This is responding to Gerard's blog regarding Top 5 factors for success with cloud projects which gives great insights into the success factors when implementing cloud, especially S4HC projects as shown on the right side of the following picture.
I myself as a business consultant, together with the project team have finished the S4HC project implementation for a Great China customer. They went live on the 1st of January 2020.
Using this opportunity, I would like to share some of the challenges we've been facing (on the left side) and would like to hear more from you, especially about the suggestions on how to turn the challenges into opportunities levering what is mentioned in the success factors.
On top of the standard, customers in the GB area always have localized requirements based on local regulation or local practices.
It's hard to fully convince the business users to follow the standard business practices. At the same time, in my point of view, it's a perspective of possible improvements in customer experience to provide a certain level of personalized approaches when aligning with standard S4HC capabilities. Although we fast innovation in S4C. The ability and the platform ( ex. the influence portal ) provided for the customers to influence the core functions in S4H are still considered limited and the response time is far away than satisfactory.
Limited IT infrastructure
The infrastructures at the customer site are sometimes very limited. For example, the MS team, or JIRA might not be accessible for the Chinese GB customers. We're still relying on the emails and excel sheet when implementing the S4HC project for customer communications. The transformation to other tools even takes more time so we have to compromise to use old-traditional tools.
Customer adoption ability and readiness
Standard documentations are everywhere but hard to allocate the right one. There're many but sometimes confusing sources of information like best practices and accelerators in SAP activate. The test scripts are not shaped in a way that customers can adapt easily (for example no screenshot). The interaction tutorials don't cover full scopes and are not supported in local languages, for example, Chinese. The project team has to put additional efforts that are considered potential obstacles preventing from having the rapid adoption of standard practices.
Maintenance cycle with downtime
During the implementation, because of the nature of the cloud( for example 4 main downtimes for upgrades and some unforeseen downtime because of emergency maintenance), the implementation team and the customer need to highly rely on SAP's support and operation team. The efficiency and reliable support from SAP is the key factor to keep customers' trust in SAP. The downtime is critical for customers who are running businesses in for example process manufacturing or auto industry.
Considering the integrated intelligent suite built on the integration technologies(check Integration Strategy Paper) where the test automation is not available for now (as far as I know), we'll still need to take the part of "volume testing" and manual testing into account which definitely is not a good best practice when we're trying to adopt fast achieving lower TCO. Recently noticed that some integration scenarios have been changed to deprecated, how to keep sustainability becomes a big question.
Gerard and I hope we can start the discussion on any possible topic around S4HC from the product feature, methodology, framework, implementation, to customer experience in this community, as this place should be leveraged to have more influence on what we're doing towards the journey of cloud transformation.