Succeeding with SAP S/4HANA depends on your user support

A smooth SAP S/4HANA implementation is a technical challenge. It’s also a user adoption challenge. It’s a journey, not a destination, and properly supporting the user adoption process is key.
July 02, 2020
3 min

There’s no doubt that SAP S/4HANA is a step forward in ERP technology. It can bring a level of agility to your business operations, enhancing the speed and throughput of transactions while supporting the connected enterprise beyond internal operations. This, in turn, saves time and increases customer responsiveness. But let’s be honest; implementing SAP S/4HANA is a big step. This is true whether you’re starting from scratch (greenfield) or converting an existing system (brownfield). 

In addition to technical hurdles, user adoption can be a challenge. There are a number of reasons for this. Change can be daunting for any user, especially if they’ve grown comfortable with a system over the course of years. Often, over those years of use, the system has been customized to specifically fit a user’s needs. SAP S/4HANA’s vanilla user interface might seem unintuitive by comparison. And though the SAP S/4HANA user interface is designed to be easy to navigate, things become more complex as one digs deeper.

Define your approach

The way in which organizations assist users learning the new software is another factor. Typically, they spend a great deal of time on training users in operating the system features but forget to contextualize the changes from a business operations perspective. A robust change management framework governing the rollout of a new ERP can be the difference between a successful implementation and a failed one.

It’s important to begin by preparing users and making sure they are aligned on potential change management challenges. With the greenfield approach, organizations can begin this process months before their SAP S/4HANA rollout. Classroom training and/or e-learning are a great way to get started. But in addition to the technical elements, don’t forget to remind users of why this process is taking place. Understanding why processes have changed is as important as the technical change itself, bolstering morale and helping users stay motivated as they go through the implementation process.

In the moment of need

Properly supporting users as they familiarize themselves with the new working environment “in the moment of need” is another way to support the workforce through the implementation phases, from configuration to testing to go-live. Real-time support continuously reinforces the messaging surrounding the improvements delivered through the new system and processes. Support in the moment of need is also a fundamental part of understanding and learning.

Classroom learning is great for introducing new concepts and preparing users for change, but active learning, or what you might call “learning on the job,” is where people build proficiency and confidence, and ultimately become power users. Offering proper support during that process, when users are exploring, discovering features and capabilities, and making decisions about how the new system will help them, is just as important as classroom learning and should not be overlooked.

What’s your implementation philosophy?

The SAP S/4HANA implementation process will look different for every organization. It’s worth the effort, but the scope of the challenge depends on your approach and your implementation philosophy. It’s important to see it as a journey rather than a destination. It’s an opportunity to reimagine business processes and operational models and should be viewed as such rather than as just an upgrade or technology project.

Properly planning for the SAP S/4HANA implementation and supporting users won’t just result in upgraded software. It will empower an agile workforce that is more likely to find success both within SAP S/4HANA and in modern business environments.


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