A Comprehensive Guide to SAP S/4HANA
In today’s digital economy, organizations cannot afford to take actions based on stale insights, and thus there is a need for a real in-memory data platform that can support real-time processing for transactions and analytics. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software has been the core of SAP for more than four decades, and S/4HANA is the 4th ERP suite developed by SAP that focuses on providing end users with active decision support real-time. SAP S/4HANA is becoming the most successful SAP ERP system all over the world and is now poised as a BIG winner in the ERP market.
What is SAP S/4HANA?
Released in February 2015, S/4HANA has become one of SAP’s flagship products for customers who want to migrate from SAP Business ERP suite. It is an intelligent ERP that makes use of the complete power of SAP HANA’s in-memory database and is available in the cloud, hybrid and on-premise deployment models, with SAP pushing its customers to migrate towards the cloud option for better business benefits.
What does SAP S/4HANA stand for?
SAP S/4: Indicates this is the fourth generation of the SAP Business Suite.
HANA: Stands for High-performance Analytic Appliance (although it is a noun not an acronym in this instance).
How does SAP S/4HANA differ from SAP HANA?
Some confusion exists between SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA among many legacy SAP ERP customers. SAP HANA is an in-memory database while S/4HANA is a revolutionary ERP application that is developed to run on the in-memory database SAP HANA. If SAP HANA is the hub for all SAP’s product strategy, then you can think of SAP S/4HANA as the cornerstone for all SAP technologies.
With SAP HANA it was possible to process huge volumes of transactional and operational business data in real-time. SAP launched the Business Suite on HANA in 2013 that included various modules for SCM, CRM, SRM, and PLM. This business suite basically had the ERP apps in the front-end with the HANA in-memory database running in the back-end. In contrast, S/4HANA is written completely in HANA by re-writing the 400 million lines of code instead of running on top of it. This makes SAP S/4HANA easy to use and understand and also makes it more agile for developers.
SAP S/4HANA offers great decisive advantages over HANA:
- There is no longer a need for meta tables or duplicate tables, and thus S/4HANA has no more redundancies like meta tables or duplicate tables because everything is stored in the main memory.
- Backups, Development, and Operations have become a lot simpler and easier than before.
- S/4HANA has slimmed down the back-end to a great extent.
Organizations can reinvent their business models and generate greater revenue using S/4HANA capabilities and making the most of IoT and Big Data by connecting devices, business networks, and people. S/4HANA has opened up new and faster decision-making opportunities for businesses. For example, if simulation in production planning requires only a couple of minutes and not half a day then the logistic processes can easily be rescheduled in a few minutes versus once in 24 hours. This way a company can provide an individual pricing quotation to a customer when they are ordering and also consider the buying history at that point in time to offer relevant discounts.
S/4HANA has introduced a healthy dose of simplification for administration and management of the IT environment, as it does not require batch processing. With the centralization of network and hardware resources, users can glean insights on data from anywhere in real-time for execution, simulation, planning, and prediction.
Using SAP Fiori UX with SAP S/4HANA
SAP Fiori is a new user interface for SAP S/4Hana applications with more than 300 role-based applications such as manufacturing, finance, HR, and more. Technically, it is possible to use S/4HANA without SAP Fiori but this will limit the business value users can derive from the S/4HANA solution. Most of the novel business innovations of SAP S/4HANA that bring in digital transformation benefits are delivered through the Fiori UX and not the traditional SAP UI.
Fiori UX has a collection of most frequently used S/4HANA functions which are shown in a simple and consumer-ready tile format to be accessed from different devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.
Overview of SAP S/4HANA Modules
There are dozens of S/4HANA modules listed under various categories but the most popular one is SAP Finance earlier known as Simple Finance. This module aims to streamline financial processes through real-time financial data analysis. With database integration, this module aligns the financial and non-financial data into a single source of truth. The SAP Finance module allows organizations to automate compliance, risk, international trade, and other activities. S/4 HANA’s finance module makes it easy to protect financial assets, improve financial performance, and optimize business operations by minimizing risk and compliance violations.
Other SAP S/4 HANA modules include:
- Human Capital Management (HCM)
- Supply Chain Management (SCM)
- Plant Maintenance (PM)
- Investment Management (IM)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Product Life Cycle Management (PLM)
- Production Planning (PP)
- Materials Management (MM)
- Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM)
- Project Systems (PS)
- Enterprise Performance Management (EPM)
- Controlling (CO)
- Sales and Distribution (SD)
- Logistics Information Systems (LIS)
- Customer Service (CS)
- Environment, Health and Safety (EHS)
- Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)
- Industry Solutions, e.g. Aerospace, Automotive, etc.
The Next-Generation Cloud ERP - SAP S/4HANA Cloud
Shifting a company’s core to the cloud makes deployment faster and reduces the time to value. Furthermore, it induces faster innovation cycles and decreases the overall total cost of ownership (TCO) and total cost of investment (TCI) providing agility in consumption. As enterprise customers expected SAP to renovate, innovate and re-define its core asset, it led to the innovation of a SaaS deployment of S/4HANA ERP applications in February 2017. SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a next-gen intelligent ERP that makes the best of HANA’s in-memory processing and real-time data accessibility.
SAP S/4HANA Cloud allows users access to all S/4HANA’s functionalities without having to commit to hardware resources, databases, or IT staff. S/4HANA cloud has three technologies – Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics, and SAP Co-pilot, a conversational digital assistant which brings intelligence into ERP applications. Organizations can benefit from implementing SAP S/4HANA cloud as it helps them generate faster ROI, reduce TCO and TCI, improve compliance and governance, increase business agility, and improve efficiency with intelligent ERP solutions.
SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics
Organizations today depend on analytics to get an in-depth understanding of their processes, products, and customers. Having the right information at hand whenever businesses want to make a decision is critical. SAP S/4HANA’s Embedded Analytics provides a set of analytical features that allow users to perform real-time analysis of transactional data. It provides an integrated analytical and transactional data platform for processing complex analytic queries. Millions of rows and thousands of tables can be processed on the fly using embedded analytics. S/4HANA Embedded Analytics is a part of S/4HANA software and does not require any separate license or installation. Embedded Analytics comes with a set of in-built representations of operational data referred to as Virtual Data Models (VDM) that help users make better decisions from the data available at hand.