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CIO’s Guide for next generation SAP World

Do not migrate, re-implement your SAP

If you are running SAP for your business, soon you will be making some fundamental decisions for the future of your business application portfolio. The digital world is evolving at a blistering pace and the need for the technology for business growth is becoming an essential part of the business success. Especially for some businesses, there is no other option than using the latest technology available to survive and stay competitive.

SAP announced a new digital strategy and a new business suite in early 2015 mainly running on SAP HANA platform which they claim it to be the biggest innovation since SAP R/3. This was not the only announcement to complete the parts in the SAP’s digital strategy jigsaw, there were few other acquisitions earlier helping to complete the puzzle. SuccessFactor, Ariba, Concur,Hybris, Business Objects.

The million-dollar question here is, how are you going to shape up your strategy and use all or some of those new technology products in your IT landscape without disrupting your business.

Here is my view

S/4 HANA and New User Interface

SAP front-end has always been criticized by users as being very technical and unfriendly. SAP S/4 HANA is changing the user interface using the Fiori UX technology. It will take some time for SAP to complete the development for commonly used scenarios, but it is a very good start. S/4 Simple Finance was introduced to start of with and it looks good. It is not only including daily business transactions but also instant insight in Finance. There is still a long way to go for SAP for all other scenarios.

For existing ERP 6.0 users, the biggest challenge would be to migrate to S/4 HANA, there may be a tremendous amount of work to integrate the existing bespoke z developments. SAP is offering an integration platform on UI5 for custom developments but it may take some time. Also before you start doing all, you must have been upgraded to SAP HANA database if you are already on anyDB. That may be something you need to check from the investment and landscape point of view. SAP announced that the support and development for the existing SAP Business Suite (ERP and others) will continue at least until 2025 but doing nothing until 2025 in this ever-changing technology environment is a tough call. You may need to adapt yourself at some point unless you choose to deploy another vendor’s portfolio.

I have been working with SAP since 1995 and been involved in many end-to-end SAP projects. My experience is telling me that in order to make the most from a business system, you need to refresh the whole system in every 5-7 years. I truly mean a re-implementation with a fresh start. The reason behind is obvious. We all know that the first year after the implementation is the cooling period and people will start warming up with the system, after the cooling period, systems start to get busy and busy with too many data and report and development. After some time, those stuff become unmanageable and unnecessary in some cases. A new projects is always a big chance for your business to redefine everything based on the past lessons learned. Putting it into context, if you are considering using S/4 HANA , rather than migrating your old legacy implementation, do start from the scratch and start a new project as a greenfield SAP S/4 HANA implementation. It may seem that it is more costly and difficult, but you will see that it will be much better in the long run from the success of the implementation point of view.

SAP S/4HANA is the next-generation business suite. It is a new product fully built on the most advanced in-memory platform today – SAP HANA – and modern design principles with the SAP Fiori user experience (UX). SAP S/4HANA delivers massive simplifications (customer adoption, data model, user experience, decision making, business processes, and models) and innovations (Internet of Things, Big Data, business networks, and mobile-first) to help businesses run simple in the digital economy.

SAP Cloud Solutions

SuccessFactor is already a proven success in the HCM area and I believe its integration with new business suite products will be improved to support the connected business going forward to excel. To me everything other than payroll can easily be implemented using SF and I have seen many hassle-free implementations around.

Hybris Marketing and e-commerce, personally I think this is a very promising move for SAP to acquire Hybris. SAP CRM has never been good enough in terms of usability and many customers had difficulty implementing SAP CRM.

Connected Business Scenarios– In my past SAP experience, I always worked with big companies trying to integrate their business with other businesses. Practically supply chain and finance integration has never successfully been implemented. There were always some automation and integration works between companies but it was limited to some extent. I believe Ariba and Concur will find a wider ground to achieve sought-after integration.


The following part is taken from one of the document that SAP issued in August 2015 where you can find some answers for you questions

