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SAP Activate Methodology

Discover Phase Activities

The Discover Phase is the first step of the SAP Activate methodology which allows SAP users to gain architecture transparency and build a case for successful SAP S/4 HANA transformation.

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Purpose of SAP Discover phase

The SAP Discover Phase is the first phase of the SAP Activate Methodology which is part of the wider SAP Activate framework. It has been designed specifically by SAP to facilitate the migration to SAP S/4HANA. The aim is to leverage SAP best practices, guided configurations, and the Activate methodology to make the transformation to S/4HANA successful and straightforward. 

The discovery phase is an important phase in the methodology because it sets the stage for the success of the following five stages. The six stages of the SAP Activate methodology are Discover, Prepare, Explore, Realize, Deploy, and Run.

Each phase guides users through the complexities of S/4HANA implementation and outlines the processes, tools, and Best Practices required to achieve a smooth transformation.

During the Discover phase, project managers will get familiar with the solution's capabilities and its business value. This will help determine the correct implementation strategy and plan a roadmap.


Discover phase activities

The following activities in the Discover phase outline the basic processes teams will take when planning their S/4HANA transformation. These SAP Discover phase activities can be applied to most of the S/4HANA deployments. However, each deployment (Cloud or On-Premise) may have more specific or additional activities.

First, teams will begin with a system trial to become familiar with solution capabilities and functionalities. This will help uncover the value of the application and why it would be beneficial for the business.

Then project managers will deploy Business Process Intelligence (BPI) tools to uncover business and IT processes and their pain points. 

SAP teams can also leverage EAM tools to discover and map the as-is architecture. During the process of mining and architecture mapping, teams will be able to create a high-level project timeline and select deployment and implementation methods.

Lastly, a value cause for S/4HANA implementation will be presented. Completing each of these activities carefully will help the customer begin a successful implementation.

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Begin a trial

The first activity of the Discover phase is to get familiar with the new system, using the free-of-charge SAP S/4HANA Cloud trial system. This trial system – which can be accessed through SAP – is to give users the perspective of how the fully functioning S/4HANA system performs.

Using guided tours, teams can experience the system as the licensed users would; executing day-to-day activities across Finance, Professional Services, Purchasing, Sales, and Production. The trial lasts 14-days. During those 14 days, teams can begin to uncover the value the application will bring to their business.

Businesses are also able to request a Discovery Assessment service. This is a workshop where SAP teams work with the customer to assess the solution scope for implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud. These resources provide teams with extensive knowledge of the SAP solution and how it can benefit the business.

Uncover application value

During the Discover phase, the value of the S/4HANA solution should become clear. The purpose of this activity is to help teams become familiar with the solution and how it benefits the business. Documenting the value of the application during this activity will help prepare the business case later on.

The result of this activity is a clear plan on what to implement when in SAP S/4HANA, and why it should be implemented. The information gathered during this activity will serve as the key input when building the business case. This activity will also analyze any potential roadblocks which may affect the implementation strategy.

Jobs to be done during this activity include:

  • Discover the value of SAP S/4HANA
  • Use SAP Signavio and SAP Process Insights
  • Identify the impact of SAP S/4HANA on existing business processes
  • Checking the Conversion Readiness of SAP ERP
  • Performing a Business Scenario & Solution Mapping
  • Define the Implementation Strategy
  • Create a Strategic Road Map & Value Case

Discover business processes with SAP Signavio

Business Process Intelligence tools such as SAP Signavio are used to analyze as-is business processes, process variants, and performance KPIs with Business Process Intelligence (BPI). Using SAP Signavio addresses strategic process transformations from a business perspective, which is necessary for a successful transformation to SAP S/4 HANA. The aim of Business Process discovery is to offer live and up-to-date insights into the process landscape. 

SAP process mining is an important activity during the Discovery phase because it provides tailored insights to build the case for SAP S/4HANA. A sophisticated process mining algorithm is needed to automate transparency and generate contextualized insights from processes at scale.

During this activity, teams will create KPI-based industry-peer performance benchmarking. They can also create alerts, predictions, automation, content, and guided recommendations for end-to-end process improvement that lead to actionable outcomes.

Discover As-Is architecture with LeanIX EAM

As-Is architecture transparency is required during the Discover phase to identify dependencies between IT and processes, as well as uncover risks. An enterprise architecture solution such as LeanIX EAM perfectly aligns with SAP to allow companies to execute S/4HANA transformations. It also activates other continuous transformation initiatives and produces a holistic overview of the as-is and target IT landscape. LeanIX EAM is the only enterprise architecture solution to be part of the SAP Endorsed App catalog. 

The LeanIX EAM accelerates SAP S/4HANA transformation, by revealing the complexity, risks, and strategic business value associated with change initiatives. During this activity, SAP customers use key business data to coordinate migration plans, standardize processes, manage integrations, and rationalize applications.

