Session Recap: Data Readiness and Preparation for Your SAP S/4HANA Implementation

by Annie Kennedy, Associate Conference Producer, SAPinsider

On day three of the SAPinsider 2020 Virtual Conference Experience, Don Loden, Director of Data and Analytics at Protiviti, shared a host of insights in the session “Data Readiness and Preparation for Your SAP S/4HANA Implementation.” A focus on data quality during an SAP S/4HANA migration is key, according to Loden, because without quality data, your investment with SAP S/4HANA will not reach its fullest potential.

A critical part of the SAP S/4HANA migration journey, according to Loden, is making sure your data is ready for the move, which involves understanding your current environment, how you’re using your data, what reports you’re using, and what challenges you’ve faced with reporting that SAP S/4HANA can help with via embedded analytics. Loden recommended keeping the following in mind:

  • What issues do you have with your data?
  • What scope of reports will you need to go live?
  • Are all of them needed or can embedded analytics or out-of-the-box products them?

It’s also important to make sure the core is clean by extracting, transforming, and cleaning the data before the migration, so you can build a solid foundation going forward, and a key component of this is archiving. When considering what to archive, Loden said to ask yourself the following:

  • Were customizations made because they were core to how you do your business or because you wanted some shortcuts? Keep your core clean so you can go live as close to the SAP standard as possible.
  • What do I need to get rid of to simplify the process? Assess the quality of your data and take a look at quantifiable aspects, such as what’s missing or not performing as it should.
  • What does my business look like today, and after rolling over in the next 9-12 months, where will we be and what can be built into the implementation? Build into the core how your business looks not only today, but also tomorrow.

The bottom line, according to Loden, is that you need to understand your data better than anyone, and make sure your data is trustworthy. You need efficient processes, clear rules, and defined stewardship, and after you go live, you need to take care of your master data going forward. And while SAP can help, the readiness of your data is generally your responsibility as an SAP customer, Loden emphasized. You need to make sure you can answer questions such as:

  • Are there competencies, tools, and technologies in-house that can help me deal with things like cleaning data before I start my SAP S/4HANA implementation?
  • Do I know what to do with historical data?
  • Do I know what to do about duplicate accounts?
  • Do I have data that’s crucial to the business is in Excel instead of my legacy system?
  • Do I have high rates of EDI failure when processing orders? Do I have obsolete product codes?

As a key takeaway, Loden stressed that data is one of the biggest risks to any ERP implementation, and SAP S/4HANA is no different. Bad data gets bad results, and it’s cheaper and easier to ensure data readiness before the project begins rather than trying to address data issues in the middle of the project. If your plan is to migrate to SAP S/4HANA in two years, now is the perfect time to start working on the readiness of your data, according to Loden.

When it comes to assessing your data readiness, Loden noted that a data migration is split into two phases: pre-migration and migration. In the pre-migration phase, the assessment focuses on conversion planning (data design and data extraction); data profiling and data cleansing; and conversion preparation (data mapping). During the migration, the assessment focuses on developing the conversion process (business rule analysis); testing the conversion process (data transformation and data remediation); and the conversion execution (data load).

According to Loden, the key data migration activities for assessing data readiness are data design and data extraction in the conversion planning stage; data profiling and data cleansing; and data mapping in the conversion preparation stage. To help with the assessment, use a remediation plan and scorecards to help with benchmarking, he recommended. By assessing source systems, data staging, data profiling and cleansing, and data quality, you’re taking what’s critical for a process to succeed, applying it to the expected behavior of that data for success, and seeing what happens in the scorecards.

When you choose to move forward with your SAP S/4HANA journey, be sure to monitor and keep your data clean before the move, said Loden, and be sure to consider the current state of your data in relation to the upcoming SAP S/4HANA implementation — where are you, and where do you need to go? Also evaluate the tools you own or need to procure. You may already own software such as SAP Data Services or SAP Information Steward. And again, don’t wait to start the planning process, emphasized Loden. Reach out to third parties for help, whether it’s user communities or conferences or services from external vendors, and take advantage of resources and networks.

After the presentation, Loden took questions from attendees, and one area of interest was how long it takes to assess your data readiness. Loden said it’s not months or years, but rather weeks with help from a third party like Protiviti. On your own, however, it could take six months because of all the required data mapping. A recording of the full session and the Q&A that followed will soon be available on demand from the SAPinsider 2020 Virtual Conference Experience.