In today’s fast-paced business landscape, organizations are under increasing pressure to make informed and data-driven decisions to improve overall productivity and efficiency. Many companies, like our client here, have implemented SAP Embedded Analytics to manage their data more efficiently and access real-time insights into their most important company data.

But, without the right project team, navigating a “parallel transformation effort” between SAP BW and SAP BW/4HANA can seem nearly impossible…

This article highlights the success of our team of SAP consultants in helping a large healthcare organization out of North Carolina outline a plan for their SAP Embedded Analytics transformation project and lead them to success. Read on to learn more!

Building a Project Team for Your Needs

“Offshore models typically fail from a business analytics perspective…”

When it comes to leveraging embedded analytics in the most effective and efficient way possible, guidance and support from a team of SAP consultants with senior-level knowledge, experience, and expertise is a major key to success for any organization.

Team composition for a project like this should look like…

  • Project manager to set expectations for team members and define a project schedule
  • Technical resources with SAP development experience and expertise throughout the entire SAP environment, including a CDS developer on the SAP S/4HANA side and a BW developer on the SAP Business Warehouse side
  • Functional support representatives to create a “pseudo-map” of how to build out specific functions within the defined SAP landscape, including data collection, calculation, and management

Without direct interaction between internal teams and experts in technical, functional, and analytics processes across the entire SAP platform, teams can fall victim to a game of “broken telephone”, meaning important operational data is more likely to be misunderstood or lost in translation. This risk makes an even better case for ensuring your organization creates a project team that covers all the bases, no matter what.

Navigating Challenges with BW Transformation

Transforming core SAP BW and Embedded Analytics functions across your organization can be a complex process, and it often brings quite a few bumps in the road with it.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the main challenges faced during the BW transformation process, as well as how our team of consultants helped…

Challenge #1: Outlining Plans for Transformation

Traditionally, there are two different ways to approach a transformation project:

  • Greenfield approach: This method involves developing applications and system capabilities “from scratch”, meaning that the data from a company’s legacy system will be migrated to the new SAP environment, but individual configurations and customizations will not be moved.
  • Brownfield approach: With this method, users leverage “lift and shift” functions to take an assessment of current business processes in SAP BW and  transfer necessary data, configurations, and customizations to the new system.

Our client chose to leverage a brownfield implementation approach, meaning that instead of assessing their current data “as-is” and transferring it to the new system, they started “fresh” with all new data, only bringing pre-defined customizations and configurations with them. And, with the help of our SAP consultants, this client was able to find the most efficient way to build efficient processes in their new SAP system and leverage customized features to meet all their needs.

Challenge #2: Determining the Right System

The second challenge our team of consultants helped this client navigate involved determining which data would stay in the traditional BW solution and which would be built into the new SAP S/4HANA BW system. Our expert SAP consultants helped the internal project team outline plans to place anything that required trending or larger amounts of data in BW 4/HANA, and allow any operational data or granular processes to be built in SAP Embedded Analytics.

Too often, companies get sold on the “BW mindset”, meaning that the SAP BW system will be used to manage all data management and analytical requirements across the entire system. But, in reality, it’s usually more beneficial to have operations segmented into different SAP solutions for different purposes, like our client did.

Challenge #3: Finding Functional Alignment

One of the key challenges our client faced throughout their BW transformation project involved aligning key functional and operational processes to unlock the power of their virtual data models across the entire organization.

Here are the main areas of the client’s BW transformation effort that our team of SAP consultants helped with…

  • Balancing a simplified architecture with enhanced analytics processes
  • Navigating CDS views to align BW processes with SAP Fiori development
  • Leveraging the same methodology and protocol in S/4HANA to streamline processes
  • Segregating reporting requirements as operational or strategic to improve efficiency
  • Enabling real time operational reporting functions to manage business transactions and eliminate redundant data across the system
  • Executing read and transformation processes for data in the SAP HANA database

Creating a Plan for Success

Creating a plan with well-defined steps and objects plays a critical role in setting your team up for maximum success. Here are a few key steps our team of consultants suggests to help build a stronger plan for your SAP S 4HANA Embedded Analytics transformation initiatives…

1) Onshore vs Offshore

The first step in any successful transformation project is deciding whether your team will use offshore resources to complete tasks, or if you’ll bring in additional, client-side support resources to act as an extension of your internal team.

Projects like this one, involving data migration and transformation within various applications in the SAP Analytics Cloud, typically aren’t compatible with offshore models. In our consultants’ experiences, on-shore presence is needed to ensure teams are able to communicate and comprehend their project needs effectively and efficiently, no matter what.

2) Time Lag

When it comes to giving your internal teams enough time to complete core transformation activities and allowing external support resources to optimize customer project implementations, our team of consultants believes that a time lag is necessary.

