Implementing SAP S/4HANA

SAP Activate Supports Customers Throughout the Project Life Cycle — and Beyond

by Jan Musil, Global Product Owner, SAP Activate methodology & SAP Global Project Management Practice Lead, SAP and Holger Steffens, Vice President, SAP S/4HANA Product Management, Co-Innovation, and Packaging, SAP | SAPinsider, Volume 17, Issue 4

October 10, 2016

Organizations across all industries are looking at implementing SAP S/4HANA. SAP S/4HANA offers a host of compelling functionality for improving business operations, but companies often have questions about how to best approach this implementation. To that end, SAP has released SAP Activate, an adoption framework designed for a smooth and efficient implementation of SAP S/4HANA, whether in the cloud, on premise, or using a hybrid implementation. Discover how SAP Activate can help your organization follow best practices for a seamless transition to SAP S/4HANA.  

Companies are adopting and evaluating SAP S/4HANA at a breakneck rate. As the next-generation ERP suite designed to be the digital core of businesses everywhere, SAP S/4HANA simplifies data models, decision making, and business processes, while easing the adoption of innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, business networks, and personalized customer experience. Organizations are interested in how these technologies can improve their businesses, but they have questions, including how to approach such a transformative implementation.

To help companies with this project, SAP has released SAP Activate, an innovation adoption framework that is designed for the initial implementation of SAP S/4HANA and supports all deployment scenarios: cloud, on-premise, or hybrid. It is embedded directly into SAP S/4HANA and delivers ready-to-run business processes for transactions and analytics as well as best practices for migration and integration into other cloud solutions, such as SAP SuccessFactors or SAP Ariba solutions. Using these best practices helps customers minimize risk, accelerate time to value, and reduce the total cost of implementing SAP S/4HANA as well as continue innovation even after go-live. In this article, we’ll look at how you can use the SAP Activate methodology in on-premise scenarios.

SAP Activate Methodology

The SAP Activate methodology is a modular and agile framework for implementing or migrating to SAP S/4HANA and other SAP solutions. The SAP Activate methodology supports project teams in the deployment of SAP solutions in cloud, on-premise, or hybrid environments. You can choose to follow it yourself, with an SAP partner, or with SAP directly.

The SAP Activate methodology follows six phases to provide support throughout the project life cycle of SAP solutions. Underlying these phases is a series of value delivery and quality checks, reflected in the approach as quality gate checkpoints, to make sure that the solution delivers the value you expect:

  1. Discover. The first phase is introductory, involving the discovery of the solution and its benefits. Here, you develop the strategies and the roadmap you will use on the implementation journey.
  2. Prepare. Next it’s time to initiate and plan the project. In this step, you finalize plans and assign the project team so you can start the project optimally.
  3. Explore. This is where you perform fit/gap analysis workshops to validate the fit of the SAP Best Practices-based solution to your business and to identify any delta requirements and gaps. In this phase, you also complete the design for the identified delta requirements and gaps and capture solution requirements and design in SAP Solution Manager 7.2.
  4. Realize. During this phase, you use agile iterations to incrementally build and test an integrated business and system environment. You also load data and prepare for solution adoption activities, such as key user training and end-user onboarding. You document your SAP solution in SAP Solution Manager 7.2 and develop operation plans for running the environment productively after go-live.
  5. Deploy. Now you set up the production environment. When you’re ready, you conduct the cutover activities and switch business operations to the new system.
  6. Run. You’re ready to run! With the new system operational, you apply SAP operations standards and SAP Solution Manager 7.2 to run the environment and optimize operations.

SAP implementations, migrations, and change projects require you to have a disciplined approach to project management. The SAP Activate methodology aligns with best practices recommended by the Project Management Institute (PMI), making it possible for you to minimize your project risk, streamline and accelerate your implementation, and reduce your total cost of implementation. It also incorporates a standardized work breakdown structure1 that helps project managers efficiently define and manage project work (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 — A standardized work breakdown structure to help manage projects such as implementing SAP S/4HANA

As an added benefit, SAP Digital Business Services offers Value Assurance Packages for SAP S/4HANA projects that are built on the foundation of SAP Activate and enrich the approach. Value Assurance Packages provide services for analysis, advisory, and safeguarding, plus the functional and technical implementation of your SAP S/4HANA solution.2

Ready-to-Run Business Processes

SAP Activate starts with SAP Best Practices for any implementation and uses one methodology for any transition scenario. The SAP Best Practices for SAP S/4HANA package provides fundamental processes for your enterprise, both on premise and in the cloud. SAP Best Practices included with SAP Activate will also walk you through how to configure and integrate SAP S/4HANA.3

SAP Best Practices Explorer4 is a next-generation tool for discovering and understanding SAP Best Practices; it replaces functionality currently available at SAP Service Marketplace. Browsing through SAP Best Practices remains fast and familiar, while your experience is enhanced with easier navigation and flexible download capabilities (see Figure 2). With this new tool, you can:

  • Experience the simple, intuitive SAP Fiori user experience (UX)
  • Take advantage of free and flexible downloads with your account from SAP Service Marketplace
  • Download single assets and accelerators or a complete offline library

Figure 2 — Drilling down into the specific packages using the SAP Best Practices Explorer interface

Innovation After Go-Live

In the Run phase, immediately following go-live, you further optimize and automate the operability of the SAP S/4HANA solution. Operability is the ability to maintain IT systems in a functioning and operating condition, guaranteeing systems availability and required performance levels to support the execution of the enterprise’s business operations.

SAP Activate provides guidance for customers adopting the new business and system capabilities in SAP S/4HANA that SAP releases at a regular cadence to its customers through new releases and feature packs.

Support You Can Trust

When implementing a new system, it is important to have a plan in place from the beginning to ensure the project stays on track. In the case of SAP S/4HANA, SAP has provided customers with SAP Activate, its PMI-aligned methodology, to support companies throughout the implementation — effectively minimizing risk, streamlining processes, and reducing the total cost of implementation. Whether it’s cloud, on premise, or hybrid, by leveraging SAP Best Practices, customers can feel confident that their decisions are backed by optimally chosen methods from the experts at SAP and that they will be supported throughout the transition to SAP S/4HANA and beyond. 

Additional Resources

To get a deeper understanding of the building blocks of SAP Activate for SAP S/4HANA, such as SAP Best Practices, the methodology, trial options, implementation scenarios, and tools, visit the following resources:

1 Project teams can access the SAP Activate methodology work breakdown in the online Roadmap Viewer at [back]

2 To learn more, visit [back]

3 SAP provides easy access to the on-premise scope of SAP Best Practices within SAP Activate through a 30-day trial with test and evaluation licenses free of charge. You can get started today at Note that physical shipment of the software appliance is available for both customers and partners. [back]

4 Access SAP Best Practices Explorer at [back]

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Jan Musil
Jan Musil

Jan Musil ( is the Global Product Owner of the SAP Activate methodology and the Lead of the SAP Global Project Management Practice. Jan has over 20 years of global consulting, general management, and operations experience. He leads a team of experts responsible for the innovation of the SAP Activate methodology and solution deployment practices.

Holger Steffens
Holger Steffens

Holger Steffens ( is Vice President, SAP S/4HANA Product Management, Co-Innovation, and Packaging at SAP. Holger and his team drive the adoption of SAP S/4HANA through SAP Activate, aiming at faster, less service-intensive deployments and rapid adoption of innovations throughout the entire product life cycle, both in the cloud and on premise. He has been with SAP for over 18 years and he has held roles in services delivery, development, and product management.

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