An Analysis of the SAP S/4 1610 Information

What This Article Covers

  • On Real Time Consolidation in S/4?
  • SAP Applications to Connect to S/4?
  • S/4HANA Fiori?
  • The Numbers of S/4HANA Fiori Apps
  • Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling in S/4?
  • EWM and S/4
  • PLM and S/4
  • Data Governance in S/4?
1610 S4

Introduction

I spent time analyzing the SAP document SAP S/4HANA 1610 Release Highlights. 1610 is the most recent release of S/4HANA.

Here are some of the quotes I found noteworthy and I have provided analysis of these statements.

On Real Time Consolidation

“Take advantage of instant access to transactional and master data in SAP S/4HANA for real-time consolidation. You can easily trace back to source data in SAP S/4HANA and other legacy source systems for the finest granularity and confidence.” — SAP

I have performed research on this topic of consolidation. This has been a primary marketing point for SAP. They have repeatedly stated that companies that use S/4 will save hundreds of hours in their end of period closing. SAP ties this to HANA’s superior speed as allowing this real-time consolidation to occur.

The inaccuracy in SAP’s statement is that consolidation is not entirely a systematic processing issue. Many judgments must be made, and they are human, and therefore real-time consolidation does not make a lot of sense.

SAP Applications to Connect to S/4

“Connect to business networks like never before. Finance can now take advantage of additional integrations with the SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll solution and learning map, buyer-side Ariba® Invoice Management and Ariba Discount Management solutions, Concur® solutions, and SAP Fieldglass solutions.”
The SAP S/4HANA 1610 release simplifies human resources for both IT and business users. You can now simplify your IT environment with streamlined integration between SAP S/4HANA and SAP SuccessFactors solutions to support end-to-end business processes. Business users can now utilize object pages to present worker-related data for both employees and contingent labor forces.
Reduce procurement hassle with catalog buying for self-service requisitioning processes and increased integration with business networks, such as the creation of sourcing requests in SAP Ariba solutions directly from SAP S/4HANA. Sourcing managers can enjoy increased visibility into supplier performance, purchasing spend, and business events with the new procurement overview page. — SAP

All of this is marketing to get companies to buy other SAP solutions, namely Concur, Fieldglass, SuccessFactors, and Ariba. All of these are acquisitions. None of them have anything to do with S/4 except they have integration (with adapters in various stages of development). On the other hand, you can use other applications that are competitors to these SAP applications. In most to many cases, companies may want to because the SAP product may be a poor fit or may not be cost effective.

S/4HANA Fiori

“New SAP Fiori apps enable increased productivity for all users across collaborative sourcing, contract management, and supplier management functions. Daily activities such as managing purchasing info cards, contracts, sources of supply, and requests for quotes take full advantage of the award-winning SAP Fiori user experience (UX) — SAP
Increase sales productivity with new SAP Fiori apps that make it easier than ever to create, modify, and display sales orders on any device. Contextual information helps ensure your sales and sales-support teams have a comprehensive view of the customer to maximize satisfaction, including resolution of issues, at every step of the buying process.”

SAP continues the charade of presenting S/4HANA Fiori as if it is a complete user interface for S/4 when in fact it is just there to provide an assist. S/4HANA Fiori will have to be used alongside the SAPGUI in order to work properly. S/4HANA Fiori how has 7671 “apps” (which aren’t apps in fact, but is another topic). This is a big change for S/4HANA Fiori. Up until very recently S/4HANA Fiori had less than 1200 apps and was growing at around 15 apps per month. How these new apps were added is something I need to analyze and will write about in a future article. There is something very strange going on with the counting of the S/4HANA Fiori app number.

Any S/4 implementation will primarily use SAPGUI. I explain why in the following post.

The characterization of Fiori presented by SAP in its marketing literature is once again quite inaccurate.

Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling

“Production planning and detailed scheduling have been integrated with SAP S/4HANA, allowing you to create production plans without relying on a separate planning instance. You can now optimize and plan resource schedules directly in the digital core, taking into account bottlenecks and other production challenges.”
“Material requirement planning (MRP) includes embedded production planning and detailed scheduling (PPDS) natively deployed without the need for complex integration and data maintenance to help drive accelerated MRP processing times from hours to potentially minutes and enable intelligent constraint-based planning and scheduling.” — SAP Press Release

I have implemented PP/DS myself and can vouch for the fact that PP/DS is a lagging application in the space that is sold exclusively to SAP customers and it has a very poor implementation history. So the fact that PP/DS is now part of S/4HANA is not a good thing, and PP/DS will not meet the needs of the vast majority of customers. For this, a bold on will be required.

EWM

“Experience the power of the SAP Extended Warehouse Management application built into SAP S/4HANA, and unlock greater productivity throughout your warehouse. This means your warehouse clerks and operations personnel can enjoy increased access to real-time data, while IT can embrace a simplified technical landscape. Your entire organization benefits from reduced data duplication and replication to increase accuracy and decrease cost.”

As with PP/DS SAP is leveraging APO to jazz up S/4. EWM is a warehouse management module in APO. It was built at CAT logistics and is unsuitable for most shippers. But SAP tries to sell it into shippers anyway. EWM is a weak application with enormous complexity that is entirely uncompetitive with warehouse management applications. So again, the fact that EWM can be made to connect to S/4 is not much of an advantage as EWM is such a poor application.

