Fit for the future thanks to a fast SAP S/4HANA migration

March 2021

S/4HANA Migration and S/4HANA Finance: IT consulting and SAP specialist, emineo AG elevates municipal energy supplier, Energie Wasser Bern (ewb) to the SAP system of the future. emineo successfully implemented the SAP S/4HANA migration for the overall energy specialist in just eight months. Currently, emineo is also realigning ewb’s SAP-based financial processes.

Energie Wasser Bern is an independent company under public law that is owned by the city of Bern and is one of the five largest municipal energy utility companies in Switzerland. Customers include around 70,000 households, 8,000 small and medium-sized enterprises and 100 large businesses. The company ensures the supply of electricity, natural gas, biogas and water to the city of Bern and surrounding municipalities; it recycles waste into energy, offers electric and natural gas mobility services and is building the fibre optic network in the city of Bern. The energy supplier’s ERP processes have been running on “SAP S/4HANA” since May 2020. Like many other companies, ewb was faced with the challenge of migrating its SAP system to S/4HANA by 2025 and 2027 respectively. At this point, SAP will no longer provide service support for SAP ECC. SAP S/4HANA enables significantly faster and stronger analytics and data-driven corporate management.

SAP S/4HANA Migration as an opportunity: ewb banks on SAP Digital Core Strategy

Energie Wasser Bern took advantage of this initial situation to reorganise and improve its technology base, processes and overall operating procedures. With an eye to the future, the Bernese energy provider developed an SAP roadmap for the entire company as early as 2018. Two important milestones of this roadmap: the 1:1 conversion to SAP S/4HANA and the realignment and optimisation of financial management with SAP S/4HANA Finance.

For the implementation of these milestones, ewb was looking for an SAP consulting and implementation partner, which would provide them with strategic as well as technological advice for this major project and support them with extensive SAP S/4HANA expertise. After an elaborate selection process, ewb chose emineo as general contractor and cbs (Corporate Business Solutions) as an additional supplier.

Implementation in two stages: First conversion, then optimisation of financial management

As part of a preliminary study, ewb evaluated the best possible approach and decided to proceed in two stages. First stage: The relatively quick 1:1 conversion to SAP S/4HANA (on-premise) as this is the prerequisite for future SAP optimisations. Energie Wasser Bern chose the so-called “brownfield approach”, which envisages retaining the old system as far as possible and only making the most necessary adjustments. Second stage: The redesign of finance leadership and processes with the help of SAP S/4HANA Finance. The redesign includes the testing, optimisation and, where necessary, the redefinition, such as the calculation of the Key Performance Indicator (KPI), the database calculations and the value flows.

emineo implements SAP S/4HANA conversion in just eight months

Together with ewb and cbs, emineo implemented the conversion to SAP S/4HANA within just eight months and even below the estimated budget. The necessary basic work with the software installation and the technical conversion was provided by ewb’s SAP technology partner in coordination with the project. The SAP S/4HANA system, including the HANA database, went live flawlessly and smoothly in a “big bang approach” over a weekend, without disrupting the daily core business. Since the changeover took place during coronavirus times, emineo implemented the go-live process completely “remotely” in a BAG-compliant manner.

“The migration to SAP S/4HANA is a milestone in our corporate strategy and the foundation for our further digital transformation. emineo’s extensive SAP and project experience enabled us to implement this important project quickly within the allocated budget.” – Stefan Aeschlimann, Head of IT Integration at Energie Wasser Bern.

This conversion to SAP S/4HANA gave way to the second major project: the optimisation and realignment of ewb’s financial management. Budgeting will take place by the summer of 2021 and the optimisation of financial management should be completely implemented in SAP S/4HANA Finance by the end of 2021. Thus, this project includes new processes for the entire financial planning of the energy supplier: from corporate and budget planning to medium-term and long-term planning, including breakeven analysis at all corporate levels, business divisions and business models.

Reasons for the success of the project: Good planning and quality as well as intensive test phases

High quality in planning and implementation as well as many years of experience are the most important reasons for the project’s success so far. In the initialisation phase, the project team analysed the most efficient procedure and various alternative scenarios for all processes, authorisations and transactions.

The project team created a cutover plan for the detailed mapping of the multi-layered dependencies between the sub-areas that are relevant for the migration.

Together with cbs and ewb, emineo continues to maintain this quality in analysis and planning also during implementation. In line with this approach, the project team planned elaborate test phases: a total of four test migrations at six-week intervals to clearly identify the dependency and further optimise the tests. Depending on the test, the team properly processed about 2,500 test cases. The resulting high quality was reflected in the subsequent, problem-free Hypercare phase.

About Energie Wasser Bern

As an overall energy specialist, Energie Wasser Bern ensures a sustainable future. Eco-friendly electricity, heat and mobility offers contribute to this. Energie Wasser Bern, with a headcount of 590, generated annual sales of CHF 443 million in 2019. The company offers sustainable solutions and with its own production facilities, implements the political wish of the voters of the city of Bern to phase out nuclear energy. ewb works hand in hand with its owner, the City of Bern, when it comes to implementing climate targets and makes a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.

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Patrick Meister
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