Call for change

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 grown organically and inorganically by acquisitions, it needs to operate with more insight, agility, efficiency, and compliance across multiple, diverse business units. This means that both the business processes and IT capabilities must contend with a faster pace of change and growth—all driving the need to evolve Accenture’s ERP to be ready for the future.

Accenture viewed a migration to SAP Business Suite on HANA as a key step on its digital road
map—an opportunity to deliver value to the business and to ultimately enable a strong foundation for long-term performance and new capabilities via SAP S/4HANA. For these reasons, Accenture undertook a multi-phased program to implement SAP S/4HANA—an SAP S/4HANA 1610 brownfield conversion at scale and implementation of SAP Business Warehouse on HANA for analytics capabilities. Accenture has since upgraded to version 1809.

When tech meets human ingenuity

In determining the implementation approach to SAP S/4HANA, there were two key options—“migrate” or “greenfield.” Accenture chose to migrate considering its highly optimized existing platform and standardized business processes.

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 and enhancing digital financial reporting and analytics.

Track 1: Rotating Accenture’s Finance capability

The first track of the program consisted of a three-phased approach designed to minimize impact to the business while laying the foundation for future business needs.

Phase 1. Technical foundation: Move to SAP Business Suite on HANA
Migrating from running SAP ECC 6.0 on Microsoft SQL Server to SAP Business Suite on HANA was a technical prerequisite for implementing SAP S/4HANA (Phase 2). Accenture’s 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. Functional and transformational 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 to version 1610 involved the following major steps: prototyping; 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); scoping agile delivery into three sprints; performing a cutover of multiple technical and four production-like mock conversions; conducting extensive automated testing; developing training; supporting business readiness with an integrated change and communication plan across the impacted functions and systems; and developing service introduction for the cutover, stabilization, and steady-state operations.

Upgrade to SAP S/4HANA version 1809
Accenture’s SAP strategy is to stay current with upgrades. This strategy has been pivotal to staying secure, maintaining compliance with the latest legal and regulatory changes, achieving timely resolution of production incidents, providing enhanced scalability and performance to address growth, and enabling the ability to leverage the newest digital capabilities on the platform. These business drivers made the case for Accenture to perform an upgrade from SAP S/4HANA version 1610 to version 1809.

Phase 3. Continued finance technology transformation: Further technical capability transformation to meet new business needs
Accenture is currently evaluating business needs and leveraging 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.

Track 2: Enhancing digital financial reporting and analytics

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.

Building on the success and stability of the previous SAP BW on SAP HANA move to Microsoft Azure, Accenture leadership had the confidence to move the company’s most business-critical platform, SAP S/4HANA, to the Microsoft Azure cloud. Accenture moved SAP S/4HANA along with two critical supporting functions, SAP Portal and archiving, to Microsoft Azure. With this move, Accenture became among the first enterprises to run its production SAP S/4HANA® system on Microsoft Azure's next-generation virtualized architecture at scale.

With SAP S/4HANA, Accenture global IT gains a new experience of working with a platform that stays current and is connected with an ecosystem of services that continually evolves. This approach enables our global IT teams to select and try out various services and adopt those that address Accenture’s business needs. The platform has changed how Accenture engages with technology in that it is more dynamic and offers ongoing opportunities to select new services to enhance how IT teams meet the needs of business teams. Business teams in turn receive new solutions that improve the way they work, often by gaining better insights for making business decisions.

A valuable difference

The SAP S/4HANA cutover to version 1610 executed to a 99.95 percent precision rate, with good performance and without impacting Accenture’s business. Since then, the SAP S/4HANA upgrade to version 1809 positions Accenture to continue to get the most from its IT investments.

Accenture is experiencing as well as anticipating numerous benefits to develop over time:

Enhanced ability to support evolving, diverse businesses

Intelligent, real-time finance reporting and analytics

Ability to leverage future leading-edge SAP capabilities

More flexible and agile platform

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