Analysis of Mark Chalfen’s Article on S/4HANA Maturity

Executive Summary

  • Bluefin Solutions has been a constant provider of false information on HANA and S/4HANA, as well as many other SAP topics.
  • Mark Chalfen stated that he implemented S/4HANA at a time when S/4HANA could not be implemented. Did Mark Chalfen and Bluefin Solutions lie about this to attain more S/4HANA implementation business?


In this article, I will review quotes from Mark Chalfen of Bluefin Solutions, that has been one of the greatest promoters of S/4HANA and HANA.

The Quotations

The Number of Live Customers on S/4HANA

“There is no one-size-fits-all answer here I am afraid. SAP S/4HANA has been around for just under two years. Over 150 customers are using the tool in a productive manner and there are a number of other productive projects in flight in addition to Proof of Concepts. I would expect this to increase to over 500 live customers by the end of 2016. However, when talking about SAP S/4HANA, you need to be precise around the version and the solution scope that is being deployed.”

It is 1/3 of the way through 2017 and even according to ASUS there are only 350 customers live on S/4HANA. But that is far too generous as ASUG counts customers that are really barely using the application.

S/4HANA Simplification?

“SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management is approximately six months old. This has a similar functional scope to SAP S/4HANA Finance, however the solution has been significantly simplified and further functionality has been added. Furthermore, a number of modules that were available in core SAP ECC are no longer available due to the ‘principle of one’.”

Incorrect. S/4HANA has had some functionality removed, but it has not been simplified.

First S/4HANA is a much more difficult implementation than ECC was because S/4HANA is still so immature and because of all the changes. The entire proposal of S/4HANA being simpler is deconstructed in the article Does S/4HANA Have a Simpler Data Model?

S/4HANA Finance is a Mature Product?

“The SAP S/4HANA Finance version is a mature product, based upon the number of productive customers utilising it and the duration it has been around. SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management is approaching maturity. Since its release in November 2015, there has been one Feature Pack Support released in February 2016 with another due in May 2016. These packs contain fixes to the solution that was delivered and add small chunks of new functionality.”

This is some wordsmithing in the extreme. “Approaching maturity” means it is immature. Why won’t Mark simply say it is immature? (that is easy, Mark makes his money in part by promoting S/4HANA, so may as well work for SAP sales)

Why dance around a very basic question of the state of S/4HANA? Secondly, those who have worked with S/4HANA finance debate its maturity at the time this article was written by Mark.

In April of 2016 Dennis Howlett of Diginomica has the following to say about the state of S/4HANA.

“The free S/4 HANA trials are available, I’ve tried some of the cloud modules but if I’m candid, they’re a tad anemic and barely qualify as modern. I poked around in the financials and the marketing module the last day or so and found that while holding promise, SAP hasn’t taken advantage of modern idioms to present a truly compelling offering. Asking me to select a company by its number and not its name for instance seems arcane. Asking me to name product segments with underscores between names is geeky and requires extra thinking.

Taken together, S/4 HANA must be viewed as a work in progress. On the upcoming earnings call, I am hoping that SAP will provide some clarity around S/4 HANA beyond the customer counts.”

This was interesting, because according to Dennis Howlett, even in April 2016, S/4HANA “does not appear to be a complete product.” However, SAP originally communicated a release in 2014 (the month unspecified) but the proposal here by Dennis Howlett is that over two years later S/4HANA Finance is still not complete.

Did Mark Chalfen Really Take a Client Live in 2016 on S/4HANA EM?

“I am lucky to be working on a system conversion project to SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management with a go-live of December 2016. The project utilises the latest functionality and scope for their conversion, with the assumption that the release in May will have further maturity.”

One would assume that as time passes an application that is being developed will have “further maturity,” but Mark is vigorously dancing around the topic of whether S/4HANA EM is complete. It isn’t. Furthermore, it is very likely that given the maturity of S/4HANA EM in 2016 that Mark Chalfen did not take this client live.

S/4HANA Moving Toward a More Mature Product?

“Given the number of releases scheduled, any organization looking at an SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management implementation with a go-live date of 2017 can feel comfortable in the knowledge that it will be moving to a more mature and well-supported product. SAP supports the first tranche of customers via the Customer Care program and RIG Program – Regional Implementation Group. It provides a free service for a small group of customers to ensure they have the latest product information.”

This is a strange statement. One does not “feel comfortable” with the knowledge that an application will become “more mature.” One feels comfortable when one is implementing an application that is complete. I should not have to explain this, but if an application is not completed, it normally is not implemented. When I worked for i2 Technologies we brought out a bunch of new products that mostly all bombed. The only way that i2 Technologies was able to push so many incomplete products out into the market was through salespeople lying about how complete these applications were. This is happening now with S/4HANA. But it is not only SAP that is lying about the state of S/4HANA, but their very large number of consulting partners that are in on misleading customers in order to get the most possible money for themselves.

Typically Large ECC Expenses Necessarily Further Increase with S/4HANA

ECC implementations have been extraordinarily expensive even when that product was quite mature.

“There are currently less than 300 SAP S/4HANA Fiori apps. I would expect this figure to double within a year, so if you are expecting or looking for a pure SAP Fiori ERP system, S/4HANA is not ready just yet.”

True. Fiori apps have now grown to over 8,000 (but SAP got caught classifying Fiori colored SAPGUI screens as Fiori). There are still very few people anywhere using Fiori. There would be more, but SAP made the decision to mostly restrict Fiori to HANA.

“There is no simple answer around the maturity of SAP S/4HANA. It is clear that it is “maturing”. For a high proportion of customers, significant benefits can be achieved with the current version of SAP S/4HANA (Finance and Enterprise Management).”

