Many years ago SNP decided that in order to be a reliable provider of SAP consulting solutions and services, it should also work with the system it recommended to its customers. Subsequent decisions to migrate the company’s system to newer versions came as a consequence of that decision.
In August 2019, the SNP Group launched a project to migrate the SAP production system in all its companies and locations to SAP S/4HANA. As is the case with most projects for external customers, the schedule was very tight: the system transition was to take place within a few months.
The purpose of the migration to S/4HANA was to create a fully integrated system covering the entire SNP Group. The implementation included financials and controlling, sales and distribution, materials management and the core of SNP’s business – project management. The system will be the basis for further digitalization and standardization of business processes in all group companies, taking into account local legal requirements and unique nature of operations in individual companies.
In addition to ensuring compliance with legal requirements at regional and global level, the requirements of individual business teams represented a particular project challenge, including chart of accounts conversion, project harmonization, specific reporting requirements, and a change in sales accounting costs. From a technical point of view, the New General Ledger had to be introduced with new fixed assets accounting and the Business Partner category (replacing separate supplier and customer categories). In addition, the implementation of new technologies, such as SAP Fiori User Experience applications, was also an important task.
For 25 years, SNP has been supporting companies all over the world in the implementation of IT projects. We developed specialized software and services that allow us to run projects safely, quickly and cost-effectively. The time has come for the CrystalBridge digital transformation platform and the BLUEFIELD approach to be applied in our own backyard.
Migration with CrystalBridge
The CrystalBridge platform can be used in many business transformation scenarios, including migration to S/4HANA. In accordance with the CrystalBridge scenario dedicated to this type of projects, in the first step we performed a comprehensive analysis of processes, data volumes, configurations and system structures. For this purpose, we used the CrystalBridge Analysis module. This allowed us to identify areas requiring harmonization and to prepare an optimal transformation scenario.
In the next step, we used the CrystalBridge Shell module to create a new target system. In this approach, data from the application is not copied until it is determined which data should be copied and which will not be useful in the new system. This helps to avoid lengthy data cleaning in the system copy, which saves time and reduces the required disk space.
In the created empty system shell, we defined a new chart of accounts and introduced all required process changes.
Having the new system shell ready, we performed data migration using the Transformation module, which controls the data migration and performs it according to predefined rules. The data was precisely and consistently copied from the source system and transferred to the new target system.
Additionally, we used the CrystalBridge Interface Discovery module to analyze and document interface structures. This solution provided us with the transparency of communication between S/4HANA and other solutions and applications operated in the SNP Group. As a result, we have an ongoing view of where and how systems are accessed, and we can take appropriate actions, if necessary.
Finally, after two extensive mass test sessions, the system was launched on one January weekend in 2020, with near-zero downtime.
In the project, we used the unique BLUEFIELD approach developed by SNP, enabling the launch of S/4HANA with new functions along with the availability of historical data with near-zero downtime for business. This is possible due to the use of the SNP CrystalBridge platform, which automates migration activities. Works were carried out according to a proven project methodology based on the division of the project into the analysis, design, implementation, testing and go-live phases.
Close cooperation between the IT department, the company’s business departments and the project team also contributed to the success of the project in such a short timeframe. This challenging project, in which SNP played the dual role of a customer and a service provider, involved around 100 employees from 17 countries on five continents.
As a result of the migration to S/4HANA, the SNP Group has gained a fully integrated system, allowing for consolidation, standardization and optimization of business processes in all group companies. The new platform offers great opportunities to scale the business in response to the expectations of both the market and our customers and partners.
It is also an advantage for us as a consulting company to expand our knowledge in the field of processes and technologies in the S/4HANA area. Moreover, valuable lessons for SNP’s daily operations can be learned from the migration: thanks to the internal project, the company has gained new experience in the remote implementation of complex projects, involving multiple parties. The ability to organize and carry out a SAP transformation project remotely from start to finish is particularly important in times of a pandemic, but for companies operating around the world it will be important much longer than during the 2020 crisis.
Migration with BLUEFIELD
Using CrystalBridge tools, SNP developed a unique S/4HANA migration approach called BLUEFIELD.
BLUEFIELD combines the advantages of standard approaches, allowing you to automate a large part of the migration tasks, speed up the project, and provide greater freedom to choose the scale of changes that are introduced during the project. One go-live with one short downtime is enough to deeply reorganize the SAP system. Selective data migration (only the data that we need is transferred to the new system) allows us to get rid of the unnecessary burden of historical data, which reduces project risk. The target system is leaner, more efficient and cheaper to maintain.
The migration to S/4HANA carried out in our own backyard was another test confirming the validity of our approach. We make use of the experience gained on this occasion in projects carried out for our customers.
