Recently, there has been a lot of talk around the Keytree office about New York Fashion Week, and the bizarre sight of people strutting catwalk style around the office – it turns out they were testing Machine Learning capabilities for a ‘Runway’ app. This, combined with the countdown to the drop of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1902 release got me thinking about what the stylishly dressed SAP cloud system will be wearing this spring – so to speak. Therefore, in my quarterly review of the new release, I wanted to look at and review what’s new and interesting in the upcoming 1902 release.

In the 1811 release last November, the underlying theme from SAP seemed to be very much around both the Intelligent Enterprise, with the expansion of predictive analytics and Machine Learning capabilities. But there was also some significant functional scope expansion with the introduction of both Warehouse Management and Transportation Management scope areas for the first time.

For the 1902 release, from what I have been able to glean so far, the message seems to be about a continuation of the functional growth trend (highlighted by the availability of Service Management), plus a large number of improvements at the detail level – filling smaller functional gaps within Line of Business areas. That said, there are still some exciting developments to look forward to when the upgrade hits the Quality system environments on 11 February. So without further ado, here’s my personal view on what I feel looks most interesting in the new release.

Clare Campbell-Smith

Solution Architect

There are some minor updates too that are of real interest and will be of huge practical value to those working both on implementations of and support for live S/4HANA Cloud systems.

Expanding functional scope

Service Management – until now, this has been a major gap area. The functionality coming with 1902 is still very limited, allowing for integration with an external field Service Management system. This will initially only be available in the US and German versions. However, it does represent the first step on a roadmap towards the functionality becoming more widely available.

Warehouse Management – the 1902 release builds on the basic functionality first introduced in the 1811 release, but looking at the roadmap, it may still be a few more releases before sufficient functionality is made available to meet the requirements of some customers (serial number management being a case in point).

Finance – there are significant improvements here around the financial closing cockpit, and also around consolidation, which will be of particular interest to clients needing to manage the close and reporting process across multiple legal entities.

Sales & Distribution – there are a few interesting additions, including workflow for approvals around sales quotations, the ability to integrate with Paypal and integration.

HR integration with SuccessFactors – this area shows some significant improvements and is of particular interest in supporting Keytree’s Finance/HR packaged solution. The integration will become real-time and will include better integration of service cost levels from SuccessFactors, which should be a real bonus for customers in Professional Services industries.

Useful tips & helpful tricks

There are some minor updates too that are of real interest and will be of huge practical value to those working both on implementations of and support for live S/4HANA Cloud systems. Some of these updates are real proof that SAP is listening to the requests of their customers and implementation partners. These improvements certainly go a long way to remedying some of the system’s restrictions that have been bugbears of mine for a considerable period.

Situation Handling – this is an area that I think is particularly interesting, but as yet underutilised. The function is further expanded in 1902, particularly around the Sourcing & Procurement area but also around payment advice matching (which could bring real benefits to the collections function – particularly when combined with the SAP Leonardo based utility for loading these from PDF). Perhaps, quite excitingly, for project budget monitoring, providing an alert directly to the project manager in case of getting close to an overspend.

Configuration – 1902 will bring an option to delete unwanted configuration.  You will still not be able to delete the values delivered by SAP themselves, but being able to delete your own ‘test’ settings rather than being stuck with them in your production system is a great improvement.

It will also be possible to display configuration during the lockdown in an upgrade period – again, a significant improvement – particularly for supporting a live system. The requirement to close change projects during upgrade is to be removed (though SAP still recommends this is done). Finally, a big improvement during implementation: if the system is not live, you can continue configuration in Q after regression testing is complete. There are also improvements around the ability to download configuration settings, and associated comments, which will help improve the audit trail around system implementation.

Testing – a change tracker for test scripts is to be introduced, which will be a real help for managing the use of the automated test tool around the quarterly release.

Training – “Enable Now” integration will allow the customisation of the standard content provided in the Web Assistant, which will allow customer specific support and training materials to be added, taking advantage of the context-sensitive nature of this feature. This should be a real help in ongoing user adoption – though is subject to additional licence costs but all in all, a lot of interesting new features to explore!