ProPotsdam is upgrading – the path from SAP® RE Classic to SAP S/4HANA®
The constant will to improve and continue developing is reflected at ProPotsdam in its high innovative strength. More than once, the company has been involved in realising new, trailblazing solutions. For instance, as early as 2006 it received an award for the development of an integrated Facility Management solution based on SAP®, the main component of which was the craftsman portal that ProPotsdam and PROMOS developed together back then. Over the years, ProPotsdam has consistently pursued and implemented a whole host of ambitious projects, resulting in numerous useful individual solutions for its SAP® system. This included addressing various topics at an early stage, for instance the paper-free office (with the electronic rental contract file), consumption analyses in the utility statement, and the CO2 footprint. From a technological perspective, SAP® RE Classic was entirely sufficient for the company’s needs for a long time, which is the main reason that ProPotsdam stuck with this solution even though RE-FX was available.
Why now and why S/4HANA®?
Despite the Potsdam-based company’s excellent, specialised systems, the signs that it was time for a technological upgrade have been increasing over the years. To allow it to continue participating in the advancement of digital solutions over the long term and to optimally map the growing business construct and the corresponding increase in tasks in its ERP system in the future as well, the company had to address major changes. Since development of SAP® RE Classic ceased long ago and SAP also announced that support for SAP® ERP 6.0 will end in 2025, it was clear that an entirely new approach was needed. The prospect of improving the system performance with the switch to SAP S4/HANA® while at the same time being able to map additional processes in the system made the conversion particularly attractive. “The timing was perfect for us, as switching to the latest SAP® ERP product meant we gained a high level of investment security and will be able to avoid further conversion projects in the near future,” says Monika Gräf, project manager for the SAP® migration, explaining the preliminary considerations at ProPotsdam. Over the years, the employees had developed expectations that they had always wanted their system to meet. So the aim wasn’t simply to retain old solutions, but to rethink certain processes and map them on the technical side.
Monika Gräf, project manager for the SAP® migration, ProPotsdam GmbH
With the right partner beside them – ready, set, go!
The options for the switchover were either to gradually migrate the processes and data from Classic to S4/HANA® via RE-FX or a greenfield migration directly to S4/HANA®. Figuratively speaking, this means that instead of renovating an existing house with all its particular features one step at a time in a time-consuming process to give it a new look and new furnishings, you can build a new house exactly in line with your expectations it in a short – but extremely labour-intensive – period and then simply move the residents and furniture. Once the decision had been made against the lengthy and compartmentalised brownfield approach, the extensive requirements for the new system needed to be communicated in an international tender process. “With PROMOS, the procedure led us to a bidder whose many years of experience and in-depth knowledge of the industry meant it was up to the task of meeting our extensive requirements and who we have also already relied on for many years when it comes to digital real-estate management,” says Ms Gräf, commenting on the result of the tender. The contracts were all wrapped up by the end of 2017, so that the project could start on time in 2018.
Ambitiously mastered – a challenging project
PROMOS brought considerable experience with conversion to S/4HANA® to the project. The particular challenge in ProPotsdam’s case was the extremely large and finely structured data volume that needed to be transferred. “Within the project, we focused particularly on not just moving our data from A to B, but taking a critical look at it. In this process, we discarded a lot of data and company codes that were no longer needed,’ says Ms Gräf explaining the clean-up of the data structure that was performed. With regard to the detailed requirements catalogue, it was also necessary to analyse precisely how the individual wishes could be implemented. Erik Walter, deputy project manager on PROMOS’ side, reports: “Rethinking many things and doing so in a relatively new system – these aspects made our project complex, but incredibly exciting at the same time. However, ProPotsdam also played a major part in this success thanks to its willingness to make its own time and human resources available to a sufficient extent. Its excellent project planning and the formation of a specific project hierarchy resulted in an outstanding collaboration.” The new SAP S/4HANA® system was set up within a year, meaning it was able to go live on 1 January 2019. As part of the digitisation strategy, easysquare workflow and the PROMOS CRM ticket system were also implemented, which will allow the employees to work in a much process-oriented way. ProPotsdam also decided to implement the easysquare tenant app and the rental solution. With 2,006 registered users at present, the response among tenants is extremely positive.
Figure 1: With the launch of the tenant app, ProPotsdam is entering a new, digital era.
Ready for the future – Fiori® as the basis for new worlds of work
Thanks to the switch to the new system landscape, the users benefit directly from significantly improved performance. Many of the SAP® analyses, such as the debit positions, now run much faster. The mapping of new processes with easysquare workflow also has a positive influence on the company’s efficiency and data quality. Looking to the future, it is also clear that the switch to S/4HANA® will form the basis for using modern Fiori® interfaces. These allow users to work outside the transaction-based structures of previous SAP® systems. “Young employees in particular are used to different input systems. They want clear and tidy web interfaces with fast, roles-based overviews. We now have the necessary tools for the future on hand and over the medium term will be looking into developing them,” says Ms Gräf, explaining the potential of the new system.
With SAP Fiori®, it will be possible to perform analyses directly in SAP® in the future, eliminating the need for third-party systems. Moreover, in the future it will no longer be necessary to supply an SAP® client, as the system can be operated using a browser or mobile device.
“On the market, we are often asked why it would be worth switching to S/4HANA® now when there is still time before the end-of-maintenance date. The example of ProPotsdam shows that, in certain cases, a greenfield strategy can make sense, and this requires a much longer period of preliminary work. We therefore advise our customers to contact us in good time, since the providers on the market have limited resources. We offer workshops for the conversion to S/4HANA® and work together with our customers to find a sensible implementation scenario,” concludes Thoralf Beyer, Chief Sales Officer at PROMOS.
- As of 5 Sept. 2019