10 Things You’ll Learn by Attending SAPinsider’s Virtual Conference Experience

Join us online August 18-21 for SAPinsider’s 2020 Virtual Conference Experience, where you can safely experience the world’s most trusted event for business and technology leaders and professionals who rely on SAP.

From insight to action, attendees will learn strategies to help maximize SAP technology investments. When you attend, you’ll be able to connect with the world’s most trusted community of SAP thought leaders, product experts, and like-minded peers to learn about the latest insights to best optimize SAP and leverage the emergence of intelligent technologies.

Here are 10 things you’ll hear, learn, and experience when you join us online:

#1: How to prepare for and deploy SAP S/4HANA. Our agenda covers this transformative update from multiple angles, including how to build your business case and how SAP S/4HANA impacts core business processes; ways to integrate SAP S/4HANA to enable and facilitate business transformation; how to prepare for and migrate critical data; and best practices for assessing and making important deployment decisions.

#2: Ways to forge ahead in a post-COVID world. Most recently, the dramatic challenges of the global pandemic have intensified both the benefits and the ongoing need for large-scale business transformations. Hear leading Chief Information Officers share their insights on topics such as what impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on their SAP S/4HANA deployment; what it takes organizationally to move complex new technologies to the cloud; why IT leaders must continue to drive a change-oriented mindset to challenge entrenched company cultures; and what mix of IT skills and business fundamentals are most critical to future enterprise success.

#3: Characteristics that allow businesses to reinvent themselves during times of disruption. Businesses can either look at economic disruption as a challenge or an opportunity. Join an interactive discussion with Thomas Bamberger, President Customer Engagement and Experience at SAP, as he shares insights from his discussions and work with SAP organizations about how to prosper during turbulent business conditions.

#4: Insights that will help you make better business decisions. Many of the 200+ sessions on our agenda are case studies that provide insights into how a particular business solved a challenge using an SAP solution. Although each business experiences its own unique scenarios, the challenges tend to be the same across the board: The need for increased transparency, efficiency, and predictability, less redundancy, accurate data, change management, and minimized complexity and performance errors.

#5: How to manage and execute financial accounting and planning processes. Trending right now in the financial space is a desire for more automation, streamlined processes, and digital transformation. These endeavors reflect a shift toward predictive analytics, which could change the way people in finance work and their impact on a business. Our finance sessions address this trend and explain how SAP technologies are being used for process improvements that can affect both daily operations as well as larger business objectives for outcomes that inform the future.

#6: Ways to leverage advanced analytics and intelligent technologies for innovation. Analytics and business intelligence are important new territory for many SAP customers, especially those looking to derive more value from their growing data repositories. In our BI & Analytics track you’ll learn how the experts are traversing these emerging technologies, with multiple sessions around SAP BusinessObjects, the Intelligent Enterprise, and SAP Analytics Cloud.

#7: Diverse perspectives in SAP and tech. During our opening keynote session, you will hear from five women in SAP and technology, including representatives from SAP, Merck, Outsell, and MARS, on the important topics of diversity and inclusion.

#8: How to build an integrated compliance strategy. Every business faces compliance challenges and needs. Receive expert advice during our GRC track on how to adapt your approach to risk management during economic disruption, ways to maximize investments in current GRC access and process control, how to integrate your individual compliance initiatives more successfully, and how to protect critical assets as they move to SAP S/4HANA and the cloud.

#9: Insights on managing and securing your business and enterprise technology landscape. SAP systems contain valuable data and the breadth and connectivity that they have makes them desirable targets, which has resulted in a rising number of cyber security breaches of these systems. During our cyber security track you’ll learn strategies to protect your SAP system and meet compliance as well as minimize the risk of catastrophic data breech.

#10: Best practices for achieving optimal landscape and performance management. Don’t miss our admin, infrastructure & platform sessions, which provide an in-depth exploration of the latest trends, biggest challenges, customer case studies, and best practices for achieving optimal landscape and performance management as well as Cloud and HANA administration.

Register to attend!

PanAust Saves 500+ People Hours/Week with Digital Supply Chain Apps

SAP users across supply chain operations leverage SAP Fiori to track goods and parts by Pierce Owen, VP of Research and Publishing More than half (57%) of leading SAP supply chain customers — companies achieving significantly better supply chain business results than the competition — currently use supply chain mobile applications integrated with their core…...

