No matter what sector they're in, businesses are working with more data than ever. But if that data isn't integrated into one place, managing it becomes as much of a problem.
An ERP system like SAP S/4HANA can seem daunting at first, but in this post, we'll break it down simply and show you how to use the solution in the workplace to make operations run much more smoothly.
What Is SAP S/4HANA?
SAP S/4HANA is aimed at enterprise resource planning. It is a software suite that helps businesses manage their finances, operations, and customer relations. ("Resource" in this case means anything from your warehouse stock to the cloud phone system for business calls.) It integrates all of a company's core processes, and relevant data, into a single system. This report gives users a real-time view of the business and helps managers streamline operations.
SAP S/4HANA is designed to be scalable and flexible, so it can be adapted to the specific needs of any organization. It's also highly customizable: businesses can add or remove modules like HR management or financial planning as their needs change. SAP S/4HANA is used by many of the world's largest organizations, and its popularity is growing as more and more businesses realize how much data they're having to wrestle with across different platforms.
As the backbone of a company's operations, ERP systems are essential to streamlining complex processes and ensuring that data is accurate and accessible, even in big companies. SAP S/4HANA provides a suite of features that helps organizations manage these processes effectively. By integrating different areas such as financial data, human resources, and supply chain/inventory information, SAP S/4HANA gives companies a unified 360-degree view of their operations.
Previously, all that information would be siloed in different programs and platforms: marketing data trapped in HubSpot and Google Analytics, and sales data in Salesforce. By putting this all-in-one unified view, SAP S/4HANA enables companies to make better decisions by providing real-time insights into that data.
Benefits of SAP S/4HANA
Once you're utilizing SAP S/4HANA software in the workplace, you should see several benefits. These include, but are not limited to…
One of the primary benefits of SAP S/4HANA is that it can help to improve efficiency in the workplace. The software can automate many tasks that would otherwise need to be completed manually, such as data entry and invoicing using SAP Fiori apps. In fact, you can build and customize your own apps so they are tailored to your exact needs, and use peripheral technology like SAP Intelligent RPA to further your automation processes.
This can free up employees’ time so that they can focus on more important tasks. On top of that, the software can help to streamline processes so that they are completed more quickly and efficiently.
Improved efficiency means reduced costs for businesses. Streamlined processes mean that time and money are freed up to be invested in more profitable work: instead of filling out spreadsheets by hand, your staff can focus on the work only humans can do. Automated ERP processes also help businesses avoid human error that can lead to costly delays and duplication of work that should have already been done.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
When you think of ERP software you might think of reducing costs and improving ROI, but improved processes can also help businesses with service objectives like their net promoter score or customer lifetime value.
For example, think of an ecommerce company shipping orders to customers. Since that data is accessible and "glanceable," customer service staff can quickly give customers definitive answers on where their packages are or their estimated delivery times.
If you have existing data on older systems you can easily transfer it over using the SAP S/4HANA migration cockpit. By doing so you can collate all your data in one place and make the best possible use of it when dealing with your customers.
Customer satisfaction is a small part of the ERP picture, but it plays a critical role in building then maintaining a brand. When your company's operations are more joined-up, it shows in the quality of your customer service. It's an underrated aspect of ERP integration, and one you'd do well to keep in mind as you adopt it within your workplace.
Improved Decision Making
The SAP S/4HANA software can also help businesses to make better decisions. The software provides businesses with access to accurate and up-to-date information about their operations. When managers and employees can track KPIs like customer acquisition costs in real-time, they can more quickly make amendments to little internal processes and big-picture business strategies, and test the results.
You can also integrate SAP S/4HANA with other SAP solutions to maximize operations. For example, integrating with SAP Ariba can lead to cut costs, better decision making regarding sourcing, and risk minimization. You can also improve resource scheduling with SAP S/4HANA Asset Management and make better decisions about carrying out necessary maintenance.
