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Navigating the SAP S/4HANA talent gap within the utilities industry.

11th September 2023

Blog post

In today's rapidly changing utilities industry, the pursuit of sustainable solutions and energy transition has taken center stage. As the demand for renewable energy sources and decentralized energy systems rises, utilities companies face a critical challenge: adapting to these transformative trends while ensuring operational excellence. 

Embracing SAP S/4HANA can be a valuable move for utilities companies seeking to navigate this changing landscape successfully. Upgrading to S/4HANA offers a seamless integration of business processes, providing utilities companies with the agility and scalability required to navigate energy transition and decentralization.

However, the urgency to upgrade to SAP S/4HANA is further intensified by the impending upgrade deadline of 2027 set by SAP, which directly impacts thousands of utilities companies already using SAP. With S/4HANA at the core of transformation for these companies, talent acquisition becomes a critical consideration. This blog aims to shed light on how VPs in the utilities industry can address the talent gap, drive successful S/4HANA adoption, and secure business success amidst these dynamic changes.

Energy transition and decentralization trends.

Energy transition is a global movement toward sustainable and renewable energy sources. Utilities companies are increasingly compelled to reduce carbon footprints and meet environmental objectives by ever increasing governmental regulations. As the emphasis shifts from fossil fuels to renewables, innovation and advanced technologies play a pivotal role.

Decentralization forms a cornerstone of energy transition, where energy production is distributed and localized, reducing dependence on centralized power plants. Embracing decentralized energy systems, such as microgrids and smart grids, provides utilities companies with increased resilience and operational efficiency.

S/4HANA for the utilities industry.

Utilities companies aligning with energy transition and decentralization goals can leverage S/4HANA to effectively manage decentralized energy resources, optimize demand-response strategies, and foster customer engagement, enabling them to stay competitive and resilient.

S/4HANA also enables utilities companies to use real-time insights and data-driven decision-making capabilities. The platform optimizes energy usage, enables predictive analytics for demand forecasting, and supports dynamic pricing models, all of which are vital for effective energy transition.

Integrating decentralized energy systems is complex, but S/4HANA streamlines the process. The platform enables seamless communication and data exchange between various energy resources, enhancing the utilities companies’ ability to adapt and thrive in a decentralized landscape.

In the dynamic energy landscape, real-time data analytics are indispensable. S/4HANA equips utilities companies with the ability to make informed decisions promptly, optimize operations, and respond swiftly to changing energy demands and market conditions.

Growing demand for SAP talent in utilities.

S/4HANA's successful implementation hinges on the expertise of SAP professionals. Their skills directly influence the effectiveness of energy transition and decentralization strategies, ultimately determining utilities companies' ability to succeed in the evolving market.

As utilities companies embrace S/4HANA, the demand for skilled SAP professionals intensifies. However, the supply of qualified candidates with expertise in S/4HANA implementation and management remains limited, creating a talent gap that VPs must address.

As VPs play a pivotal role in talent acquisition for S/4HANA adoption, they must identify the right SAP talent, build cross-functional teams, and foster collaboration between IT and business units to ensure successful implementation and seamless operation.

Hiring SAP professionals poses unique challenges, including competition for top talent and the need for specialized skillsets. The VP’s challenge is to overcome these hurdles and assemble a skilled workforce capable of maximizing the benefits of S/4HANA for energy transition and decentralization.

Strategies to beat the SAP talent gap.

1. Start your S/4 transformation early.

Starting your S/4 transformation as early as possible is crucial. With more companies embarking on their S/4 journeys, the competition for top SAP talent is fierce. Waiting until the last minute to kick start your S/4 program will likely result in higher recruitment costs and limited access to the best candidates. Initiating the transformation early not only allows you to secure top talent but also provides ample time for comprehensive planning, skill development, and a smoother transition to S/4HANA.

2. Leverage specialized partnerships for critical expertise.

Understanding your System Integrator's (SI) strengths and weaknesses is key. While SIs excel at implementing core functionalities, they may fall short in areas such as data quality, organizational change management (OCM), and training. Consider partnering with specialized firms that focus on critical aspects like data management, testing, OCM, and end-user training. This collaborative approach ensures that your S/4 solution not only performs well but the users have the necessary skills to carry out their responsibilities.

 3. Ensure backup support with experienced SAP partners.

It's essential to have a reliable partner with strong SAP experience who can step in if your SI faces talent-related challenges. Companies like RED Global provide specialized resources, including experts in areas like TPM (Transportation Management) and eWM (Extended Warehouse Management). This backup support ensures that resource demand doesn't outpace your SI's capabilities, guaranteeing a smooth S/4HANA implementation even in the face of unexpected talent shortages.

4. Listen to expert advice and stay informed.

Listening to advice from your partners, especially those with extensive SAP experience, is invaluable. They possess unique insights into the constantly evolving SAP landscape, including benchmarking rates and resource availability in various regions. In a market that is ever-changing, staying informed about industry trends and best practices can give your company a competitive edge. Be open to adapting your talent acquisition strategies based on this expert advice and market knowledge.

Many of our customers (both SI’s and end customers) have benefitted from RED Global’s extensive SAP experience when it comes to building deployment teams. The market is constantly in flux but the 20,000 hours a month we spend talking with SAP experts gives RED Global the best data set in the world for benchmarking rates and resource availability in over 100 countries. 

5. Embrace flexibility in Talent Acquisition.

Be flexible! The world has changed dramatically over the last 3 years, affecting work arrangements and talent preferences, and we need to change with it. To attract the best SAP talent, be willing to adapt to their needs. Understand that top talent may not always be available for on-site positions in remote locations. Consider flexible work arrangements, remote work options, or tapping into a global talent pool to access the skills you require. Being flexible in your approach can help you secure the talent necessary to drive your S/4HANA transformation.

The SAP S/4HANA upgrade deadline presents a critical juncture for utilities companies already using SAP. Embracing S/4HANA is not only essential for operational efficiency but also positions utilities companies to excel in the era of energy transition and decentralization. As VPs in the utilities industry contemplate the upgrade, addressing the talent acquisition challenges becomes paramount to ensure successful implementation and utilization of S/4HANA's capabilities. By leveraging specialized SAP recruitment agencies, utilities companies can overcome the talent gap and assemble a skilled team capable of driving transformative change. With S/4HANA as their digital backbone, utilities companies can navigate energy transition and decentralization effectively, creating a sustainable future for themselves and their customers.

If you’d like to book a strategy call or just have an informal chat, get in touch with one of our expert consultants.

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