Change management People at the center of SAP S/4HANA implementations

Table of contents

In the rapidly evolving world of business operations, digitalization, such as an SAP S/4HANA implementation, is an ambitious goal. The benefits are clear – process optimization, data centralization and improved decision making, but the process of change can also be challenging. The challenge can be found in one of the most important - whether or not the most important - link of an organization: the people.

Change management is crucial to ensure that the S/4HANA implementation runs smoothly and promotes the digital transformation of your organization. In this blog we delve deeper into the essence of change management in SAP S/4HANA implementations and share some practical strategies for successful change.

The core of change management in SAP S/4HANA implementations

Change management in SAP S/4HANA implementations revolves around understanding and managing the human aspects of change. It is not only about the technical aspect of software implementation, but also about guiding people during the process of adapting to new systems, processes and working methods. This is crucial in a (public) cloud system where a "Fit-to-standard" way of thinking applies. In this blog we mainly focus on 'how' to change. How we prepare, guide and support people with changes within the organization.

How do you communicate about the change to SAP S/4HANA?

Open and frequent communication lays the foundation for positive change within the SAP S/4HANA implementation. It is important to inform employees about the reasons behind the change, the benefits it brings and how it will affect their daily work. Why change? What value does the change have for you as an individual? These are some examples of questions that need to be answered. In addition to providing clarity, this can reduce uncertainty and resistance to change.

How do you let leaders be part of the implementation?

Leadership should not only emphasize the importance and intent of the change, but should act as a role model. When leaders are excited about SAP S/4HANA, employees are more likely to follow suit. A change management workshop calibrated to (senior) leadership offers the perfect opportunity for this and is an example of how we make leadership part of this change within the organization.

How do you increase involvement around SAP S/4HANA?

Involve employees in the project from the start. They have valuable insights and can contribute to the design of the new SAP S/4HANA system. This increases the sense of ownership and reduces resistance.

How do you ensure the right level of knowledge among employees?

Functional training is enough, right? No. Extensive training to ensure that employees become familiar with SAP S/4HANA is essential, but in addition to functionality, the employees involved must understand the (new) associated process. Defining what people need to 'know' (in terms of related integrations or information) and what people need to 'be able to do' (functionally in the system) helps enormously. This is how we make an impact with the employees involved and identify the benefits.

How do you ensure change together within the implementation project?

Change ambassadors are effective (project) team members who are responsible for various aspects of the change, such as communication, training and problem solving. This divides responsibility and increases efficiency. In addition, for mainly large projects, these people keep an eye on the change manager with regard to the various aspects of the change in the project.

Strategies for a successful SAP S/4HANA implementation

Clear objectives: Clearly define what you want to achieve with the SAP S/4HANA implementation and the underlying intention and communicate these matters to the entire organization. This helps create a common understanding of the change and transparency. Don't forget to emphasize the human aspect, such as the added value for the employees. After all, it is a holistic business project and not an IT project.

Phased implementation: Step by step SAP S/4HANA implementation to avoid overwhelm. SAP has aligned its Activate method with the change management approach. This highlights the goal and activities for change for each of the six project phases.

Project phases S4HANA implementationFigure 1. The SAP Activate Methodology with a change management focus per phase

Change ambassadors: Not only managers, but also enthusiastic employees, can inspire others. Identify and train these employees on the changes that SAP S/4HANA brings, so that they can inspire others. These ambassadors can act as bridges between the project team and the rest of the employees. So, mobilize ambassadors and make the change together!

Feedback and adjustment: Be open to feedback from employees and include this (where possible) in the choices made regarding SAP S/4HANA. This shows that their input is valued and can increase change acceptance.

Measurable results: Determine measurable KPIs to evaluate the success of the change. This provides insight into which areas are performing well and where adjustments are needed. Examples are statistics about system use and monitoring the number of incidents or resistance from the organization.

Post-Implementation Support: Provide ongoing support for the use of SAP S/4HANA. For example, also answer questions and resolve problems after the implementation has taken place. This helps to increase confidence in the new system.

Change is a journey and deserves attention and dedication in a digital transformation. We are happy to provide the tools for this and think along with you to future-proof the digital journey of your organization and your employees with the right change approach.

Get in touch

Ready to make a business change? At Emixa, we'd be glad to share our comprehensive insights. Contact us to discover how our approach can help your organization thrive in the cloud era. Let's embark a journey towards enhanced efficiency and effectiveness together!  


Kevin Uitman

Kevin is a Digital and Business Transformation Consultant at Emixa. He has demonstrable knowledge and experience in SAP S/4HANA and specializes in S/4HANA implementations.