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SAP Resources: how to deliver a faultless SAP S/4 HANA Cloud Transformation

In our latest Guest SAP Blog, we are delighted to showcase the expertise and insight of Jeet Poptani, a highly experienced SAP Project/Programme Manager who has both the badges the and the battle scars from delivering S/4 HANA Cloud for early adopting SAP customers.  

In his most recent role, Jeet delivered a £8m/year Digital transformation programme managing 100+ team members and transforming SAP’s Enterprise Business suite platform to run successfully on Microsoft Azure cloud, remotely and during Covid-19:

A Success Story – SAP Digital Transformation during COVID times

Executive Summary – 

The world will be known Before COVID and After COVID but today I would like to share SAP Digitalisation during COVID. 

A coherent, intelligent, and digital core is essential to future growth for any organisation. UK retail giant embarked on one of the most significant technology transformations that companies have witnessed in its history. 

In Mid-2019, Organisation started the digital transformation. The delivery strategy was based and face to face operations.   

In March 2020, we were hit by the pandemic. We had two difficult choices to make the first either delay the programme and second Go ahead as per original plan but with amplified risk.

In both the options, the risks were high. If we decide to delay the programme, the cost will skyrocket. However, if we decide to go ahead as per the original plan, there is no defined strategy on how to execute such a large-scale Virtual deployment as there was little or no preparation for this scenario.  

After multiple rounds of meetings and speaking do other partners, vendors and the wider team both from IT and business. We decided to go ahead with our original plan of deployment and started preparation for Virtual Deployment. 

Technical Scope –

SAP HANA enables real-time data access and offers support for multiple data types and models. HANA on Azure Cloud delivers scalability, speed, and flexibility while eliminating information silos with a single instance of data.

The Strategic Objective was to  

  1. Upgrade existing ERP application to accommodate new business features 
  2. Transformation of ECC Oracle database to in-memory SAP HANA database &
  3. Migration of entire SAP Business suite to Azure cloud

To limit the business disruption, all there three steps – Upgrade, Migrate & Azure Cloud Transformation was executed as one single step. 

 Key challenges due to COVID –

  • Nobody knew with COVID will disrupt the overall planning. In a short span of time, we had to identify, socialise and agree on new ways of working
  • Get buy-in from stakeholders and most critical external partners, vendors, and make them ready to participate in virtual digital transformation. 

 Key Risks – 

  1. The complexity of the IT landscape was very high due to – 
    1. 7 SAP systems in Scope
    2. High Data Volume due to BI/BW
    3. Live cache issue in APO 
    4. Repurposing 50+ Interfaces (EDI/Bank etc)
  2. There were more than 100+ IT team members all working remotely. The key challenge is to keep track of each activity and quickly spot any delay/issues
  3. Business disruption – Due to technical complexity there is always a chance that business downtime exceeds the planned downtime. Delay of one hour will lead to on average revenue loss of £1.5m.

 Programme Management Approach –

 Virtual Delivery (‘The new normal’)–

  • Upscaling the IT infrastructure – To accommodate all our 600+ IT and Business users across the globe, we ensured that all they can login from home and are equipped with a Laptop, Internet and credential to access the systems remotely. During our review, we found that the existing landscape was not able to handle user load as everyone was trying to access the IT system. Based on our findings – we had to upscale the remote login connected and had to renegotiate with the supplier company.
  • A Virtual Command Centre – We built 24*7 a video hotline to report the progress/issues
  • 24*7 Resource Plan – A robust Rota system was created with details of – Resource names, phone number, email ID etc 
  • A robust escalation path for immediate response. There were three vertical Escalation paths defined – C-Suite Business Executive Briefing, Business/SME Comms and IT Delivery. 

Full Rehearsal for the D-day

  • Simulation of real-life scenarios which is a replica of how things will look like when we cutover to a new environment

Quickly building a lean-agile-program delivery model –

  • Streamline the number of governance forum
  • Lean stakeholder map
  • Clear communication and news broadcasting team

Finally, We managed to deploy the entire SAP Suite on HANA in Azure Cloud within the timelines agreed with the business with 100% Master data count before and after the migration.  

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