  1. How does SAP S/4HANA relate to SAP’s existing portfolio of cloud solutions? SAP S/4HANA is also available with a cloud edition. However, SAP S/4HANA will not replace our existing portfolio of line-of-business cloud solutions; it will integrate with and expand it. Our comprehensive offering is planned to allow SAP S/4HANA customers to build hybrid scenarios between SAP S/4HANA and cloud solutions from SAP, including those from SuccessFactors and Ariba as well as integration with SAP hybris Marketing, Fieldglass and SAP JAM. This way customers can leverage the cloud at their own pace, based on their needs, while keeping all the integration and business benefits of their existing SAP solutions. In addition, SAP S/4HANA is designed to easily connect with global business networks such as, for example, the Ariba Network and Concur (planned)
  2. Will SAP continue to deliver innovations to SAP Business Suite customers on any DB? Yes. SAP remains committed to protect our customers’ investments. We recently announced that we are extending our maintenance commitment until at least 2025. This is an unprecedented commitment to customers in the IT industry. We will also continue to deliver innovations without disruption (through enhancement packages for example) to SAP Business Suite customers on any DB and on SAP HANA. However, transformational business and IT simplifications require a transformational platform and this is why as of today SAP S/4HANA runs only on SAP HANA. It is the logical next step for our installed base customers and the biggest step forward for 10+ years with full compatibility with SAP ERP 6.0.
  3. What is the typical journey for an existing SAP Business Suite customer? Moving to SAP S/4HANA, on-premise edition for a typical ERP 6.x customer will require a database migration to SAP HANA followed by the installation of the new code. Both database migration and new code installation can be completed in one step. Moving to SAP S/4HANA, on-premise edition for a SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA customer is even faster as only the installation of the new code is required since the SAP HANA database migration has already been performed. Both journeys are well proven in the market with several hundred live SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA customers as well as SAP Simple Finance live customers
  4. What is the typical journey for a net-new customer? The journey is defined by a net-new implementation of an SAP S/4HANA system with simpler adoption – example: guided configuration, easy onboarding from the discovery of the solution through cloud trials to the deployment with preconfigured best practices. We defined three major scenarios supported by tools and pre-configuration delivered through our SAP Rapid Deployment solutions: You can explore the full journey map for a comprehensive overview:
  5. What happens to existing modifications when a customer moves to SAP S4/HANA? In any scenario, the move to SAP S/4HANA is a great opportunity to validate the existing modifications and simplify your solution. It is not unusual for customers to realize that 50% of the modifications that hamper fast release cycles and require long test cycles were no longer necessary to run the business. When moving to SAP S/4HANA, customers can leverage the SAP HANA Cloud Platform to manage their extensions. In fact, standard field extensions can directly be done within the SAP Fiori UX while SAP HANA Cloud Platform can be leveraged for more significant developments. In general, the SAP S/4HANA extension framework uses SAP HANA as the common platform and offers additional choices, such as the integration of open source solutions. The extension framework has the advantage to isolate modifications from the core and drive agility for onpremise deployments and safeguard agility for cloud deployments. This means that rather than modifying the core code, enhancements are put in a “safe” environment so that innovation packages can be easily applied. The core SAP S/4HANA system remains “clean” and can be quickly and easily updated when new innovations are added, in just the same way that consumer mobile apps are updated on a regular basis.
  6. What happens to existing legacy interfaces if a customer moves to SAP S/4HANA? SAP S/4HANA, on-premise edition, currently supports the existing published legacy interfaces.
  7. How does SAP S/4HANA relate to and coexist with the existing SAP landscapes? A single installation can run either SAP S/4HANA or the traditional SAP Business Suite (on SAP HANA or any DB) but not both at the same time. However, customers can decide to move separate installations within their landscape individually to SAP S/4HANA and do not need a “big bang” migration for their whole system landscape. Thus, customers can run in a mixed environment with some installations running SAP S/4HANA and others the traditional SAP Business Suite (on SAP HANA or any DB). As SAP S/4HANA and SAP Business Suite are using semantically consistent data structures, a move to SAP S/4HANA is non-disruptive.
  8. Can a customer choose to run the traditional SAP user interface and custom screens or is SAP Fiori mandatory? All SAP S/4HANA innovations are intended to be delivered with SAP Fiori UX providing the same experience on all devices. However, a customer using SAP S/4HANA, on-premise edition can still use the traditional user interfaces.
  9. How does SAP S/4HANA relate to SAP Business ByDesign and SAP Business One? SAP Business ByDesign remains a dedicated end-to-end cloud ERP application for midsize companies that want to run their entire business on single cloud application. SAP Business One remains a dedicated ERP option for small businesses in all industries.
  10. How does SAP S/4HANA relate to SAP BW? SAP BW will continue to represent the preferred solution for strategic enterprise data warehousing to help customers consolidate data from different sources (including SAP and nonSAP data sources) and get a consistent view across the enterprise. SAP BW has also been optimized to run on the SAP HANA platform: SAP BW powered by SAP HANA. SAP S/4HANA delivers built-in real-time operational reporting capabilities covering all typical analytics use-cases in the context of the suite. Therefore, SAP BW will continue to act as our central enterprise data warehouse solution.
  11. What is SAP Activate? SAP Activate offers ready-to-run digitized business processes optimized for SAP S/4HANA. This new experience allows customers to flexibly choose the right approach for their business needs, be it a new implementation, integration or migration scenario. SAP Activate starts with SAP Best Practices packages for any implementation and uses one methodology for any deployment mode — cloud, on premise or hybrid. This implementation methodology is a unique combination of SAP best practices, methodology, and guided configuration to help customers and partners to deploy SAP S/4HANA with a quick time to value. SAP Best Practices SAP Best Practices for SAP S/4HANA provide ready-to-run digitized financial and operational business processes integrated with other cloud solutions, such as SuccessFactors® Employee Central or Ariba Network. These SAP Best Practices guide customers through the migration process to SAP S/4HANA, whether customers migrate from a non-SAP database to SAP S/4HANA or from legacy systems to SAP S/4HANA.

About the Author :

Gürkan Altıner is currently working as the CIO for Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, he has been working with SAP and business systems for the past 20 years. He started his career as an SAP consultant and completed many end-to-end SAP implementations at different top multinational organisations.

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