What is our primary use case?
The business suite that I have got the most experience with is SAP, but they are making that transition into S/4HANA. With S/4HANA, they got both an on-premise and a cloud-based solution, so you can buy it in the cloud on a subscription service or you can have it on-premise. On-premises allows you to manage your own site solution, which a lot of big companies might prefer to do. But then Microsoft Dynamics 365 is also a cloud-based solution that you pay a monthly subscription per person fee — or whatever arrangements you can work out. I think NetSuite is the same way.
Unfortunately, I have not been directly involved in developing any larger use cases for S/4HANA or 365 or NetSuite. That has been a frustration for me over the last seven or eight years. My move to do an independent consultant was actually to get back into the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) environment and the opportunities just have not been there to further explore the possibilities. It has been kind of frustrating because I have had to focus mostly on continuous improvement and other areas. But even though I spent 10 years in the SAP space, it seems like now I am too far away from where I should have been in working with the product. When I look at these cloud-based solutions in comparison, I have been following SAP and S/4HANA since it started. At least from my point-of-view, SAP is leaps and bounds ahead of anybody else in that space by far.
They are not going to be a perfect ERP solution for everyone, but they look like they are going to try to stay as close to that as anyone can. What they are doing as a total ERP package can support the whole enterprise.
What is most valuable?
The SAP online help is excellent. Their guidance and what they offer in terms of a roadmap for your implementation is a huge benefit from my perspective. I have gone through the Microsoft side as well on their Dynamics approach trying to work with 365, but what S/4HANA offers is a much more clear pathway towards implementation to me.
When you start looking at IoT (Internet of Things), these cloud-based environments and analytics that those cloud-based solutions offer are unmatched and on the leading edge. It is going to be transforming for a lot of companies.
What needs improvement?
It is my understanding — and not my experience — that they were having problems around the supply chain management. Some of the clients who bought it may have had some problems getting things to work properly, but whether it was the product or the users, I am kind of fuzzy on that. The claim was there was an issue with the supply chain management on the manufacturing side. There were a few hiccups that some customers may have experienced with the newer S/4HANA solution. I think all of that has been resolved over the past year. I have not looked back at that issue much recently, but that is because I have pretty much written off that I am ever going to fall back into that particular space in my business as I go forward.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been working with products like this over the past 10 years. My work with SAP has just been spreading out over the last eight years. I work with it in the training environment and using the training version has different components of the system. I have gone through training courses on the parts that I use. Really, a problem management piece of it has gotten in the way of actually implementing the system in projects.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
From my experience and understanding, it has been pretty reliable for me and I haven't heard much at all about stability problems from people I talked to directly. The only supposed problem I had seen or read for anyone having to do with reliability was the supply chain issue some people claimed to have.
In all, it seems to be a reliable solution.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability of SAP and any of the other products competing against them head-on should not really have any scalability issues unless it comes to budget.
How are customer service and technical support?
I have had no direct hands-on contact with the technical support other than what they provide online. I find what they provide online for technical support is pretty straightforward, to the point, and it solves any issues I might have. The guidance they built into implementing the systems is pretty clear.
How was the initial setup?
In the instances that I have dealt with personally, there is never an issue, but I have not been deploying on a larger scale.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
This category of products are all pretty much in the same price range. It would be hard to say that lowering the price would be an improvement for any one of these companies because they are all kind of comfortably competing in that range.
The price of SAP S/4HANA varies based upon what you are implementing and what you are planning to turn on. I do not know the exact pricing right now as I have been looking at it over the last couple of years, but I have seen some pricing in the $129 to $159 range per user per month with the cloud-based solution.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I have worked with all three of what I consider the major competitors. With S/4HANA, SAP is playing against Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Oracle's NetSuite.
What other advice do I have?
The advice that I would give to others looking into implementing the S/4HANA cloud is to prepare your organization on the front-end before you even go down the path of any ERP implementation. Get your organization right-minded in the beginning, then go down the path. You need buy-in and training. Companies talk about doing that, but they do not do that. That lack of follow-through is why they end up failing with their implementation.
On a scale from one to ten, where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate the S/4HANA Cloud as a good, solid eight or nine. Choosing between the two, I go with eight. That gives them something more to shoot for.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?