SAP’s Misleading Storyline for S/4HANA Being Complete

Executive Summary

  • SAP has consistently misled customers on the maturity of S/4HANA.
  • One of the ways they have done this is by playing word games with the term “complete.”

Introduction

We have covered S/4HANA’s completeness in great detail since around a year and a half after its introduction. While SAP consulting companies and IT media entities have been covering up this story, we published Why the S/4HANA Suite is Not Yet Released.

Recently we found an article that looks quite suspicious to us and attempts to craft the storyline around S/4HANA in a way that appears deceptive. In this article, we will explain how SAP coordinates and pays or compensates not only the media entity to distribute their story but how the media entity then go to sources that are both compensated by SAP, all in an attempt to mislead buyers.

How SAP Introduced S/4HANA and its Completeness

Let us begin with how S/4HANA was introduced.

S/4HANA was explained as having two major phases of introduction. One was S/4HANA Simple Finance (which was the new FI/CO). SAP customers were told that the rest of the suite would follow shortly.

This second part did not happen as stated by SAP. We covered the missed deadlines of the rest of the S/4HANA suite in the article The Evidence that S/4HANA Missed its Release Deadlines.

It is now going into 2018, and S/4HANA is still not complete. This means that companies that purchased SAP Simple Finance (now just Finance) under the impression that the rest of  S/4HANA have a problem.

Becoming Increasingly Complete?

SAP has repeatedly released information that has attempted to make S/4HANA seem more complete than it is.

“If you look at the S/4HANA system that we released in November of last year that we are calling 1511, we can say that this is already a complete ERP system,” said Uwe Grigoleit, SAP global head of business development for Business Suite on HANA and HANA applications.”

“Why can we say this? If we are looking at pure modules we are shipping already, S/4HANA spans across financials, material management, inventory management, procurement, distribution, product and planning,” he explained. “It’s going across the vast majority of the ERP system already.”

That statement was made in March of 2016.

As we said at the time,

“This gets away entirely from the question of the completeness of each of these modules. Therefore, Uwe Grigoleit is staying away from whether the modules are complete. Uwe is stating that the modules are being released. But released is not necessarily complete.”

The Actual Story with S/4HANA’s Completeness

In our article Why the S/4HANA Suite is Not Yet Released, we explained.

“There has been and will continue to be a tremendous amount written about S/4 HANA. Interestingly there is lots of confusion as to what parts of S/4 HANA are ready to be implemented. SAP has misrepresented the readiness of S/4 HANA on just about every occasion, and it has an army of SAP partners that do the same.

This army is all about getting S/4 HANA implementation business, so they are actively misleading their prospects about S/4 HANA. Additionally, these partners are also misleading prospects about the consulting experience with S/4 HANA.”

Our Coverage of S/4HANA’s Completeness Versus the Standard IT Media

We have covered in this many times, but the IT media is more often than not the recipient of income from SAP. And therefore, there has been very little coverage of the completeness of S/4HANA.

The Attempt by SAP to Minimize the Issue with S/4HANA’s Completeness

SAP’s communication around S/4HANA’s timelines have been inaccurate since S/4HANA was first released. The lack of S/4HANA’s completeness has been a significant factor as to why S/4HANA has so few go lives globally, as is covered in the article A Study into S/4HANA Implementations. However, SAP can continue to predict future completed states without the worry of anyone publicly calling out SAP for this, because virtually no one fact checks SAP.

One example of the storyline of when S/4HANA will be complete is illustrated by an article that was published by ComputerWeekly in March of 2016 entitled SAP S/4HANA functional completeness in the eye of the beholder.

Before we analyze the article itself, let us explain what ComputerWeekly is.

ComputerWeekly used to be a legitimate IT magazine. However, in 2011 they were purchased by TechTarget. TechTarget is primarily a marketing automation entity that uses various online websites like ComputerWeekly to capture email addresses that are then sold to software vendors. This is covered in the article ComputerWeekly is a Front for Marketing Automation. What this means is that ComputerWeekly will publish whatever its customers, which are software vendors and consulting companies want them to publish.

Computer Weekly as a Passive Message Repeater of SAP

Now that we have explained ComputerWeekly as a passive message repeater for its customers, we can get into the interesting article SAP S/4HANA functional completeness in the eye of the beholder.

