Planning an S/4HANA Implementation and Migration the Right Way


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SAP will stop supporting its Business Suite 7 software by 2027. Your ERP will be without technical support if your business doesn’t leap SAP S/4HANA before then.

This is the carrot half of SAP’s carrot-and-sticks motivation. S/4HANA is the carrot half. It is a future solution that boasts many features, including advanced analytics, consolidated approach ERP systems, and other benefits that can enormously benefit such a critical business backbone.

It is essential to consider the time and method of migration to S/4HANA carefully. This includes planning for downtime, implementation methods, and how you will best use S/4HANA’s functionality. Although it is tempting to put off this project until 2027, the more time you give to the project will make less valuable and complex.

Don’t wait until the last minute. These best practices will help you plan your S/4HANA migration.

This article will explain the announcement and options for migrating your business.


SAP S/4HANA Migrating Strategy: What Does it Mean?

Initial reactions by jaded observers interpreted this announcement as part of a series of moves by SAP to take on Oracle and Microsoft. Other industry analysts think that forcing customers to pay might not be a good idea.

SAP claims that SAP S/4HANA will provide customers with more excellent value and efficiency. No matter the reason, the effects are authentic and will last a lifetime.

There are hundreds of thousands of SAP clients worldwide, and over 75 percent of global transaction revenue is processed through SAP solutions. SAP applications could be a critical and integral part of your business model. Your enterprise will need to invest in a project that can take many years and cost millions to continue to reap the benefits of SAP. This could include:

  • Prototyping and mapping critical business processes in migration
  • Analyzing SAP’s customizations (tables, programs, front-ends, and mobile apps) to determine what and how to move it;
  • S/4HANA can be used to adapt legacy applications.

You must dedicate your most valuable resources to the migration project, even if it takes years. This can limit your company’s ability to innovate. The knowledge and expertise of the most critical teams will be focused on ensuring that your business processes are correctly implemented.

SAP 4/HANA also has fewer customization options than older SAP options. This could impact your differentiation customized processes.

As you can see, there is the possibility of business disruption during the process.

This is not good news when your company requires innovative business applications and extreme agility.

This migration is not a bad thing. Based on reviews from Capterra and G2 Crowd, and TrustRadius users, SAP S/4HANA offers many benefits to IT and business enterprises, including stability, speed, real-time data reporting, and a rich feature list.

There are many options for migration. This means that you have the chance to make the jump to S/4HANA.

SAP S/4HANA Migrating Options

Experts at SAP and other sap solutions companies can offer a variety of ways to handle a switch from SAP 4/HANA. However, there are three that are most commonly recommended.

Greenfield Approach

The Greenfield approach is one of many migration options. It’s a complete implementation of S/4HANA.

Greenfield is an architectural term that refers to starting over on land that has not been used before. It can be either data migration only or none at all for S/4HANA. You can eliminate legacy customizations and streamline processes.

Full Migration

A complete migration approach is converting an SAP system to SAP 4HANA. This method is often called “lift-and-shift.”

This scenario uses SAP Software Update Manager to migrate any database from an enterprise that does not use SAP HANA. Enterprises can use SAP cloud or SAP partner development tools to address the issue of application customization.

Hybrid Migration

Organizations must analyze their current SAP services to identify custom applications, functionality, or interfaces outside the core.

To develop non-vanilla parts and applications for the system, enterprises can use the low code platform before the migration. To make migration more accessible, it is a good idea to do this work ahead of time.

Your business can then use S/4HANA to do what SAP excels at–enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management–and other applications for what it does not.

Which SAP Migration option is the best?

Each option is best for specific types of enterprises and their SAP systems.

Enterprises with Decades-Old SAP Systems

Greenfield was the best option for enterprises with SAP software older than 20 years. This was due to the complexity of the system and years of customizing. They could use the technology shift as a springboard to rewrite their processes.

Remote work has made it difficult for many to take on lifts-and-shift. This is because there is a greater chance of issues needing to be addressed on time.

This approach required significant investment to create a new system and a waterfall analysis of the current system and the processes that would be changed. The greenfield option allows you to run the existing system and install the new one. Still, it is possible for some business disruption.

One-Stop Shoppers

SAP software providers that make the most of every SAP tool available will be able to migrate fully. These companies value having access to a complete suite of SAP and partner solutions to create modern SAP projects and applications. If they don’t have the time or resources to manage multiple vendor offerings and ensure data consistency, why would they?