This time lag involves a period of a few months that allows your core transformation team to set everything up correctly in SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics and gives other teams the opportunity to evaluate their system and business process configuration to determine what more needs to be done in the system.

With a time lag like this, project teams are enabled to complete the initial steps of their transformation project, evaluate the current progress of the project, and ensure team members stay on track, no matter what.

3) Go-Live Plan

Most project teams typically want to create an implementation plan that deploys all new functions, features, and applications within their SAP ecosystem on the same Go-Live date. And while this seems like the most convenient and efficient option for teams with quick turnaround times, they often fall victim to planning roadblocks and issues that set them back even further than a defined time lag would.

Our team of consultants suggests including a period of time where project teams can review system functionality and resolve any initial issues and other employees are able to learn the ins and outs of their new SAP solutions.

With a well defined implementation plan that includes space set aside for a time lag, organizations are able to optimize their project planning and construction processes, realizing just how important scheduling is to the efficiency and accuracy of their entire system.

4) Testing and Adoption

One of the last (and most critical) steps in creating a plan for success across your SAP system involves testing the key features and capabilities of each solution to ensure they function correctly and conducting planner user adoption evaluations to ensure all users are operating their solutions in the most effective and efficient way possible.

If your employees aren’t aware of the “right” way to do things within SAP Data Warehouse, Embedded Analytics, or any other SAP solution for that matter, your team could be setting yourself up for inefficient and underperforming operations in the long run.

Balancing Different Perspectives

While challenges are likely to arise in multiple different areas for any team, issues with miscommunication and misunderstanding between internal team members and implementation partners made it difficult for this client to keep everyone on the same page.

The client’s internal team was a breeze to work with, however, heavy systems integration (SI) involvement from their implementation partner muddied the waters and re-routed some of the plans our team of consultants initially created for this project and the client.

Navigating the political challenges between teams, while trying to stay focused on core project tasks, make informed decisions related to future system operations, and meet as many needs as possible for each key stakeholder proved to be the most daunting challenge for our team of SAP consultants.

To combat this issue, our consultants took a “tell me what you need to do, and I’ll find the best way to do it” approach, making it easier to appease both sides and keep the project running like a well-oiled machine, no matter what.

Leveraging Hybrid Customization Scenarios

“It’s very difficult to find a situation where companies can get everything they need from their system with no customization at all.”

Customization capabilities across the SAP Analytics Cloud allow users to configure their solutions to meet their individual needs, making it easier for them to build a virtual data model that provides real-time access to important data and reduces the need for data replication. And, while customized features do simplify data management processes, they only add to the amount of documentation required by business users.

This client, in particular, understood that SAP Embedded Analytics cannot be built on an unstable environment and configurations of the base system cannot be customized on top of an unstable foundation. Their internal teams leveraged a hybrid customization environment to set up their underlying data model and the core data services customized to their individual needs.

Our client also took an early stand to ensure all stakeholders involved in the transformation project understood that they were using Embedded Analytics and BW 4HANA for different things. This clear distinction allowed the client and our team of consultants brought on after the transformation plan was created to leverage a simplified data model and customized features to optimize data management and transformation activities.

Our team of consultants came in to help the client start with only the customizations previously built in SAP BW  to reduce the uncertainty involved in understanding how data is built and delivered and eliminate the need to rebuild existing data across their SAP system. Our consultants worked with the client to outline new data management functions and leverage both standardized and custom features within the SAP Analytics Cloud to collect, store, and manage data in the most efficient way possible.

Tackling Major Roadblocks in the Project Plan

Encountering roadblocks is inevitable in any project. But, understanding what kinds of roadblocks to look for and outlining proactive preparation plans can help your team identify and tackle small roadblocks before they become bigger issues.

Our team of consultants outlined a list of potential roadblocks to look out for when planning for or managing an SAP Embedded Analytics transformation project…

  • Negotiating project timelines, schedules, and budgets with key stakeholders
  • Working with stakeholders to outline testing processes and sign-off on project plans
  • Prioritizing development functions to set up and configure solutions properly
  • Ensuring planned time and actual time to production are aligned throughout the project
  • Navigating a lack of rigor in SAP system testing
  • Operating quickly and efficiently to ensure stakeholders understand the value of their SAP solutions and the transformation project itself

How Can We Help?

Whether you need help outlining plans for an S/4HANA Embedded Analytics implementation project, an extra hand transforming the way business applications are developed across your SAP HANA platform, additional support executing BW 4/HANA transformation initiatives, or anything else SAP-related, our team of senior-level SAP consultants is here to help.

Wherever your SAP needs lie, Surety Systems will assemble a project team that’s guaranteed to get the job done…the first time!

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