3. Third Party Systems Integrations:

In a Heterogenous Landscape, transaction data from third party systems can also be used to create entries in Central Finance. This enables the Corporate Head quarters to pull data from SAP and Non-SAP systems for consolidation and Group reporting. This is typically achieved by using an SLT architecture as shown in exhibit -2 below.


Exhibit-2 (Credits: SAP SE)

Extracting data from Non-SAP systems, and loading them into SLT Staging tables, must be a separate exercise, handled by customer experts on Non-SAP systems. Once this is accomplished, replication from SLT to Central Finance will follow SAP process. To check the FI documents posted from third party systems, one can use programs FINS_CFIN_DFV_FI_NUM (Header) and FINS_CFIN_DFV_FI_DOC (Line items).  SAP Note: 2610660 provides information on this topic.

Summary:

SAP Central Finance is much more than a consolidation system, if leveraged properly. In the 1809 release, SAP has provided many more functions to support Centralised Project (WBS) reporting, Commitment Management (from Purchase Requisition/ Purchase Order) and Down Payments.  SAP Architects and Strategy Consultants can certainly bring out much more value, by looking at customer landscapes and requirements and creatively leveraging Central Finance to achieve efficiencies. It is an exciting new area and the sky is the limit for you to bring value to customers in a non-disruptive way!

References:

SAP Central Finance Help

SAP Model Company for Finance 1809

SAP Central Finance- Basic Setup and Configuration

Author : Ravi Srinivasan , SAP Alumni

Need to hire SAP S/4HANA CFIN resources?

Looking for SAP S/4HANA CFIN work?

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SAP Integration is Key to SAP Intelligent Enterprise

The early 90’s saw a great increase of IT products and tools, which helped every industry to develop IT solutions for transforming the operations from manual to “computerised” systems. The result of which was the creation of many “island solutions”, such as purchase, sales, inventory systems etc… which helped to achieve automation/optimisation within a function or department in every organization. However, this led to duplicate/inconsistent data across these island solutions which left Management with confusing inputs and lack of reliability for their decision making. ERP solved many problems for customers, especially larger ones, which was “integrating” multiple solutions. SAP ERP has been a very successful, tightly integrated, solution for more than 20 years. With new innovations and developments in technology & architecture, S/4 HANA, SAP Leonardo, and other solutions are more modular and hence Integration is of paramount importance. This blog explains the theme of “integration” to build an Intelligent Enterprise.

SAP has articulated the key pillars of its Integration strategy. The value of SAP Integration is built on the following 4 pillars as shown in Exhibit-1.

Exhibit -1 (Credit: SAP SE)

Out of the box Integration represents the set of readily usable integration components such as SAP Data Hub, Master Data services and SAP Cloud Platform integration to connect a suite of applications.

Open Integration represents the set of public APIs and pre-packaged integration scenarios to integrate enterprise apps as well as Non-SAP data/processes including the ability to integrate with Business Partners.

Holistic Integration represents the SAP hybrid integration Platform for end-to-end digitisation, flexible deployment options and “Integration Solution Advisory Methodology” (ISA-M).

AI-Driven Integration represents the AI and machine learning capabilities embedded in SAP Processes to provide Context Based Assistance and automate processes using Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Services.

Integration – Overview:

SAP’s vision for integration is portrayed in the diagram shown in Exhibit-2. On the left side, you will observe the Intelligent suite & Intelligent technologies. On the right side the integration components and themes are shown. They are supported by the four integration pillars we saw earlier.

Exhibit – 2(Credits: SAP SE)

Let us understand the key blocks represented in the above diagram, in a little more detail.

Process Orchestration: This is the implementation of business processes from the process documentation into a model-driven implementation. Using SAP Cloud Platform Workflow, you can build or modify rapidly workflow applications. Tailoring or extending pre-delivered cloud-based applications and workflows can be accomplished easily. SAP Cloud Platform Business Rules component helps to externalize the business logic from the applications. It makes it easy to manage the business logic independently and developers can use them with RESTful APIs in their applications. SAP is working on Process Visibility Dashboards and Scenario Models. These can provide a comprehensive view of processes in real time which can lead to identifying bottle necks easily. The goal is to provide end-to-end visibility across Cloud, Hybrid and On-Premise Landscapes as depicted in Exhibit-3 below.

Exhibit- 3 (Credit: SAP SE)

Event Brokerage and Stream Analytics: SAP is building an Event Driven Architecture to consume system events in the cloud. The principles of an event driven architecture are that as and when events happen in real-time, they are pushed to an Event Broker on a “fire and forget” mode. The Event Broker manages all such notifications and shares them appropriately to applications, dashboards or monitoring terminals. SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging frame work supports high volume and high-speed communications across SAP applications. This allows for seamless communication and integration across different platforms. Exhibit -4 below shows this in a simple diagram for easy understanding. SAP HANA has an inbuilt streaming analytics capability. Using this, it can combine raw events, apply complex business logic and machine learning functions and convert them into an actionable information such as alerts/notifications in dashboards.

