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SAP S/4HANA – invest in your people for business transformation success

Discover the six key Organisational Change Management (OCM) activities needed to realise the full potential of migrating to S/4HANA, and to minimise operational and financial impact on your business.

The move to SAP S/4HANA brings a lot of positive changes - better user experience, improved system performance, reduction in total cost of ownership and a more secure and an easier to maintain platform that will enable your business to digitally transform. With these benefits in mind, many organisations are planning or are in the process of migrating to S/4HANA. In order to realise its full potential, and to mimimise operational and financial impact on your business, the move to S/4HANA should be positioned as a business transformation rather than a technical implementation.
In this article we explore the key business change activities that should be considered when embarking on an S/4HANA implementation. These activities can help ensure organisations truly realise S/4HANA benefits and minimise any impact to business operations.

Managing change

The most common change management supports offered for an S/4HANA transition are communications and training. However Organisational Change Management (OCM) is much more than that. In order to manage the transformational change across your business, it is important to consider a structured OCM plan as part of your implementation. A plan that focuses on the change to roles and responsibilities, processes and the benefits. We have identified six key activities to consider when developing an S/4HANA organisational change management plan.

  1. Vision - To bring the people in your organisation along that journey of change, it is critical that they understand why the business has decided to implement S/4HANA. Defining a vision that has purpose and is aligned to an organisation’s business objectives will be key in gaining the buy in from users and management - for example to streamline processes to become more agile and efficient in the way it delivers products to customers.
  2. Change impacts - Assessing impacts is a typical task that is delivered during the fit gap analysis workshops. These workshops aim to analyse each existing process and determines if it will fit or match with a new S/4HANA process or it will become a gap that willrequire a decision to be made on how the new process will work. Follow-up throughout the project is necessary, sometimes even up to go live, as a lot of decisions will not be fully understood in the early discovery phases. While  assessing these impacts it is important to understand what people’s roles are today and how they will fundamentally change with S/4HANA.
  3. Personas - A valuable exercise that helps to explain and realise the S/4HANA benefits and changes to roles within cohort groups is a persona analysis. A persona is used to represent a user type within your organisation. Understanding what is changing for each persona group can enable you to define the right targeted messaging, training and supporting activities for each cohort – for example a dispatcher in the delivery team or a customer service representative. It is important to understand what their pain points are today and how S/4HANA will improve these in the future with the new benefits and features.
  4. Change champions - Another way to minimise business operational risk is to build a strong change champion network across your business - one that can influence people by demonstrating advocacy for the benefits of S/4HANA. Consider defining a specialised champion network for notable product benefits – such as business performance champions who can demonstrate the powerful analytical reporting capabilities.
  5. Communications - Ensure that there is a bidirectional flow of information between your employees and the project team. One way to do this is by developing a centralised online portal that is focused on sharing content for each cohort, role or team. It is essential not to depend only on digital communication.
  6. Learning - An assessment of your organisation’s past learning culture and a training needs analysis can help determine what is the best approach to upskilling your people. If your organisation is new to SAP additional training will be required. This consideration, as well as people having a ‘day job’ to do, can impact people’s time considerably. One way to alleviate this is to consider a training approach that delivers the right content at the right ‘moment of need’.

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