Is it time for an SAP S/4HANA Upgrade? And is it really necessary?
Latest Update July 2023: Added links and content for SAP Enterprise Support learning programs. Reflected recent changes in the release strategy and maintenance cycles. Added info about self-service Run SAP Fiori Upgrade Impact Analysis and SAP S/4HANA 2022 release.
Update January 2022: Added links about release 2021 and removed info about SAP Fiori Apps Recommendation report, which was discontinued in Q4 2021.
Update September 2021: Added info about a new e-learning including innovations per line of business introduced in SAP S/4HANA 2020 release.
Update July 2021: Added content about SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA upgrades and the following links:
SAP Readiness Check tool for SAP S/4HANA Upgrades (SAP Community blog post)
‘SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA Upgrades’ section of SAP Readiness Check page on SAP Help Portal
SAP Note 3059197 – SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA upgrades
Update May 2021: Added link to the meet-the-expert (MTE) recording: Upgrading SAP HANA 1 to SAP HANA 2: Key steps and recommendations; Updated some links and pictures.
Update October 2020: Added two new meet-the-expert (MTE) sessions taking place in November: Key SAP Fiori consideration Part 2 – Architecture and Hub to Embedded migration (November 3, 2020) and Key SAP Fiori consideration Part 3 – Known impacts and custom code remediation (November 5, 2020); and also added the following SAP Notes:
SAP Note 2943206 – SAP S/4HANA 2020: Restriction Note
SAP Note 2912919 – SAP S/4HANA FOUNDATION 2020: Release Information Note
SAP Note 2912253 – SAP S/4HANA 2020 Feature Package Stack 00: Additional Release Information
SAP Note 2925123 – ABAP Platform 2020 – Restrictions
Think time flies? Well, it certainly feels that way in our industry! Back in November 2020 it was a whole decade since SAP shipped the first version of the SAP HANA database. Since then thousands of companies around the world have benefited from using our revolutionary in-memory database technology.
At the same time, in Q4 2020 we celebrated five years since SAP released the first version of our new generation ERP solution – SAP S/4HANA (version 1511). While some customers are still evaluating and planning their transition to SAP S/4HANA, many have been using it for some years already. For those customers on one of the earlier releases (e.g. 1709, 1809, etc.), the question of upgrade is becoming increasingly important.
There is huge interest in this topic, reflected in the heavy stream of questions that we are receiving from SAP Enterprise Support customers from around the world in the value map for SAP S/4HANA**. Therefore, our SAP Enterprise Support team have put together this blog post to share information which we hope will enable you to make an informed decision and prepare for your SAP S/4HANA upgrade project.
Below, we would like to draw your attention to some important topics, tools and knowledge resources which should help you to upgrade your SAP S/4HANA system successfully. However, there may be additional aspects you need to consider. In 2020 SAP released the document Upgrading SAP S/4HANA: Why, How, and Best Practices (updated in January 2023) which complements the Upgrade Guide and explains in more detail some topics already mentioned in this blog post and many additional topics related to SAP S/4HANA upgrade that will be of interest to you.
The document was updated in June 2021 with:
- additional information about added business value with upgrades
- information with respect to release SAP S/4HANA 2020 and project experiences
- several additional chapters based on lessons learned from projects
- additional references for further information and learning
Further updates in January 2023 include:
- revised content of latest findings
- additional comments as to whether recommendations are specific to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition
- release strategy / compatibility scope updated
- Readiness Check for Upgrades and SAP Fiori Upgrade Impact Analysis added
- more details on general availability of ZDO
- revision of section 4.4 Introducing New User Experiences on how to approach UX adoption planning during and post upgrade
Release strategy and Maintenance cycles
To understand the reasons why you may need to update your SAP S/4HANA system, it makes sense to start with a reminder about the SAP S/4HANA release strategy. As it is stated in the SAP Release and Maintenance Strategy document:
- SAP S/4HANA generally provides innovations on a regular basis through releases and feature packages.
- The last feature package stack (FPS) for a given release before a new release is shipped is usually the starting point of the maintenance-only phase.
- During a maintenance-only phase, SAP generally provides corrections but no new innovations for the release.
