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The challenges of SAP S/4HANA integration

The challenges of SAP S/4HANA integration


As soon as SAP announced that support for its existing ERP platform, SAP ECC, would be discontinued in 2027 (or 2030 if you can afford to pay for an extended license), businesses began looking into adopting its successor, the cloud-based SAP S/4HANA.

As they started investigating this transition, it’s likely they would be hugely positive about the move. The potential benefits of adopting SAP S/4HANA are numerous and include:

  • Faster, seamless updates
  • Access to faster analytics capabilities and insights
  • More accurate forecasting
  • Proactive asset management
  • Clearer user interface
  • Automation

But while these benefits are likely to have business stakeholders eager for S/4HANA migration to take place as soon as possible, such a transition does present challenges. Don’t walk blindly into your SAP S/4HANA implementation. Identify the challenges that may hamper your S/4HANA adoption and integration, acknowledge them, and then set about a way to tackle them.


Common challenges

Although the advantages of embracing S/4HANA are well documented - that doesn't mean that everyone is fully convinced.  A sizable 38% of businesses that do not plan to adopt S/4HANA cite a lack of alignment with their long-term strategy. The move to S/4HANA is not just a technological challenge but also a generation alone. And larger companies with stakeholders that are used to SAP ECC (its roots date back to the 1970s) and are burdened with legacy technologies can find the migration more challenging than smaller, more nimble players. The cultural change required for SAP digital transformation to take place can present a stumbling block in some organizations.

Other challenges around S/4HANA integration that are especially prevalent among larger businesses coalesce around difficult decisions relating to migrations, partner contracts, and overall strategies.For example, organizations that already boast a well-integrated technology stack may want to move to S/4HANA all at once, potentially saving time and money, or opt for a phased migration instead that could help avoid business continuity issues.


The importance of overcoming your SAP S/4HANA challenges

When looking through the list of potential challenges around S/4HANA adoption, companies can easily focus on what they can do internally to overcome any hurdles -but don’t forget, the modern business landscape is a team affair. When you are seeking to integrate your existing or new applications with S/4HANA, your partners will play a key role.

A large proportion of integration tasks involve third-party applications, legacy systems, and external partners. This encompasses many non-SAP integrations, with only 30% of integration mappings actually beginning or ending with an SAP application. Map out your integrations carefully and examine the number of connections within your network that will use S4/HANA as a focal point.

ERP tools like S/4HANA are central to business success, but many of the integration challenges are preventing organizations from reaching their potential. SAP S/4HANA can simplify the management and administration of your IT landscape, deliver a more personalized user experience for your employees, and unlock unforeseen innovations. But only if you navigate the challenges of implementation and integration.  


Integration: The root of the challenge

Before you start to tackle the challenges around S/4HANA integration, you first need to understand them. Overwhelmingly, they stem from complexity. Today, B2B connections can be found between multiple different organizations using different tools and boasting different ways of working. Not only do these connections need to be fully integrated (and sometimes automated); they also need to be maintained long-term. A lack of industry standards for APIs only makes the task more difficult.

What’s more, successful integration depends on having a clear strategy. Too often an overview of the entire company’s needs, processes, and technologies is lacking - making integrations difficult to map and implement. Regulatory and compliance hurdles are also overlooked sometimes when it comes to S/4HANA integrations. For example, certain applications, like e-invoicing, must adhere to strict regulations - something else to keep in mind when beginning the integration process. Another example includes SAP GlobalTrade Services, which is used by firms to connect with government and customs authorities.

Of course, before companies begin exploring the integration possibilities and pitfalls, they may first want to have a good look at their existing technology stack. Are there applications that aren’t used anymore or are no longer fit for purpose? A deep clean of your digital solutions can help avoid unnecessary integration challenges with S/4HANA.


The right people for the right processes

Making sure businesses are talking to the right people when looking to integrate their solutions with S/4HANA is also key. For 38% of companies that stated they were not currently planning on moving from SAP ECC to S/4HANA,a lack of skills was cited as a barrier. The skills gap is notoriously difficult to close in the tech world, but many companies are looking to work more closely with MSPs for their S/4HANA needs.

The other issue is whether IT teams are getting access to the right people within their organization. Speaking to end-users is essential, of course, but delivering seamless integration also means speaking with business decision-makers and the people who can drive change in an organization.

Successful integration also depends heavily on the type of applications you are integrating. Qualibrate is a cloud solution for S/4HANA test automation that integrates natively with SAP Solution Manager Test Suite.It is designed to support customers as they automate SAP and non-SAP applications as part of their end-to-end testing strategy. In short, it can transform a fragmented mess of tools into a cohesive ecosystem.

Find out how Qualibrate can streamline your adoption of SAP S/4HANA, support your integration strategy, and make the benefits you’ve heard so much about a reality.

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