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Author's profile photo Gina Keeler

What you can learn from successful SAP S/4HANA customers

Many SAP ECC 6.x customers are confronting challenging questions around “how” to get to SAP S/4HANA. In a previous blog I presented some interesting facts about system conversion to try to address some of these questions. In this blog I’d like to share what I’ve learned from studying customers who’ve successfully converted to SAP S/4HANA.

What may surprise you is that these customers all talk about the same five success factors. Perhaps the biggest lesson of all: there is no secret magic to a system conversion project – any company can do this. These are things that you would probably do in the course of any project, not just converting to SAP S/4HANA. Let’s take a look. (Note that I’ve numbered these for the sake of organizing them, not in order of importance because they are all equally important).

#1: It’s OK to start small
Advice from a semiconductor customer: “Minimize process innovation during an SAP S/4HANA conversion – platform change first, then process innovation.”
Successful system conversion customers look at SAP S/4HANA as a platform to build on. Do the platform change first, and once the platform is live and stable, you can address business process innovation.

#2: Build a diverse, cross-functional team
Advice from a consumer products customer: “With efficient project management and valuable partnerships, a migration from SAP ERP [ECC] to SAP S/4HANA is possible on lean resources.”
I love this quote because it came from a customer who went live in four months with a team of nine people! As you begin assembling your team, be sure to include people from different lines of business. And engage your executive sponsors as early in the project as possible and keep them engaged throughout the project.

#3: Practice! Practice! Practice!
Advice from a higher education customer: “We performed seven conversions and two cutover rehearsals, which provided the team confidence entering the go-live phase.”
The narrower your downtime window, the more you need to practice. SAP recommends planning two to three test conversions in a sandbox/isolated environment. We also recommend maintaining a detailed “run book,” which documents all the steps performed, the sequence, the errors/resolutions, and time required for each activity. Testing is also a big part of this and can uncover problems like third- party product compatibility. Also, if you’re working with a partner, make sure the team has a plan to do test conversions. See this link to access a full example project plan.

#4: Begin preparation tasks early
Advice from a technology services customer: “Do all the prerequisites as early as possible and break the project into multiple phases. This will mitigate the risk of a big end game.”
Believe it or not, there are things you can do right now to begin preparing for SAP S/4HANA:
– Start with Readiness Check. This will help you identify relevant simplification items and run consistency checks (customer-vendor, financials-controlling, material master). Here’s a link to a blog that explains how to do this.
– You can prepare finance for universal journal and new asset accounting.
– And if you’re really interested and have some free time ?, here’s the link to the simplification item catalog.

#5: Create a technical to-do list
Advice from a chemicals customer: “Technically understand your legacy system. SAP has free tools – use them!”
You can get started right now with understanding your legacy system and planning your system conversion to SAP S/4HANA by using these free tools from SAP:
– Start with Business Scenario Recommendations (BSR), which scans your system and identifies the processes you can improve and new business capabilities.

– Use Readiness Check to determine the technical tasks needed to perform a system conversion. This tool scans your system and shows you things like relevant simplification items based on your current SAP ERP [ECC] usage and your custom code compatibility with SAP S/4HANA.


You can learn more about these topics and about SAP S/4HANA in this Intelligent ERP – SAP S/4HANA 2019 Update virtual event. Register here.

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      Author's profile photo Pius Kirrmann
      Pius Kirrmann

      Hi Gina,

      Thank you very much for sharing your insights with the community.

      We have taken the first steps towards conversion to S/4HANA an we will discuss your findings with the project team.

      Best regards


      Author's profile photo Gina Keeler
      Gina Keeler
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for the comment, Pius. Best of luck to you and your project team!