From a business perspective the term ‘Merge’ describes the combination of two separate legal firms into one new legal entity under one corporate name. Merging businesses includes all processes, systems, and structures. In IT language and with regards to SAP systems, merging translates to the activities to convert two previously independent, self-contained, and fully functional systems into one new or adapted SAP system.
Typically, an ‘SAP Merge’ is the necessary consequence of a merger and acquisition (M&A) transaction or an internal reorganization. Mergers, and in particular takeovers, are a strategy to increase market share, gain access to technologies, or accelerate a business model change. These are common business considerations that trigger every year a few thousand mergers and acquisitions with a total volume of several billion dollars. Internal reorganization or the consolidation of organizational areas may be other measures to improve competitiveness and reduce operating costs while increasing agility.
Regardless of your motivation to merge systems, to turn this challenge into a success story, you must focus on strategic planning and implementation first. This is not limited to organizational aspects. Before the system merge, the IT department must comprehensively and thoroughly analyze the necessary adjustments and changes on both an application and technical level. It makes a significant difference if this is a merger of comparable systems, or if the buying company dominates with the bought company’s system data and processes to be consolidated.
It takes considerable effort to consolidate infrastructure, data, and processes so that the resulting system structure creates the desired synergy effects and effectively supports the business model.
There are three fundamentally different concepts to implement an ‘SAP Merge’. These concepts depend on the difference in their initial and defined target state. Therefore, the first step is a detailed analysis of the goals and the existing systems. After having evaluated the results of this analysis, project planning can start. The plan takes into account all legal and time constraints as well as personnel capacity and budgetary requirements.
1. Collaborative process and system analysis
It is a common understanding that lengthy system restructuring and consolidation efforts should be avoided. Not only because this could jeopardize reaching the M&A goals, but also because daily business activities suffer from decreasing acceptance of change among the workforce during prolonged or failed transformation projects. Consequently, a detailed process and system analysis delivers the critical information for the success of the entire project. It documents the current state, data and process quality, and technical prerequisites.
2. Thorough project planning and professional project management
Based on the results of the analysis, all concerned parties are to be involved at an early stage to ensure mutual agreement on well-defined goals under the given circumstances. If you do not know the goal, no way leads to the destination.
In addition to the goals, a thorough project planning includes the following:
With these fundamental steps accomplished, the next phase can be determined and professionally planned. The planning should be trusted to experienced project managers who not only continuously control resources and track milestones butreassess risks and recognize pitfalls as issues may surface at any time.
3. Transformation tools as accelerators
Merging systems is extremely time critical. Therefore, it is mandatory to evaluate specific transformation tools and project accelerators as execution support. Natuvion Data Conversion Server (DCS) is such a tool. It helps automatecertain project steps and ultimately reduces the time needed while increasing quality.
Natuvion SOPHIA is a tool supporting the analysis phase with an in-depth view into data and processes of the original systems. This insight reveals areas where potentially valuable time could be wasted if not addressed properly from the start. Special attention should be given to validate the migration activities with specialty solutions before the go-live. Any errors must be detected before they hit the productive system. It is not only costly financially to rectify inconsistencies but also from a loss of change management acceptance perspective.
4. External expertise
After having successfully merged SAP systems, all involved business units should be able to resume daily operations immediately.
Preparing and executing such a merge of SAP systems is not something an IT department would typically take on on its own. It is not a regular task and requires specialty knowledge. It is recommended to fill this niche with external experts to lead or coach a project of that nature. By choosing Natuvion as your partner, you benefit from profound knowledge in merging SAP systems, a proven transformation methodology, and exceptional IT solutions that help you achieve your goals faster.
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