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SAP S/4HANA, a new generation of SAP ERP

SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA ( also called SAP S/4HANA) is the most important innovation proposed by the editor since the release of SAP R/3 in 1992. This new business solution redefines the way software packages must accompany and support the growth of companies evolving in the digital and connected economy. The power of in-memory technology allows you to harness the potential of Big Data and the Internet of Things to redefine your business model. Simulate, plan, execute, and analyze: all of this is done in real time and from any device, connected with your partners and networks. The SAP S/4HANA suite is also designed to offer a user experience (SAP FIORI) that combines modernity and ergonomics adapted to the role of each employee in your company. SAP relies on its 40 years of experience and 280,000 customers around the world to offer a Business Suite capable of natively adapting to new value business models and simplifying the value creation process.

SAP HANA was designed and developed by SAP to overcome the limitations of traditional models and bring acceleration, simplicity and innovation to enterprise applications

S/4HANA benefits in a nutshell:

a "live" database

The first principle of SAP S/4HANA is the uniqueness of the In Memory database, with the promise of "real time". This is immediate visibility, born of the abolition of the boundaries between transactional and decision-making: all the information that enters the IS is automatically and instantly available for reporting and decision-making (dashboards intended for senior management, operational indicators useful to managers and their teams), without data replication.

This results in savings in IT costs for administering and producing these indicators, but above all, the speed and instantaneous 360° visibility of the business enable better decision-making and therefore business gains.

With the In Memory database, the finance user has real-time access to information. We can truly speak of an association between decision-making and transactional systems, which is beneficial to the simplification of all financial processes: management control, collection, cash management, treasury management, etc.

Let's take the example of the management of customer receivables in connection with credit management, collection and litigation. From the initial customer search screen, the user has instant access to an overview of the customer's items in real time, as well as indicators and graphs without having to worry about latency.

This simplification of the data model provides more transparency and better internal collaboration on customer history. The user has access to the widest range of information on the spot: payment due dates, risk class (live display of credit line consumption status), payment trends and habits, etc.

By relying on reliable operational indicators at any given moment, the operator can immediately determine what actions to take, with simplified transactions until the situation is resolved. SAP S/4HANA also allows for a very rapid transition from a vision of indicators to the finest level of information, with the key to optimizing reporting to management or business decision makers.

No more boundaries between transactional and decision-making, which translates into tangible benefits for the processes covered by SAP S/4HANA Logistics. This is particularly the case with sales administration.

Transactions are based on high-level reports that classify blocked orders, using simple graphics (order amount, number of days overdue, etc.). Users can quickly access information that speaks to them, with the ability to zoom in (by customer, by product, by factory, etc.) to identify the cause of the blockage. He then reaches in one click a resolution screen directly connected to his report, before arriving in a few clicks on the transactional, taking into account the prioritization. The principle is the same in production management: to manage the supply of components or raw materials, the system relies on reports that indicate very quickly and visually the elements on which to launch an action. From an aggregated situation to the resolution, the user goes in 2 to 3 clicks from decisional to transactional; with the key to optimize stocks thanks to a better visibility in real time.

An Agile solution Agile

SAP's main idea is to select the best from the SAP solution portfolio in order to simplify use and concentrate development efforts on a single solution.

SAP S/4HANA is positioned as THE reference solution, fed and enriched with the best of SAP. This is the third major principle of uniqueness of SAP S/4HANA, which echoes the expectations of our customers for a solution that is ever more integrated, ever more powerful, but also more agile and simpler.

By capitalizing on the best of the SAP universe, it is a matter of offering ever greater finesse and the widest range of advanced functionalities: for example, integrating finite capacity planning, optimizing logistics tasks, simulating year-end discounts, etc.
The benefits: simplification and better coverage of business needs, sharing of best practices facilitating rapid appropriation of the solution.

A single solution with the broadest functionality from the rich SAP solution portfolio: this is the cornerstone of SAP/4HANA.

For example, a single solution for budgeting and simulation, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, can share data with the accounting and analytical application in order to boost the process: instant analysis of multidimensional data, real-time execution of reports within a unified system, facilitated management control governance, more flexibility and autonomy...

Let's also take the case of customer credit management, a process previously covered by two solutions (one dedicated to the SAP IS and the other running on SAP or non-SAP systems). Only the solution covering the broadest functional scope is retained, allowing to work on data from both SAP and non-SAP systems; the global view of customer risk in real time is thus freed from the constraints of the IT landscape.
SAP S/4HANA Logistics is based on a very pragmatic approach: capitalize on the richness of the SAP portfolio to extend the functional scope of the solution. In practice, SAP S/4HANA Logistics benefits from the most interesting functionalities already used by our customers in our vertical solutions dedicated to a wide range of businesses (aeronautics, retail, consumer goods, services, etc.). A few examples: the supersession functionality (replacement at date or expiration of the stock of an item by another item or by a chain of items according to predefined design criteria) was present in our aeronautical vertical solution. It is now integrated into SAP S/4HANA Logistics. This is also the case for order taking and characteristic-based planning, which already existed for the retail and trade world.

A "Smart" user interface

The second principle of SAP S/4HANA is the reinvention of a unique user experience, thanks to an easy-to-access, highly visual interface based on SAP FIORI that benefits from real time, regardless of the medium: PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone. Here again, the aim is to meet users' desire for attractive screens.

The interface further enhances productivity and flexibility. It allows the insertion of a greater number of performance indicators, visual cues and alert monitoring into transactions. Starting from an aggregated situation or alerts, navigation via screens with optimized ergonomics and design, favors the resolution of situations in a few clicks and the making of the right decision (for example: detection of an alert related to a customer credit problem, customer order blockage, raw material shortage, etc.).

Focused on the user experience, the new HTML5-based interface naturally links the transactional and decision-making visions. S/4HANA for Finance emphasizes a simplified, more accessible, and particularly neat and pleasant graphical approach, as evidenced by customer feedback. For example, the user can zoom in on a graph. The thumbnails are very intuitive, with the possibility of accessing the desired information and real-time alerts in one click. Regular users of SAP solutions can clearly see the potential of this new interface approach. At the same time, this new interface is particularly beneficial for occasional users, making change management much easier for them. Finally, the solution is free of terminal constraints, offering real freedom of use in mobile mode. This ability to access indicators in real time (DSO vision, customer receivables) and to manage workflows in a native way regardless of the terminal (PC or mobile) is a real plus in terms of efficiency and productivity.

SAP has focused its efforts on simplifying its new interface with one objective in mind: to make it easier for all types of users (experts, regular or occasional users) to use the solution and to carry out the desired action in just a few clicks. Everyone will be able to add graphical reporting and real-time information to their transactions. Another advantage is that the simplified HTML5 screens can be used on any terminal (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone), in response to the challenges of mobility, home office and shared office.

Texts by Christian Charvin, Team Leader SAP S/4Hana & Logistics at SAP France and Sadjeda Duret, Finance Solutions Architect at SAP France.

To go further, useful documents :

SAP S/4 HANA - Frequently Asked Questions  

Comments and opinions from the SAP community :

Les utilisateurs de SAP S/4HANA placent la gestion des changements au cœur de la transformation digitale A user's guide : The Journey to SAP S/4HANA in Six Steps  Planning Your Journey to SAP S/4HANA
 What Going Digital Really Means For Your Supply Chain SAP S/4HANA – Frequently Asked Questions  SAP S/4HANA: Fast – Simple – Intelligent: A SAPPHIRE Review