I have had quite a few questions from consultants, asking me what they need to learn before they can also do something in S/4HANA. There are rumors it is completely different.
Also where can you find resources to see the differences?
Well, let’s try to answer this.
First the question: How different is S/4HANA from ECC. Is it completely different?
Most of your familiar transactions are still there. SPRO, SE80, PFCG, etc.
The transport system is comparable and from an SAP specialist point of view, actually the customizing is not so much different. The menu structure in SPRO can be somewhat different, and there are new components and version numbers on support.sap.com
Is then ECC and S/4HANA almost the same?
There are too much changes and for some important areas, the approach has been changed significantly.
Here are some noteworthy topics specific for S/4HANA:
Business partner replacing Customer and Vendor master (and Employee + User).
With S/4HANA you will have to use the business partner (BP) for your customer and vendor master. It will still replicate to the old SD and MM tables, but the SD and MM transactions will no longer work.
There is an extensive note on this: https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/2265093
There is also an option to have One BP per legal entity. With this you can assign multiple customers/suppliers to one business partner. You have to decide what route is preferred to take, since it is not easy to switch over on a later moment.
This option will allow you, for example, to create one BP for a customer, but to also have multiple ship-to addresses without these creating additional BPs.
Another important topic to mention here, is to keep the Customer and Vendor aligned. A business partner can be extended. A customer can become a vendor and vice versa. When you use another grouping, with a different number range for your vendors, and then extend the vendor to also be a customer, you get customer numbers with numbers that are not in the customer number range.
For HR/Employee: HR is still there, there even is an app to upload employees as a mass change.
However, HR is no longer in use to do HR things. You use it in sales, workflow, procurement, etc. but not for HR as such. This can be confusing.
For the employee to BP replication, there is a note: https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/2578294
The process itself is straightforward. However monitoring and error fixing can be a bit harder.
For the user master there is a similar note:
Ideal is to have the employee and user master linked to the same BP. This however might require some alignment within your organization: There will be one single point where the address is stored. This address will then be applicable for HR, user and BP. I would suggest to use the BP for this, as is intended.
There is some information on this, in this note: https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/2570961
Merge of solutions from SAP
SAP implemented the strategy to deliver core functionality in the Core, that can be extended by no more then one additional product. The result of this, is that you sometimes have to look for a solution because it can be that functionality has changed or that a product seems to be missing from the offering.
For example in the procurement area, there was an overlap between ECC, SRM and Ariba. SRM is phased out, and the SRM functionality has been moved to either the S/4HANA core, or to Ariba.
Added to that, also a lot or products have been renamed. Hybris products are an example of that, but also PPM 6.1 is now called SAP Portfolio and Project Management for SAP S/4HANA 1.0. On premise, there are not many differences between PPM 6.1 and PPM for S/4HANA.
In order to find the right product(s) it is important to review the roadmaps. These can be found here:
Also review the product availability matrix.
A big part of SAP has been ‘simplified’. This can implicate minor changes, but sometimes also can have a big impact. There have been changes in tables and structures, but there is also functionality that will not be made available in S/4HANA (for example the earlier mentioned HR).
On the S/4HANA help pages, there is a simplification list that will reflect the impact from ECC > S/4HANA. The list is huge, but in my experience 90% of what is in the document can be ignored because it is really outdated SAP functionality that will be unavailable or there is a clear new functionality available. The other 10% can give some headaches though…
In my experience this is the hardest part of the change to S/4HANA for experienced users.
You as a SAP consultant, architect, etc. will probably still use the GUI to do config and master data changes. For the user however, it is possibly the best option to switch to the Fiori Launchpad.
There are some points you have to take into account here:
1: Not all transactions have a replacement Fiori app.
You can find all Fiori apps in the Fiori app library: https://fioriappslibrary.hana.ondemand.com/sap/fix/externalViewer/
You can search by role, industry, etc. here. You will however find that not all functionality has yet been covered. SAP uses a pyramid model for this: The few modules that are used the most frequent got highest priority in moving to Fiori (e.g. Finance, procurement and sales), and other modules get less attention (e.g. GTM). For most products I did not see discrimination in the favor of a licensed add-on getting priority with Fiori. When a topic gets Fiori apps, this will cover also the core.
2: I personally do not like the simplified data entry the best option for ‘power users’. For example when you create a sales order in the GUI, you have a table. In this table you enter from the overview screen the materials, quantity and price. You can cover multiple items in one go.
In Fiori, you basically enter the header of the document. To add an item, you click the + button and you will be forwarded to the item screen. If you want to add a price, you again click on the + button and you will be forwarded to the item conditions. For another item you have to go back twice and click the + button again to add the other item.
The advantage of this, is that is really fool proof and easy to train to new personell. I do think it is more work though. However that is also what all users told me when they had to move from R/2 to R/3 and had to starting a mouse.
3: When a transaction does not have a Fiori alternative, or when the fiori alternative does not suit your needs, you can create a UI5 tile. This basically is a webgui version of the transaction. The advantage is that you can keep the neat fiori launchpad. The downside is that UI5 is just not the GUI. It does take some getting use to the menu, shortkeys, etc. This is especially relevant for ECC > S/4HANA moves with users familiar with the GUI.
The Fiori experience in general is Super. The KPI tiles add a lot of value, the enterprise search is great. I am sure CoPilot will change the user experience big time.
Please have a look at these resources:
Fiori Lighthouse scenarios:
With the lighthouse scenario’s, you can offer the users an overview screen per topic with great real time reports and transactional data. One filter covers all the elements on the page. Feedback from the users has been more then positive.
Then there is and will be CoPilot:
Copilot is a digital assistant and it will be available in the launchpad and as a mobile app. I have been testing with this in a customer engagement project, and it is fabulous. I really think this can be a game changer, it will enhance the way we work with SAP.