The Hillary’s Blinds S/4HANA Case Study

Last Updated on March 21, 2021 by Shaun Snapp

Executive Summary

  • The Hillary’s Blinds S/4HANA Case Study
  • Upgrading S/4HANA?
  • CRM on HANA?
  • Hillary’s Implemented NetWeaver?

Introduction

Hillary’s Blinds is a substantial company based in the UK, with revenues of roughly $200 million. They manufacture and distribute window blinds. The press accounts were that they implemented a S/4HANA upgrade in record time, and the implementation time was six months.

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Lack of Financial Bias Notice: The vast majority of content available on the Internet about SAP is marketing fiddle-faddle published by SAP, SAP partners, or media entities paid by SAP to run their marketing on the media website. Each one of these entities tries to hide its financial bias from readers. The article below is very different.

  • First, it is published by a research entity.
  • Second, no one paid for this article to be written, and it is not pretending to inform you while being rigged to sell you software or consulting services. Unlike nearly every other article you will find from Google on this topic, it has had no input from any company's marketing or sales department.

Hillary’s is one of SAP’s most prominent S/4HANA implementations. However, several quotes about Hillary’s Blinds implementation give one pause and call into question the accuracy of information released by Hillary’s Blinds, not only on the topic of S/4HANA but on its other SAP initiatives. But several of the quotes from Hillary’s Blinds seem peculiar, and we will be analyzing them in this article.

“The business doesn’t relish an upgrade, and it’s hardly excited by that prospect because it’s going to cost a lot of money, it’s going to take a lot of time, a lot of business resources and opportunity costs regarding what else we could be doing,” Bond said. “It’s not a very compelling business case, and that’s where the Panaya tool was a part of what helped transform us this time around.” – TechTarget

Upgrading S/4HANA?

But while the company this time is substantial, and would fit into the category of a traditional SAP ERP customer, there are holes with this case study. This is because the significant changes made to S/4HANA are not an upgrade. That is right, S/4HANA cannot be upgraded; S/4HANA is a re-implementation. This has been obscured by SAP, but it is well known within sales at SAP.

CRM on HANA?

But it is common for executives not to know the details of their implementations. Therefore, this may have been confusion on the part of Bond. But Bond follows up this illogical quotation with another right after, and this time on the topic of CRM.

“The upgrade to S/4HANA also paid off regarding speed, with significant impact on business process improvements, particularly with CRM, Bond said.” – TechTarget

CRM has not been part of the ERP system in the past. SAP has proposed that CRM is one of the applications that will be ported to S/4HANA. When I checked the Fiori App Library for CRM, I found the following apps:

Customer Reports (SAP Business Suite)

  • My Accounts (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • My Accounts (SAP Business Suite)
  • My Appointments (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • My Appointments (SAP Business Suite)
  • My Contacts (CRM) (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • My Contacts (CRM) (SAP Business Suite)
  • My Leads (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • My Leads (SAP Business Suite)
  • My Notes (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • My Notes (SAP Business Suite)
  • My Opportunities (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • My Opportunities (SAP Business Suite)
  • My Tasks (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • My Tasks (SAP Business Suite)
  • Simulate Sales Pipeline (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • Simulate Sales Pipeline (SAP Business Suite)
  • Track Sales Pipeline (SAP Business Suite – Lower back-end versions)
  • Track Sales Pipeline (SAP Business Suite)[1]

This is going to be far fewer workflows than will be found in other CRM applications. And secondly, Hillary’s go live with S/4HANA was back in 2016, when fewer CRM Fiori apps would have been available than the list you see above. Bond does not state it, but did Hillarys go live with CRM with a limited number of workflows covered by Fiori?

What could be said is if SAP CRM were ported to HANA that would the speed improve? But this is another peculiar statement because CRM would be one of the last areas to improve from being ported to HANA, as CRM is one of the lowest resource consumption applications used in companies. It is very close to impossible for Hillary’s Blinds to have seen much improvement from moving the CRM system to HANA. And this is explained in more detail in the following quote.

“Upgrading 15 years of SAP custom-code development was initially assessed to be a major project requiring extensive investments of time, personnel, and money with a plethora of potential pitfalls – including major business interruption. Panaya’s tech brought it to heel, reducing all resource requirements and business risk, and we were done in six months.” – Panaya

Although according to the Panaya website, it was five months.

Panaya, an InfoSys company, provided migration and test management software to Hillary’s Blinds.

“The SAP CRM system is not known for being a swift beast, and there’s only so much you can do no matter how much hardware you throw at it, but, clearly, putting it onto the HANA database platform has made a phenomenal difference,” – TechTarget

So here we have the definitive answer, which is that SAP CRM was ported to HANA. I work on many SAP accounts, but I rarely run into SAP CRM. But the first question I have is why SAP CRM has these performance problems as it is infrequent to hear of performance bottlenecks with other CRM systems that I do see installed, such as Salesforce or BaseCRM. The far large issue is the problematic data that is placed into CRM systems.

But that is not related to S/4HANA, which is the topic of this research paper. But later in the article, we do finally get to the benefits received from S/4HANA.

“Finance functions in ECC have also benefited from the boost in speed. “A monthly tax report went from taking 20 to 30 minutes to literally within a minute,” Bond said. “Some of the longer running jobs that we used to run overnight, we can now do multiple jobs in a day, whereas before we had last night’s snapshot and had to live with that until we got another snapshot tonight. Now we’ve got a chance to make business decisions throughout the day because we can afford to run them far more frequently.”

In trying to get a 360-degree view of the implementation from the public information, the following was a peculiar quotation.

Hillary’s Implemented NetWeaver?

“Hillarys was an early adopter of the SAP NetWeaver™ technology to facilitate and control the flow of information to and from the Advisors.” – Birchman Group

The problem with this is that Netweaver was never technology or a product. This topic is covered in the following article.

Therefore, because Netweaver was never anything but a marketing construct, Netweaver could not have been implemented by Hillary’s Blinds, and Hillary’s Blinds could never have been an “early adopter.”

Right after this, another peculiar quotation appeared.

“More recently it has been in the vanguard of enterprise mobility, with multiple awards and accolades for its principal project that utilizes the SAP Mobile Platform.”

This is another statement that works against Hillary’s Blinds’ credibility. Those in the mobility space very well know SAP Mobile Platform as a dead product. It can still be purchased but is now an infrastructure element to applications that actually do the mobility work.

Just about every quote that comes from Hillary’s that I can verify is, in some way, inaccurate. This casts great suspicion on the information provided by Hillary’s on their S/4HANA implementation, which of course, I cannot verify. Hillary’s seems to be releasing information in press releases or released through media entities or software vendors (like Panaya) that are 100% consistent with SAP marketing literature but inconsistent with what we know about SAP implementations.

This article is part of The S/4HANA Implementation Study. Please see that study for the overall conclusions.