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SAPinsider Magazine | 2019 | Issue 4

Access the latest insights from SAPinsider in the 2019, issue 4 digital edition of the magazine, which includes case studies of companies using SAP technology to improve their business outcomes; best practices; expert insights; and technical columns that provide deep-dive expertise.

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Inside the Value of the SAP S/4HANA for Financial Products Subledger Solution: Insurance Provider Swiss Re Teams with SAP to Take SAP S/4HANA for Financial Products Subledger to the Next Level

by Esther Shein, Contributing Writer, SAPinsider  Digital transformation is paving the way for insurance companies to modernize their processes and Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest wholesale insurance and reinsurance providers, has partnered with SAP to develop and test its SAP S/4HANA for Financial Products Subledger (FPSL).  This innovative solution provides concurrent accounting across multiple accounting bases…...

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Understanding the Value of Robotic Process Automation in FP&A

In his more than two decades’ worth of experience in financial planning and analysis (FP&A), Brian Kalish has come to the conclusion that best practices for this group can be applied globally, with little to no alteration. “Unlike accounting, tax, and cash management—which face different government regulations depending on location—FP&A practices can be applied anywhere because it deals with ideas.”

It was during his time at The Association for Financial Professionals, a nonprofit organization and the first practice in the world specifically targeted for the development of FP&A professionals, that his understanding of FP&A’s global nature was solidified. Kalish then founded Kalish Consulting to help organizations create a culture of analytics for data-driven decision making. One of the opportunities Kalish is exploring with his clients now is robotic process automation (RPA) in FP&A, a topic he’ll present on at SAPinsider’s 2020 virtual event happening August 18-22.

What do we mean by RPA?

RPA solutions are software which integrate into business IT environments and simulate employee action. “Basically, we’re talking about writing code to do activities that humans are currently doing. Anything that’s rules based that I can map, I can automate,” says Kalish. For finance this could be data entry and validation in accounts receivable and accounts payable, and procurement, inventory control, and forecasting.

By automating these tasks businesses can free up their employees from completing solely reporting-based tasks to complete more analytics-based tasks. This empowers FP&A professionals to perform higher-IQ activities, which can ultimately add enormous value to a business.

Potential barrier to RPA

“For 30 or 40 years you could look at hard copies of CFO magazine and read survey results where CFOs said their FP&A people spend an inordinate amount of time in data acquisition, reconciliations, and verification. What’s frightening is if you ask that today the number really hasn’t budged. FP&A professionals are still probably spending 70-80% of their time on these tasks, which is why RPA is such a game changer. Those three activities are completely automatable,” says Kalish.

Although the FP&A consultant believes in, and has seen the benefits of, RPA in FP&A, the benefits are faith-based. “You can quantify the cost of RPA but you can’t quantify the benefits with a tangible return on investment. For many organizations, it’s not a burning platform.”

In addition, Kalish has found that the process and procedures for most of the activities in an organization that can be automated are not well documented, such as data entry. The issue with this is that you can’t automate something until you have all the steps that are involved.

“One of the things we run into is that most organizations are terrible about having procedures so instead of it being an automations project, it becomes a process documentation process and you’ve moved further down anyone’s burning platform,” says Kalish.

Despite these barriers, organizations that find a way to implement RPA can experience its impact on their existing workforce,  enabling them to focus on more strategic tasks.

RPA re-envisions roles in FP&A

“When we’re talking about automation, what we don’t want to do is a lift and shift,” says Kalish.

It’s important for businesses to remember that when they automate tasks, they’re not coming up with a process that mimics what a human does in the sense that every step the human does is what the robot will do, because the prior process was designed for a human, which is now being taken out of the equation. To use an analogy, when moving from a human-driven car to an autonomous car, you wouldn’t include a steering wheel, because that’s a component that only a human would need to manipulate the car. “You have to understand the outcome that you’re trying to achieve because the tasks you’re performing today might not be what you need to program when it’s automated,” says Kalish.

On that same note, the skills you need today are not the skills you’ll need tomorrow. Kalish’s goal, through his consultancy work, is to turn the 30-40% of analysis that FP&A professionals are currently doing on its head, so more like 70-80% of their time is spent on analytics. “Businesses need to find people who want to fill analytics roles and who are interested in an evolving role. People in FP&A will need to be much more focused on growing their analytical skills in the future rather than task-based skills that we can replace with automation,” he says.

