AKKA Technologies began its migration to SAP S/4HANA Cloud in early September after identifying the need to find an effective solution that would allow the company to solve its strong growth challenges.
AKKA is a globally operating engineering and technology consulting group, working in sectors as varied as aerospace and defence, life sciences and manufacturing. Driven by double-digit growth, the group employs 21,000 people. To respond to strong growth and meet its ambitions, AKKA had to strengthen its back-office application platform and offer its consultants the digital tools of tomorrow.
AKKA wanted to standardise and automate the business processes in all of its subsidiaries by creating a core model, as well as upgrading the back-office functions by prioritising analysis tasks over those of operational input. At the same time, the group wanted to deploy a solution allowing better integration of end-to-end project management, from time recording to invoicing.
To meet these objectives, the group launched the Aktion program for AKKA Towards Innovation. It includes the deployment of SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP Concur for expenses management.
The project, which involves a dedicated team at group level, includes a strong integration component since SAP S/4HANA Cloud must integrate with other components of the IT system dedicated to business intelligence, treasury or consolidation. For the optimal configuration of the solution, AKKA is supported by SAP partner, delaware.
The deployment will take place in several waves. The first, launched in January 2019, included the UK and Spain. Italy and Romania followed in March and June 2019. The next set of countries will be deployed from January 2020. The remaining countries will be the subject of successive waves until 2022. “As this is a vector project of the group's strategy, it had to be carried out as quickly as possible”, observes Emmanuel Garelli, project director.
To industrialise the deployment, the project team built a core model incorporating the group's standards and best practices deployed in four countries selected as pilot entities. “We didn't want to do one project per country,” continues Emmanuel Garelli. The use of a standard solution made it possible to avoid the inclinations of customisation”. However, AKKA wanted this core model to be scalable in order to boost agility. Respecting the regulatory compliance requirements of each country was also an important consideration.
AKKA has adopted the SAP methodology which divides a project into six stages: Discover (discovery of the solution), Prepare (simulation of processes), Explore (definition of the configuration), completed more conventionally by the Realise, Deploy and Run phases. The group has also chosen SAP's support offers (Enterprise Support), personalised assistance for cloud services (Preferred Success) and guarantee of success for migration projects (Value Assurance).
After ten months of use, Emmanuel Garelli reflected on the first positive assessment: “The schedule was respected and we have not encountered any blocking bug to date. The move to the SAP public cloud has not, moreover, resulted in any delay on the user side. Among other benefits, the deployed AKKA entities have already gained nearly two days for the monthly closings of their accounts.
The project director also shared his thoughts on the challenges experienced during implementation. First of all, he recalls that SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a new solution, quite different from the other versions. It requires a learning phase, a good integration of the methodology, a seasoned project management and the use of a specialised integrator.
Interaction with SAP is also more important than with an on-premise solution. The sustained pace of release deployment, every three months, also means performing non-regression tests and configuration points each time.
Emmanuel Garelli recommends following the SAP S/4HANA Cloud methodology and acquiring the support services offered by SAP such as Project Focused and Engagement Focused to guarantee the success of the implementation. Key stakeholders must also be instrumental in considering all the options taken in the configuration of the solution. Finally, it is necessary to anticipate an important phase of change management in order to ensure the project runs as smoothly and effectively as possible.