Architecture – An engine needed for the Journey

Journey Planning: S/4HANA Roadmap

– S/4HANA Roadmap, SAP Digital Transformation Pre-project, Road Mapping or whatever name you give, the idea is to evaluate existing SAP setup, compare it with organization’s ambition and vision, identify the gaps and create a path to achieve, writes Chanakya Sharma.

Text by Chanakya Sharma, Director and SAP-expert at Deloitte Norway

I am sure everyone who is reading this article has been on a road trip at least once in their lives. Some are spontaneous ones, but many are planned. Spontaneous ones are more likely to have hiccups or what we call as adventures. Planned ones can be smooth but the appetite for detail is surely different, hence the smoothness of the trip.

The same road trip logic can be applied to organizations which are currently on SAP ECC and their plan is to be on S/4HANA either for the simple reason of ERP upgrade or with a bigger Business Transformation vision. In any case, it should be planned.

S/4HANA Roadmap, SAP Digital Transformation Pre-project, Road Mapping or whatever name you give, the idea is to evaluate existing SAP setup, compare it with organization’s ambition/vision, identify the gaps and create a plan/path to achieve.

Continuing with my road trip analogy, defining an Architecture is like designing an engine needed for road trip. As a Lead Architect in Deloitte’s Nordic SAP Enterprise Transformation team I would like to share my experience and point of view on the multiple aspects of Architecture which should be considered at a definite level, off-course depending on the ambition and scope of Journey planning.

With the Intelligent Enterprise, the Core ERP world of SAP has shrunken to Digital Core (System of Records) which is surrounded by System of Differentiators and System of Innovations. When the future landscape has a digital core along with system of differentiators and innovations supported by the enabling systems/tools, setting up future proof Architecture becomes extremely important.

Architecture commonly considered as a nerdy side of ERP world and I won’t deny to it, but one cannot achieve Business and Organization Vision without the support of future proof Architecture. Business can identify System of Records/Differentiators and many a times System of Innovations as well but the answer to effective, efficient and economical usage of these systems lies within Architecture.

My thoughts on roadmaps for ERP transformation specifically on defining a future proof Architecture is that, a target Architecture is the first step and it needs to be revisited, evolved during the transformation journey. One cannot define an Architecture and keep it on a shelf to be looked again when next transformation journey needs to be planned.

In my 5 years of experience in planning Transformation journeys across multiple industry group and customers in Nordics, Architecture broadly covers both Application and Technical side of the future solution. Technical Architecture should be future branched out to multiple sub-streams as shown in the Figure 1: Architecture Components for NextGen SAP Transformation and is very much dependent on strategies like User Experience, Data, Transition and Testing.


Figure 1: Architectural Components for NextGen SAP Transformation:

Application Architecture across multiple layers

Learned from projects with different ambition levels that Application Architecture should not just include the core ERP applications/systems for the solution but all the applications, systems or tools which are relevant for solution to sustain long-term and to achieve Organization’s vision (SAP, non-SAP, 3rd party or Legacy applications).

The foremost discussion after understanding existing Application Architecture and Vision of the organization is to identify Architectural capabilities relevant for the client’s future.

With my experience I strongly recommend defining an Application architecture across multiple layers starting right at the bottom:

  • identifying where the applications are hosted followed by,
  • which platform or database to leverage, 
  • how the lifecycle of the applications is managed and operationalized
  • how multiple applications within NextGen SAP integrates with other core, 3rd party or legacy applications
  • which are the core ERP application including Enablers
  • applications and tools for user and access management and finally
  • how the applications are accessed by the business user

All the applications, other than the ones required for Core ERP process and some enabling applications, are identified by Technical leads based on the existing application investments, business / IT Vision and strategies/guidelines defined during the Journey planning exercise.

Once you have identified all the application/systems/tools for the relevant capabilities across Architectural layers client’s IT team will have a target Application Architecture which will be aligned with Value Realization Roadmap and overall SAP Transformation Journey.

Normally in ERP Journey Planning, Architecture is focused on NextGen SAP applications, but same approach can be leveraged for defining enterprise wide application architecture.

Technical Architecture for an ERP Transformation

Technical Architecture for an ERP Transformation has multiple aspects and each of those needs to be evaluated and aligned with Business and IT Vision of the organization.

As the picture above represents, Technical Architecture covers aspects related to multiple sub-streams which cannot be looked in silos. All components are intertwined and changes in any one needs to be evaluated for an impact on others:

  • Landscape: Defining SAP ERP landscape based on the implementation approach, identifying usage of each of the system components and clients, define transport strategy 
  • Infrastructure & Cloud: Hosting of the solution, defining Cloud strategy including designing HA/DR setup and components
  • Integration: Applications, protocols and platform to integrate system of records, differentiators and innovations with 3rd party and legacy applications
  • Security: Covers both Application level and Infrastructure level security strategy and how the existing and new components co-exists
  • Analytics: Applications (Analytical and Front end for reporting and dashboards), Analytical Strategy and guidelines for leveraging identified applications 

In addition to Business, IT and future ERP solution - Data, User Experience, Transition and Testing Strategies are also influencing factors for defining Application and Technical Architecture and needs to be considered before finalizing target Architectures.

All the Architecture components are dependent on each other and any changes to internal (Vision - Business and IT, future ERP Solution, Architectural strategy) and external (change in Technology and market conditions) factors gives a good reason to revisit and re-evaluate overall future architecture.

All the inputs from Architecture and Functional Streams ties together and goes into defining Business Case/Value Map for future solution which justifies the Transformation Journey. @Michael Dunn will talk about his experience and point if view on creating Business Case as the next topic on relay race.

It will be great to get your thoughts, inputs and point of view around Architecture side of Journey Planning (S/4HANA Roadmap). I will be more than happy to answer your queries and listen to your concerns if you are thinking to plan your new ERP journey and make it smooth ride!

Var denne siden nyttig?