Why RISE with SAP worked for Zespri International

Cost, Features, and Innovation Were All Key

Published: 17/March/2022

Reading time: 7 mins

Meet the Experts

Key Takeaways

⇨ Dedicate time to preparing for a RISE with SAP deployment

⇨ Create detailed plans for your deployment project

⇨ Ensure that your internal teams are educated and prepared to support your project

Since it was first announced in January 2021, SAP has focused on RISE with SAP as the solution that it is using to help organizations adopt SAP’s Intelligent Sustainable Enterprise. The messaging has shifted from an initial focus on business-transformation-as-a-service to a platform for innovation, but the foundation of RISE with SAP has remained SAP S/4HANA Cloud with SAP Signavio providing business process intelligence and transformation capabilities, and SAP Business Technology Platform the means for extending and innovating with new applications, integrations, analytics, and other capabilities.

While RISE with SAP has been the focus of SAP’s messaging, many organizations remain undecided about whether the solution is a good fit for them. Some long-term SAP customers are unsure about how well their existing ERP systems can be easily moved to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, while others have little knowledge of the solution. To find out more about how one long-time SAP customer is looking to leverage RISE with SAP, and why they chose the offering, I recently spoke with David Scullin of Zespri International. Zespri is a large horticultural exporter based in New Zealand that exports kiwifruit to over 50 countries around the world, managing 30 percent of the global volume. Scullin is the Chief Digital Officer at Zespri and has many years of experience in the SAP space.

Why RISE with SAP?

Zespri has been running SAP for nearly 20 years. Their existing business processes and underlying systems were based on a highly customized SAP ECC deployment with multiple bespoke .NET applications wrapped around that implementation. But Zespri has grown significantly since that initial implementation and was struggling with underlying systems and processes that were originally implemented for an organization a fraction of the size. Knowing that there was likely to be a resource bottleneck for organizations looking to move off SAP ECC as the 2027 end of mainstream maintenance deadline approached, Zespri started building a business case and transformation plan in late 2020.

Zespri has been at the forefront of innovation in the past when they were one of the first legacy SAP ECC environments to move to Microsoft Azure, and was the first SAP ECC instance to leverage an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environment on Azure. They were also running several other legacy systems in the same environment. So, when they started looking at the platforms for their transformation, Scullin says that on-premise environments weren’t even considered. “The future of the world is cloud”, Scullin stated during our conversation. Zespri thus conducted a cost comparison between SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition using RISE with SAP and a new SAP S/4HANA deployment using IaaS on Azure like their existing SAP ECC environment. Zespri eventually used RISE with SAP as they would save money in the project.

Zespri wanted their transformation project to be about business process change. The focus of the entire project is enabling applications technology and RISE with SAP and SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition made this possible. The first phase of the project is about their supply chain and how produce reaches their different markets and consumers. There is also a full finance transformation both globally and in their New Zealand operations. They are also implementing offshore quality management and integrated planning which will be served by a SAP S/4HANA core supported by SAPBW/4HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud including financial planning. Other components of the first phase include cloud-based finance solutions from Blackline, data solutions from Syniti, and process management tools from Celonis.

While the first phase is due to be completed in November 2022, Zespri is already planning its second phase, which will be completed in 1 to 2 years. The second phase will involve replacing Zespri’s existing. NET applications with a combination of SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) applications targeted at their growers. They will also explore the new SAP Intelligent Agriculture solution, part of Industry Cloud and built on SAP BTP. Zespri hopes they will leverage many off-the-shelf applications, but they planned everything else to be built on SAP BTP.

The RISE with SAP Experience

Because Zespri already had experience with Microsoft Azure as their hosting partner for SAP ECC they also selected Microsoft Azure as their service provider for RISE with SAP. As a global organization, it was important that all users have rapid access to their new deployment, so they elected to use a data center based in Singapore. This was a specific choice for Zespri as they wanted to host their system in a neutral location that offered high-speed connectivity to all their global distributors. Singapore offered less latency to operations in Europe or Asia, and still represented excellent performance to their New Zealand headquarters.

