SAP ERP implementations of today need enterprise architecture, more than ever

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Modern ERP landscapes in organizations are getting “federated” (multiple suites and solutions, delivered by multiple vendors, deployed in a hybride cloud environment). As opposed to the monolithic megasuites of the 80/90/00. Federation implies: making lots of choices in the application landscape and defining a roadmap to come from the old world to the new world. That is where Enterprise Architecture comes into play and Capgemini’s Multi-Pillar S/4 Architecture (MPSA) for SAP ERP in particular.

In a sense, live was easy in the era of the megasuite: one solution from one vendor running in the organization’s own datacenter did the job. And if it did not, we customized it until it did. No difficult architecture choices to be made. Enterprise architects treated ERP as an ugly, black box; a world on its own. And ERP-consultants did not need enterprise architects to do their job. The two groups of professionals did not really like each other.

But times have changed. The megasuite has gone and has been replaced by “federated ERP”:

  • Organizations fill in their ERP-need with multiple suites enriched with multiple point solutions from different vendors. Each doing what it is good at (“best of suite”) both in the system-of-record and system-of-differentiation pace layers of the application landscape.
  • Organizations push their ERP into the cloud. Public cloud, private cloud, community cloud, hybrid cloud, name it. Solutions end up everywhere and need to be glued together to form one complete picture.
  • Organizations want their ERP delivered “as a service” (SaaS) and improved continuously by the vendor. In order to do so, they keep their ERP-core clean and push customizations and extensions to dedicated platforms of choice (PaaS). Entering the world of DevOps, microservices, Open Source, people with headsets on and drinking Starbucks coffee all day long. A completely new world for ERP-consultants.
  • Organizations want intelligent ERP: ERP enriched with intelligent technologies like AI/ML, predictive analytics and Nextgen UX. Gartner’s fourth era of ERP. Developed on dedicated platforms of choice (PaaS).

So: in the ERP-world of today, federation rules and lots of architecture choices need to be made every day to create and maintain the optimal application landscape. Based on all sorts of criteria: business requirements, corporate (architecture) principles and the capabilities of the market. And to make a start, we need to have a roadmap to come from the old world to the new world.  And guess what: making underpinned architecture choices and defining roadmaps are exactly the capabilities enterprise architects are good at! Here is where enterprise architects and ERP-consultants meet.

Capgemini has linked its highly valued Enterprise Architecture capabilities with its SAP ERP implementation power, resulting in the Multi-Pillar S/4 Architecture (MPSA). MPSA supports organizations with making the right architecture choices and defining a roadmap in the transition to a modern SAP ERP landscape.

Example: MPSA offers an approach and toolbox to carve out SAP ECC custom code in a transition to SAP S/4HANA® to create a clean ERP-core. What custom code has an organization implemented over the years? Is there still a need for or can it be replaced by standard SAP S/4HANA best-practices (fit-to-standard)? If custom code is still needed, do we deploy it in SAP S/4HANA as a classical extension, an in-app extensions or a side-by-side extension? And if we go for a side-by-side extension, which extension platform do we choose? And why? How do we integrate the result with the rest of the application landscape? What training do the people need to get there? All sorts of questions to be answered and choices to be made in a transition to SAP S/4HANA. MPSA helps in this process with pre-defined questionnaires, decision matrices, design principles, integration patters, etc.

Great times for me as an enterprise architect with a big ERP/SAP heart! If you are also interested in this, send me an e-mail (rik.laurens@capgemini.com).

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