A recent webinar from SAP Insider offers a comprehensive checklist of key tasks for launching S/4HANA. The webinar breaks the process down into 3 phases—“Ready, Set, Go, and Win”—and gives details on each phase. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone facing an S/4HANA implementation.
In fact, this framework offers a great way to understand how B2B ecommerce fits into a smart S/4HANA implementation. Believe it or not, it usually makes the most sense to implement B2B ecommerce alongside S/4HANA.
So what’s the checklist of B2B ecommerce tasks that you should execute as part of your S/4HANA implementation?
Here’s our take, aligned to the Ready, Set, Go, and Win phases from the SAP Insider webinar.
As the webinar explains, there’s one big decision to be made in the Ready phase. Arguably, it’s the biggest decision for the entire S/4HANA project.
Here’s the question: Will you implement S/4HANA as a brownfield solution or a greenfield solution?
In other words, are you taking your existing ECC processes and configurations and replicating them in S/4HANA? Or are you starting from scratch, taking the opportunity to design (or redesign) your business processes from the ground up?
As you can see, it’s a huge question with huge implications. It will definitely impact B2B ecommerce from perspectives of technology, operations, and strategy.
In the Ready phase, you also want to map the value of S/4HANA to different parts of the organization. The new ERP will affect everyone from Operations to Finance, and it’s essential to build consensus across multiple stakeholders on the value of S/4HANA.
As you can imagine, there’s value to be mapped in B2B ecommerce too. You’ll want to bake all this into your Ready phase.
Here’s what that looks like.
Ready phase – B2B ecommerce checklist
- Consider any existing business processes that might create an unnecessary obstacle to ERP-integrated B2B ecommerce. Depending on how central these processes are, they may help dictate whether you should implement S/4HANA as a replication of your ECC environment, or whether you should implement it from the ground up.
- Consider how the value of B2B ecommerce, integrated to S/4HANA, maps to different stakeholders within the organization—and build a business case for B2B ecommerce that explains the value to each stakeholder. Read more here: Get Buy-In For B2B Ecommerce.
- Consider whether you want a B2B ecommerce platform that includes S/4HANA integration, or whether you want to use a third-party connector to synchronize the two systems. The question isn’t trivial. A solution that includes prebuilt integration will save your IT team from taking on additional responsibility and technical debt, while a third-party connector will create more work for IT (and more potential for technical debt).
For the Set phase, SAP Insider’s webinar recommends getting the right expertise in place to make the S/4HANA migration a success.
We couldn’t agree more. This is the time to line up the resources you’ll need to make a flawless transition to S/4HANA. (It’s also the time to engage the partner who will provide B2B ecommerce that’s integrated to your new S/4 environment.)
In the Set phase, if you’re taking the brownfield approach, you’ll also want to make decisions about any processes that are changing. Now is the time to decide what those new processes will look like. Not only will these decisions impact operations and S/4HANA configuration, but they’ll also impact your integrated B2B ecommerce solution. (This is one of the biggest reasons we recommend implementing S/4HANA and B2B ecommerce in parallel.)
Set phase – B2B ecommerce checklist
- Assemble a list of potential B2B ecommerce providers and vet them. For each provider, consider whether they offer a solution that includes prebuilt S/4HANA integration—or whether you’ll need a third-party connector to share data with S/4. Also consider whether the provider offers managed solutions, as this approach offers a seamless path that doesn’t create more work for IT.
- Finalize your map of business process changes. Ensure your B2B ecommerce partner can support all processes (both new and old) in your integrated B2B ecommerce solution.
In the Go phase, it’s time to get boots on the ground building, testing, and ultimately launching S/4HANA. If you’ve done your homework in the previous phases, the Go phase shouldn’t hold too many surprises (though you can still expect a few).
In the Go phase, one thing you’ll want to get right is the order of operations. Depending on your requirements, some portions of the project will have to come before others. This is especially true of B2B ecommerce configurations. You don’t want to save your B2B ecommerce integration to S/4HANA for the end of the project. The two systems need to be configured and tested in parallel to ensure seamless operation after launch.
Go phase – B2B ecommerce checklist
- Ensure your B2B ecommerce provider is equipped to implement and test your integration to S/4HANA from Day 1. Doing so requires a B2B ecommerce platform that includes prebuilt, configurable integration for S/4HANA, which is what we offer here at Corevist. This will ensure that you don’t lose any time aligning things that should’ve been aligned from the start.
- Consolidate testing operations so that S/4HANA and B2B ecommerce are tested in parallel as much as possible. This will flush out issues faster, minimize duplicate testing, and conserve resources.
If you’ve done everything right, the Win phase—when you go live and settle into life on the new system—will provide you with a single source of truth for all business data. This will streamline your operations, protect IT from a ballooning workload, and ensure your customers get transparency when doing business with you.
We can’t overemphasize how important it is to make S/4HANA your single source of truth—and keep it that way.
What good would it be to launch S/4HANA, to invest millions in clean business processes and data, only to tack on B2B ecommerce that creates its own duplicate logic and data? Right away, you’ve got technical debt and additional IT work to keep those two systems synchronized. If data governance problems reach the front-end user experience of your B2B ecommerce store, they can affect your customer experience—and ultimately, your relationships with customers.
That’s why it’s essential to get everything right before the Win phase. Do that, and you’ll have a true win on your hands, as B2B ecommerce and S/4HANA work hand-in-glove.
Win phase – B2B ecommerce checklist
- Arrive at a mutual decision, between IT, operations, and the business, that it’s time to go live with S/4HANA and your new B2B ecommerce solution. It’s essential to get all three parties to sign off because S/4 and B2B ecommerce touch all parts of the organization.
- Define KPIs for the integrated GoLive. What are you looking to get out of B2B ecommerce? Is it increased sales, or perhaps a reduced cost of serving customers? (Hint: Corevist Commerce is designed to achieve both.) Define these KPIs and align all stakeholders around them.
- Set your sights on the next B2B ecommerce rollout. Believe it or not, B2B ecommerce can’t stay static. Customer demands are always evolving, and smart organizations stay ahead of these trends so they can go on delighting customers. With the right platform, you can continue to roll out new features and functionality without significant heavy lifting. (This is the thinking behind Corevist Commerce, which is a managed, cloud-hosted B2B ecommerce platform that includes S/4HANA integration.)
The takeaway: Bundle B2B ecommerce with S/4 as early in the project as possible
The sooner you add B2B ecommerce to your S/4 project, the better. When B2B ecommerce gets in on the ground floor of S/4HANA, you ensure that your new ERP is configured exactly as needed for modern business processes and modern B2B ecommerce. This saves you from the costly process of backtracking and fixing things that weren’t done with B2B ecommerce in mind. It’s why we recommend implementing S/4 and B2B ecommerce in parallel.
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