2019 Update: How Many Live SOH and S/4HANA Customers Are There?

Executive Summary

  • SAP has proposed 3500 go-lives for S/4HANA. What SAP says is normally repeated by those that cover SAP.
  • What is the reality of the S/4HANA go-lives in 2019?


We have been tracking S/4HANA numbers for roughly 3 years. We covered this of live S/4HANA customers in 2017 in The S/4HANA Implementation Study, and in 2018 we covered this topic How Accurate Was SAP on S/4HANA’s Go Live Numbers?

We decided to write this article to update readers as to the background for our current estimate for 2019, or at least for mid-2019.

Taking the AOK Hessen S/4HANA Case Study as an Example

Typically when a case study is published, information is communicated that SAP and the customer and implementation partner did not want critically analyzed.

This is a good example of the issues with some of the S/4HANA case studies.

AOK Hessen is an insurance company. They stated that they implemented performance management and financial accounting. They stated that they integrated the..

“SAP HANA in-memory database and data structures tailored to this technology, applications can leverage their full potential and achieve significant speed advantages.”

We know that part of this is untrue and that AOK would have seen a performance decline for transactions, which is, of course, most of what S/4HANA does, as we covered in the article HANA as a Mismatch for S/4HANA and ERP.

They also stated with S/4HANA they took..

“A big step in digitization and in our fields of action Automation, Simplification and Big Data Management.” For future S/4HANA applications,”

This would not have happened and HANA is not simplified and S/4HANA has nothing to do with Big Data Management. This is a common feature of S/4HANA go-lives. They have a strong tendency to refer to things that are not within the domain of ERP or that don’t come as part of S/4HANA. AOK Hessen goes on to make this claim around Fiori.

“SAP Fiori will be used. Fiori enables ergonomic and reduced-click user interfaces, which greatly accelerate the processing of mass processes and make them more efficient. In conjunction with intelligent regulations and process automation, it is possible to process insured claims more quickly.”

First, why is this statement in the future tense? If the system is live, it would be Fiori is used. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Fiori allows for users to processes transactions faster than SAPGUI. In fact, user testing often shows that Fiori slows the process versus SAPGUI.

  1. One question that comes to mind is why it sounds like SAP wrote this case study, AOK Hessen or AOK Hessen being coached by SAP. If a case study includes talking points from SAP marketing that are known to not be part of the reality of the system, then the independence of the company from the influence of SAP can be questioned.
  2. But secondly, this shows a common feature of S/4HANA implementations that they tend to not be in manufacturing or distribution companies — which is the core of ECC’s customer base, and the primary logic for ERP (that it ties together finance, sales, production and materials management) This case study does not prove that the S/4HANA suite is ready, because AOK Systems would have implemented only a small part of it.

The Swiss Property S/4HANA Example

SAP is very good at making glossy case studies like this. Swiss Property is a tiny company that appears to have been given some type of incentive to “implement” S/4HANA, and their business processes not only does not map to S/4HANA, but they also don’t map to ERP. 

SAP’s Inaccurate Messaging as Communicated in SAP Videos

Fact-Checking SAP Information

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 Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

The Typical Technique for Analyzing S/4HANA

Every article we have read on S/4HANA implementations, a specific case study assumes that everything published in the case study and every number reported by SAP is true. This ignores the fact that the primary reason information is released about S/4HANA is to promote S/4HANA, HANA, and related consulting services. The only releases of information that contradict this is when a S/4HANA project goes south and information leaks out. And even here, the information is typically highly censored, with the statements from the customer being that there has been just a “brief hiccup” and soon the project will be back on track.

S/4HANA Paid Research Benefits Listing

1Accuracy on S/4HANAThe most accurate information on S/4HANA implementations anywhere entirely devoid of any SAP influence. This make us the only entity we are aware of (and we are aware of all of them) ACTUALLY interested in communicating the real story about S/4HANA's implementation history. Nearly all that publish material on S/4HANA emphasize promoting S/4HANA. This is in our estimation the only studies that has not rigged the results to continue to receive funding from SAP. The study's customer is you, or the research purchaser, not SAP or Deloitte.
2Detailed S/4HANA Case Study AnalysisDetailed analysis of close two hundred S/4HANA case studies. This cross case study analysis includes insights that are not available anywhere else. This research has competitive intelligence, software buyer and investment implications.
3Based in SAP Project Domain ExpertiseNearly all of the coverage of S/4HANA implementations is by either biased SAP consulting firms, or by media or IT analysts who have never worked on an an SAP project, and in many cases never touched SAP software. We have worked on many SAP projects going back to the late 1990s. Our conclusions are based upon a combination of the case studies along with our expertise in as the top researchers into S/4HANA (with the most, and most accurate material published) and SAP implementations to determine fact from marketing hyperbole.
4Estimating the Fit of S/4HANA to Client Business RequirementsThose that cover S/4HANA implementations never discuss the fit of S/4HANA to the customer. It is simply assumed that the application was a good fit because it was selected by the customer. However, this is critical to understanding the potential benefits of S/4HANA. Our analysis uses the estimate of the fit between S/4HANA and each implementation to provide insights as to what the outcome likely is per implementation. We then take this to an analysis of the overall fit as aggregated for the implementation data set.
5Forecasting the Implications of the ImplementationsThe S/4HANA implementation history has implications for SAP competitors, third party support providers, investors, and IT departments. We cover the major implications of the observed pattern of S/4HANA implementations. Due to the unfortunate fact that all of these entities receive rigged information on the topic of S/4HANA and therefore have by in large formulated inaccurate opinions regarding S/4HANA's history and its future.
6Related Links and Supporting InformationWe frequently refer to previous articles that support our analysis of different features of case studies. These links are included in this research offering in order to provide readers with the appropriate background.
7Evidence for Prospects During Sales InitiativesThis research provides ability to be shared with prospects. (each prospect requires a separate use license)

Who you use to obtain information about S/4HANA is of critical importance. The following table tells you about us and what makes our research different.

How Our Technique Differs from Other Reporting on S/4HANA Numbers

1Our Independence from SAPFirst, and most importantly, we are entirely independent of SAP trying to sell SAP projects or paid by SAP to promote S/4HANA, we are a research entity without any conflicts. There is no other entity that studies S/4HANA at out level of detail that can credibly make this claim.
2Depth of AnalysisWe both analyze each case study in depth, but then perform analytics on the batch of case studies, which drives further insights. When we do this, curious or interesting observations come from the overall case study analysis.
3Case Study AnalysisCase studies are designed for decision-makers to read, most implementers don't read the case study, that means that the case studies aren't designed to impress those people that know, but those people that do not know.
4Non Published SourcesWe often combine the published research with our contacts that provide very different information from the published case study.

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.

Select the description that best matches you.

Option #1: Do You Work in Sales for a Vendor?

See this link for an explanation to sales teams.

Option #2: Do You Work for an Investment Entity that Covers SAP?

See this link for an explanation for investment entities. 

Option #3: Are You a Buyer Evaluating S/4HANA?

For companies evaluating S/4HANA for purchase. See this link for an explanation to software buyers

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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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