Companies are hoping that SAP S/4HANA will bring tangible benefits to their business. Driving innovation and process optimization are among the key business value-adds expected to be achieved with the implementation of SAP S/4HANA. Despite the expected benefits, only 12% of companies have completed the switch, according to a recent study by LeanIX.


Implementation challenges

Based on project experience to date, two key challenges for companies during SAP S/4HANA implementation have emerged: the complexity of the existing ERP landscape and the lack of collaboration among the teams involved. 70% of companies state that they have multiple ERP systems in use – some with strong individual customizations and configurations. Here, it is important to clarify and take into account the dependencies on the other components of the IT landscape.


Two-thirds also report that there is a need for optimization in the coordination and collaboration of the business, project and IT teams. It is essential for the success of the project to involve all stakeholders at an early stage and give them the opportunity to help shape and support the changes. The interaction between SAP teams and enterprise architects also sometimes leaves much to be desired. Although enterprise architects have valuable know-how about the complexity of the IT landscape and the existing software-side dependencies, they are generally involved too little in the SAP S/4HANA transformation project. Only 38% of respondents believe that this is happening to a sufficient extent in their company.


Goal: Leverage business added value

As far as the motivation for moving to SAP S/4HANA is concerned, the key factor for companies is not the approaching end of mainstream maintenance of SAP ECC in 2027. Rather, they want to leverage the potential in terms of business transformation and digitization. 33% are pursuing the goal of optimizing their processes with the help of SAP S/4HANA. 21% of companies associate the introduction of SAP S/4HANA with driving innovation.


In view of the high expectations, it is surprising that only 12% of companies have completed the switch to SAP S/4HANA. Around 75% are currently in the transformation phase, the majority of them rather still in the early stages: in evaluation or preparation. 12% have postponed the time for or the decision on SAP S/4HANA implementation for the time being.


How long the changeover to SAP S/4HANA will take

As a planned or actually required time horizon for the business transformation, 36% of the companies assume more than three years. 31% would like to manage the implementation of SAP S/4HANA in a time window between two and three years. The proportion of companies that do not trust themselves to estimate the time required is 37%. And just under one-third of companies say that the estimated timeframe for SAP S/4HANA implementation was or will be insufficient.


Clarify dependencies in the software landscape

Identifying and mapping the complex relationships between the existing ERP system(s) and the rest of the IT landscape is proving to be a challenge for many companies. According to their own statements, almost half of them need more than three months to create clarity regarding the interdependencies of the applications and systems. However, this is a basic prerequisite for the introduction of SAP S/4HANA. This is the only way to minimize the impact of the changeover on business operations and avoid unpleasant surprises in the course of the changeover.


Conclusion: Teamwork determines success

Effective collaboration between business, IT and the project team is a key prerequisite for the success of the SAP S/4HANA implementation. In this way, companies can accelerate the project and maximize the business benefits that come with deploying SAP S/4HANA. But this is exactly where companies often have potential for optimization. Those who fail to coordinate collaboration between the various departments and divisions and involve all stakeholders are wasting valuable resources and creating unnecessary hurdles on the path to SAP S/4HANA.


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