Your 3 steps to SAP S/4HANA: S/4HANA Release 1610

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Major release 1610

SAP made available the latest S/4HANA release 1610 for customers last month. With this release again SAP is bringing new functionalities and technology – and is taking the next step on the way of the complete renovation of SAP ERP Digital Core.

However, what is really inside? Do you need those new functions as a customer using SAP for many years as it used to be? Should you wait or should you move to S/4HANA now?

To find an answer to those questions, it is needed to dive deeper into the new functionalities and technology provided but also – and even more – to have a look at the business value brought to customers in their individual situation. We would like to do this with a look on the latest S/4HANA release.

What is it about?

First of all, there are many new functions available with S/4HANA 16.10, but what are the real highlights? The new release comes with a lot of new Fiori apps that extend the Fiori application coverage of the SAP Digital Core. Additionally, SAP has integrated former Business Suite supply chain functionalities as core supply chain enhancements, e.g. APO component PPDS into the digital core and is offering a new AATP (Advanced Available to Promise) functionality. Another significant improvement is the extended PLM functionality for the usage and treatment of Objects such as Software Developments with complete lifecycle history inside of PLM. And – not to forget – the integration of Extended Warehouse Management EWM into SAP Digital Core.

From the strategic point of view, there is also one big change: the separate S/4 Finance product will not be developed any more as a stand-alone add-on to ECC6 up from now. This means that customers can only go to S/4HANA and not upgrade to ECC6 plus S/4 Finance add-on any more – and they need to use the logistics functionalities provided with the current S/4HANA release.

Fiori, Fiori all over

Having a closer look at the functional improvements, it is also important to understand about the challenges the new functionalities will bring as well. One example is the new Fiori apps. One major goal of S/4HANA is to improve user experience – especially for temporary or new users. With the new 16.10 release SAP has spent many efforts on enhancing the user interface and user experience by bringing many new Fiori apps as substitutes for old SAP GUI based user screens. Of course, the 'Fiori-look-and-feel' is much better and more up-to-date but having a look behind the nice new apps a lot of them are just bringing the same or even less functional possibilities as the 'old-fashioned-style' SAP GUI. Because Fiori apps need to fit any device – also smartphones and mobile devices – it is of course not possible to have all fields available on one single screen any more. As an example, the converted functionality of old VA01 into a Fiori app for the usage on a smartphone of course needs several steps on several screens now.

Even though the Fiori Guidelines contain a ‘Locking’ concept, the locking mechanism is handled on the client level. This is called optimistic locking. This means that an object might be changed inside SAP Digital Core while also changed in Fiori at the same time by another user. As a result of the lacking object lock, at least some changes will not be able to be saved and get lost. For users being used to the lock core functionality with the old GUI screens, this might lead to annoying situations and less user experience – especially for complex SAP functions like Project Builder or BOM maintenance.

Usability in-depth

When observing the current S/4HANA UX & Fiori offering outside of the pure SAP Standard, enhancements and custom development might need even more attention and technical knowledge than before. User-specific fields on SAP GUI screens (ABAP based) used in today’s SAP system will also need to be implemented in the Fiori app (UI5 based). Moreover, it is also necessary for the developer to check and understand the data handling and interface in between.

In a nutshell: with new Fiori apps temporary users may feel more comfortable, but power-users will most likely need more time – and loose efficiency. The usage of Fiori may improve the user experience for easy screens, but complex screens and transactions and customer individual changes and extensions can be very challenging.

There is also the enterprise architecture side of Fiori that customers advancing into S/4HANA have to consider. As SAP states in the Fiori Roadmap: “SAP Fiori is the user experience of SAP S/4HANA.” Then again, S/4HANA contains the core functionality of an enterprise, and the differentiating functionality and end-to-end processes are implemented by applications running on top and around the core. This can be a paradox, as most SAP customers are probably also running non-SAP systems and applications, which means that the data from different sources has to be integrated. If the customer has chosen Fiori as the strategic UX paradigm for all UIs, certain architectural decisions need to be made.

The easiest, but not most elegant way of “integrating” non-SAP data sources into Fiori is consuming REST services in the UI5 layer. An elegant way of integrating different data sources would be building the applications on top of reusable APIs and even microservices, but that would a totally different story than standard Fiori. This topic remains to be discussed!

Wrapping it up

Looking on new PPDS and EWM in S/4HANA SAP has integrated those functionalities into the Digital Core now. However, with S/4HANA 16.10 there are still the original technical interfaces present between Digital Core and those add-ons. Although these core supply chain enhancements are running on the same system and database there is still work to do for the implementation and maintenance of those interfaces. Moreover, the complete functionality announced for future is not available today.

As part of PPDS inside of S/4HANA, there is a new planning component available: Advanced Available To Promise (AATP). AATP will be improved in future and each customer using it today needs to have a close look onto today’s functions and if they fulfill all requirements. It might be better to wait for the improvements in the next release 1709 coming September next year.

All in all, S/4HANA is bringing a lot of new functionalities and exciting improvements. However, as first steps, each customer should understand how those improvements will affect the business processes and technical challenges. This is why Awareness about all impacts should be the first step on the roadmap to S/4HANA.

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This Blog is co-authored by Lorenz Praefcke and Janne Vihervuori

Lorenz

Lorenz Praefcke
Director, Business Development, cbs Corporate Business Solutions GmbH
+49 174 3438585 lorenz.praefcke@cbs-consulting.de

Janne Vihervuori, Bilot

Janne Vihervuori
Business Lead, Business Applications, Bilot Consulting Oy
+358 40 5212444 janne.vihervuori@bilot.fi

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