Exhibit – 4 (Credit: SAP SE)

Master Data Management: SAP Cloud Platform provides for Master Data Services for master data integration/consumption by different Cloud applications. This also provides for Master Data Governance for enterprise wide Master Data Management. It has CRUD Services, federation and replication for reuse by all cloud applications. This helps to avoid the overhead of own persistency in individual applications.  SAP is having a broader vision of going beyond master data services and delivering other business services. For example, providing shopping cart services which will aggregate the items picked by a customer on an e-com website. SAP is also planning to provide some generic services such as currency conversion services, unit of measurement conversion services, user login services, data search services and the like. It is depicted pictorially in the exhibit-5 below, which are just illustrative in nature. This Blog post by a technical expert provides more information with regard to this topic.

Exhibit – 5 (Credit: SAP SE)

Process Integration: This deals with application-to-application integration, B2B integration and Business to Government integrations. SAP Cloud Platform provides for all Process Integration requirements with different services. It has out of the box connectors and application specific adapters to connect SAP Applications. It also has pre-built Mediation capabilities to aggregate, route, sign and encrypt the data. The relevant APIs are provided via SAP API Business Hub. Exhibit-6 below shows the SAP Cloud Platform integration for cloud and hybrid Process Integration.

Exhibit – 6 (Credit: SAP SE)

SAP has also pre-delivered, SAP-to-SAP integration for SAP S/4 Hana Cloud. A sample of this is provided in the exhibit-7 below.

Exhibit – 7 (Credit: SAP SE)

Analytics Integration: This deals with integrating data from different sources to provide real time intelligence to business decision makers. SAP Analytics cloud is a solution, which is built to deliver “Smart Insights, Smart Discovery and Smart Predict”:

  • Smart Insights feature provides contributing factors behind historical performance.
  • Smart Discovery uncovers hidden pattern in data.
  • Smart Predict uses Machine Learning algorithms to provide predictive capabilities.

SAP is working to provide pre-configured scenarios, embedded directly in SAP applications. More details can be obtained from SAP Analytics Cloud.

IoT Integration: SAP Leonardo provides quite a few services in the context of IoT integration. There was an earlier Blog on SAP Machine Learning Foundation, where this is explained in more detail.

Summary:

In the current technologically advanced environment, there are more solutions to be integrated effectively to build an Intelligent enterprise. SAP Cloud Platform, along with other solutions such as SAP Data Hub and SAP Analytics Cloud, helps to integrate and automate many of the day to day activities and serve meaningful, context sensitive information in an embedded form, directly in applications. SAP is building solutions to automate the integration process itself, however, this may be a topic for another Blog.  SAP Consultants and Architects, can certainly bring out much more value, just by ensuring appropriate integration solutions. This is an exciting area to jump into to differentiate oneself from the crowd!

Wishing you all good luck with your integration!

References:

Intelligent Enterprise and SAP Leonardo

SAP Cloud Platform

SAP Data Hub

SAP API Business Hub

Virtual Event: Transition to intelligent enterprise

Event: Intelligent enterprise for Oil & Gas sector

Author : Ravi Srinivasan , SAP Alumni

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The post SAP Integration is Key to SAP Intelligent Enterprise appeared first on Eursap.

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SAP CoE (Centre of Excellence) – Getting your SAP Team Structure right

Congratulations! You’ve signed up for SAP, probably S/4HANA. You’ve engaged an implementation partner and you are putting together a robust project plan, possibly around Agile methodology. Your budget has been signed off, your timelines approved and the business is engaged. Everything is ready to go! Exciting times lie ahead. It may seem like a long way off, but you must plan for how your team will look after you have gone live.

If you are on an old legacy system(s), then it is more than possible that you have a very small team, perhaps only one or two people, looking after your system. You must realise by now, that this is just not going to cut it in an advanced SAP environment, where everything is interconnected and the potential is almost limitless. So how do you structure your team?

The Centre of Excellence

There has been much talk recently about moulding a Centre of Excellence (CoE) team for SAP. This is not just another buzzword. A CoE should be structured in such a way as to allow fast paced reactive and proactive responses to business needs. It needs to have representation from all areas of the system as well as interdependent links with the wider business community. This last point is crucial: one of the primary functions of your CoE is that it has open and honest communication flow with business stakeholders. Without this, your team will become a reactive mess with a poor reputation.

A typical CoE structure might look like the diagram below. This is a CoE for a small to medium sized company using SAP; larger companies will need more bodies in the individual roles and with that comes more hierarchy (it is not sensible or practical to have dozens of people reporting into one CoE Lead).

The roles here are not exhaustive – you could easily add some project managers. Some of the roles can be described as follows:

The CoE Lead

More and more these days, companies are driven by standards and the CoE is no different. The CoE Lead’s role will be to ensure that projects and enhancements are implemented to certain well-defined standards of compliance. Their role is to ensure that their team is fully aware and they have “bought in” to these standards. A key interaction for the CoE lead will be with key stakeholders in the business. These stakeholders will normally be operational leads who are looking for process improvements. The CoE must prioritise these requests appropriately according to time, budgetary constraints and potential return on investment, whilst maintaining their management responsibilities such as keeping a vibrant, engaged and enthusiastic team happy.

