Accenture historically ran its core financial processing on a single global instance of SAP® Business Suite on Microsoft SQL in an on-premise data center. As Accenture has become a more diverse business, it needed to operate with more insight, agility, efficiency and compliance across multiple business units and business processes. This means that both business and IT capabilities must contend with a faster pace of change, growth and diverse businesses—all driving Accenture to transform its technical architecture supporting finance, HR and analytics capabilities. In response, Accenture undertook a multi-phased program to implement SAP S/4HANA®—an SAP S/4HANA 1610 brownfield conversion at scale, while also leveraging SAP Business Warehouse on HANA for analytics capabilities.
A program team with Accenture’s internal IT and finance professionals teamed with Accenture’s SAP Business Group and SAP to drive the transformation program. They embarked on the journey along two parallel tracks: rotating Accenture’s finance capability to the New and enhancing digital financial reporting and analytics.
The first track of the program consists of a three-phased approach designed to minimize impact to the business while laying the foundation for future business needs. The first two phases, now complete, were prerequisites for enabling the program and entailed implementing SAP Business Suite Powered by SAP HANA® followed by implementing SAP S/4HANA. The third phase will continue to leverage the capabilities of SAP S/4HANA.
PHASE 1: TECHNICAL FOUNDATION
Move to SAP Business Suite on HANA
Laying the technical foundation began with the migration of Accenture’s finance and HR systems from SAP Business Suite on Microsoft SQL to SAP Business Suite on HANA. The implementation took six months, and set the foundation for the SAP S/4HANA upgrade to enable the transformation of Accenture’s technology architecture and IT capabilities.
PHASE 2: TRANSFORMATIONAL TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION
Upgrade to SAP S/4HANA
The second phase established the transformational technology foundation with the implementation of SAP S/4HANA 1610. As Accenture had already optimized its global financial processes and technical architecture, it chose a brownfield conversion (i.e., in-place upgrade and data migration), leveraging Accenture’s SAP methodology.
The upgrade entailed the following major steps:
In a fail fast-mode, to quickly find critical issues, the upgrade began with running a prototype of SAP S/4HANA 1610 to see if it was possible to run Accenture finance and HR processes on SAP S/4HANA and to identify the remediation scope.
The scope focused on high-value areas including enabling Accenture’s economic model on SAP S/4HANA and aligning Accenture’s design with SAP S/4HANA enhanced capabilities in treasury, fixed assets and cross-business process master data (customer, vendor and business partner).
Given the significant remediation scope and complexity, the program team used Accenture’s agile delivery methodology. Coming out of the prototype, the program team prioritized its scope into three sprints.
The cutover involved upgrading the software and converting Accenture’s global data to SAP S/4HANA structures using Accenture’s methodology and tools. Over a nine-month period, the program team went through multiple technical and four production-like mock conversions.
The program team conducted extensive automated testing validating against finance and HR processes requirements and performance service level agreements. A key test differentiator was to conduct a parallel financial close test, comparing Accenture’s financial results processed in SAP Business Suite on HANA and SAP S/4HANA to ensure the ongoing integrity of Accenture’s financial results.
The end-user impact was primarily in treasury, fixed assets and business partner master data. The training focused on the changes for the end users with side-by-side comparisons of the old versus new technology, system demonstrations, as well as applicable business examples.
As SAP S/4HANA is the hub of Accenture’s finance and HR master data, and integrates with 360 downstream systems, most Accenture processes and systems were impacted. To ensure business readiness, the program team developed an integrated change and communication plan across the impacted functions and systems.
Service introduction was developed for the cutover, stabilization and steady-state operations. The final decision to cut over involved acceptance by finance and HR leadership, the integrating application teams, 40 vendors and program leadership.
PHASE 3: CONTINUED FINANCE TECHNOLOGY TRANSFORMATION
Further technical capability transformation to meet new business needs
Going forward, Accenture will evaluate business needs and leverage SAP S/4HANA functionalities to drive further value to the business. This value includes a more flexible and agile platform to support diverse businesses, enhancing intelligent, real-time digital financial reporting, insights and analytics and the ability to leverage future SAP capabilities.
In parallel to Track 1, Accenture enhanced its digital financial reporting and analytics on two fronts: a migration of Accenture’s SAP Business Warehouse on Microsoft SQL to SAP HANA in Microsoft Azure and enablement of a new treasury and accounts receivables analytics data mart on HANA. The objective of the new analytics data mart was to benefit from new HANA live data access and advanced analytic capabilities in the finance domain.
The SAP S/4HANA cutover executed to a 99.95 percent precision rate, with good performance and without impacting Accenture’s business. Accenture’s implementation of SAP S/4HANA for the company’s central ERP system is a demonstration of truly leading in the New as Accenture is among the first companies of its size and scale to migrate to SAP S/4HANA.
Accenture is experiencing as well as anticipating numerous benefits to develop over time: