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Whether a company is embarking on an S/4HANA migration or it wants to know how remote users can best use SAP applications, SAP tools can help.
For example, when ODTH First Class Logistics, a third-party logistics company that receives and ships goods from its base in Antwerp, Belgium, decided to move to SAP S/4HANA, it turned to Panaya Ltd. for help. The Israel-based application delivery and testing provider, which was acquired by Infosys in 2015, used its SAP analysis tool to not only speed up the S/4HANA migration but to complete the project during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ODTH First Class Logistics has been running SAP ECC since 2004, and specifically the Warehouse Management (WM) module, but decided a change was needed, as the system was getting outdated and SAP's support for WM ends in 2025.
After researching options, ODTH chose to migrate to S/4HANA so it could implement the modern Extended Warehouse Management (EWM), according to Bart Weymans, project and innovation manager at ODTH First Class Logistics.
In addition to EWM's new functionality, ODTH plans to integrate financial functionality with S/4HANA Finance.
"We did research and concluded that we want to stay with SAP and the Extended Warehouse Management, and the trajectory toward EWM is to first move to S/4HANA," Weymans said.
Because ODTH had used Panaya's SAP tools for previous upgrades of SAP ECC, Weymans knew that it would help with the challenging move to S/4HANA.
Early testing saves migration time
Panaya's toolkit provides functions to help with migrations, including full impact assessment, automatic code correction, test management and test automation.
"It's a very intelligent tool, and we wanted to make sure that we tested the right things and didn't put effort in things that weren't used anymore," Weymans said. "We had lots of development from the past that were not in use any more."
For ODTH's S/4HANA migration project, the Panaya tool provided visibility on actions that needed to be taken, code corrections that needed to be made, and automated testing that needed to happen, he explained.
The latter allowed ODTH to begin testing as the project was underway rather than having to wait until the project was completed, saving valuable time.
"If you're in a typical upgrade, you have to wait until the developers are done before you can test, but with Panaya, when a developer has closed a specific topic, immediately and automatically the tests related to that topic begin," Weymans said. "This means your testers can start way earlier in the process, and that gained us a lot of time."
The ODTH S/4HANA project began in the summer of 2019 and was still in progress when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. Panaya's collaboration capabilities helped the team work on it remotely with no loss of productivity.
"We already had Panaya, so it helped when people were working remotely. Suddenly there was a pandemic crisis but we didn't lose time, we just kept on doing what we were doing but in a remote way," he said. "In the past, you could have an Excel file on a drive on a server somewhere, and everyone had to go to get it. Now we just go into a Teams Meeting, open Panaya and share everything in real time, so it's very useful there as well."
Time is money, and one benefit of using the Panaya tool was that it reduced the length of the S/4HANA project by introducing testing early and automating corrections early, Weymans explained.
"It gave us several weeks because we could start the testing and didn't have to wait for QA, we were already testing in our development environment," he said. "We would have lost more than a month if we had to wait for the quality environment to do end-to-end testing. Compared to a traditional way, I'd say we would have lost five weeks."
SAP tool from Knoa helps TGS
TGS, a gas transportation firm based in Buenos Aires, used an SAP tool from Knoa Software to better understand how its employees were using SAP applications remotely during the pandemic.
TGS has been using SAP since 1997 and is on the current version of SAP R/3, and has integrated SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP SuccessFactors for HCM and SAP Ariba for purchasing, according to Daniel Fiducia, CIO of TGS.
Based in New York, Knoa develops user experience management tools for SAP and Oracle systems.
Knoa's tool scans how users use the system. Companies can use the data from Knoa's reports to determine if functions are working properly. For example, if a process takes longer than it should to complete, a company can investigate whether this is due to a technical problem or if the users need more training.
TGS wanted this kind of analysis to better understand how users were accessing the SAP system and using the functions most effectively, including SAP Finance (FI), SAP Controlling (CO), SAP Materials Management (MM), and SAP Human Resources (HR), so they implemented Knoa in 2019.
Knoa immediately helped sort out some issues with how TGS employees were using SAP applications, Fiducia said.
For example, the Knoa tool discovered that TGS could reduce some of its SAP licenses because certain applications weren't being used as much as TGS had expected.
"Some users were requesting licenses so that anyone could open up a purchase order, but the number of users that actually needed to open up a purchase order was much smaller," Fiducia said. "We noticed immediately after we started using Knoa that the actual time effectively that these licenses were used was very small."
Measuring remote user productivity
The Knoa tool became even more useful when the pandemic hit. All TGS employees were forced to work remotely, and TGS could monitor if its remote workforce was having problems accessing applications. The data gathered by the Knoa tool helped TGS maintain its levels of productivity, Fiducia explained.
Knoa had information on when users connected to SAP systems and for how long months before the mandatory quarantine, so TGS was able to compare the sudden work-from-home levels of productivity with pre-quarantine numbers.
"This comparison not only allowed us to corroborate that users were accessing the SAP application without any problems, but it also allowed us to observe the behavior of users in the face of this new reality," he said. "One of the main findings was that users were working more hours than in previous weeks, and this change was reflected mainly on weekends when activity on those days doubled. We had this objective data regarding the activity, and the productivity actually turned out to be the same."
Knoa has enabled TGS to design and conduct better training for users.
Before Knoa, TGS used general SAP training courses, but now have objective data on usage that enables them to design training that focuses on specific users and specific functionalities, Fiducia said.
"When a new functionality or simply a change is implemented in a process, we use Knoa to observe the adoption of these changes by the user," he said. "With the indicators and metrics that Knoa provides, such as the number of errors performed by the user, details of the error made, and the workflow, we can measure this adoption and know if we need to make adjustments or observe what steps the user took before making a mistake to better understand where they need support or apply improvements."
TGS is planning to move from its legacy R/3 system to S/4HANA, but the project has been delayed because the economic crisis in Argentina has made it imperative for TGS to control costs, according to Fiducia. However, Knoa has helped with the preparation for a move by showing the current state of the SAP system, how the applications are being used and which functions need to be prioritized or discarded if they don't have frequent usage.
"For example, we have a detailed inventory of the company's universe of custom transactions, we compared them with the register of transaction activity in Knoa, including details of users who used it and how often," he said. "With this information, we could see which ones were no longer used and therefore could be discarded when migrating. Knoa allowed us to have visibility and evidence of the use of these transactions."