- After the end of mainstream maintenance, the release usually enters customer-specific maintenance. However, as announced in September 2022, SAP offers extended maintenance for the product versions SAP S/4HANA 1709, SAP S/4HANA 1809, and SAP S/4HANA 1909 from January 1, 2023 until December 31, 2025. You can find details about extended maintenance for SAP S/4HANA in SAP Note 3246630.
Timewise, SAP currently provides the following maintenance:
- For releases up to 2022 inclusively:
- Mainstream maintenance of about 5 years with 2 Feature Packages
- For release 2023 and higher:
- One product version for every second year
- Mainstream maintenance of 7 years with 3 Feature Packages.
You can see a picture illustrating these principles below:
The end of mainstream maintenance dates for every release can be found in PAM as well.
With the evolution of SAP S/4HANA, some of the products, or part of products of SAP Business Suite (such as SAP CRM or SAP SRM) are now available in SAP S/4HANA.
If you are using those products as standalone systems, you may want to take the opportunity of simplifying your current landscape. This could be another driving factor behind your decision to upgrade to a newer SAP S/4HANA release.
Of course, you need to investigate the pros and cons of doing this within or outside of your SAP S/4HANA upgrade project. You also need to check the availability of all the features you need in the embedded products, since there may be some gaps between them and the standalone products.
As an example, you can consider using SAP EWM or SAP TM functionalities embedded in SAP S/4HANA. You can find more details about this in our value map blog posts below:
- SAP Extended Warehouse Management in SAP S/4HANA
- SAP S/4HANA Supply Chain for Transportation Management
To access these blog posts, registration to the SAP Enterprise Support value maps is required. A detailed step-by step guide to registration can be found here.
If you would like to explore more details about SAP Supply Chain Management, you can visit SAP Enterprise Support value map for Digital Supply Chain.
Or you may want to stop using a standalone SAP Fiori front-end server and move to an embedded deployment which is, as it happens, the option recommended by SAP. You can find more details in SAP Fiori Deployment Options and System Landscape Recommendations document or other resources mentioned in ‘SAP Fiori upgrade’ chapter of this post below.
New features and functions
The other reason why you may want to upgrade your SAP S/4HANA system is, of course, to fulfil new business requirements by utilizing innovations, new features and functions available in newer product versions.
Let’s see what tools are available to help you in answering the following important questions:
- What new features and changes are introduced in a new SAP S/4HANA version?
- What new features are relevant for you?
What’s New Viewer
If you want to get a complete overview of the new, changed and deleted features and functions in recent versions of SAP S/4HANA, your tool of choice is What’s New Viewer at SAP Help Portal. It allows you to select specific SAP S/4HANA versions and view the changes therein, as well as filter by line of business, solution area, change type and scope item.
You can also download the complete list of changes in English or German languages in PDF or HTML formats using the links available on the Additional Formats and Languages page of SAP Help Portal.
Simplification Item Catalog
Delta simplifications between SAP S/4HANA source and target versions can be found in the Simplification Item Catalog. You can use additional filters to see only those items you are interested in. For example, you can filter by simplification item category.
Business value assessment
Another useful tool is the SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder. This interactive PDF report is available for all customers on SAP maintenance and provides recommendations that are based on the way you are using your SAP S/4HANA system today. Besides tailor-made recommendations on areas of business process improvements and IT optimization potentials for your SAP S/4HANA system, it also shows relevant SAP innovations available in newer releases.
In the example below you can see the innovations in the Finance area recommended for an SAP S/4HANA 1610 customer.
Since end of 2020 besides the interactive PDF document, the new SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder on Spotlight also comes with an online cloud-based version of the report giving access to further analysis results. In the PDF document a link is provided from which you can directly jump to the Pathfinder on Spotlight online report.
You can find more information about SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder in our value map blog post. Additionally you can check this overview presentation and the example report. To understand how you can order the Pathfinder report, please have a look at the how-to guide.
In case you are interested to look deeper into your existing business processes and get to know how to improve their efficiency and hence reduce costs, you can find guidance and relevant knowledge resources in the SAP Enterprise Support value map for Business Process Improvement.
To know what SAP Fiori apps available in the latest SAP S/4HANA release are potentially relevant for you, you can check ‘Simplified User Experience’ tab of the Pathfinder report. It is available for each of the six line of business sections. Here is an example for Finance:
An alternative option to get recommendations for relevant SAP Fiori apps could be the self-service Run SAP Fiori Upgrade Impact Analysis available in the SAP Fiori App Library. You can find more details about this tool via the Learn More link (see image below).