Repeating What SAP Wants Customers to Think About S/4HANA?

Actually, if you are not a pawn of SAP and part of their partner network and therefore have your speech controlled and have projects dangled in front of you in exchange for how much you kowtow to SAP, there is a very simple answer to the maturity of S/4HANA. It is not a completed product. But you can only point out that obvious fact if you are independent of SAP.

If you aren’t, the topic becomes very “complex.”

“Those customers I am talking to now who are considering SAP S/4HANA or working on a business case will find it to be a pretty mature solution come implementation. For those favouring a system conversion, looking at the solution as it is today, the jump is achievable. However, the further the product grows and matures, the bigger that jump will become and new installations will become even more popular.”

This entire paragraph can be translated into

“I am actively covering up the maturing of S/4HANA so that I can trick you into going ahead with a S/4HANA implementation.”


This article is a testament to the corruption in the IT industry. Bluefin Solutions wants to make money implementing S/4HANA and so they will say anything to sell more S/4HANA, and Mark Chalfen replaced the highly inaccurate John Appleby (who as we have tracked was wrong in just about every one of his statements about HANA) as the primary hype man for HANA and S/4HANA, and Mark has continued in his footsteps providing a constant stream of false information about HANA and S/4HANA. This article is undifferentiated from Soviet-era propaganda or propaganda that comes out of Madison Avenue for selling toothpaste. But really all of the articles on Bluefin Solutions website are similar in nature. They have no directive to inform, but are mindless sales pieces.

See our The S/4HANA Implementation Study. for real story and details on actual S/4HANA implementations.

SAP’s Inaccurate Messaging on S/4HANA as Communicated in SAP Videos

Fact-Checking SAP Information on S/4HANA

This video is filled with extensive falsehoods. We will address them in the sequence they are stated in this video.

SAP Video Accuracy Mesurement

Appleby's StatementAccuracy % of the CommentExplanationLink to Analysis Article
S/4HANA is what allows key processes to be digitized.
ECC was already fully digitized and digitized across key business functions.The Problem with Using the Term Digital Transformation on IT Projects
HANA is a Platform
HANA is not a platform, it is a database.How to Deflect You Were Wrong About HANA
Fiori is a major advantage for S/4HANA.
In S/4HANA implementations Fiori is infrequently used when S/4HANA. How Accurate Was SAP on the Number of Fiori Apps?
Fiori is far more efficient than what came before.
In testing Fiori and S/4HANA, Sven Deneken's statements did not hold up. There was a particular weakness in actually making changes after noticing something needed to be changed, and we found the efficiency below that of ECC with of course SAPGUI.
S/4HANA is innovative as it brings "real time inventory."
Sven Deneken brings up the topic of "real-time capabilities," however there is nothing particularly real-time or different in terms of a reaction than ECC. Whenever you make a change in ECC or any other ERP systems for that matter, the entry is real-time. Sven Deneken states that "the physical inventory is the same as the digital inventory." However, under what system would this not be true?What Happened to the Term Perpetual Inventory?
S/4HANA is innovative because it allows access to supplier information.
Sven Deneken states that information about the supplier is "just a fingertip away." Sven Deneken may be familiar with ECC, where supplier data is also a fingertip, or say mouse click away. It called the Vendor Master in ECC.
Sven Deneken says that the cycle could be changed to daily or sub-daily.
Why would that occur? This is a very strange scenario that is being laid out.
S/4HANA is innovative because it allows MRP to be rerun interactively for a product location.
Sven Deneken is extremely confused when he states that S/4HANA allows a fresh MRP run to be performed for a specific product location and that this is a differentiator for S/4HANA. For a single product location, there is no ERP system that cannot run MRP for a single location. Secondly re-running MRP does not remove uncertainties. MRP can be re-run when something changes. For example, when the forecast changes.Performance Problems with HANA and MRP
Sven Deneken states this demo shows SAP has reimagined inventory management.
However, all of this functionality, save for several of the graphics shown in the video have already been available in ECC for many years, in fact, decades.

The Problem: A Lack of Fact-Checking of S/4HANA

There are two fundamental problems around S/4HANA. The first is the exaggeration of S/4HANA, which means that companies that purchased S/4HANA end up getting far less than they were promised. The second is that the SAP consulting companies simply repeat whatever SAP says. This means that on virtually all accounts there is no independent entity that can contradict statements by SAP.

Being Part of the Solution: What to Do About S/4HANA

We can provide feedback from multiple HANA accounts that provide realistic information around S/4HANA — and this reduces the dependence on biased entities like SAP and all of the large SAP consulting firms that parrot what SAP says. We offer fact-checking services that are entirely research-based and that can stop inaccurate information dead in its tracks. SAP and the consulting firms rely on providing information without any fact-checking entity to contradict the information they provide. This is how companies end up paying for a database which is exorbitantly priced, exorbitantly expensive to implement and exorbitantly expensive to maintain. When SAP or their consulting firm are asked to explain these discrepancies, we have found that they further lie to the customer/client and often turn the issue around on the account, as we covered in the article How SAP Will Gaslight You When Their Software Does Not Work as Promised.

If you need independent advice and fact-checking that is outside of the SAP and SAP consulting system, reach out to us with the form below or with the messenger to the bottom right of the page.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

S/4HANA Implementation Research

We offer the most accurate and detailed research into S/4HANA and its implementation history. It is information not available anywhere else and is critical correctly interpreting S/4HANA, as well as moderating against massive amounts of inaccurate information pushed by SAP and their financially biased consulting ecosystem.

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