Moreover, if your marketing team invests in a new venture like QR business cards for them and the sales team, you want to quickly see whether that investment paid off. With your sales and marketing data in one place you can see people arrive at your site through those cards and see if it's more effective than regular cards.
Challenges of ERP Software
It's clear that ERP software like SAP S/4HANA can be of great value, but implementing it in your workplace doesn't come without its own challenges.
One of the primary challenges of implementing ERP software is that it can be difficult to find a module that meets all of an organization's needs. SAP S/4HANA is a complex system with a wide range of modules, each of which offers a different set of features. As a result, it can be difficult for organizations to find a module that meets all of their requirements.
High Implementation Cost
Another challenge of using any ERP software is the high cost of implementing the system. ERP implementations can be expensive, as they require the purchase of licenses for each module that will be used, as well as the costs of hiring consultants to assist with the implementation process. Additionally, organizations must also factor in the costs of training employees on how to use the system. This is why it's important to clearly define the business case for SAP S/4HANA ahead of time.
SAP S/4HANA can be complex to use, which can pose challenges for organizations. The software is designed for large enterprises and it can be difficult for smaller organizations to use all of its features. This could lead to employee frustration and decreased productivity. This is why it's important to budget resources for proper onboarding and documentation as you implement SAP S/4HANA into your business.
Once an organization has implemented SAP S/4HANA, it can be difficult to make changes to the system since it will require backend work. This inflexibility can pose problems for organizations that need to make changes to their business processes or add new functionality to the system. You can mitigate this by having a clear idea of how you'll use SAP S/4HANA to further your business strategy ahead of time.
Finally, another challenge of using an ERP software system is that it can be difficult to find support when problems arise. Because it can be complex, few people outside of an organization's IT department are familiar with how to use it. As a result, it can be difficult to find someone who is able to help resolve issues that arise. This is why customer support must be a priority when you're choosing an ERP provider. SAP provides plenty of help options for customers, including the SAP Community where you can ask questions and get answers from peers.
How to Plan for an SAP S/4HANA Implementation
Implementing SAP S/4HANA in your workplace doesn't have to be a huge undertaking, so long as you plan accordingly following a process like this.
Understand Your Business Needs
It would be pointless to invest in email tracking software if you had no clear idea what you wanted to track. In a similar vein, you should clearly define your business goals before adopting something as transformational as ERP software.
- What problems are you trying to solve by implementing SAP S/4HANA?
- Which key processes do you hope to streamline or improve?
- What SMART goals do you want to achieve within the next three months? Nine months? Next year?
Once you have a good understanding of your business needs, you can begin to research how SAP S/4HANA can meet those needs and make a case to other stakeholders.
There are a variety of ERP solutions on the market, so it is important to do your research in order to find the one that is right for your business. Consider factors such as cost, functionality, and ease of use when making your decision.
Train Your Employees
As with any big implementation project like that of a new CRM or virtual call center software, you should make sure you have a smooth transition to SAP S/4HANA so no productivity is lost. Part of that is accomplished by thoroughly training the key employees who'll be using the solution, well in advance of the old system being switched off.
The training process should be thorough and cover all aspects of the software, from basic navigation to more advanced, business-specific features. You may want to consider hiring a trainer or sending employees to courses offered by the software provider.
After everything has been installed and configured, it is time to go live with your SAP S/4HANA software. This is when you will start using the software for day-to-day operations. Be sure to monitor the performance of the software closely and address any issues that arise in a timely manner. Your new solution will be able to show you the KPIs you're most concerned about, so you'll quickly see where things are improving and what still needs work.
Utilizing SAP S/4HANA in the Workplace
There are many benefits to using SAP S/4HANA software in the workplace, including improved efficiency and communication, an uptick in customer satisfaction, and reduced operating costs. However, there are also some challenges associated with implementing ERP software as we've covered above. Businesses can overcome these challenges by working closely with their SAP provider.