What is our primary use case?
The main interest of my customers is in service formulations and telephone centers right now. I think most of the things are very common. The application of customer assistance is a major thing as is registration automation. Apart from that, there are a lot of restrictions based on destinations. A lot of customers have to be removed from the cloud because of the basic restrictions and standards. This is because if you are going on to SAP S/4HANA on the cloud, you are not allowed to serve all the destinations because of restrictions.
Being customers who have been using the product for some time, my clients have a lot of customizations. Now they have to follow some regulations and they need to either remove customizations or bring them current with the new product and the cloud environment.
What is most valuable?
If you look at this product in comparison with other products in this category, it has more features than really almost any of my customers' needs. But it is specifically much better in financial ability in the way it controls costs and transactions. It is much better than most of the other products and they can not match it in these features or performance.
What needs improvement?
One thing which is really killing a lot of people using this product is because they have been using it for twenty or twenty-five years and a lot of the customers' customizations are not working anymore.
A second thing that is a problem for the product is the cost — particularly on the hardware side it is too high. If you have to procure your server for S/4HANA the cost is a problem. I mean hardware cost is killing a lot of people and the costs are complicating matters for those who want to stay with the product.
For HANA the biggest issue which will need to change is the GUI interface. It is still the age-old GUI and this needs to be changed. All the other competitors are moving to a new phase in development of user experience and they are moving to new interfaces like AngularJS and other technologies that are new. Which things or trends become most popular still remains to be known. But the front-end needs a lot of thought.
For how long have I used the solution?
I currently have two clients for whom I am doing work with this product off-and-on over a period of time.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
In my experience, the product does not have any glitches or stability issues. But I do not think I am able to comment on that because I still hear feedback from people who are talking about providing solutions for issues they are having with the product. From what I hear from some people is that the product implementation still needs at least a couple of years to get real stability in the database. It is the response I am getting from the customers who have implemented it, but I have actually not actually seen it myself. It is not possible for me to say whether it is the product that has issues or if it is what the clients are doing with the product that creates the issues.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I don't think it would be right for me to comment on that package regarding the scalability. I don't think it should be a problem, but as far as having the experience with the product to be sure, I am not at that point. It is too new and I am just helping clients who are implementing it right now.
The maintenance of this product requires a different number of staff members depending on the deployment model. I think a customer will need to make their own decisions about this. Accountability on an outside service will be very different than in house. In house, you will be dealing with a team of three to five people. These will be some kind of functional experts who will be performing in different capacities. The size of the team will depend on what the company is planning on using and what they need to deploy and maintain. So for some clients, they may need a bare minimum of 4 to 5 people and then, in addition, they may need other support services.
How are customer service and technical support?
If there is really ever an issue we probably need to contact support. If something is going wrong and we contact them, the response generally good. I do not have any problems with technical support.
But the other thing I do know regarding the technical support is that they need more time to build their database for this version of the product. Right now the product is somewhat new and very few people are available who have a lot of experience with the product completely. The community is still pretty small.
So it will take another one or two years to really compile expertise and a strong background in working with S/4HANA and finding those people who have that expertise is going to be difficult. The real problems that the user base will face might only be reported once every 5 days over a period of six months. It will take some time to build out the knowledge and for the user base to grow.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I did not really change to S/4HANA, I was working with it for some time in other versions of the product. Some clients felt like they had invested a lot in the product, so they moved up to the new product. In a sense, I had no choice but to switch to it.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is really fairly simple. If you have a basic understanding of databases and SAP the setup is not something that is complicated. It is pretty simple. The deployment process takes about 20 days or a little more than two weeks because you need to reconfigure everything. There are other things that will take more time.
The deployment of S/4HANA takes maybe two or three people. You will need one who is a DBA setting up the back-end database configuration and the one who is an application specialist. They will be doing all the configurations.
What about the implementation team?
We are doing the implementation ourselves, absolutely.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The licensing cost for the product is not so high, but the cost for the hardware you need for it on-premises is very high. I can not verify the degrees in comparison to other products, but I know that the hardware cost is too high because. There would not be much of a change to reduce it down so that the cost could more in line with competitors.
What other advice do I have?
The advice I would give to someone who is looking into implementing this product is to wait for a year basically so the product will mature and stabilize. The company and the users will learn what the issues are that have been discovered by other people and then maybe it is OK to take on S/4HANA as a project. The project itself is going to take eight to nine months to get completely on HANA. If this part of your business is the backbone of your industry, you can not afford to make this kind of risk.
On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate the product overall as between a five and a six. Closer to a five at this point. The problems are that the GUI should be updated and the time needed for real user issues that will come up, be identified, and be rectified. Probably after that, you will start seeing the results with the product moving in the market and raising awareness and popularity. It is more of a wait-and-watch as of now in my estimation.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?
Amazon Web Services (AWS)