Data residency questions were not really part of their decision. Scullin said that Zespri has always been aligned to the GDPR standard required for their operations in Europe and this has helped them stay ahead of any requirements coming from other countries. The one concern Zespri has had involved China’s new data privacy laws which come into effect in early 2023. Since they have operations in China, Zespri has a full legal review underway with local experts to ensure they are compliant.

Despite moving their SAP landscape to RISE with SAP, one thing that Zespri has maintained is a lean internal SAP team that helps them manage their own operations. This team is one that the company has built over many years as an SAP customer and it has helped them with identifying and troubleshooting issues that come up. This means that, when they open a ticket with SAP, they frequently know exactly what is required to address the situation. Having this internal capability has been a significant benefit to them throughout their RISE with SAP project.

SAP looks after the security of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition, but anything outside this is being managed by Zespri. To improve the security of the connections from each of their operations, Zespri is deploying Prisma Access from Palo Alto Networks which provides a centralized VPN for their operations. Connections from across the globe go to a central hub which will then connect to their data center in Singapore. This, with a software-defined WAN, will help not only improve the security of their connections but will also help with speed and latency.

One thing that Zespri made very clear when they purchased RISE with SAP was the need to ensure that their plans provided ways to mitigate any potential problems that might occur along the way. The first was that they ensured it included the detailed SLAs for every time of ticket request in the contract. They also built in a lot of flexibility to their environment, as well as having multiple clients per environment. This ensured that they had a lot of capacity. The second thing they did was sign up for SAP Application Management Services. This meant that they have an on-site delivery manager from SAP who helped with any requests that they needed to submit to SAP. To date, they have had no issues with the underlying infrastructure in the projector in resolving tickets in a timely manner.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders?

According to SAPinsider research, a growing number of CIOs are evaluating RISE with SAP for use within their organizations. We are also seeing many organizations who are implementing, building their business case, or running PoC’s for SAP S/4HANA evaluating whether RISE with SAP will impact their current project. This means organizations need to be aware of what RISE with SAP is and look at the experience of those who are already using the solution. Given that Zespri was one of the early adopters of RISE with SAP, what can you learn from their experiences to improve your own?

  • Take the time to size, price, and evaluate all the possible options when moving to SAP S/4HANA. Zespri was running SAP ECC on an IaaS environment on Azure. They knew they needed to move to SAP S/4HANA and took the time to evaluate and price how using a similar environment with a standard SAP S/4HANA deployment compared with using SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition as part of RISE with SAP. They determined they could save NZ$1 million over a six-year period from using RISE with SAP instead of a traditional IaaS deployment. The numbers may not be the same for everyone, but it is worth spending the time to do this evaluation because the primary goal of infrastructure change for most organizations is around reducing costs.
  • Define detailed plans for your deployment, whether that is on RISE with SAP or a more traditional implementation. The more effort that you put into planning for your project, the less likely you are to be delayed by unexpected problems. Zespri started with an already effective internal team and planned for their move, focusing on the business processes and underlying systems. But they also made certain that they would be prepared for the unexpected by including specific SLA details in the contract that they signed. This planning covering both the minor details and the broader strokes of the project involves both time and resources, but it has ensured that the project has run smoothly.
  • Dedicate time to preparing your team for any project on which you embark. One of the biggest factors that have helped drive Zespri’s success is having a strong internal team that is knowledgeable about SAP from an administration and Basis perspective all the way to product use. They have built this team over several years and they have experience in using, managing,, and maintaining an SAP ECC environment. While Scullin showed the team was small, it has been an extremely important part of both managing the project and helping troubleshoot any issues that arise. This team manages the interactions with all the partners involved in the project and with other internal teams. While many organizations see the move to a solution like RISE with SAP as an opportunity to streamline resources, Zespri has found that having these resources has been the foundation for their success.

Company Snapshot

Zespri Group Limited

Headquarters: Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

Industry: Agriculture

Employees: 900

Revenue:  NZ$ 4.47 billion (US$ 2.67 billion)

Company Details:

    • Grower-owned and established organization founded in 1988 and renamed Zespri International in 2000.
    • Exports kiwifruit to over 50 countries around the world
    • Manages 30% of the global kiwifruit market

SAP Solutions: RISE with SAP, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP BW/4HANA, SAP Analytics Cloud

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