Moving up the FP&A maturity curve

In his second Vegas session, Climbing the FP&A Maturity Curve, Kalish will explain in more detail how businesses can significantly improve FP&A and bring value from a business perspective. RPA enables technology to give people the capacity for this climb. As you’ll learn during his presentation, Kalish’s maturity curve contains four personas: reporter, commentator, advisor, and strategist. All four personas must exist, says Kalish.

“As you move up the maturity curve, activities don’t go away, but how they’re performed will likely change. As we move reporting from a manual process (i.e., spreadsheets) to automation, employees will be empowered to focus on higher-IQ tasks, analytics, and ultimately will impact the top line of the organization. RPA will move analysis out of descriptive analytics (what happened and where) to diagnostic (why is something happening) to–with the right people, technology, processes, and culture–predictive analytics (what may happen), and finally, prescriptive analytics (this is what should happen and how we can make it happen).

Belimo Increases Warehouse Productivity and Order Fulfillment by More Than 30%

Warehouse pickers leverage ASRS, machine learning, and shipping solutions integrated with SAP ERP by Pierce Owen, VP of Research and Publishing According to research conducted by SAPinsider, only 14% of SAP customers currently use machine learning (ML) applications in their supply chains or manufacturing operations. Using these technologies can have significant benefits, however. For example,…...

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Understanding What to Measure for Effective KPI Development

Strategic Supply Chain Management, Part I of II By Venkata Ramana Nethi CSCP, CPIM, Business Process Lead – Operations, Schlumberger Key performance indicators (KPIs) allow organizations to measure performance as it relates to specific projects, products, or workflow and use the information to evaluate their success at reaching business objectives. KPIs, also known as level-1…...

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Venkata Ramana Nethi, CSCP, CPIM Manager IT Build-Run Operations & Quality, Schlumberger
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Venkata Ramana Nethi, Manager IT Build-Run Operations & Quality at Schlumberger, has 20 years of experience including SAP and domain expertise in manufacturing and planning. He joined Cameron in 2010, which was acquired by Schlumberger in 2016, and is responsible for SAP production planning, advanced planning and optimization (APO), and Quality modules including process study, design, implementation, and support in manufacturing and supply chain business transformation solutions. Before joining Schlumberger, Venkata was an SAP production planning consultant at Wipro Technologies, where he led SAP PP implementation and support projects for a global client base. Prior to that, he was manager at VOLTAS manufacturing unit based in India where he was responsible of production planning and shop floor manufacturing processes of refrigerator and commercial cooler products for CPG customers. Venkata has CSCP and CPIM certifications and his expertise ranges from business case analysis to implementation and production support engagements in manufacturing and supply chain planning transformation initiatives. He is also involved in sales and operations planning supported by SAP Integrated Business Planning and the solution’s integration with various systems to support demand and supply planning.

How Johns Hopkins Improved Process Efficiency with SAP Fiori

Although business transactions such as entering travel reimbursement forms, ordering office supplies, or performing the proper paperwork to onboard a new employee may not immediately come to mind when you think of the most important aspects of running a business, these transactions happen frequently enough that the efficiency with which they run is worth examining. Johns Hopkins found many opportunities for improvement when they drilled into some of these internal transactions taking place at their organization and found that increasing their focus on user experience (UX) was necessary to provide a more efficient environment for their employees.

One SAP instance, implemented in 2007, supports both Johns Hopkins University and the organization’s Health System and many affiliates. In 2017, Zack Rose, IT Project Manager at Johns Hopkins, was part of the group that attempted to determine how to transform their packaged 11-year-old SAP user interface into something that made completing internal business transactions quicker, smoother, and easier. Rose and the Hopkins team implemented a mix of SAP Fiori, SAP Screen Personas, and 3rd party software to personalize the user experience. As a result, for a growing number of transactions, the UX was moved from a very menu-based path to a tile-based portal for Johns Hopkins’ over 10,000 active users.

