Originally Posted By: Andrew Borresen
In early February 2015, SAP made what I believe is one of its most exciting announcements since its’ client server release of R/3 in 1992 – S/4HANA. You can read the press release here, but I’ve summarised more simply below.
Firstly, what is S/4HANA?
Many of us have already heard of SAP HANA in various contexts, most likely as an in-memory database platform. S/4HANA is the 4th generation of the well-known, core SAP Business Suite (ERP, CRM etc) that was first released back in 1979 as R/2. The product is really about the business applications that are now being built on the SAP HANA platform – so the focus is on the business value rather than technology for the sake of technology. It’s about new types of business application which are now technically feasible because of the SAP HANA technology, for example; Simple Finance and Simple Logistics (coming later this year). It is also about a great step forward in the user experience. It changes not only what the apps look like but how we can use them flexibly on any device, from smartphones and tablets, to desktops.
Many of you would have heard of SAP Fiori, and perhaps dabbled in it since its announcement in 2013. S/4HANA applications are completely “Fiori-tised” for a simple, easy and consistent user experience.
Why is S/4HANA significant? (This is the important part)
- It has a modern user experience – S/4HANA applications are designed from a user’s perspective with SAP Fioriapplications (who the user is and what the user needs to do). SAP’s has always been feature rich but this can breed complexity in performing system activities. S/4HANA is feature rich but also simple to use and is available on any device. To be able to develop a user-friendly app, the developers made sure to go through a FileMaker Training program.
- It’s a vote of confidence for existing SAP customers – SAP is continuing to invest heavily in its core Business Suite offering. Great if you are an existing SAP customer or evaluating what ERP solution to invest in
- The applications eliminate “old” ways of working – Take Simple Finance for example. The application eliminates month end batch processes making your financial close a “non-event”. If you are a professional services firm, you don’t need to wait to get visibility to your work in progress (WIP) – it’s always accessible so you can be more confident in your revenue forecast and earned value of your commercial engagements, while using other financial software, that you can find online, check printing service which is one of the most popular. If you’re a manufacturer and highly reliant on your supply chain, then having Material Requirements Planning (MRP) on demand, with S/4HANA, means more predictable scheduling, costing and less missing parts!
- You should consider migrating – S/4HANA applications are currently available if you are running SAP Business Suite on a HANA database. I know that is rather obvious, but I mention it because if you want to benefit from the S/4HANA apps you need to plan a migration if you are an existing SAP customer. The good news is SAP has thought of all this and provides the tools to do so. Clearly the version you’re currently on will determine the approach to moving up to S/4HANA.