SAP Activate Methodology

Explore Phase Activities

The SAP Explore phase lays the foundation for successful S/4HANA implementation by defining target BP and architecture.

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Purpose of SAP Explore phase

The SAP Explore Phase is the third of six phases of the SAP Activate methodology. This methodology is part of the wider SAP Activate Framework, designed by SAP to better facilitate and deliver SAP implementations – including the migration to SAP S/4 HANA.

Before the Explore phase is completed, SAP implementation teams will need to have successfully worked through both the Discover and Prepare phases of the methodology. These both lead into the Explore phase, which will lay the foundation for the success of the entire project.

It is here that business processes are defined and target architecture is established using SAP best practices and Fit-to-Standard analysis. This is used to evaluate how a standard SAP solution will meet the company’s business needs. All non-SAP systems and processes are added to the SAP RICEFW document for better alignment.

The methodology can move into its final three phases (Realize, Deploy and Run) once the Explore phase is complete.

Key explore phase activities

The Explore phase is arguably the most important part of the SAP Activate methodology. Here is where much of the detailed planning completed during the Prepare phase is agreed upon and finalized – laying the foundation for the success of the project. SAP Explore phase deliverables include:

  • Establishment of target processes and architecture: Shared among business process owners and stakeholders.
  • Demonstrations and testing: Teams can analyze the impacts of the change and use sample data to enable business users to run the end-to-end processes and identify any gaps.
  • Training strategy: Developed to facilitate SAP users and get them familiarized with the system.

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Define target processes

SAP teams will then use a series of Fit-to-Standard analysis sessions to test and analyze to-be SAP target processes. A fit-To-Standard analysis is done through a series of workshops to validate the predefined business processes, identify requirements and finally deliver an approved design. If the project implementation involves the SAP S/4HANA Cloud (Single-tenant Edition) then additional Fit-To-Gap analysis is run.

This is where any additional requirements of the business can be discovered and then mapped to the SAP system based on feasibility.

Consultants will create and display a flowchart of business processes to the Business Process Owner, and later drive a demo using the initial system. The project team and key business users will use these findings to discuss how best the business can map its processes to the best practices, and define the overall target processes in SAP Signavio.

Define target architecture

Using the enterprise architecture tools, SAP enterprise architects can then begin creating an SAP technical solutions map that will define the target architecture. The target architecture sets the framework for planning, assigning resources, and streamlining activities to reach the desired outcome of the SAP solution.

The purpose of this activity is to identify any gaps, changes, and updates that need to be made to meet the S/4HANA target architecture. This is done to harmonize future business requirements with best-fit technology to support operational goals.

EA tools also provide project teams with ways to execute the integration of any non-SAP Cloud systems (SuccessFactors, Ariba, etc.) into the SAP target architecture. It allows simplified and streamlined flow between disparate systems during the S/4HANA integration setup.

Using the outcomes of Fit-to-Gap analysis and Fit-to-Standard analysis sessions, the project teams can collect:

  • Data and information on installable technical components,
  • Required integration technology, and
  • Information on the component deployment model.

This can then be integrated into enterprise architecture solution interface maps and flow data diagrams. This helps highlight changes that need to be made to workflow processes for the target architecture.

The result of this activity is to create a technical solutions map of the target architecture. This map will then be signed off by all active stakeholders before it’s taken into the Realize phase of the Activate methodology.

SAP enterprise architects should ensure to engage and involve stakeholders early on in the process, and communicate the reasons behind changes and updates to the target architecture.

Analyze the impacts of the change

Once the technical solutions map has been created, an SAP change impact analysis can be conducted to understand how the new system will benefit the enterprise. It also shows which actions are needed to enable a smooth and streamlined transition to the new SAP system.

During this analysis, a baseline of the current state is established and an organizational alignment approach is validated among the stakeholders of the project.

This is also where key users are identified and an end-user learning needs analysis – along with a learning plan – should be prepared. The result of this activity is to ensure all outcomes have been considered, which drives success for the future of the project.

Develop training strategy

Finally, a training strategy is developed to facilitate the success of the SAP project. The project team outlines a testing strategy that includes objectives, scope, the testing tool, defect coordination, and the required roles for S/4HANA testing.

During this activity, teams begin to review and map out user access, security, key user extensions, etc. and perform data load preparation activities. They also plan SAP tests including end-user learning needs analysis, so users can begin to familiarize themselves with the new solution. The learning team is also involved in preparing and delivering the learning content to the identified testers.

The result of the SAP test planning activity is to lay the foundation for the ongoing success of the implementation. This step is important as the training strategy will define how testing is performed and completed during the project. As a result, all stakeholders must agree and align to the appropriate approach before testing begins.



The final step of the Explore phase involves all project team members and relevant stakeholders signing off on all the prescribed quality gate activities and populated RICEFW. These deliverables include the agreed-upon target architecture and target processes which can then be realized during the next phase of the SAP Activate methodology (aptly named the Realize phase).

SAP provides plenty of internal tools such as assessments, roadmaps, and templates to make the transformation to S/4HANA a more straightforward and structured process. They also endorse third-party apps like the LeanIX EAM to facilitate migration efforts. It is the only “Endorsed App” for Enterprise Architecture in the SAP Store.

Using the EA on its own or in tandem with SAP Signavio, the tool helps alleviate the uncertainty and complexity inherent to IT and business process landscapes, adding clarity to pre-transformation planning.

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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

Frequently asked questions in the SAP Explore phase

What is the SAP Explore phase?

The SAP Explore phase is the third phase of the SAP Activate methodology – part of the SAP Activate Framework for SAP S/4 HANA implementation.

What happens in the SAP Explore phase?

The SAP Explore phase is arguably the most important step in the SAP Activate methodology.

It is the phase that lays the foundation for the success of the entire project. During this phase business processes are finalized and target architecture is established using SAP best practices and Fit-to-Standard analysis sessions.

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