July 11, 2023

How Loudoun Water is Paving the Way for Success in the Move to SAP S/4HANA

The momentum in the industry is undeniable. Utilities are seeking to update business models to become more digital, more agile and more efficient.  

For many of Utegration’s clients, the underlying objective of a move to SAP S/4HANA is business simplification, but they also want to maintain the robust capabilities and scale that only SAP technology can offer utilities. 

Utegration is working closely with a number of utilities to help them build the business case and ease the path in a move to SAP S/4HANA.  

Change of this magnitude is not to be taken lightly, but the upsides are real. 

Recently, we conducted a survey with our partner, Natuvion, to hear from US utilities who recently initiated or delivered transformation in their business.* The drivers for change were significant, such as system reliability, risk of excessive costs in the future, and regulatory non-compliance (see Figure 1).

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Figure 1

Also, change of this magnitude is not just delivering “updated” technology, it is about managing risks to achieve these upsides. 

What you don’t want when addressing these challenges during your business transformation is to introduce more risk or surprises along the way. But with no experience in S/4HANA, how do utilities build a plan that they can be confident in? One that addresses not only technology challenges in the plan, but non-technology challenges as well, such as a volatile economy, lack of on-staff expertise, and change management? See Figure 2 below to see some of the “risks and surprises” our survey respondents cited. 

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Figure 2 

How to Reduce Risk in an S/4HANA Migration

Utegration recommends building a plan that takes into account all of these things. We have developed a methodology that leverages our expertise in both SAP technology and the utility industry itself to provide a roadmap you can be confident in. One that aligns with your corporate strategy, current technology landscape, budget goals and more, and addresses everything from data migration and your utility’s unique business processes to employee adoption.  

Utegration’s Plan4U™ offers an efficient and structured approach to assess your current environment and determine a path to SAP S/4HANA that is the least disruptive, generates the most value, and provides the greatest return on your SAP investment.  

Hear from one of our clients, Loudoun Water, who just completed a Plan4U engagement with Utegration. Their Director of Business and Customer Solutions, Mark Guanco, was kind enough to share their experience here, to help other utilities see what they can expect. We asked them 5 questions: 

What was/were the primary driver(s) for Loudoun Water to initiate the effort to evaluate and understand your readiness for SAP S/4HANA? 

Several factors drove our efforts to assess our readiness for SAP S/4HANA. Firstly, our current SAP database is reaching its end of life by 2026, which means it will no longer receive support or updates, posing potential risks to data integrity and security. Secondly, our server operating system is also approaching its end of life, which means a lack of updates, security patches, and technical support. Finally, SAP has announced the end of support for our current version by 2027, which means we will no longer receive bug fixes, patches, or assistance after the specified date. These drivers highlight the urgent need to act, such as transitioning to a new database solution, upgrading the server operating system, and implementing a supported version of SAP S/4HANA. 

Was there anything that made your planning effort unique?     

One element that sets us apart is our decision to run our current ECC landscape on Microsoft Azure cloud. We made this move in 2018, demonstrating our innovative and forward-thinking mindset by leveraging the benefits of cloud computing for our SAP infrastructure. We gain advantages such as scalability, flexibility, and reduced infrastructure costs by hosting our ECC environment in the cloud. We believe in the power and value of SAP as a comprehensive solution that spans various business processes and functions. Our commitment to using SAP as our end-to-end solution showcases our dedication to maximizing the benefits of integrated enterprise software and driving business success. 

 What were the most significant findings? 

Our staff is satisfied with the SAP solution, and we can lift and shift most of our business processes from ECC to S/4HANA during the migration. Additionally, it is crucial to assess the potential costs, licenses, and subscriptions required, as well as develop a well-defined implementation strategy. Plan4U played a crucial role in gathering this information and guiding our next steps in our readiness journey. 

How did the Plan4U approach help your planning, and understand the need and benefit of the journey to SAP? 

Plan4U helped us understand the need and benefits of the SAP journey by providing valuable insights into the feasibility of a "lift and shift" approach, staff satisfaction, cost analysis, licensing considerations, and implementation strategy. The approach helped us gather crucial information, make informed decisions, and establish a solid foundation for a migration process. 

Would you recommend this pre-planning exercise (Plan4U) to those who are facing the same journey? 

Absolutely. I would highly recommend using Plan4U for those who are undergoing a similar migration journey. The valuable insights obtained from the exercise, such as staff satisfaction, cost analysis, licensing considerations, and implementation strategy, can significantly benefit others. By engaging in a thorough pre-planning exercise like PLAN4U, organizations can gather crucial information, and make informed decisions. 

If you’re ready to learn more about Utegration’s Plan4U for SAP S/4HANA offering, reach out to your Account Executive, or click here.

 *The full report will be completed mid-August and shared with our clients via email and on our LinkedIn page. Be sure to follow us!