​La Trobe to move completely into SAP cloud by end of 2015

La Trobe University has deployed SAP S/4 HANA as part of a larger strategy to move all of its existing on-premises SAP applications into the HANA enterprise cloud.

La Trobe University plans to move all of its on-premises SAP applications into the HANA public cloud by the end of 2015.

This comes as the Melbourne-based university recently completed its first project as part of the decision. It became SAP's first global existing customer to deploy S/4 HANA's first product Simple Finance.

Peter Nikoletatos, La Trobe University chief information officer, believes the deployment of S/4 HANA, which went live during Easter, will increase the organisation's efficiency by more than 20 percent across its business units, or, in his words, "create time".

"Those benefits are translating to hours and days, and time back into the business for our administrative staff, our finance staff, and professional staff. They then can use that time to be much more effective, either enhancing student experience, research, or anything that changes our value proposition in the sector," he said.

In completing the implementation, La Trobe University has managed to reduce latency. Nikoletatos said that despite the fact that the previous finance system was on-premises, the rollout of Simple Finance, which is hosted out of Sydney in the HANA enterprise cloud, the results are a lot faster.

Another benefit the organisation has experienced includes reducing the length of time it takes to consolidate end-of-month reports from one week down to two days.

However, there were a few "a-ha moments", Nikoletatos said, where in the week leading up to launch day, a data migration piece failed, which made the team realise its data migration scripts were ineffective.

"It wasn't all smooth sailing, but it's interesting we had a challenge. It made us think, 'how do you resolve it?'" he said.

According to Nikoletatos, the next step of the organisation's aggressive strategy will be moving its entire human resource and payroll environment into the cloud. This will be followed by moving business intelligence (BI), which Nikoletatos said is a rather "big deal because BI on-premise is cumbersome".

Other smaller applications such as government risk and compliance are also scheduled to be moved before the end of the year.

"It's a reasonable schedule we've set for ourselves, and it sets up to have a really good ERP platform," he said.

The SAP S/4 HANA deployment aligns with the university's future-ready strategic plan that aims to see the organisation listed as one of the top 500 institutions worldwide by 2017. Part of that plan includes reforming and simplifying the university's administrative functions, such as IT and finance.

Nikoletatos is also enforcing a mobile-first policy, and said each executive of the university will receive an Apple Watch to enable them to access the real-time information available on S/4 HANA.

S/4 HANA has been pitched by the enterprise software vendor as its "next-generation business platform" that will offer a suite of products -- with a large chunk to be released throughout 2015 -- to enable its customers to "reimagine their business" in real time, and in a simplified way.