How to plan an S/4 HANA Finance migration project

Being a consulting company, before our customers decide to move to S/4 HANA, we need to educate and help them in planning their internal resources. After we bring them up to the required level, they can adopt early. We can then also assist them in adopting these changes.

Business users are using decades-old ECC, and changing the processes established over decade ago are always a challenge. Within a company IT organisation, IT people need subject knowledge to educate businesses, so they can adapt to new changes, leaving their decade old comfort of SAP transactions.

Knowledge of S/4 HANA Finance will provide customer comfort and will also reduce the dependency on implementation partners. To plan better, I have prepared a sample project plan and a skills matrix required for migration to S/4 HANA Finance.

Let me first lay down the activities to be performed in S/4 HANA Finance migration from a functional point of view:

  1. Project planning
  2. Downtime planning
  3. Pre-project clean-up & release transports
  4. Infrastructure ready
  5. Blueprint (S/4 HANA Finance)
  6. Suite on HANA migration
  7. S/4 HANA Finance migration
  8. Remediation with optimisation
  9. Runbook test and enhancement
  10. UNIT testing
  11. Testing script
  12. Integration cycle
  13. Performance testing
  14. User acceptance testing
  15. Mock cut-over
  16. Training
  17. Cutover planning
  18. Cut-over execution
  19. Consistency check
  20. Go / No go decision
  21. Actual go-live

Above activities can be distributed, based on implementation strategies i.e. planning in-house or choosing external vendors for implementation.

Based on my experience on back-to-back two S4 HANA Finance implementations, let me explain what the resources role will be, and what their responsibilities will be in the S/4 HANA Finance migration project. It will help you decide if you have enough skill within your team or, in other words, is your customer ready for an S/4 HANA Finance implementation.

During implementation we did a lot of adjusting, and finally reached the below matrix for planning:

Roles and responsibilities:

Project manager:

  1. Prepare and maintain a project plan, project budget and a work plan. Serve as an overall lead for the project
  2. Communicate project status to a steering committee and team members
  3. Proactively anticipate project deviations and take immediate corrective actions
  4. Streamline the issue resolution process

HANA BASIS Lead:

  1. Responsible for design and architecture
  2. Co-ordinate the BASIS activities
  3. Responsible for HANA specific BASIS activities during OS/DB migration including HANA DB migration tasks, Node maintenance, revision upgrade and OS level execution as well as basis tests
  4. Responsible for system refresh / copy as per requirements.

ABAP code optimisation in new HANA system:

  1. Responsible for ECC application to work with HANA database properly after the migration to HANA resulting from underlying database change to HANA.
  2. Identifies the codes required to be HANA-compatible, coordinates and distributes efforts for testing cycles
  3. Responsible for amending any changes in the codes that are required as a result of migrating to HANA database from the current database platform

ECC HANA Optimisations:

  1. Responsible for code-pushdown of custom codes that are required to address current performance problems post-migration to HANA
  2. Tune the code to work optimally in HANA database

ECC (functional):

  1. Responsible for the ECC application testing, defect resolution, and provides ECC solution knowledge and drives the identification of key objects for testing and resulting test scripts and criteria
  2. Responsible for functional testing (Integration testing, regression and UAT) in systems following the technical ECC HANA migration
  3. Coordinate with testing team, process teams and business users.

HANA Admin:

  1. Responsible for all HANA operations/administrations activities
  2. Adjust the HANA DB security objects post migration

I have seen customers taking a few S4 HANA Finance resources on T&M who act from a customer side. It happened in my last implementation due to non-availability of resources in the European market.

Once you decide on the resources, the next question arises: what will be the project plan and timeliness, including project deliverables involved in different phases of the S/4 HANA Finance migration?

The table below gives you the guidelines for the preparation of a detailed project plan and deliverables for an S/4 HANA Finance migration project.

Activities & Deliverables – S/4 HANA Finance

Project Preparation (3-4 weeks):

  • Kick-off
  • Downtime requirement
  • Infrastructure procurement
  • Trial environment ready
  • Project team ramp-up
  • Project plan

Blueprint (4-5 weeks)

  • Trial upgrade/ migration 1
  • Downtime estimate
  • Migration strategy
  • Testing strategy
  • Development environment ready
  • Environment clean-up

Realisation (10-13 weeks)

  • DEV Upgr/mig & remediation
  • Unit Testing
  • Trial upg/mig 2
  • QA and production environment ready
  • Integration test 1
  • Downtime validation & optimisation
  • Cut-over planning
  • HA & DR testing
  • Performance testing
  • Mock cut-over 1

Final preparation (6-10 weeks)

  • Go / No go decision
  • UAT
  • Mock cut-over 2
  • Delta training
  • Cut-over execution
  • Hyper-care plan

Go-live & support (4-5 weeks)

  • Go-live
  • Hyper-care
  • Project closure

DISCLAIMER: These views are mine only, and are based on my S/4 HANA Finance implementations. They do not represent, or are endorsed by my current or past employers.

Jay Singh