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Fit-to-Standard approach with SAP S/4HANA – A better option?

Published on 19 August 2021
SAP S/4HANA Implementation
Richard Pascoe
Richard Pascoe
VP- Consulting Services

Richard Pascoe is the VP- Consulting Services and part of the leadership team at Applexus Technologies, UK. An experienced leader & business development manager, Richard has deep domain expertise with 35+ years of experience in the retail and fashion sector and has architected and managed numerous SAP project implementations in the 30 years associated with SAP software.

Fit-to-standard is an approach that involves implementing industry best practices to build a clean core solution, allowing for faster adoption of S/4HANA within an organization’s SAP systems. It promises to give businesses a reliable core ERP system that is agile, dynamic, and responsive to technological and market challenges.

Being a definitive enabler of digital transformation, SAP S/4HANA with its significant functionality and key innovations, allows for a more fit-to-standard approach as compared to previous ERP solutions. Businesses that implement SAP systems typically face challenges with their upgrades if their previous implementations were done without a fit-to-standard approach. The primary reason for this is that the solution is heavily customized because of shortcomings in functionality, usability issues and the inability to effectively manage change. But SAP now provides an SAP S/4HANA solution that is rich in functionality, and coupled with a far superior user interface, provides for minimal customization.

SAP Fiori-3.0 was released in 2020 and has now become the primary user interface for SAP S/4HANA.  Embedding Fiori within S/4HANA solves the usability issues and allows for a fit to business approach for organizations where fit-to-standard doesn’t work. Unlike fit-to-standard, in which no changes are made, with fit to business, when a customer wants to implement a specific change, it is made in the UX layer in the front-end of Fiori rather than the system’s back-end code. This is close to a fit-to-standard solution and ensures that the upgrades and patch applications are much smoother as this has already been tested by SAP, thereby reducing the risks to the business at the time of upgrades.

Businesses also become more flexible and agile as they can directly use new functionality in the standard configured system delivered by SAP without fear of compatibility issues. For instance, if a brand manufacturer wants to open a retail flagship store, all they need to do is to activate the corresponding functionality that is already in the solution.

Benefits of fit-to-standard approach

With key operations becoming more and more standardized, fit-to-standard provides organizations with a wide range of benefits in designing their future business process flows. The cost of ownership is reduced with less testing required within your organization as it has already been tested with the rest of the solution by SAP. The approach also allows for quicker implementation and easier upgrades as often, there is only a small amount of configuration work to be carried out. Even from a change management perspective, it would be easier for newly joining staff who are experienced SAP users (and hence already familiar with the standard processes) to become effective in their role, resulting in reduced training.

The application support costs are also reduced as self-help services are readily available, enabling you to make the updates and revisions by yourselves. Added to this, as SAP continues to innovate on the standard core, it becomes easier and faster to adopt new innovations and ensure continuous improvement. Overall, this results in lower cost of ownership and a higher return on investment.

Applexus RunWay & RunningStart methodology

With fit-to-standard gaining popularity, companies have recognized the benefits of standardization. To help businesses in their digital transformation journey, Applexus has developed a project approach and methodology with two wings that work together to help users easily adopt fit-to-standard, with extended benefits of fit to business - Applexus RunWay & Applexus RunningStart.

The RunWay approach provides the roadmap for a tailored and progressive approach to digital transformation with continuous delivery based on the business risk and complexity profile.

The RunningStart methodology helps execute the digital transformation roadmap through a set of proprietary tools and strategies created over the course of dozens of successful SAP S/4HANA deployments. It combines best practices, pre-configurations, and industry-specific accelerators to make S/4 migrations lower-risk, faster, better, and cheaper.

SAP S/4HANA Implementation

Live Business Case Study

Deploying the Fresh Start model (our fit to standard) in our RunWay approach along with RunningStart methodology and taking advantage of the revised S/4 functionality and the expertise of our consulting team, Applexus helped a leading global fashion retailer reduce their customizations by 86%. The Fresh Start approach also helped shorten the implementation timeline to just 8 months, allowing the client to realize a higher return on their investment and with minimal customizations, a lower cost of ownership.

To understand how your organization can leverage the fit-to-standard approach in your digital transformation journey, please reach out to us at

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