Is Signavio the best tool for your SAP migration?
Think carefully - you may be asking the wrong question
Everything’s going cloud. And SAP, which spent the first twenty years of its existence housed in the server room, is no different. Aided by its recent purchase of Signavio, which shares our sector of business process modelling, a method for discovering more about your operational processes, so you can see their strengths and weaknesses, SAP is making America migrate once again.
Can Signavio help you move your SAP to the cloud? Sure it can, but we’re not here to trash Signavio, or its giant German parent, one of Europe’s few tech titans. Because while making great software is difficult, building a sustainable business from it is even harder.
Instead, here’s our take:
If you’re a SAP shop planning a migration to the cloud - of any size, SME to enterprise-scale - consider the possibility you’re putting resources into ... the wrong question.
The issue isn’t “how to migrate SAP”, or even less “how Signavio can help”, it’s how well migrating SAP to the cloud serves your business.
The end goal, after all, is to boost business performance, and while migration is always a means, it is never an end. And if you’ve had SAP - or any other ERP implementation - for a few years, there’ll be a lot of cruft in the data you’re migrating such as inactive vendors. obsolete workflows and legacy accounts.
If you simply migrate all of it wholesale, you’re recreating those friction factors elsewhere, ultimately setting yourself up to slow your business processes down for years to come. (Signavio, by the way, is very, very good at helping you migrate everything.)
This piece illustrates a different approach - the view we take of migration at Mavim. It’s based not on migrating data per se, but on finding out what needs to change. Specifically, modelling the operational model you want, mining your existing processes to see where you are now, and planning a path between the two.
If you’re a SAP shop, these tips can help decide whether Signavio is for you … and even whether staying with SAP is the ideal choice in a cloud-based world.
Let’s make like migrants.
Comparing Signavio and Mavim: two different cultures
When you read reviews of Signavio, three weak points show up repeatedly. We’ll add a couple more that question why you might want to look elsewhere, but let’s be honest - to look at us.
1. Engineering brilliance, murkier UX
Signavio descended from a team of engineering royalty at the University of Potsdam’s renowned Hasso-Plattner Institute, who shares cultural kinship with new owner SAP. This team is based on a deeply technical culture, rooted in down-to-the-metal computer science and an obsessive attention to detail.
But engineering expertise doesn’t always make for better usability. (It’s why you can’t set your cooker clock or understand Gmail’s service updates.) In fact, several of Signavio’s reviews mention a lack of user friendliness and poor aesthetics of the user interface. From adding custom images to mixing different elements, it wasn’t designed for everyday users - and it shows.
Although Mavim’s got plenty of engineers (with the same obsessions) our goal is to solve user problems, not just engineering ones. Mavim’s Intelligent Transformation Platform isn’t for priests and wizards: we believe being able to understand business processes is everyone’s right, from boardroom to shopfloor.
After all, the first rule of any successful business transformation is to take your people with you. And when you put the UX first - for example, by putting process diagrams and annotations in familiar formats, like Visio, migrations tend to go faster and smoother.
2. The age-old integration issue
Clunkiness is another complaint about Signavio. Originally built on Open Source software, it suffers some of the same issues - a lack of integration between elements and difficulties with making all the parts work together, however brilliant they are in isolation. One reviewer writes, “Sometimes, some elements can be a bit clunky.”
That’s a problem with migration, because if clunkiness is there when you start your migration, it’ll still be there when you finish it.
Mavim has an advantage here: it’s based on Microsoft’s Azure infrastructure - and integrates closely with Microsoft applications large and small, like Microsoft Power BI. We don’t claim perfection, but Mavim users report an unusually shallow learning curve and early productivity gains when migrating, especially to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations - a competitor to SAP.
3. Silence on the reporting side
SAP, of course, has decades of experience providing intricate reports and journals. Signavio Process Manager? Not so much. In fact, reviews suggest its reporting capacity is very limited, “hindered by capacity & functionality”.
This isn’t necessarily a fault because it’s designed a certain way, to do a certain job. But if you’re planning a migration, strong reporting - on utilization, activity, and recency - tell you which data you actually need, and which needs consigning to legacy. Without these insights, you’re likely to simply migrate everything - taking all the flotsam and jetsam with you, and slowing down your new infrastructure…which isn’t a great idea.
Mavim, again thanks to its UX focus, is heavy on the feedback. If there’s one process for paying suppliers, yet 300 variants in how it’s actually done, simple diagrams and data will show you how bad the problem is by looking at actual transactions and audit trails within your data. With it, you can make a better decision and migrate the processes that work, and discard those that don’t.
You are, after all, migrating to improve your processes. Not duplicate the same ones.
4. A history of handholding
Here’s a comment from a Data Analyst in the financial sector:
“We had a two-day Zoom seminar with Signavio. Powerful features. But after two days we had no idea how to apply it to our business - so we went back to Visio.”
That’s not from a startup, in fact, it’s from one of the biggest global investment banks. (A company with a lot of experience dealing with data.) They could see Signavio’s value but having to learn a new application reduced its immediate applicability.
In brief: the PITA (pain in the ass) factor of adopting it was just too big.
At Mavim, we believe an understanding of processes benefits everybody. That’s why we devote huge resources to client handholding when we win a new customer. It is crucial to take them through each tool, be there when they have questions, and show them how they can get more value.
And to answer that Data Analyst: with Mavim’s Intelligent Transformation Platform, you can still use Visio when you migrate!
5. The story with SAP
Our last point doesn’t involve Signavio. It’s simply: after migration, do you really want an ERP setup that’s as complex as the one you have today?
Simple = good. Complex = bad. (Unless it is your competitors mired in complexity.)
This returns us to our first point: “migrating to the cloud” isn’t the main issue, improving your business is the point.
SAP is incredibly detailed, fine-grained, and feature-rich. It can do everything you’d ever want an ERP to do, as long as you are willing to devote the time and energy to it. And while Signavio’s Process Manager can help you take it to the cloud, thanks to the issues above, it’ll probably take all your current complexity with it.
That’s all we ask: take a second look at what you really want from your migration and consider that the opportunity to improve all your processes may be waiting for you with Mavim.
(And if you’re not on SAP: let’s face it, Signavio isn’t going to be interested in helping anyone non-SAP migrate from now on.)
Looking at Signavio? Look at Mavim too!
If you’re migrating to the cloud, remember you don’t have to stay with the same infrastructure. Business processes, after all, are ultimately just a series of connected transactions within data. And that data doesn’t have to be in SAP.
During a migration, you have a golden opportunity: re-examine all your processes, decide which ones to keep, and improve them. Discard what isn’t needed.
And that’s what we’d like to talk to you about. Contact us.