S/4HANA Cloud Implementation: Establishing the Right Process with SAP Activate Framework

Published: October 7, 2022

The path towards SAP S/4HANA Cloud implementation is not just limited to a technology shift but is a comprehensive exercise with multifold strategic implementations. It needs a well-defined roadmap that factors in all the essential aspects-be it people, processes, implementation models, and the change management paradigm. SAP’s Activate Framework helps people find, strategize and implement solutions by focusing on individual elements of the project.

SAP Activate Framework-The three pillars

SAP Activate consists of the three pillars outlined below, with the actual Activate methodology as the last component.

SAP Best Practices

SAP Best Practices consists of a set of ready-to-implement solutions spread across various LOBs. They consist of curated best practices from decades of experience in understanding industry-specific requirements. Be it for SAP migration, implementation, or extending the current capabilities of the SAP landscape, the Best Practice Explorer includes the refined approach. These best practices help consultants and users use pre-made business flows, responsible, accountable, consulted, informed (RACI) matrix directions, and standardized testing processes to make a successful S/4HANA implementation.

Guided Configuration

Guided Configuration involves the usage of standardized business processes included as pre-configured solutions. These processes enable consultants and users to rapidly build S/4HANA systems. Feature includes custom changes in the configurations for individual business requirements. Guided Configuration tools also offer content lifecycle management. These tools provide configuration settings which do not get impacted by future releases or updates- for having a standardized set of processes.

The Activate Methodology

SAP’s Activate Methodology is a standardized approach to project implementation. Its scope extends right from the assessment or discovery phase to the deployment and commissioning of the systems in an SAP project. There are around 15+ roadmaps for the Activate methodology, specific to each of the SAP solutions implemented. We shall look at the 6 phases of the methodology, specific to S/4HANA Cloud implementation.

Discover Phase

The Discover phase of the SAP Activate Methodology for S/4HANA implementation involves a thorough assessment of the business requirements. It charters the right solution approach with the required features and functionalities.

Covered in the Discover phase are the below activities:

  • Providing a trail system for users to access and check the functionalities
  • Scoping the solution with the SAP Digital Discovery Assessment tool
  • Assessing the value of the proposed solution, and its alignment with the business requirements
  • Finalizing the project activity and setting up high-level project delivery timelines

Prepare Phase

The Prepare phase involves planning for the implementation, and setting-up project goals, standards, and governance strategies. It also involves preparation for the Fit-to-Standard exercise, and assignment of roles and responsibilities.

Covered in the Prepare phase are the below activities:

  • Identification of business objectives and KPIs for the exercise
  • Beginning the process of self-enablement, and setting up of the starter system, tool access, and the SAP Cloud Application Lifecycle Management
  • Creating integration and APIs lists
  • Establishing the project management activity and tracking and reporting capabilities

Explore Phase

The Explore phase consists of an extensive Fit-to-Standard analysis to validate the functionality of the solution identified in the previous phases. It also involves end-user execution of standard scenarios.

Covered in the Explore phase are the below activities:

  • Identity and access management set-up
  • Planning and design of extensions, integrations, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities
  • Analysis of learning needs and change management
  • Planning and design of required analytics
  • Data Load preparation
  • Identifying the need for extensibility and the required configuration
  • Beginning the activity of Project Management, along with monitoring and controlling

Realize Phase

The Realize phase involves incremental building and testing of the system environment as per the requirements gathered in the earlier phase. It involves loading customer data into the system, and planning solution adoption, cutover, and running of actual operational activities.

Covered in the Realize phase are the below activities:

  • Setting-up of the production environment
  • Identity and access configuration
  • Solution configuration and Output Management
  • Extension Development and Deployment
  • Data Migration and Testing
  • End-user training, documentation, and other change management activities

Deploy Phase

This phase involves setting up the production system, implementing the cutover after assessing organizational readiness and switching operations to the new system.

Covered in the Deploy phase are the below activities:

  • Moving the solutions and processes to the live environment
  • Completion of data migration and other activities of the cutover
  • Completing the end-user training
  • Completion of all change management activities to drive solution adaptability

Run Phase

The Run phase is an additional phase post-deployment, and involves monitoring, factoring in the needs for optimization, and providing continuous improvements. It also involves assessing essential enhancements in the change management exercise and implementing them.

The above phases in the Activate Methodology provide all-encompassing strategies and their execution for a successful S/4HANA implementation. SAP also provides a Roadmap viewer that enables the assessment and tracking of the implementation activity, specific to the current Activate methodology. This conflux helps businesses have a custom S/4HANA implementation as per their specific requirements.

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