Ever since its formation in 1972, SAP has positioned itself as the standard for business software. To continue to fulfil this promise, the software provider has reinvented itself in recent years, with SAP S/4HANA as result. A revolutionary transformation? “Absolutely”, says Dominique Moons, BU manager of our SAP business unit. And he should know: he’s been working with SAP since 2004.
When Dominique joined our SAP team in 2017, he brought a real wealth of experience along with him. This experience was very diverse: he had worked in multinationals at home and abroad, was an SAP consultant at a Big Four consultancy firm, implemented an SAP project for the government and had been a partner in a start-up. “I like variety”, he laughs. “Nevertheless, my career has always revolved around a number of constants: IT, SAP and communication.”
Broad knowledge of SAP
As far back as secondary school Dominique knew for a certainty that he would study informatics. He went on to earn his bachelor degree in applied informatics and added to that a master as an industrial engineer in software development at the Dutch Hogeschool Zuyd. “I liked the Netherlands so much that I looked for my first job there”, Dominique recalls. He immediately entered the world of SAP via an intensive training programme at SAP itself. “We initially studied SAP in its full breadth. Most people then chose a specific field and went deeper into it, but I didn´t want to do that. I wanted to stay a generalist so that I’d have enough variation in my work.”
I didn´t want to immerse myself in a single specific SAP field. I wanted to stay a generalist so that I’d have enough variation in my job.
From logistics to finance
And get that variation he did. Dominique began his career as an SAP consultant at Philips in Eindhoven, where he successfully implemented the rollout of the logistical module – an assignment that took him to every corner of the world. After two years he concentrated on the financial functionalities of SAP at insulation giant ROCKWOOL. “That was the right moment to relocate to Belgium”, he says. As an SAP consultant at Accenture he supervised SAP implementations at major clients like DSM, Kone and Umicore. “For Kone I rolled out the SAP template in Eastern Europe. Doing something like that teaches you not only a lot about the business and SAP, but also about people and cultures.” With all this accumulated knowledge Dominique decided in 2011 to set his own course. He supported the HR transformation project of the Belgian Railways and a couple of years was a partner in a start-up. Until Ordina invited him to Mechelen for a talk in 2017: would he be interested in becoming manager of the SAP business unit?
Supporting digital transformation
“Ordina is a growth company with an enjoyable, open atmosphere. But what attracted me above all was the challenge offered by my role: for many years Ordina had focused on outsourcing, and it now wanted to strengthen its own offer. I.e. not merely perform assignments on a client’s site, but really accompany clients in every step of their digital transformation. More pulling the train, instead of just jumping on board and riding along. And that’s very much my thing.”
Maintaining contact with the client
“I´m not really a typical BU manager”, Dominique continues. “Naturally I help define our offering and vision and I have a coaching role. But I’ve insisted on remaining a consultant. By still coming into contact with as many clients as possible and seeking the best solutions together with them, I keep in touch with what’s going on. In this way I can manage my team from the material itself, not from an Excel spreadsheet.”
By coming into contact with clients and seeking the best solutions together with them, I keep in touch with what´s going on. I want to manage my team from the material, not from an Excel spreadsheet.
User-friendliness is number one
On the basis of these business insights, Dominique recently worked out an offering to accompany clients in their shift over to SAP S/4HANA. “SAP is currently pushing its clients in the direction of S/4HANA, and that provokes a bit of healthy scepticism. Nevertheless, I believe in it very strongly. Over the past 15 years I’ve seen SAP evolve from R/3 through ECC to S/4HANA. S/4HANA isn´t just an update – quite simply, it´s something altogether different,” says Dominique. “SAP has always been a very powerful platform, with limitless possibilities. But it didn’t excel in terms of simplicity and user-friendliness, we’ve got to admit that – but now they’ve more than overcome this deficit. S/4HANA is really a lot more user-friendly: the Fiori interface is miles beyond the earlier, complex SAP screens, there are standard embedded analytics, integration with other platforms is super easy, etc.”
Smart move, not fast move
“Right now there’s a lot of ´anxiety´ about the migration to S/4HANA”, he continues. “I’m reading everywhere that companies have to make the changeover as quickly as possible, before that’s what their competitors are doing. But because S/4HANA is an entirely different platform, you can´t transfer your existing processes one-to-one. Such a changeover requires time. We recommend that companies take that time and first get their existing processes and data in order, instead of migrating all in a rush. Hence the name of our offer: S/4HANA Smart Move. On the basis of our experience and expertise, we accompany companies step by step: first we map out their existing landscape and listen to the challenges, needs and possibilities. Only then do we work out a roadmap, and the rollout proceeds at its own pace. I’m convinced that this is the approach companies need.”
We argue for making a smart move to S/4HANA: don´t migrate in a rush because you want to stay ahead of everybody else; be smart about it. If necessary, take the time to get existing processes or data in order.