Building a business case for S/4HANA: Stakeholders

Any ERP system will have wide-reading impact and be used across the business, from the shop floor to the warehouse. These audiences must each be considered in the business case and have their needs highlighted and addressed. There are three main areas of opportunity following an ERP implemention: technology, process and business transformation. Tailor your business case to each of these stakeholder groups and you’ll hopefully find yourself winning allies.

Technology-focused stakeholders

CIOs, architects and system managers are a key audience who will require detailed specifications to feel satisfied with the proposed solution. They will be most interested in product features, system performance, data inputs and integrations and will be looking for productivity improvements, deployment times, and the total cost of ownership. Convincing this group will be key to moving the project forward as they are, or will have the ear of, key decision makers.

The decision to implement a new ERP system is usually focused on reducing the total cost of ownership, and it is these technology-focussed stakeholders who should be consulted to see if there is a business case for moving to S/4HANA. Reasons for moving might also cover bringing together multiple legacy systems, shelving unsupported systems and generally reducing complexity and risk by reducing the number of systems and suppliers.

There can be external factors that can add pressure. Fixed-price license agreements milestones might be approaching, or compliance issues or complications can add new dimensions that need to be considered. IR35, Brexit and remote-working en-masse are all examples that can put huge strains on people, processes and the software they use to perform their roles.

Process-focused stakeholders

These people are function leaders and process owners. They need to understand that their corner of S/4HANA will improve their lives. They look for streamlined processes and the effectiveness of newly-created processes. The value they seek comes through return on assets, the outcomes of process changes and divisional KPIs such as cost per unit.

Optimising current processes is key to operational success so your business case should cover this in depth. You might want to cover reducing team headcounts, productivity improvements and shared services. To quantify these savings you will need to consider operations across your organisation, and might even require additional expert input from external industry specialists if processes are being completely overhauled.

Business transformation stakeholders

These obviously sit at the head of the organisation: the board, company owners, senior leadership. As well as looking for future growth capability, they look for short to medium term competitive advantage. They know that businesses need to evolve to thrive and structural change is often the way to achieve that. The end result they want to see is enabling growth and improving the bottom line.

Business transformations may be undertaken to change business models and could involve acquisitions, taking on new technologies or new pricing methods. Looking beyond the walls of your company and considering S/4HANA capabilities will further strengthen your business case.

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