You should also review the SAP Fiori lighthouse scenarios to be inspired by the SAP Fiori apps that bring the best new business value.
If you would like to dig further into the SAP Fiori topic you can find guidance and relevant knowledge resources in corresponding section of SAP Enterprise Support value map for SAP Business Technology Platform*.
*Registration to the SAP Enterprise Support value maps is required. A detailed step-by step guide to registration can be found here.
HOW TO PREPARE AND WHAT TO PAY ATTENTION TO?
Now it is clear why you need to upgrade your SAP S/4HANA system, it is key to prepare for the upgrade properly.
First of all we recommend you to explore the SAP S/4HANA Upgrade and Product Integration Roadmap in the Roadmap Viewer, especially if you don’t have much experience in upgrading SAP systems. This gives you a comprehensive view of an upgrade projects’ associated activities, tasks, and deliverables.
You can also view roadmap content in workable sections, as content is assigned to different phases, workstreams, and other criteria. You can filter a variety of tags to display content relevant for your current activities and landscape.
In addition, you can find a project plan there which is built based on this roadmap. It can be, for example, uploaded into SAP Solution Manager for project management. You can use the provided project plan as a starting point for your upgrade project.
In the roadmap you can find a detailed description of each project step.
An upgrade of SAP S/4HANA is often combined with the implementation of additional functionalities. This is the reason why the same roadmap also covers the implementation of additional products which can run embedded in SAP S/4HANA:
- SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM)
- SAP Transportation Management (SAP TM)
- SAP S/4HANA Service
- Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS)
- advanced Available-to-Promise (aATP)
SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA upgrades
SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA is a self-service tool to help customers assess the current state of an existing SAP ERP system in preparation for the move to SAP S/4HANA. We are happy to inform you that since June 7th, 2021 it can be used for SAP S/4HANA upgrade scenario.
SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA upgrades includes the following checks:
- Simplification Items
- Compatibility Scope Analysis
- Recommended SAP Fiori Apps
- Custom Code Analysis
- SAP Innovative Business Solutions
- Add-on Compatibility
Follow these links for more information on the available checks and how to implement and execute SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA upgrades:
- SAP Community blog post: SAP Readiness Check tool for SAP S/4HANA Upgrades;
- SAP Note 3059197 – SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA upgrades provides guidance on how to enable the data collection, as well as answering FAQs;
- ‘SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA Upgrades’ section of SAP Readiness Check page on SAP Help Portal.
Of course, a mandatory document to read in your SAP S/4HANA upgrade project is the Upgrade Guide. You can easily find the link to it on the SAP S/4HANA product page at SAP Help Portal. See how to navigate there on the picture below:
The other important topic which you cannot skip in an SAP S/4HANA upgrade project is the Simplification Item Check.
The Simplification Item Check performs the relevancy and consistency checks based on the content in the Simplification Item Catalog. It analyzes your system with respect to what functionality you use, what transactions you call, what customizing you have etc. And based on this information it shows which functionality you are currently using has been changed in your target SAP S/4HANA release.
The Simplification Item Check is a mandatory check which will be called by Software Update Manager (SUM) when you start the upgrade process. And if there is any error, SUM will stop the process right before the technical downtime until all the issues are fixed. Therefore, it is critical to get Simplification Item Check results on early stages of your project and resolve all identified issues before the upgrade of your productive SAP S/4HANA system.
The Simplification Item Check is done by executing the report /SDF/RC_START_CHECK in your productive SAP S/4HANA system (client 000). You can run it as many times as you need. We recommend you to watch the recording of the meet-the-expert session “SAP S/4HANA Simplification Item Check Explained” (Course ID: SUP_EBW_1280_1910) to get familiar with the Simplification Item Check.
Before you can access the MTE session, a one-time registration in SAP Learning Hub, edition for SAP Enterprise Support, is required. A detailed step-by step guide to registration can be found here.
See other useful resources about Simplification Item Check at the end of this blog post.
Custom code adaptation
When looking for information about resources and tools which can help you in preparing your custom code for newer SAP S/4HANA releases, it is good to know that for upgrades within the SAP S/4HANA product family, the process and tools are the same as for the SAP S/4HANA system conversion.