There are downsides to vendor lock-in that leaves no way for technology to change, last-mile UI customization, and narrow parametrization of data and workflow. This option is the most likely to cause business disruption.

Create Your Future

Gartner states that the future ERP is “composible.” This means that monolithic ERP systems cannot meet the agility demands of the new normal. Customers looking to integrate the best-in-class applications and data with their business can break down an ERP into “parts.” This gives them new options and allows them to create fantastic customer experiences and perfect-fit software solutions. They:

  • Don’t want to be tied down to one vendor.
  • Don’t need a major system implementation but requires finite resources for innovation.
  • Need to adapt to changes in digital technology or the market.

Green Cargo faced the challenge of an SAP-based, highly customized logistics system. This would have made it difficult to move to newer SAP versions. Instead, they learned how to build a scalable microservices-oriented architecture from their legacy systems and create the applications that make a difference.

As Green Cargo did, the key to achieving these goals is the right low-code platform. It must be enterprise-grade and SAP-certified and offer SAP connectors or integrations.

Migration to S/4HANA remains a possibility, but that is a minor drawback. It’s more complex than a complete conversion or a new implementation. However, only the vanilla SAP aspects are being moved. This option is also risk-free for business disruption.

Tips for Migration to SAP S/4HANA

See what “done” looks and feels like.

What is the ultimate goal of your ERP architecture? Are you able to enable mergers and acquisitions? Are there best-of-breed applications from third parties? What other factors are most important to your SAP environment? The S/4HANA migration means starting from the end.

Determine what to simplify, what to enhance, and what to keep.

The application and the part of your business it touches will determine what you keep and what you change. S/4HANA’s standard processes may be beneficial in one area, such as finance. Some processes, such as billing, are so customized that any change would disrupt a mission-critical area of the business. You will need to map out every module, component, and process likely to be affected by the new environment and then make decisions about how to improve, streamline, or preserve them.

Calculate how much data you will need to migrate.

S/4HANA and its advanced analytics can only be accessed by transferring data from your existing ERP. This includes configuration data, master data, and historical data. This historical data allows S/4HANA to make its models more accurate and predictive. To reap the benefits of S/4HANA analytics, you must determine how much historical and other data you will need to migrate. This decision must be made with other factors, such as how much additional memory is required for the HANA database to increase costs.

Develop a strategy to reduce migration roadblocks.

The most popular methods for executing a S/4HANA Migration are Brownfield and Greenfield.

Greenfield is a complete shift from the existing platform to the new platform. It wipes the slate clean and starts over with a new business environment. This new approach replaces any custom code that was used previously by the company. Brownfield is, however, more of a technical update. Brownfield, on the other hand, is not restructuring or wiping away existing code. It is a lift and shifts software update.

Every organization’s path to migration will be different. While Brownfield and Greenfield are the most popular avenues for doing so, they also have drawbacks. Greenfield’s method of starting from scratch makes it challenging to implement new business processes. Brownfield’s broad-brush approach means that all data, objects, and customizations are transferred to the new system regardless of relevance. Organizations need help deciding which business processes to upgrade, which components to retire, and which S/4HANA capabilities to use.

Search for a migration partner who specializes in selecting.

However, your choice of migration method can be flexible. Some SAP cloud migration services partners specializing in SAP transformation projects might offer mix-and-match approaches that allow you to choose which parts of Brownfield or Greenfield you want to use in your S/4HANA Migration. You can, for example, take the technical updates from Greenfield or the new Brownfield installs without sacrificing the business process or policy updates you would otherwise lose.

Finding the right SAP solutions company to onboard you on a S/4HANA Migration journey is crucial. This will ensure that you get the best value from the project. You should look for a partner who is well-versed in SAP environments and can explain the intricacies of a S/4HANA Migration. Software-driven, automated processes that allow for greater precision in selecting what to migrate, what should be installed, and what to leave behind will result in more business process efficiencies, excellent business value, less human error, and fewer omissions.

The partner must also be able to adapt to remote delivery models that have become more common in post-Covid-19 environments. A partner who can assist with your S/4HANA migration remotely should have the ability to provide information documentation, collaboration tools, and track records of success in remote migration projects.


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