Kathy Gibson is at SAP TechEd in Barcelona – Multinational company Hilti consolidated all of its systems on to SAP S/4 HANA as part of a global business consolidation.

With thorough planning and preparation, the company was able to accomplish the switchover on schedule, with a minimum of downtime.

Hilti is a leader in fastening and demolition technology, and also operates in engineering, measuring and lighting, cutting and grinding, fastening and installation, firestop and insulation, and services.

It manufactures product all over the world, with a particular focus in Europe, Asia and North America.

Back on 2001, the company decided that a consolidated back-end system would create the foundation for its service-oriented approach and the move to a digital future.

Between 2001 and 2006, the company began its globalisation journey with data, processes and systems based on SAP Business Suite. During this time, 25 sales organisations, all eight plants and headquarters were consolidated with global processes and one global IT team.

Between 2006 and 2010, another 25 sales organisations were implemented, and shared service centres for finance and global logistics were set up.

2011 to 2015 were spent in balancing reliability and agility. Hilti implemented a solid core with a flexible boundary architecture model, started the move to cloud computing, and rolled out SAP Business by Design. It also implemented mobility with smartphones and mobile applications.

The comprehensive digital strategy is rolling out between 2016 to 2020. This is expected to change how the company works, what it offer and how it interacts in the digital age.

The digital journey aimed to make Hilti a data-driven business, with digital planning, a digital workplace and digital customer interaction.

The Drive programme with SAP was defined based on Hilti’s C2020 digital strategy and the SAP landscape vision.

Drive provides the future differentiation potential to full alignment with the Hilti business strategy.

Key to this was implementing SAP S/4 HANA as the solid core, and then enabling customer engagement, Internet of Things, flexible boundary and future reporting.

Olga Lagoa, drive delivery manager at Hilti Befestigungstechnik, says the SAP S/4 HANA workstream kicked off at the beginning of 2016 and delivered valuable insights.

The first part was the readiness assessent was SAP S/4 HANA, followed by a design thinking workshop and a system conversion proof of concept.

A migration planning workshop was then held, following which Hilti’s internal roadmap was produced.

By creating the SAP S/4 HANA roadmap, it was important that the Drive team also understood the business roadmap and took those priorities into account.

The lessons learned in 2016 demonstrated that the path to SAP S/4 HANA would support the global single instance system that Hilti wanted.

This involved SAP S/4 HANA as the digital core technology, and the team needed to ensure this was ready for the global landscape.

At this time, it also did a business roadmap and a technical readiness assessment.

In 2017, after a lot of testing, Hilti had a plan for switching to SAP S/4 HANA in 2018, with final switchover on 26 November 2018.

Altogether it took three years for Hilti to make the migration – but, because two of these were spent on thorough planning and much of the final year in testing, the migration was able to go smoothly.

Three task forces were put in place about six months prior to migration.

There was a risk of functional limitation with high account workloads for the first six months after go live. So the finance and controlling team ensured that global finance processes would run as expected in SAP S/4 HANA.

Because of the risk of extending business downtime and data conversion issues – with a worst case scenario seeing the migration stopped and postponed – the conversion procedure task force was set up. This team had to ensure that the conversion procedure was stable, with predictable timing and result.

To mitigate the risk of slow system performance under a real workload, the system performance task team had to ensure system performance would handle the global Hilti business.

The go-live was planned for three days in November 2018, with dress rehearsals in September and October confirming the duration of the downtime to be expected.

Thanks to intensive collaboration between business, IT and SAP this massive project went off successfully.

Two years of intensive planning, two stress tests, four dress rehearsals and countless smaller conversion tests helped the execution to proceed as planning.

Lagoa stresses that the project was successful largely because of intensive collaboration. She offers some advice for other companies taking the same journey:

* CVI/BP is a pre-requisite for SAP S/4HANA. Plan for a pre-project – you will need it.

* Plan for third-party add-ons. Not everyone is ready for SAP S/4HANA, so place special attention and focus with the vendors.

* Plan in advance for custom code adjustment, and centralise changes in a dedicated development team.

* Synchronise you migratin timeline to allow for IT landscape dependencies and required pre-projects.

* SAP FIORI is mandatory, at least in some areas, so prepare for it.

* Move to a cloud where possible for systems that need to be redesigned.

* Test carefully when there are add-ons.