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Learn the key facts about a system conversion to SAP S/4HANA

Many SAP ECC 6.x customers are trying to decide the best way to get to SAP S/4HANA. Customers want to know who has successfully done this, what the effort is like, and how to deal with change management.

I’d like to equip you with some facts that can end the hesitation, guide your decision-making, and ease these very real concerns. I will start by sharing deployment trends tracked by the SAP S/4HANA solution management team based on implementation data they collected from hundreds of customers with live S/4HANA deployments. In part two of my blog, I’ll point to real customer success stories and give you links to free tools that you can use now to begin exploring your path to S/4HANA.

Let’s get started.

Fact: There are two ways to get to SAP S/4HANA. You will pick one of them to get there.

In 2018, SAP observed a 50/50 split of customers either moving 1) via system conversion or 2) via new implementation. A new survey conducted by IDC in April of this year (Getting to the Intelligent Enterprise: Modernization, Rationalization and Innovation Survey, May, 2019) reveals that out of the 300 customers surveyed, approximately half will do a system conversion from SAP ERP to keep current data configuration and customizations. The other half of respondents will do a completely new implementation. 54% of respondents plan to deploy S/4HANA within three years.

When you understand that there are essentially only two routes to S/4HANA, it will simplify and organize the journey and make the decisions easier. Every other decision will flow from this one. We have recently published a guide to this critical decision. I highly recommend reading it, especially pages 7-11.

Fact: On average, system conversions for installed-base customers are three months faster than new implementations.

The reason for this is simple: Customers who undertake a system conversion keep their configuration and customizations. A technical conversion of an existing SAP ERP  to SAP S/4HANA requires low to moderate business process changes and allows the retention of historical data.

Most notably, the migration itself typically averages 8 months, with many customers completing the conversion in 4 months. This chart shows average deployment duration differences observed by SAP S/4HANA solution management:

Fact: You’re not reducing time, work, or risk going to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA (“Suite on HANA” or SoH) before moving to SAP S/4HANA.

Here are some of the key benefits of moving directly to SAP S/4HANA from SAP ECC 6.x in one step:

  • Smaller, leaner, simpler system that supports growth and future innovations
  • Operational reporting made easier with delivered embedded analytics and virtual data models
  • Flexible deployment options (single, multi-tenant, hybrid models)
  • SAP Cloud Platform–based extensions for complementary capabilities
  • Standard integration delivered with cloud solutions from SAP

Not only will using SoH as a “stepping stone” to S/4HANA take more time, it doesn’t provide much value either. Here’s a side-by-side comparison that shows why moving directly to SAP S/4HANA is the right choice:

Fact: Most customers are worried about custom code adaption. Instead, you should focus on end user acceptance.

Customers are constantly expressing their concerns about converting their legacy code. But in reality, custom code becomes less of a barrier as a project goes on. You can actually optimize your system via system conversion (and possibly conclude that you don’t even need that custom code anymore). The chart below shows how this concern decreases, and the realization that end-user adoption should be the main focus. The key takeaway here: Engage your end users up front. Don’t wait.

If you’re interested in doing a deeper dive on custom code adaption, you can read this technical blog .

I’ve given you a lot to think about. In part two, I will showcase some examples of customers who really nailed their system conversion and are reaping the benefits. Stay tuned!

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