Apr 23, 2015

5 Things that Cripple HANA Projects before it Even Starts

If you’ve ever been involved in any SAP project we know there are many things that can go wrong. It all came to focus when I was recently talking to a CIO who stated ‘It’s not about HANA..?

In almost all my experience it was never about SAP ERP, or SAP BW, or SAP BWA or now about SAP HANA. It was all about the decisions that were taken with each of these business enablers.

In poll after poll our results from customers and users have constantly come back with response that illuminates this point. When we asked whether they thought that SAP BW could meet their business needs over 95% of users have consistently answered ‘Yes’. When asked their own current satisfaction score the ranking stood somewhere between 18% to 36%. This is what the CIO meant by saying ‘It’s now about HANA..(That I’m worried about). We recently delivered a BI project where the user scored us at 102% (now that seems ridiculous as it’s a mathematical impossibility) but that is how we were scored. Also it was 21 weeks after go live. This is based on another report we published that reported that ‘98%

As we go into SAP HANA’s platform replacement or net new Greenfield implementations, we all know there once again are many places where things can go wrong again. How many of us have been involved with SAP BI projects where things went wrong.

We all also know that there is nothing worse than seeing a good project go bad. There is nothing worse than seeing protocol decisions that doom projects to failure before the project even begins. My book BI Valuenomics – the story of meeting business expectations is full of such business cases and examples and was written from the ground up for business stakeholders to take ownership and accountability in a scientific manner.

But there's nothing worse than seeing a project doomed to fail before the implementation even begins because of non-optimal decisions taken that have little to do with the new HANA platform, but more about how we have been doing things so far.

Customers worldwide are still grappling with the SAP HANA decisions.  Regardless of the region, industry or sector, we’ve see common mistakes that cause SAP HANA projects to not provide the anticipated Business Expectations, something we term as BVA or Business Value Attainment.   Here's a list of the top five mistakes that we've seen selection teams make during the procurement phase:

1. Not focusing on Business Benefits

Gartner stated it very aptly in 2010 ‘Without business in business intelligence, BI is dead’. Companies need to hold executive workshops of two to four hours for their key stakeholders, GPS workshops for their Business owners and IT owners to empower business to become part of the design, architecture and implementation process. We recently built two RBS® solutions, which are 100% custom business solutions and each of them scored in the upper 90% customer satisfaction score in a world dominated in the lower 30% (for customer satisfaction. Focus on Business Value and not only the data’

2. Treating SAP HANA as just another Technical upgrade

Our motto: ‘HANA is a strategic business solution not just a technical install’ has resulted in many large HANA customers deriving very high business value from their initiatives. If we don’t plan to extract business benefits from HANA then the platform will deliver exactly what you plan. The biggest mistake customers can make is to move all their current SAP applications to HANA ‘As-Is’. This is highly desirable for the triad partners- but not necessarily in the strategic interest of the customer and their business users. Start by asking what your strategic goals are, ie. What business will you be in five years from today? Follow through with how to get the Highest Quality at the lowest cost? Finally what did not work for other customers? There are far more lessons in failures than promises of success.

3. Canned existing Partners

We all come with deep alliances with their HW and SI partners. SAP is a zero option in this question as the SW partner- unless they are also your HW(Cloud) and/or Implementation partner. Gartner stated this eloquently “This is a time of accelerating change, where your current IT architecture will be rendered obsolete. You must lead through this change, selectively destroy low impact systems, and aggressively change your IT cost structure. This is the New World of Nexus (big-data) the next age of computing.” Mr. Sondergaard, Gartner Sr. Analyst, said in 2013. In this time of change reconsider your partners in the strategic domain of Big-Data, Digital monetization, IoT and then HANA. Your HW and SI partners must take ownership, not of migrating you to HANA but delivering business benefits and benchmarked business satisfaction scores for the project to be considered as delivered. We call it the technology Acid Test.  

Another thing to remember is a famous statement ‘What got you here, will not get you there’ – this reasoning is buried within the statement by Gartner above. So using existing architecture, methodologies, architectures systems and costs structures will be a form of self-cannibalism bot by the enterprise and the key stakeholders.

4. Canned decisions

Many Companies first decide their partners and then get into negotiating. Time and time again we see companies sacrifice their negotiating rights until after the vendor is selected. Most companies simply go through the process of three vendors knowing fully well that the selection will be their incumbent vendor. The vendors know that too. We have seen executive decisions that ban business stakeholders from entering project rooms to instructions being given not to talk to any other vendors unless they are whetted by the incumbent vendor. All this simply delivers is what you currently have on a new platform. Our question is very simple ‘You tell us the benefit of accelerating a query that takes 1,500 seconds (actual case) to under 1 second. It business is never going to use it”. Here is a brief guideline for the modern CIO planning to move to HANA.

5. Not optimizing SAP prior to moving to HANA

Time and time again we see triad partners speed customers to move to HANA with more attractive pricing, deals and add-ons so they can close the deal in this month or quarter. Time and again we see customers get influenced by these recommendations. By moving to HANA in an ‘As-Is’ state customers are throwing away anywhere from 40% to 68%, represents actual results, of their assets that they could otherwise save and use elsewhere.

In case you are interested it is possible to reduce your BoH migration TCO by 40% with a probability of achieving this at 90%. In fact the last three BoH optimizations we have undertaken all were 100% over 40% reductions. This directly translates into a 40% reduction in your initial HW costs, 40% reduction in your initial migration costs and a 40% reduction in your annual support SLA’s. This represents is the cream of our services and our focus on TCO reduction – is is directly related to financial business benefits. In a $10 million HANA project this could represents an initial saving of $4 million and an approximate saving of $1 million in the next 5 years.

When it comes to your final decision demand IQDCT (Increase in data quality, decrease in Cost and Decrease in time for migration) as a deliverable and business benchmark.

We are so confident of our process that we often tell customer ‘ Don’t pay us a thing. You get your quote and then let us optimize- then you pay us 20% of what we save you”, we add “You’ll pay us many times over that what we will charge you for the service”. No one’s yet signed on our Free for 20% contract yet, and we’ve delivered 100% of the time.


‘Plan your work, and only then work your plan. You only get what you plan for so make sure business benefit is in your deliverable mix for your HANA project.

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