The SAP Solution Architect

The Solution Architect is an SAP expert, normally from a functional or technical background and with a high degree of respect amongst their peers. They have a good understanding of the touch points between systems and will have good knowledge of market trends in SAP. New technologies in the SAP space will be explored by the Solution Architect first before any formal recommendations.

SAP Release Manager

The Release Manager will oversee the life-cycle of SAP projects and enhancements. They will work closely with any Project Managers in the business, ensuring that release calendars are adhered to and all enhancements and projects are subjected to the correct rigour in terms of approvals.

SAP Security Analyst

The Security Analyst role is vital to maintain a robust business process, with effective segregation of duties. The work of the Security Analyst should not be overlooked or, as often happens in hectic projects, pushed to the back of the queue. They should be involved in the solution from the word go, so they can structure and maintain security levels in a proper manner.

SAP Infrastructure Analyst

This is often merged with the Basis Analyst role, but with the emergence of new SAP architecture in the cloud and connections with other platforms, it makes sense especially in a large organisation, to separate out these roles. The Infrastructure Analyst’s brief is to ensure that the connections with the SAP system are healthy, robust and above all secure.

SAP Basis Analyst
The Basis Analyst is key to ensuring the smooth running of a complex SAP system. They will identify and fix issues ahead of them becoming potential horror stories, as well as “keeping all the lights on”.

SAP Test Coordinator

The Test Coordinator’s role can be explained quite simply: to ensure that adequate test resources (people and systems) are available for testing the latest enhancements and projects. As a result, the Test Coordinator is closely aligned with operational staff in the wider business so that user acceptance testing is carried out in a timely fashion.

SAP Functional Analysts

These people are the bread and butter of any SAP team. They hold in depth knowledge in their specific areas and are vital to the success of any SAP environment. The CoE Lead should keep a close eye on these guys; workload issues are often a major problem here leading to bottlenecks in this area.

This just leaves the final group I have included: the Business Analysts (BAs) or Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). These would normally be included in all interactions with the CoE but do not necessarily report direct to the CoE Lead. In fact, it would be more beneficial if these were true business people rather than IT people, as they need to be aware of the business requirements and translate these requirements into IT requests. They are the conduit between the operational business folk and the CoE.

What should be the Mission of the CoE?

A vision for a CoE is important as it allows goals to be determined at a high level and cascaded down through the team. With a bewildering variety of competing demands, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. Demands on the CoE can be any of a number of things:

  • Cost reduction
  • Identification of value added enhancements
  • “Keeping the lights on”
  • Collaboration
  • Simplification and standardisation of processes
  • Compliance
  • Productivity improvements
  • Staff retention and training
  • Etc…

I would recommend that at the heart of any CoE vision or mission statement should be collaboration and innovation. The CoE must be at the heart of the business, with strong ties to all key stakeholders, meaning that building effective relationships should be one of the key soft skills in the team. And the team must innovate – always press for newer and better ways of doing things. The Japanese “kaizen” methodology works well in CoEs. The word “why” should be on everyone’s lips at all times and “because that’s how it’s always been” should be good enough reason to throw it in the bin!

How should the CoE be run?

The main work of the CoE can be split into three streams:

  • Maintenance and support
  • Enhancements and demand
  • Architecture, governance and strategy

For a CoE to be effective, the bulk of the investment should ideally be placed in the “Enhancements and demand” bucket. That is where a business is likely to get more of a bang for its buck – in other words, the return on investment is likely to be much higher in this area. Some companies like to separate out the functional analysts into either support analysts or project and demand analysts. This can be an effective way to parcel out the work, but beware that there needs to be a good degree of flexibility to cover any areas where the workload is becoming onerous.

Projects undertaken by the CoE would benefit from using the SAP Activate methodology as succinctly described in this Eursap blog post.

Architecture, governance and strategy is the domain of the Solution Architect, but other functions within the CoE can also have a leading role in the area. For example, the Infrastructure Analyst and the Basis Analyst would have an input into the selection of a Document Management System. Similarly, functional analysts may have a view on how the business should govern their master data.

A ticketing system is essential for managing demand in the CoE. Clear requirements must be maintained within the ticketing system and it should be open for users across the business to see the workload and the priorities. A good ticketing system will also ensure that compliance issues such as Segregation of Duties and Sarbanes Oxley are addressed correctly. It is not the intention of this blog to recommend a ticketing system – there are many on the market which offer all these functions.

So where do you begin?

Now! It is never too late. The key is budget. Get it in the budget as soon as you can – if possible, before your implementation. If not, then better late than never. If implemented correctly, a CoE can make the difference between a reactive, chaotic organisation with little value, and a slick, fast moving, proactive organisation which lives on the cutting edge of what is possible. Which one would you rather work for?

Good luck with making your SAP Centre of Excellence Excellent!

Author: Jon Simmonds – Solution Architect

Need to hire resources for your SAP CoE?

Looking for work in an SAP CoE?

Get in touch with Eursap – Europe’s Specialist SAP Recruitment Agency

The post SAP CoE (Centre of Excellence) – Getting your SAP Team Structure right appeared first on Eursap.

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