Johns Hopkins groups their users into a few general buckets:

  • Human Resources (HR): Professionals who perform HR actions such as onboarding and termination and payroll-related maintenance.
  • Supply Chain: People who procure goods and services for Johns Hopkins (comprised of both the end user who needs to order something and the purchasing department that wants to negotiate and add materials to Johns Hopkins’ catalogues), and people who run warehouses and coordinate inventory.
  • Central Finance: Accounting professionals who perform tasks such as postings, closing the books, setting up finance master data, and maintaining research grant data.
  • Travelers: This bucket contains the most organizationally and geographically decentralized group of users entering expense reports.

Streamlining business scenarios

“The business benefit of improving our UX in one word is speed. In the old world users had a screen with, let’s say 75 fields across several tabs, and the users at Johns Hopkins only need to use a handful of them. Now, we’ve been able to streamline transactions by eliminating inefficiencies for the user, such as removing irrelevant fields and combining data from across multiple tabs.” This allows the end user to make sense of their screen more quickly, which frees them up to do other work, says Rose.

Providing a personalized experience for users

Moving the user experience from a one-size-fits-all approach that core SAP provides to a more customized experience was a main driver of Johns Hopkins’ implementation of SAP Fiori. One group of users who have benefitted from this customization is shoppers.

“If you’re just shopping for general office depot products, for example, the justifications required will be different from those shopping for research materials, and those differences should be represented in the user experience,” says Rose. To ensure they were creating an experience that reflected actual user needs, Rose and his team of both functional and technical resources relied heavily on user feedback while adhering to design thinking practices. “That was very well received because it led to positive customer engagement through whiteboarding, observing, and a hands-on collaborative effort with our users.”

Using design thinking principles, Rose and colleagues were able to collate user feedback into a list of business requirements that the IT team could prioritize by importance of functionality. The IT team kept engagement with that group of users through the development and testing processes. As one can imagine, when working with so many users all competing for a solution to their unique problem, prioritization for the IT team quickly became a challenge.

Increasing transparency to create an empathetic culture

Johns Hopkins’ various users span across many departments, and like any business, not every department understands what other departments in the organization are up against on a daily basis. To solve the challenge of prioritizing user needs, many of which fell on a flat scale within the business in terms of hierarchy, the IT team created a roadmap to increase transparency into projects currently being worked on, as well as a glimpse into projects that were next in line. This approach helped users pinpoint where on the timeline they fell for receiving a solution, as well as understand what the IT team and other departments were experiencing.

Because improvements in UX were so notable after implementing SAP Fiori, the solution sold itself, making change management easier to navigate. Improvements were both tangible and intangible, including less training required for new functionality due to SAP Fiori’s logical nature; speed of business transactions and fewer keyboard strokes required; technology that was more intuitive and required less support work; and a culture founded on empathy and understanding of fellow colleagues’ work.

Overall, Johns Hopkins has noticed a positive change in the efficiency of their internal business processes as a result of implementing SAP Fiori and its similar solutions. Through transparency, careful planning, and a willingness to listen, Rose and his team were able to integrate new technology in a way that complemented human connection, rather than replace it.

For a more detailed presentation on how Johns Hopkins improved process efficiency with SAP Fiori, join us in Las Vegas March 17-19 for our SAPinsider 2020 conference, where Rose will present a case study on this topic. Catch Rose again at his second session, “Case study: A new age of expense and reimbursement management at Johns Hopkins.”

SAP Announces Extension of Mainstream Maintenance for SAP ERP 6.0 Until the End of 2027

By Robert Holland, VP Research and Publishing, SAPinsider

SAP announced yesterday that it will now provide mainstream maintenance for SAP ERP 6.0 and other core applications of SAP Business Suite 7 until the end of 2027. This will be followed by an optional extended maintenance that will be available until the end of 2030. In the same press release, SAP also announced a maintenance commitment for SAP S/4HANA until the end of 2040. According to SAP co-CEO Christian Klein, the announcement was made to offer options for customers who may not be fully ready for SAP S/4HANA.

“In response to … our customers’ demand for choice, SAP will provide additional flexibility to fully embrace the groundbreaking opportunities of SAP S/4HANA that reflects the individual pace and complexity of our customers’ projects,” said Klein

In an additional interview conducted with Michael Kleinemeier, member of the Executive Board responsible for SAP Digital Business Services, and Thomas Saueressig, member of the Executive Board for SAP Product Engineering, Saueressig provided some additional insight into why SAP is announcing this change now.

