The age of industry 4.0 not only requires new processes but, in certain areas, allows for new process models, i.e., opportunities, which market leaders in their field must make use of in order to maintain their edge on the world market in the future. One important driver is the networking of machines, plants, work pieces and logistics, as well as their connection to MES and ERP as part of the digital factory and the monitoring of machinery by the manufacturers or by suppliers of industrial services.IT innovations, especially mobile devices and big data, also open up new perspectives for industry and trade: Smartphones and tablet PCs, in particular iPhone and iPad, have gained broad acceptance within a short amount of time among consumers of all population and age groups – and have changed people’s lifestyles dramatically. In the business world as well, they have awakened the expectation that important information should be available anytime and anywhere and that employees should be capable of making decisions and of working productively.
As the world leader in business software, SAP SE has also recognized the associated trends and introduced corresponding new developments. For example, new web technologies such as HTML5, which also form the basis for the SAP Fiori apps and the new SAP user interface SAPUI5, make possible easy-to-use mobile applications and the creation of easy-to-learn user interfaces and user-specific jobs (cockpits)– and at a reasonable cost.
SAP S/4HANA and the associated real-time processing of large and very large amounts of data within the ERP Software are also seen to have great potential. Several procedural steps, which, in the sales planning or production and the downstream execution, previously ran sequentially, can be replaced with an integrated real-time functionality and hence integrated into a single procedural step. Significant improvements in effectiveness and efficiency can be expected.
The challenge, as with previous IT innovations, is to verify the conditions and subsequently to select the right projects to automate the business processes. For implementation and further development, it is crucial that a suitable IT architecture either exists or is created.
Despite the enormous potential of IT innovations, the harmonization of global processes and the relevant rollout projects remain top business priorities for companies. Standardized state-of-the-art processes are an essential prerequisite for the optimization and automation of procedures that exceed the limits of sites or countries.
Initiatives and projects for the harmonization of business processes on a global level have a particularly high potential for success if the project scope goes beyond individual support processes, e.g., controlling, and instead includes core processes that are visible to customers and other business partners. The investment in a successful harmonization of the business process and a consistently detailed IT implementation leads to tangible economic benefits for the following reasons:
- Closing of the gap that often exists between corporate strategy and business processes
- Standardized and consistent Finance / Controlling / Reporting, allowing for a worldwide implementation of governance topics
- Synergies in group-wide procurement
- Reduction of complexity or increase in efficiency through standardization
- Increased flexibility of the entire company, e.g., when it comes to changes in strategy or in the business model; easier integration of acquired companies
During project execution, companies undergoing a global process harmonization often confront the following problems:
- The business benefits of the project are not transparent.
- Business requirements are unclear or vary widely.
- There are serious communication and change-management issues between business departments and IT.
- Process management and process competence are continuously subjects of dispute between business and the IT department.
- There is no, or only sporadic, process documentation.
- IT technology is seen as the key enabler for the standardization of processes.
- Global harmonization of core processes is complex and involves a high expenditure of resources and considerable costs. Since such an endeavor bears considerable risks, B&IT recommends a methodology-based approach to process harmonization. When an IT or SAP implementation is planned, lead consultants who have the necessary expertise and experience regarding methodology, internationalism, processes and the relevant IT solution architecture should be involved.
- The establishment of a professional program and project management ensures that the overall project is planned and executed in a professional way, with various dependencies and both the organizational and technical feasibility being continuously checked and onsidered.
B&IT Solution Approach:
- Process-oriented, method-based approach – pragmatic design and implementation
- Clear and consistent design of the process model on all levels
- Project organization that reflects the core processes and integrates the stakeholders from various countries in an efficient way. Process documentation that is refined step by step during the project
- Standardization of master data and simultaneous development of sustainable measures to secure data quality
B&IT Consulting Services:
- Checkup/Workshop on business-model and process architecture
- Methodology coaching: Global process harmonization
- Conception and implementation of global process harmonization
- Global SAP template and blueprint
- Program and project management
Automation of Business Processes
Having completed large SAP implementation and rollout projects, whose key subject matter has been the global harmonization of processes and IT applications, enterprises are faced with the optimization of individual – but mostly company-wide – business processes. Especially in cases where there is a longer interval before the initial deployment of the SAP implementation project, automating the relevant business processes can yield substantial results.
For example, small decentralized units such as service centers, sales offices, field staff and traveling service technicians are usually left out of the initial implementation project and therefore not connected to the SAP system. The same applies very often to small dealers and sales agents – with the familiar negative consequences for the order-to-cash process and the resulting increase in administrative efforts. Here current IT innovations such as HTML5 Apps for SAP and SAP S/4HANA provide numerous opportunities for substantial process improvements.
B&IT Solution Approach:
- Clarify the principles and roles when starting a process-optimization or process-automation project.
- Initiate process-optimization or process-automation project(s).
- Define operational project goals.
- Provide pragmatic analysis resulting in realistic and feasible business benefits.
- Offer methodical and structured analysis of business processes, and business and information objects.
- Demonstrate how a professional use of IT innovation and proven technology can result in new ways to do business and more efficient processes.
B&IT Consulting Services:
Creation of an Appropriate Process and IT Architecture
Does this sound familiar? – Both management and users come up with a whole array of new business requirements and ask the ITdepartment for quick delivery. At the same time, the impression arises that the corresponding IT activities and projects take too much time and end up being more costly than expected. – Or it is unclear how and on what technical basis new projects (such as mobile solutions, web applications, add-on developments or an electronic archiving system related to SAP processes and objects) should be started.
Then questions might come up, including the following:
- Does it make sense to integrate these new solution components into the existing IT landscape?
- Will the resulting solution architecture be flexible enough to cover future business requirements?
- Can the required solutions be implemented efficiently this way?
- Will they be maintainable at reasonable costs in the future?
- Given that today’s IT application landscape is the platform to proceed from, will it also cover business requirements that can be expected to evolve from the enterprise strategy or from short or mid-term changes in the business model?
B&IT Solution Approach:
- A holistic approach that integrates both business and IT goals
- An IT architecture that is designed with a clear focus on both the business model and the process architecture
- A new IT application architecture that takes into account business segments and main processes
- A design of the application architecture (both general and detailed)
- An estimation of the impact on IT staff, know-how, methods and organization