Krzysztof Siwiec, Director of the Digital Transformation Center, SNP Poland
New financials and controlling
The most important change in accounting resulting from the transition to S/4HANA was the implementation of a new category of central business partners, which made it possible to standardize the handling of supplier and customer master data in one transaction.
Other novelties included automatic division of a document into various assignment objects while posting (document splitting), and bookkeeping according to local accounting rules and group rules – the possibility of posting and reporting in several ledgers (local, tax, and group ledger). The SAP HANA database platform significantly speeds up the process of calling up reports, e.g. generating a document journal.
The controlling tools expanded in the new solution made it possible to optimize the adjustment of individual SNP companies to the corporate reporting model.
Local and group ledgers
Since we became a part of the SNP Group in 2017, the team responsible for the company’s finances and accounting has had more tasks. On the one hand, as a Polish company, we carry out all our previous tasks in accordance with accounting principles and Polish tax regulations. But we are also a part of the capital group and we have more work related to inter-company accounting and financial reporting according to the expectations of our owner. In this context, we particularly appreciate the new SAP S/4HANA feature allowing for accounting and reporting in several ledgers kept according to local and group accounting principles.
Barbara Gryglik, Chief Accountant, Head of the Finance and Accounting Team, SNP Poland
Project and service management
For a company that generates revenue from the sale of software, project implementation and provision of IT services based on long-term contracts with customers, the key area of the system are Project System tools supporting the project management.
The core function in this area is the registration of projects and continuous services. The catalog of works (both in progress and completed) created in this way constitutes a comprehensive source of data on cooperation with customers at a single company level and for the entire group.
Project budget management is another important tool allowing project managers to have a real-time view of the progress of works in individual project phases and to financially control and assess the profitability of the project.
Project work registration and settlement functions support internal and external settlements (invoicing of individual project phases or billing periods for subscription services). Monitoring of the involvement in project works is also helpful in controlling the status of works. This function allows you to detect possible delays and plan appropriate actions (e.g. by updating the schedule of works involving project teams on the SNP and customer side).
The tools for settlements with customers are used at SNP to settle both project services and continuous services, such as Managed Services (e.g. SNP Managed Cloud services or SAP Application Management services).
In a global company, the handling and internal settlement of inter-company projects, i.e. projects carried out with the involvement of several group companies, is also an important feature. By using a common solution, it is possible to standardize these processes across different branches and simplify settlements, e.g. by using a common customer base or consultants supporting customers.
Managing a single pool of resources has additional advantages which translate into better service for the company’s customers. The implemented solution allows you to plan the allocation of employees from different countries and teams, or to easily identify resources with the expertise required for individual projects at a global level. In addition, the system takes care of appropriate employee workload by monitoring the number of project days in a billing period, and reserving time for internal works, training or administrative tasks.
The project competence database maintained in the system is an invaluable source of information when planning new projects. As early as at the bidding stage, the project manager is able to review the company’s experience in the selected scope. On this basis, he or she can also initially plan the project team composition and perform a valuation of works (e.g. depending on whether the competences are available in SNP Poland or whether a consultant from another group company needs to be involved).
Project management – our ”production line”
S/4HANA provides us with a complete platform for managing key processes as a professional service provider in respect of both projects and support services for customers. We now have a tool to control and optimize all aspects of providing services to customers – from planning and recording the workload of teams and employees, through evaluating the profitability of projects and contracts, to settlements with employees and customers.
Michał Kunze, Director of Consulting and Application Management and the Software Development Department, SNP Poland
Near zero downtime
Migration to S/4HANA with simultaneous data cleaning and system harmonization and automation of a large part of works with CrystalBridge tools enabled the implementation of the new system within a short time – after a project that only lasted five months. Restrictive selection of data and migration of only the data which is necessary for the ready-to-use system shell made it possible to limit the time of system unavailability for business to just a weekend (near zero downtime).
A fully integrated system, the global operating standards developed in the project and the tools developed, especially for project management and settlement, prepare SNP even better for the wave of migration we expect from our customers in the coming years. The end of support date for old versions of the system has been set by SAP for 2027, and the estimates point to as many as 50,000 companies facing the challenge of migration.
The SNP example shows that the path to developing a coherent and modern business management platform can be short, with limited self-involvement (high degree of automation) and minimal downtime for business (limited to several hours).
SNP Poland (BCC until 2017) is the largest SAP implementation company in Poland (more than 250 SAP consultants). It provides SAP system implementation, development and maintenance services (SAP Managed Services, including SNP Managed Cloud). It is part of the SNP Group – a world leader in the transformation of SAP environments based on its own, unique methodology and IT solutions.