“Customers are moving at their own pace to SAP S/4HANA, which is why we’ve committed maintenance for SAP Business Suite 7 for two additional years plus the additional option until end of 2030,” said Saueresig. He added, “Our objective is to respect our customers’ current investments, allowing them the time they need to re-engineer business processes and systems so they can tap into the full business opportunities of SAP S/4HANA.”

This is a significant change for customers who have been working towards the 2025 end of mainstream maintenance deadline that SAP announced in 2018 and provides more flexibility to those customers running SAP ERP 6.0 in planning for their SAP S/4HANA migration.

Who does this change impact?

As announced, the extension in mainstream maintenance until the end of 2027 covers the core applications of SAP Business Suite 7: SAP ERP 6.0, SAP Customer Relationship Management 7.0, SAP Supply Chain Management 7.0, SAP Supplier Relationship Management 7.0 applications, and SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. There will be no contractual change required, and no additional fees will apply to the impacted customers. After the end of 2027, customers will be given the choice of either moving to extended maintenance, available until the end of 2030 at a cost premium over mainstream maintenance, or choosing to be transferred to customer-specific maintenance.

Even though it was not explicitly stated in the SAP release, conversations that SAPinsider has had with SAP executives indicate that the SAP Business Suite 7 core applications do cover the ECC install base. So, even if a customer only owns one product – for example SAP ERP 6.0 – they are included in the scope of the change. According to results from a recent SAPinsider’s customer survey, this represents over 90% of the existing SAP ERP customers that have not yet implemented SAP S/4HANA.

Why announce the change now?

According to Kleinemeier, SAP understands that a move to SAP S/4HANA is not just replacing technology – it requires a change in how organizations operate their business. SAP is deliberately providing a longer time frame that will bring increased flexibility, and the extended maintenance is an acknowledgement of the fact that each customer will adopt new technology at a different pace based on individual needs.

Essentially, SAP customers have indicated that there are significant business transformations underway that are required to use the capabilities of SAP S/4HANA. While they may want to move to SAP S/4HANA, they need more time to make the transition, and SAP wants them to be able to decide when and how they will do so.

SAPinsider’s recent research and surveys support the need for a change in the maintenance timeline. Survey results indicate that while the number of customers who have no plans to migrate to SAP S/4HANA have declined – from 29% in Q2, to 21% in Q3, to between 10 and 13% now – a significant number of SAP customers are still not even evaluating the business case for a migration. When you include the 35-41% of customers identified in the surveys who are only evaluating a migration and have not yet moved to the pilot stage, the number of customers not currently ready to implement represents more than half of SAP’s current ERP customers.

Finally, this change will give SAP more time to provide tools and functionality to provide a smoother transition, educate and train consultants and system integrators, and ramp up its own professional services organization to ensure that the resources to support migrations to SAP S/4HANA are available. It also provides SAP more time to eventually move all existing ERP customers to SAP S/4HANA.

What does this mean for SAPinsiders?

Customers who have yet to migrate to SAP S/4HANA should begin educating themselves and learning from the experiences of other customers who have migrated successfully. To help prepare, customers should:

  • Continue planning for SAP S/4HANA, or start making plans. While most SAP ERP customers now have a little more breathing room before the requirement to be running SAP S/4HANA, those who are already on the path to migration should continue their efforts. This will ensure that you leverage your existing investments while allowing more flexibility in your migration timeline.
  • Use this opportunity productively. For those who have yet to formulate a business case for SAP S/4HANA or currently have no plans, this maintenance extension provides some additional time to determine how you will proceed. Use that time wisely by educating your ERP teams, leveraging opportunities for free or low-cost trials, and ensuring that your business systems are prepared for your eventual change – whether to SAP S/4HANA or something else.
  • Get expert advice and talk to peers who have already implemented SAP S/4HANA. SAPinsider is hosting its SAPinsider 2020 conference in Las Vegas March 17-19, 2020 and the event will include over 2500 attendees who are facing many of the same challenges as you. This is an excellent opportunity to get firsthand advice from those who have migrated and to meet industry experts who are leading the charge.
  • Tell us what you think. SAPinsider is currently preparing a research report on SAP S/4HANA migration. Does SAP’s recent announcement changed your plans? Let us know by taking our quick 10-minute survey. We would also like to know how the cloud and SAP S/4HANA are impacting your enterprise security strategy. Take this short and anonymous 5-minute survey to share your experience with us.