PLM

“Manage embedded software versions with the SAP Product Lifecycle Management application in SAP S/4HANA. Maintain compatibility information and check product compatibility for easy deployment of embedded software across projects and products.
Take an integrated approach to accelerated product design with a tool that integrates SAP software for product lifecycle management with multiple CAD authoring tools. Provide a 360-degree product view, with total transparency across engineering disciplines, through a harmonized and intuitive user experience. Synchronize product metadata, structures, access, and file handling to bridge design data with business data for a comprehensive product description.” — SAP

This is recycled marketing puff from SAP’s many other attempts to penetrate the PLM market. I have read very close to the same thing at least eight times over the past nine years from SAP as SAP continually tried to gain a foothold in the PLM market.

Data Governance

“Help ensure a single source of truth with enterprise-wide governance using the SAP Master Data Governance application embedded within SAP S/4HANA. A new approach unifies industry materials and retail articles while using simplified master data to provide an easily managed corporate taxonomy. You can deploy user-friendly master-data-quality worklists for consistent, accurate data across the enterprise.”

There is no single source of truth. A single source of truth is fool’s gold. There are systems of record, but no single system of record. This is simply meaningless marketing speak.

For instance, S/4 cannot be the source of truth for all the other systems that a company uses unless S/4 is the only software that a company uses. I have read through several far more detailed documents on 1610, and I can’t find any evidence of this capability. I am quite suspicious of this proposal because SAP claimed something very similar for MDM and then MDG, and those applications never had many implementations.

There is no single source of truth. A single source of truth is fool’s gold. There are systems of record, but no single system of record. This is simply meaningless marketing speak. “Single source of truth” is the kind of information that once it is stated, the listener knows less than before they listened to it.

For instance, S/4 cannot be the source of truth for all the other systems that a company uses unless S/4 is the only software that a company uses. I have read through several far more detailed documents on 1610, and I can’t find any evidence of this capability. I am quite suspicious of this proposal because SAP claimed something very similar for MDM and then MDG, and those applications never had many implementations.

Conclusion

SAP’s literature on 1610 is filled with inaccuracies. Many of these claims on S/4 are not new for SAP. Most these same arguments have been used in the past by SAP to describe either ECC or the other products mentioned above. However, they never came true previously.

SAP does the following:

  • Lying Through Omission: Leaves out important details (such as the fact that SAPGUI is critical to S/4HANA Fiori will only be incidental in use)
  • Non-Stop “SAP Universe” Selling: SAP talks up other SAP applications that don’t have anything to do with S/4 but can be connected to S/4. If the topic of the paper is S/4, then why does SAP spend so much coverage on items that are not part of S/4? Some of the audience that does not know may think that the products mentioned such as Concur, and SuccessFactors are part of S/4. It also does not follow that just because SAP has an offering that the offering is right for the SAP customer. Of each product mentioned, there are many competitors. If we look at SuccessFactors, sort of SAP’s showcase acquired product, it is known that there are some things it does well and others it doesn’t. SAP does not have the overall space of HR covered simply because they acquired SuccessFactors.
  • Understating Integration Efforts: SAP will have an advantage on other firms for integration because the data model from S/4 has changed. This will break the adapters that have been written for ECC. On the other hand, many of SAP’s new acquisitions face the same problem as third party applications are not entirely integrated to S/4. Therefore, just because SAP mentions that “S/4 can be connected to XYZ SAP product” does not mean that the integration to the product is ready, or is not in some half-finished state. I hear of lots of integration problems on projects where the acquired products have been implemented. More than any previous SAP ERP version, (and since so many of the products mentioned in the SAP information are acquisitions), SAP customers must very thoroughly check how much integration they are obtaining from a purchase of these non-S/4 products. SAP and consulting partners will do everything in their power to provide the inaccuracy that every SAP application has a completed integration adapter to S/4.
  • Wishful Thinking: SAP proposes, and would like the user to assume, a lot of competence in application areas like production planning and scheduling and PLM. However, SAP has never had effective products in these areas. Production scheduling and PLM are a problem on every single SAP account currently. And it’s unlikely much will have changed simply because SAP is now introducing it under S/4. I could do the same thing. Say that I will win a Nobel Prize, compete in the Olympics or become a fashion model. But if I don’t have any history of being good in any of these things why anyone would believe me?
  • Hiding The Readiness of S/4: SAP does not let on for a second that the S/4 suite is not a finished product. SAP has continued to present this falsehood for several years. S/4 1610, as with the S/4 versions before it comes with a “simplification list.” This is the list of the changes made to S/4. The list is 408 pages long and takes a serious commitment of time to read. And in the next few months, there will be a new simplification list, of similar length that will also have to be digested. Since it is an expensive resource who could make sense of this document, this means researching the simplifications list is expensive (relatively speaking) to fund. Companies will fund a database administrator position or someone who they can trace some concrete output, but they dislike funding background research like this. I can see many companies skipping this detailed analysis in the beginning and finding out the details during the implementation.

SAP could publish a much easier to understand document that shows the percentage of functionality in each area that is complete, the percentage that has changed, the percentage that has been disappeared. However, they do not do that. There is no documentation for the marketing information I have quoted above and the detailed simplification list which is only readable by far smaller audience and which requires its detailed analysis.

Overall this SAP literature is unreliable and is not useful for much more than criticism or humor. It is amazing to me that the information in this SAP document will be read or used by anyone to make a decision on S/4.

References

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