Therefore, for example, the following very good SAP Community blog post of Olga Dolinskaja is relevant and recommended to read:
You can also find useful information in the Custom Code Migration Guide available on the SAP S/4HANA product page at SAP Help Portal (go to ‘Implement’ -> ‘Conversion & Upgrade Assets’ section).
It is important to understand that the custom code adaptation process is not a “one-time procedure” and must be carried out on a regular basis before and after an SAP S/4HANA upgrade project. It should be considered as the regular best practice for SAP S/4HANA as well as for SAP Business Suite and in general all other ABAP-based products.
To find guidance and more knowledge resources on custom code topic you can refer to Custom Code Management section of SAP Enterprise Support value map for Application Lifecycle Management.
SAP HANA upgrade
It is possible that the current version of the SAP HANA database used in your SAP S/4HANA system is not supported by your target SAP S/4HANA version. Therefore, you need to check and ensure that SAP HANA is upgraded to a relevant release/revision before upgrading SAP S/4HANA.
- Starting from release 1709 SAP S/4HANA is supported only on SAP HANA 2.0.
- For SAP S/4HANA 2020 FPS01 the minimum required SAP HANA revision is 2.0 SPS05 revision 50 (See SAP Note 3015516).
It also makes sense to know about coming end of maintenance of SAP HANA 2.0 SPS04 in June 2021. So, even if your target SAP S/4HANA release (e.g. 1909) supports this SAP HANA version right now, you may need to consider upgrading to a higher SPS to ensure you are always under maintenance.
You can find many useful insights about the upgrade from SAP HANA 1.0 to 2.0 in the recording of meet-the-expert (MTE) session Upgrading SAP HANA 1 to SAP HANA 2: Key steps and recommendations available in SAP Enterprise Support Academy.
Other useful resources:
- SAP HANA Server Installation and Update Guide
- SAP Note 2378962 – SAP HANA 2.0 Revision and Maintenance Strategy
- SAP Note 2655761 – restrictions and recommendations regarding specific revisions of SAP HANA database for use in SAP S/4HANA
- SAP Note 2469025 – How-To: Upgrading to SAP HANA 2.0
- SAP Note 2372809 – Mandatory Preparation Steps for Upgrading a SAP HANA 1 System to SAP HANA 2
SAP Fiori upgrade
SAP S/4HANA upgrade often goes together with update of the following components:
- SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA
- SAP Fiori Frontend Server (FES)
It is important to understand that there is a strict dependency between the SAP S/4HANA backend version and the SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA version that contains the SAP Fiori apps. There is also a required minimum version of the SAP Fiori front-end server (FES), although higher versions of the FES are usually possible as explained in this blog post.
Also, if you are currently using a standalone SAP FES system as a frontend for SAP S/4HANA (hub deployment) you should consider migrating it to an embedded deployment which is the recommended option since December 2017.
You can find more information in the resources below:
- SAP Fiori Deployment Options and System Landscape Recommendations
- SAP Community posts:
- SAP Community Wiki – SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA
- SAP Note 2590653– SAP Fiori front-end server deployment for SAP S/4HANA
- SAP Note 2775163 – SAP Fiori Front-end Server 6.0 – General Information
- SAP Note 2217489 – Maintenance and Update Strategy for SAP Fiori Front-End Server
HOW SAP ENTERPRISE SUPPORT CAN HELP YOU!
Let’s take a look at the learning program: Understand how to upgrade with SAP S/4HANA.
(For customers who are running SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition, please check another learning program: Understand how to upgrade with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Private Edition).
Before you can access the learning program, a one-time registration in SAP Learning Hub, edition for SAP Enterprise Support, is required. A detailed step-by step guide to registration can be found here.
The learning program helps you understand why and how to upgrade with your SAP S/4HANA to a higher release. It includes the curriculum of meet-the-expert (MTE) sessions for SAP S/4HANA upgrade and SAP Fiori considerations during such upgrades, as well as an e-learning of SAP S/4HANA Upgrade – Unlock Innovation, from which you will get an overview of innovations per line of business introduced in SAP S/4HANA 2020 and 2021 releases.
With this learning program, you will:
- Understand when and why you need to upgrade with SAP S/4HANA.
