What is SAP S/4HANA Customer Management and what distinguishes this solution?

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5 questions for… Sabine Naumann

Sabine Naumann, Solution Architect for SAP S/4HANA Customer Management, has many years’ SAP CRM on-premise expertise and focuses daily on current technological developments relating to customer management with SAP. In the interview today, she tells us more about Customer Management in SAP S/4HANA OP, its target group and what strength distinguishes this solution.

You have already implemented Customer Management (CM) for customers. What precisely lurks behind SAP S/4HANA Customer Management (CM)?

Customer Management is now in its 3rd release with S/4HANA OP 1909 as the “S/4HANA Service” module integrated into the SAP S/4HANA Core and it will replace CS (Customer Service). Customer Management is a module that relies on the proven sales and service processes of the previous SAP CRM of the Business Suite, yet it is completely integrated into S/4HANA and uses the common data of the HANA database. For the integration, the best of the CRM and ERP worlds was combined in Service and Sales Management. Objects such as business partners, material (replaces CRM products) and equipment (replaces CRM IObjects) are used in common and the middleware is eliminated.

In the pre-sales/sales areas, a lead-to-cash process can be mapped seamlessly. Leads make the connection between marketing and sales, and sales opportunity and opportunity management enable transparent control of the sales process. Via the integration of the FSCM Credit Management, the results of a credit check can be considered even in the sales opportunity phase. (SD) quotation and order can be created as a follow-up process from the opportunity.

The service area supports the whole range of service processing, from service request, ticket and complaint management, to quotations, service orders, reports, and service orders for mapping framework agreements with customers. In the process, the functions from sales and service are integrated completely into logistical and financial follow-up processes.

As compared to SAP CS (Customer Service), Customer Management also offers an interaction center for service employees to communicate with customers via telephone, mail, chat or letter. With the release 1909, SAP Field Service Management is also integrated; it offers a mobile solution for field service and technician management with complete offline functionality. Added to this, with the next releases there will be more functions, such as the in-house repair (workshop repair processing) and innovations in service intelligence.

What do you see as the strengths of Customer Management?

The big advantage is in the use of a common database. Customer Management uses the same data and process model in S/4HANA; therefore, processes are harmonized and integrated seamlessly. During the harmonization, redundancies were removed and the best objects and processes from CRM and ERP were combined. For example, in S/4HANA, the SAP business partners are used in common. Nevertheless, potential customers can initially remain in Customer Management until they become customers and are distributed via the customer-vendor integration. Use of the HANA doubles check, the fuzzy search, and data cleansing cases (combination and identification of doubles) improve the data quality.

The previous SD Pricing/Billing is used for the accounting/invoicing; no additional components are required. The system environment has been simplified greatly, interfaces and data exchange problems have been eliminated. New, operational reporting in S/4HANA with “embedded analytics” offers real-time analyses of transactional data.

For the interface, SAP started with the previous CRM-WebClient UI. The design (Belize theme) was reworked and oriented according to the design and user-friendliness of Fiori. In the future, with additional Fiori apps, the concern will be to offer users a uniform interface across S/4HANA and thus a better user experience.

A migration of customer add-ons from SAP CRM is possible without problems taking into account the data model redesign in the one-order model, and customer-specific adjustments can be made as usual in the on-premise variant. There is now a Fiori app available all across S/4HANA; it can be used to add more fields easily. For field expansions, it replaces the AET (user expansion tool) from SAP CRM since it does not support CDS (Core Data Services) views and OData (Open Data Protocol) services.

At whom is SAP S/4HANA Customer Management aimed?

Companies that are using S/4HANA should definitely take a look at the functions of Customer Management. The simplification of the system environment represents clear added value. Customer Management in S/4HANA is not just an interesting alternative for companies that used a CRM on-premise system in the past and adjusted standard processes, in some cases with a lot of work/expertise for customer-specific needs. Regular ERP customers who were previously using SAP CS (Customer Service) should check the scope of the S/4HANA service and, if possible, migrate to the S/4HANA service (of the Customer Management). The CS can be used until 2025; however, because it will not be possible to continue using it past then, SAP recommends making no further investments.

What procedure do you recommend to customers for decision-making?

We recommend that all companies initially consolidate their CRM requirements and, depending on the strategy, compare possible alternatives with S/4HANA Service (Customer Management) and the SAP cloud solutions, as well as combinations of the two variants in order to make the best decision.

The requirements determine the CRM/CX road map and the system environment. If, for example, requirements also come from marketing or commerce, it may make sense to use a cloud solution combined with S/4HANA as back-end. S/4HANA is also available in a cloud variant. For decision-making, we offer strategy workshops and help our customers develop an individual road map.

What do the users say?

The initial project experiences and reports are very positive. The performance of the system, the integrated processes, and the intuitive interface have been well-received.

S/4HANA customers also select Customer Management because there are no additional costs as compared to other solutions. That is, for the S/4HANA implementation, there are already CRM functionalities available without additional licenses. Thanks to the integration, implementation is easy and can be done relatively quickly, so that true added value can be created for a reasonable price.

Thank you very much for the conversation, Sabine!

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