In this article, ComputerWeekly uses the following sources.

In this article Uwe Grigoleit attempts to present a storyline where S/4HANA cannot be compared to the functionality in ECC.

“Along the way, SAP S/4HANA is also evolving beyond SAP Business Suite in capability, which in turn starts to change the nature of how you compare traditional Business Suite capabilities to new S/4HANA capabilities.”

Seeing Where Uwe is Going

See what Uwe is going. S/4HANA’s functionality completeness would compare very poorly versus ECC, so Uwe’s simple answer is to do away with the comparison altogether because its “evolving beyond SAP Business Suite.” This is also curious because S/4HANA is exceptionally close in functionality to ECC, except it has less of it.

Uwe is expert at talking in circles as the following quotations also attest.

“For something like maintenance, he said, SAP is changing classical maintenance with machine-to-machine communication, which helps generate “predictive maintenance scenarios.””

It should be clear from this that Uwe is a hype man, and one cannot discern anything from actually listening to Uwe.

Jon Appleby Enters the Funhouse

Next up is Jon Appleby, who ComputerWeekly or TechTarget does not explain has a long history of making inaccurate statements about SAP, and who’s incentives are to sell S/4HANA and HANA business. Yet ComputerWeekly or TechTarget provides no inkling to the reader of Jon Appleby’s background and history. Furthermore, Jon Appleby was most likely provided as a source to ComputerWeekly or TechTarget by SAP.

“In some cases, [you have to] wait 18 months and do a ‘big bang’ implementation, and in other cases [you can] start now, so we can phase the program. Every customer we’re working with is planning that journey to S/4HANA,” said Jon Appleby, global head of SAP HANA for Bluefin Solutions.

“I’ll give you an example,” Appleby explained. “I’m working with a U.S. customer in telecommunications, and the feds have told them they have to change the way they do revenue recognition, which they have to do before April of next year. They don’t think they can do what they need on Oracle, so they want to implement Suite on HANA, which will work well enough to do the new revenue recognition.”

Notice that Appleby accomplishes several things with this quote. First, he takes a dig at Oracle. He does this because Appleby’s company, Bluefin Solutions primarily implements SAP. Curiously, Appleby seems to be supporting the solution for which his company can make the most money. How surprising.

What John Appleby Proposes

Appleby is proposing that companies purchase and implement an application that is not ready to be implemented, and that they simply push off the parts of S/4HANA that are not ready to later parts of the project.

However, first, what will the completed parts of the S/4HANA application connect to? Secondly, how does anyone know when S/4HANA will be complete. SAP badly missed its deadlines up to this point.

And why is Appleby recommending this? Did ComputerWeekly think for a minute that perhaps Jon Appleby has a financial bias in getting companies to use his services to implement S/4HANA?

He goes on to say.

“And what about SAP S/4HANA? “They’re saying, ‘We’ll deal with S/4HANA sometime later.”

So what Appleby is proposing is that customers implement the revenue recognition module first. Then S/4HANA later. But why does revenue recognition have to be implemented at all? Revenue recognition is supposed to be functionality within the ECC FI/CO module. ECC can be updated to the most current version, so why isn’t the latest revenue recognition logic included in this update?

“For a lot of customers who haven’t done a fast close, it’s a quick win. If your finance processes are a little outdated, you can get your finance enhancements all in one go,” Appleby said.

S/4HANA Finance Implemented by Itself

If S/4HANA Finance is implemented without the rest of S/4HANA, expensive adapters must be written back to ECC, as well as parts of ECC deactivated and S/4HANA activated. Why does this give financial enhancement “all in one go?”

Appleby finishes off with a final touch.

So does it matter if SAP S/4HANA is functionally complete? Not necessarily, Appleby said, because each roadmap is unique. “They are all different because every company has different priorities.”

Interesting, so if software that was promised in 2015 is still not ready, then it is not necessarily a negative, because companies have “unique requirements.”

Conclusion

This is the type of article that gets published when media entity conspires with the software vendors, that is a major funder of the entity. Every single source in this article is biased in favor of SAP, and were indeed selected by SAP to be interviewed by ComputerWeekly.

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.

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References

https://searchsap.techtarget.com/feature/SAP-S-4HANA-functional-completeness-in-eye-of-the-beholder

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Weekly

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