- Get an overview of the tools to help with your upgrade. Know which tool tells you about the new, changed and deleted features and functions in a higher release of SAP S/4HANA.
- Gain insight into key SAP Fiori considerations for an SAP S/4HANA upgrade. Learn how to analyze the upgrade impacts of Fiori apps. Find the changes in SAP Fiori apps between SAP S/4HANA releases.
- Learn how to prepare for an SAP S/4HANA upgrade project
Continuous Quality Check (CQC) remote services
Besides the learning program to empower your knowledge on the preparation of an upgrade, there are several continuous quality check services which can help you minimize risks of unforeseen technical issues during the upgrade of your productive SAP S/4HANA system. You can find details and guidance in the Release Upgrade section of Continuous Quality Checks page in SAP Enterprise Support value map for SAP S/4HANA or SAP Enterprise Support value map for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition
Feel free to ask your questions regarding SAP S/4HANA upgrades in our **value map. We will be happy to help you.
Let’s talk SAP S/4HANA AnyPremise Upgrade (SAP Community post)
Upgrade Guide for SAP S/4HANA (Latest version)
Important notes for upgrade to SAP S/4HANA 2022:
- SAP Note 3230844– SAP S/4HANA 2022: Restriction Note
- SAP Note 3145277– SAP S/4HANA 2022: Release Information Note
- SAP Note 3143630– SAP S/4HANA FOUNDATION 2022: Release Information Note
- SAP Note 3226530– SAP S/4HANA 2022 Feature Package Stack 00: Additional Release Information
- SAP Note 3225504– ABAP Platform 2022 – Restrictions
Important notes for upgrade to SAP S/4HANA 2021:
- SAP Note 3079550 – SAP S/4HANA 2021: Restriction Note
- SAP Note 3015539 – SAP S/4HANA 2021: Release Information Note
- SAP Note 3015497 – SAP S/4HANA FOUNDATION 2021: Release Information Note
- SAP Note 3015509 – SAP S/4HANA 2021 Feature Package Stack 00: Additional Release Information
- SAP Note 3075238 – ABAP Platform 2021 – Restrictions
Important notes for upgrade to SAP S/4HANA 2020:
- SAP Note 2943206 – SAP S/4HANA 2020: Restriction Note
- SAP Note 2912919 – SAP S/4HANA FOUNDATION 2020: Release Information Note
- SAP Note 2912253 – SAP S/4HANA 2020 Feature Package Stack 00: Additional Release Information
- SAP Note 3015516 – SAP S/4HANA 2020 Feature Package Stack 01: Additional Release Information
- SAP Note 3019642 – SAP S/4HANA 2020 Feature Package Stack 02: Additional Release Information
- SAP Note 2925123 – ABAP Platform 2020 – Restrictions
- SAP Note 2477189 – SAP NetWeaver Gateway, ICM, Web Dispatcher, S/4HANA and Kernel compatibility info
Simplification Item Check:
- SAP Notes 2399707 – contains the check framework including the logic for the relevance checks
- SAP Note 2502552 – contains application specific check logic for the consistency checks
- SAP Community post – SAP S/4HANA Simplification Item Check – How to do it right
- SAP Community post – Simplification Item Catalog, Simplification Item Check and SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA
- МТЕ session recording – SAP S/4HANA Simplification Item Check Explained
(Course ID: SUP_EBW_1280_1910)
- Simplification List PDF – you can download from SAP Help Portal(version for SAP S/4HANA 2020)
SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA upgrades:
- SAP Readiness Check tool for SAP S/4HANA Upgrades (SAP Community blog post)
- SAP Note 3059197 – SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA upgrades
*This is the current state of planning and may be changed by SAP at any time without notice.
INTERESTED IN SIMILAR BLOG POSTS?
For more content like this, and the opportunity to ask questions directly of our SAP S/4HANA experts, join the SAP Enterprise Support value map for SAP S/4HANA today!
The SAP Enterprise Support value maps provide self-paced learnings, expert-led live sessions, collaborative forums, and access to SAP experts; all included as part of your SAP cloud solution subscription.
**HOW TO ACCESS VALUE MAPS?
3 Easy Steps:
- One-time sign-up for SAP Learning Hub, edition for SAP Enterprise Support, is required
- Access value maps
- Navigate to the SAP Enterprise Support value map for SAP S/4HANA or SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition.
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