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S/4HANA – What do I need to do now?

Whilst the announcement of S/4HANA may be seen as exciting and interesting to analysts and customers there are an army of consultants whom may have to learn some more skills to benefit from the new technology. There are numerous articles that focus on the new functionality and the approach I
thought of taking a new view to focus on what this means to a SAP consultant.

I will try and be as inclusive as possible – but the breadth of the SAP solution portfolio is extremely broad and I may not cover off specific areas.


Ok – once you get your head around the name or naming and what it actually means, and what is included my first recommendation would be to look who could use the new solution. I believe there are just under 40,000 SAP Business Suite solutions live on the planet. Some of these customers may have more than one solution (instance) – however that is a pretty big number that will need to migrate/ upgrade to S/4HANA.  There are also a bunch of net-new customers out there too !! Now there are a number of approaches to migrate/ upgrade to S/4HANA – and that is the first area that I would recommend people research and get up to speed on.

In terms of migration/ upgrade there are three specifics to focus on:

1 – What are the options to migrate to S/HANA? – Cloud/ On Prem, Side car options, drip feed, or big bang.

2 – What are the constraints/ pre-requisites that are needed to migrate to the chosen path

3 – How do you actually perform the migration/ upgrade – what does a project look like.

Having migration skills, knowledge and experience will become very valuable over the coming years. As I write this article, there are no live customers using S/4HANA. I am aware of customers trialling out the product, so this will be a real growth area once customers start to migrate/ upgrade to S/4HANA.

Solution knowledge is the second area I would recommend people to focus on. There is a bunch of new functionality that has been released with Simple Finance (launched in June 2014) and the volume of screens/ transactions migrating to SAP Fiori increases quarter by quarter. Being able to understand what the functionality does, the benefit it provides, and most importantly what you need to activate it, will help customers make the choice to move to S/4HANA. In a number of customers, the historical restrictions of SAP have become embedded, and the expectation levels have been adjusted accordingly. With some of the new functionality within Simple Finance the immovable restrictions that were there within R/3 are now removed and month end processes and reporting become simpler.

Code, code, code. As standard a SAP Business Suite solution is made up of millions of lines of code. Customers then add additional code, tables, transactions, screens and reports. The historic code delivered by SAP can be modified to utilise the new Simple processes within S/4HANA as standard – however the bespoke stuff will need to be reviewed and amended if this is still required. Functional resources need to review all of the bespoke and understand the benefit of it in the new S/4HANA world. If required the code may need to be modified to meet the new SAP HANA standards and processes. At the same time, it is a great chance to get rid of code that adds no value leading to a leaner SAP environment

New tools. I am aware calling out SAP Fiori as a new tool is a bit short sighted. The product has nearly been around 2 years now, and adoption has really taken off. However the sheer scale of the transactions that are now available via SAP Fiori (especially in the Simple Finance area) provides a real opportunity for further tweaking. I called out last year the career advantages of working with SAP Fiori and SAP UI5, the momentum behind SAP Fiori is really growing and it will continue to do so, so understand how the technology works, and how some of the standard Fiori apps could be improved by simple tweaks. There is also the release of “ SAP Intelligent Business Operations” which replaces “SAP PI”. I wont pretend I know too much about this – however a change in direction and functionality for “PI” – which many customers use, signals to me a potential growth area for relevant consultants.

Lastly, SAP have announced that they will be releasing demo environments that users an  customers can use to learn more about S/4HANA. This will be based on the cloud solution, and whilst provide some insight, the ability to change configuration items will be removed. The idea is to help people visualise the new solution. Further to this there is a new SAP Open SAP course focused on S/4HANA. This course will run at the end of March – enrol and participate.

What are the areas that you are interested in? I have not covered platforms, landscapes, integration to BW on HANA solutions, reporting and integration points to non-SAP ECC solutions, however all will be impacted !!

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    • There will be a requirement for functional consultants.

      The volume of banging away in the system configuring it may be reduced, however understanding how it works, testing the solution and advising the client will always be required.

      • Dear Mark,

        thanks for the explanation, with MM, SD,CRM, all of them coming as single package (if what i read on the web is true), would there be consultants for individual modules or would there be something different ? any guess on this, alas we need to wait until March 25 to find it out : – )

        • That is a good point.

          The modules will stay, CRM will be a different box, however via the cloud based S4/HANA solution the Fiori screens will show the process, and if you have  FI/CO, SD and CRM transactions assigned to you – you can consume them all via the same role and it would seem to the user as the same system.

          • I dont think that will be the case.

            You require specific process knowledge to design, build and test a module like FICO – you would not normally have the same level of knowledge and detail in CRM, SCM etc.

  • How S4 HANA will impact the SAP Functional consultants? Will S4HANA increase the chances of a  functional consultant to become techno functional consultant? Would every coding be again in ABAP.

  • I have 2 years experience in sap abap . Which module i.e SAP HANA or SAP UI5 / SAP Fiori is suitable for better future prospective ?Please suggest me.

    • I dont believe someone should tell you what to do – I would turn this around – what area is of most interest to you.

      Would you like working on the front end, and designing new screens, or the back end linking the new Fiori screens with the standard data.

  • Hi Mark,

    I am a ABAP developer with 4 years of experience. My experience is in ECC mostly. I am interested to move my career in HANA. So for past few months was trying to learn HANA. But it seems that without a BI/BW background its very difficult to move in HANA because all companies are looking for experienced professional only with BI/BW. I would like to know your thought about moving career from ABAP with ECC background to HANA. In this case what will be the necessary skill sets to have.

    • Hi! mark,

                    Can u please tell me the roadmap to SAP HANA….and can u please tell Supratik question u.because i too wanna know the answer….

      • Hi Delliker

        What do you mean by the roadmap to SAP HANA?

        Is this the migration path to SAP HANA?

        Is this for ECC systems?

        Is this about what an ABAP consultant needs to do to get into SAP HANA?

    • Hi Suparatik

      HANA can be many things.

      SAP released BW on HANA first, and therefore there has been more work in that space. With S/4HANA there will be more ECC work, and therefore demand for ABAP resource that understand the ABAP principals.

      • HI! mark,

                          Thanks a lot for ur,u mean in S4HANA there will need of ABAPERS? if yes,then again there will chnage in SAP ABAP or not?

        Is this about what an ABAP consultant needs to do to get into SAP HANA?

        • Writing code in a tradtional SAP ECC client and in a S/4HANA solution will be slightly different.

          Understanding the difference and the new approach will be worth investigating

          • It is not an area where I can give you all of the answers, I think you need to find this out yourself.

            And when you do, it would be good to read a blog from you around your experiences and recommendations.

  • Hey Mark,

    Thanks for your insight and the post.

    From my understanding, I see that S/4 HANA migration is the way forward for companies wanting to operate in the cloud/hybrid/on-premise. The 40,000 you mentioned might increase over the coming years.

    My thinking is, for S/4 HANA migration, we need experts to overlook the migration. Or this migration will take place through SAP itself via packages and s/w updates?