The result of this process is to create a scalable, shared inventory that streamlines the process of exploring the as-is architecture. Detailed SAP mapping during the Discovery phase provides clear documentation of the current process state and uncovers areas of process improvement that are added to SAP RICEFW. SAP architecture discovery using the LeanIX EAM tool lets users:

  • Explore the as-is architecture and classify business capabilities.
  • Model and compare migration scenarios.
  • Identify dependencies between applications in the IT landscape.
  • Optimize process mapping with clear links to available technical support.

The result is to achieve process and architecture transparency. Combining BPI with the LeanIX EAM makes this part of the process more concise and in-depth. By adopting both BPI and EAM tools, businesses can leverage a holistic process landscape that will form the pillars of a successful transformation.

Create a high-level project timeline

By completing the previous steps, project managers are now capable of creating a high-level project timeline and picking the right deployment option. The objective of this activity is to create a company-specific innovation strategy, and derive a high-level timeline and roadmap from here.

SAP Best Practice instructs teams to start with the identification of strategic business and IT objectives – including pain areas. Each of these objectives can be clustered into benefit areas. For each benefit area, solutions such as SAP S/4HANA (or other solutions or platform components) need to be identified, prioritized, and benchmarked.

The S/4HANA timeline that is produced will document the main transition steps from the as-is architecture to the target architecture. Establishing a dedicated SAP Center of Excellence can greatly benefit this step.

The direction of the S/4HANA project and roadmap will then depend on which transition strategy is used. After establishing the deployment option (Cloud or On-Premise), either a Brownfield, Greenfield, or hybrid migration approach will be implemented.

A Greenfield approach simply refers to a complete reengineering of an organization’s SAP processes and workflows – essentially starting from a blank slate. The Brownfield approach acts more like an upgrade; it involves migrating existing workflows and systems over to the newest version of SAP S/4HANA.

The result of this activity is a roadmap that will determine the next steps in the SAP project timeline

Prepare value case

The final activity in the Discover phase is to prepare the SAP value case for the S/4HANA transformation. The value case will outline the implementation scope, project timelines, and a targeted solution model.

All documents should be uploaded and stored in a central location (such as the SAP Solutions Manager) so they can be easily accessible. The following should be present in the value case:

  • Key findings from the previous steps: Key data and information gathered during the trial phase and business process activities should be presented.
  • Identify the impact on architecture: Present all the ways in which the transformation will impact the architecture – including benefits and associated risks.
  • Consider parallel initiatives and projects: Offer parallel initiatives in the value case to provide stakeholders with alternative roadmaps and segments.
  • Establish SAP CoE if it doesn’t exist yet: An SAP Center of Excellence accelerator supports the overall strategy and highlights the importance of governance. 

During this task, implementation teams will develop the building blocks required to reach the target architecture in line with defined KPIs. They will compose a consolidated SAP roadmap of the building blocks to begin implementing the solution. During this step, both value and cost drivers will be determined.

Once this is complete a documented implementation roadmap will be available, ready to execute the most efficient and effective SAP strategy for transformation.



The SAP Discover phase is designed for businesses to uncover the value of the planned implementation project, and to build a S/4HANA business case. It’s where customers become familiar with the solution, and begin to map their business processes and technology landscape to plan the S/4HANA transformation.

Once this step is completed, businesses are well-equipped to move into the next phase of the SAP Activate methodologythe Prepare phase.

To accelerate the S/4HANA transformation process during the Discover phase, SAP provides valuable internal tools such as SAP Signavio and SAP Discovery Center. They also endorse third-party apps such as the LeanIX EAM to work in tandem as an enterprise architecture solution for SAP.

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Ace SAP Activate phases and accelerate SAP S/4HANA Transformation

Discover: Strategic goal definition and roadmap planning


Prepare: Project scoping, planning, and team enablement


Explore: Fit-to-standard analysis and process modeling


Realize: Configuring, building, and testing the new environment


Deploy: Setting up a system in production and moving


Run: Driving adoption and continuous improvements

Answers to frequently asked questions on SAP Discover phase

What is the Discover phase in SAP?

The Discover phase is the first phase of the SAP Activate methodology. During this phase, customers explore S/4HANA deployment options and map their business processes & technology landscape, which is required to build a value case.

What happens in the SAP Discover phase?

During the Discover phase, teams will plan a roadmap and outline the goal of the implementation process. This is done through running trials of the desired software (e.g. S/4 HANA) and mapping business processes and as-is architecture.

What is the SAP Discovery Center?

The SAP Cloud Platform Discovery Center allows businesses to launch projects quickly, helping to accelerate innovation. Discovery Center users are able to access use cases and are guided through the process from project initiation to solution implementation inside structured assignments.

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