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Solution Delivery Insight: How to approach a transition to SAP’s S/4HANA

If you are considering a move to S/4HANA and are facing some concerns from business users, we have outlined the key points to help you decide.

What is S/4HANA?

S/4HANA is SAP’s next generation ERP solution. It is a completely new ERP suite based on an in-memory database, which enables you to perform transactions and analyze business data in real time.

S/4HANA offers business opportunities through simplification as well as offering operational and analytical reporting in one system.

What are the benefits to your organization of a transition to S/4HANA?

S/4HANA is the future-ready SAP ERP solution, and offers the full SAP potential and extensibility options. Older SAP ERP systems, such as ECC, will no longer be supported by SAP from 2030 and there will be an increase in the percentage charged for support fees past 2027. SAP describes the business processes in S/4HANA as ‘simplified’, which raises expectations of faster, data-driven decision making and increased business productivity.

You can also combine analytical and real-time operational reporting into one S/4HANA system, which is useful for real-time simulations, optimized month-end closing processes, forecasting or predictive analysis.

Fiori is the main user interface which offers an enhanced user experience and is available on any device, anywhere. The Fiori user interface can be used without S/4HANA, but for using the full Fiori potential S/4HANA is recommended.

Are you considering a transition to S/4HANA?

We have spoken to a few customers who are hesitant about transferring their existing SAP ERP into an S/4HANA solution. These are the main concerns we are able to help you resolve:

The S/4HANA solution was launched in 2015, making it a mature product. This means you are no longer an early adopter and there are more implementation options available to you. Transferring an SAP ERP system into an S/4HANA system is not a technical upgrade, it is an implementation project with your business as an important stakeholder.

Which transition path is best for your organization?

There are several ways you can move towards S/4HANA.

  1. Your first transition option starts with a ‘green field’ implementation, a new S/4HANA system. If you choose this path, you are starting with a clean and optimized system, with all S/4HANA features ready to be used from the outset. We recommend this approach if your strategy is to stick to the S/4HANA standard. SAP Best Practices and pre-packaged S/4HANA content can make the process even more efficient.
  2. Your second option is a ‘brown field’ implementation, which converts your existing SAP ERP. The main advantage is that you don’t lose your previous SAP customizations or development work. You also don’t need to convert every process to S/4HANA immediately. A converted S/4HANA system can be a combination of ERP and S/4 processes, while you phase out the ERP processes and phase in the new S/4 functionalities. If you opt for this approach, it’s worth considering that not everything that works in SAP ERP can be converted in its existing state to S/4HANA.
  3. Your third option is a selective data transition. With this path, you can consolidate multiple ERP systems into one S/4HANA system in a fully tailored approach. We recommend this for large companies where SAP ERP is used throughout the organization.

Whichever transition path you choose, you don’t need to completely freeze your ongoing projects during the transition, but we would advise you to limit change requests wherever possible.

Should you run S/4HANA on-premise or in the cloud?

The following diagram shows the key differences between cloud and on-premise deployment:


The main difference is the amount of control. If you want to be able to customize S/4HANA to suit your needs, you would likely choose an on-premise deployment.

If you want to adapt your business processes to S/4HANA best practices, would prefer a fast deployment and an easy maintenance strategy, a cloud deployment would suit you. Note that SAP offer several cloud deployment strategies such as:

  • Private Cloud
    • SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC)
    • 3rd party provider e.g. AWS
  • Public Cloud
    • S/4HANA Cloud

How your organization could benefit from a transition to S/4HANA

The key benefits of an S/4HANA transition are:

• Your SAP system is up-to-date and future-proof
• S/4HANA has a maintenance guarantee until the end of 2040
• You have access to the full potential of SAP and all its extensibility options
• You can combine operational and analytical reporting
• You enjoy future SAP innovations which are no longer available in ERP
• Fiori offers an enhanced user experience

Transitioning with minimum impact on your business

Our Solution Delivery specialists recognize the transition to S/4HANA is a significant undertaking, with functional impact on your users and technical impact on your IT landscape. Whatever stage you’re at, we can guide you – from validating your initial transition path to designing a full, in-depth transition roadmap. Please contact us to find out more.

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