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Continuous testing

Balancing the risks and rewards of SAP S/4HANA migration

With SAP coursing through your business’ most critical operations, adopting the latest SAP advancements can rapidly infuse digital DNA throughout the organization. But the stakes are high. With so much of the business riding on SAP, moving fast without proper guard rails could indeed break things.

That’s especially true with the adoption of SAP S/4HANA. SAP reports that S/4HANA is helping organizations grow and scale the business, adapt to an ever-changing world and ever-evolving market conditions, as well as proactively innovate and create new business opportunities.*

Across independent ASUG (Americas) and DSAG (EMEA) SAP user groups, SAP customers confirm that adopting S/4HANA has delivered the following top benefits:

  • Business process optimization (63% DSAG, 38% ASUG)
  • Better setup for faster innovation (48% DSAG, 42% ASUG)
  • Improved speed and performance (46% DSAG, 44% ASUG)
  • Improved efficiency (44% DSAG, 38% ASUG)

But with reward comes risk—and S/4HANA’s far-reaching scope could introduce a fair share of business risk. With the expanded S/4HANA digital core touching an even greater part of your business, many underlying business processes are fundamentally altered and rearchitected for the “new world.” Customizations and integrations must be re-evaluated. Many are duplicated by standard S/4HANA capabilities (and should be retired), but all require review and some require re-implementation.

The new data model, which lies at the heart of S/4HANA’s promise of speed and agility, must be adopted and data from various sources must be routed into (or at least towards) HANA. Most organizations also use this migration as an opportunity to move SAP workloads to the cloud. In addition to providing unprecedented scalability and flexibility, that opens the door to a much faster update cadence… and concerns about how cloud-based applications will perform under peak conditions.

Effectively managing risks is key to unlocking new opportunities—but with S/4HANA, that’s proven challenging. A staggering 70% of SAP users moving to S/4HANA recently reported that their traditional SAP testing processes failed to provide adequate insight into the risks involved with moving to S/4HANA.**

Given that, it’s not surprising that only about half of SAP customers have already started or completed the move to S/4HANA (49% in the Americas, 59% in EMEA).*** This confirms what I’ve been hearing from fellow CEOs and CIOs: fear of the unknown is causing organizations to defer an initiative that they are 100% certain will—eventually—advance their digital transformation.

That’s a shame. It’s a shame because deferring the adoption of S/4HANA also means deferring the opportunity to increase agility, speed, and innovation—three things that are certainly in demand now more than ever. And it’s a shame because it’s totally unnecessary.

The old ways of software testing (enlisting business users for tedious, time-consuming testing duty) simply don’t work for these new challenges. But with modern (highly-automated) testing approaches, the risks of the migration are crystal clear, and it’s entirely feasible to pull off a zero-defect migration. Although testing is often perceived as a necessary evil that slows down the migration process, leading organizations have found that modernizing software testing actually accelerates S/4HANA migrations 10x—delivering over 90% risk reduction while lowering costs by 50%.

For example, consider Vodafone—one of the world’s leading telecoms with 625M customers and a market capitalization of $42B. As reported in SAPinsider, Vodafone decided to adopt S/4HANA back in 2017 to increase process automation and standardization, accelerate the month-end close process, improve the customer experience, and provide their internal employees real-time data and analytics capabilities.****

The migration involved taking a single SAP ECC instance and transforming it in a two-step process across 100+ legal entities distributed throughout 22 counties. The first step was converting the database from Oracle to SAP HANA. The second step involved re-implementing the SAP ECC application layer in Fiori. All in all, it ended up being one of the world’s 5 largest S/4HANA implementations—and they managed to complete the entire project in 18 months (and the first 8 months was purely hardware replacement).

Of course, such a shining success was the combination of a number of factors, ranging from a clear vision, to effective leadership and change management, to close collaboration with a skilled partner. But one remarkable distinction between Vodafone and their more apprehensive peers is that they tackled the risk challenge head on: they committed to modernize testing (using the Tricentis Continuous Testing platform) as they modernized their SAP landscape. By implementing an industry-leading quality process, they can zero in on the highest-risk areas to test, rapidly define and scale test automation, and establish a Continuous Testing “safety net” that exposes risks upon introduction.

As a result, they’ve achieved the ultimate balance between innovation, speed, and risk. In fact, they have advanced from two massive releases per year to several deployments each month—enabling them to deliver business value much more rapidly.

***

By improving your testing processes along with your business processes as you move to S/4HANA, you will see tangible benefits in terms of faster timelines, lower cost, and of course, risk reduction. Automated testing is the future for successful SAP customers. It’s also an untapped opportunity to unlock budget for innovation.

Footnotes:

* Adaire Fox-Martin, “Investing Intelligently for Growth with SAP S/4HANA,” SAP Sapphire Now Reimagined, https://www.sap.com/about/events/sapnow.html

** ASUG, ” Walking the Tightrope of an SAP S/4HANA Migration: How Automation Helps You Move Faster with Less Risk,” https://www.asug.com/insights/walking-the-tightrope-of-an-sap-s-4hana-migration-how-automation-helps-you-move-faster-with-less-risk-asug-and-tricentis

*** DSAG, “DSAG And ASUG: S/4 Hana Is Gaining Momentum,” E-3 Magazine, https://e3zine.com/dsag-and-asug-s-4-hana-is-gaining-momentum/

**** Briana Shipley, “Vodafone Sets New Benchmark on Its Intelligent Enterprise Journey with SAP S/4HANA Migration and Strategic Business Model” SAPinsider