All SAP S/4HANA Journeys Are Hybrid

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Meet the Experts

  • Uma Vanka

    Partner, C&SI - NextGEN Enterprise Transformation, TCS

    Expert since 2023

Key Takeaways

⇨ SAP S/4 HANA is the digital core, opening doors to the world of innovation.

⇨ Move to SAP S/4 HANA must be strategic to become up to date on the trends driven by emerging technologies.

⇨ Brownfield, greenfield, and SDT are various pathways to get there. All of them provide the opportunities to take advantage of innovation provided by S/4.

Greenfield. Brownfield. Selective Data Transition — “How” to implement an SAP S/4HANA Migration

For ERP Central Component (ECC) customers, an SAP S/4HANA migration is not a matter of if, but when. However, this journey is not straightforward and involves questions around what, why, when, and how to migrate. This blog discusses the “how” part of it. Adding a couple of points on what, why, and how to migrate, it should be stressed that these must not be driven by technology.

“What” and “why” must be a part of a larger organizational strategy and need to be driven by business value. “When” must be answered by when value would be optimized. SAP ECC will eventually run out of support or potential savings, and IT costs alone should never be drivers for moving to S/4.

“How” to migrate is partly technical and complex. This involves another series of questions like:

  • Do you move to cloud first?
  • Does one move the entire landscape to cloud?
  • What cloud do we choose—public, private, or hybrid?
  • What about edge computing requirements?
  • How do you use the opportunity to consolidate applications? How many applications can be consolidated?
  • How can multiple applications or SAP instances be consolidated?
  • How can we secure applications in this increasingly vulnerable cyber world?

There are countless such questions. However, two things are clear—the “how” is not an easy question to answer and should be a part of a larger IT strategy.

Now, zooming into one specific part of the “how” in migrating from ECC to S/4. Greenfield, brownfield, and selective data transfer approaches are used for such a migration. However, many think that brownfield upgrades existing processes and data into S/4. Selective data transfer allows you to leave the “garbage” behind and move to the new SAP S/4HANA house by selectively bringing data, while greenfield allows complete process reengineering through a brand-new SAP S/4HANA system. But most forget that SAP configuration is also data.

However, many (wrongly) equate brownfield to technical migration, greenfield to transformation, and selective data transfer (SDT) to an intermediate hybrid. Every SAP S/4HANA migration is a transformation program as SAP S/4 forms the digital core, opening the doors for a larger digital transformation. Beside the possibilities beyond the S/4 deployment, every S/4HANA migration in itself brings along transformation, and the options referenced are simply the paths to this journey.

If organizations consider their existing ECC systems on one side (let’s, say left) and leading practices-based system on the other (let’s, say right), they start from the left in the case of brownfield and from the right in the case of greenfield. However, in both cases, organizations must move in the opposite direction to be successful. For example, organizations must keep their popular processes, potentially including some enhancements in the case of greenfield.

Similarly, they must embrace innovation in the case of brownfield; some mandatory and some taking advantage of the simplifications and innovations offered by S/4. In other words, every S/4HANA migration is hybrid, allowing organizations to bring in the best from their existing world and their peers. But the SDT approach is not hybrid in this sense. SDT simply allows organizations to bring in data selectively.

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