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Your journey to SAP S/4HANA – a practical guide

<<<<Updated Oct 7th, 2020>>>>
Updated points:
  1. SAP S/4HANA Release : 2020 added. (Under “Strategy and Roadmap” Topic)
  2. Also, I wrote separate blog post regarding “Product Information” on SAP S/4HANA Release 2020 – Short Guide

Hello All,

SAP introduced S/4 in 2015, termed as Simplified 4th generation ERP Business Suite, SAP’s current ERP system as well as the core of the Intelligent Enterprise. (SAP defines “Intelligent enterprises” as those that “effectively use their data assets to achieve their desired outcomes faster and with less risk, so it’s all about automating complex business processes around a united core of master data in the cloud.) SAP reimagined all the processes in SAP’s ERP product evolution from R/2, R/3, ECC to S/4 with simplification and digitalization at the core and usage of the latest innovations in the speed of data processing, such as in-memory database – HANA, machine learning, and web-based & user-friendly GUI, such as Fiori, Artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, predictive analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Two software versions are the going-forward strategy for SAP – S/4 Cloud version with a quarterly release cycle and S/4 on-premise version with a yearly upgrade cycle.

This practical guide illustrates a strategy and approach for their S/4 Roadmap on how to approach an S/4 upgrade or S/4 implementation.

Before you can plan the “how” part of your journey, you need to articulate the “why”. Building the business case will be the first step on the journey to S/4HANA. Once this is finalized, you can begin to make your plan and take those steps forward.

There is no single solution when it comes to SAP S/4HANA Migration, and each organization is in a different stage of SAP S/4HANA readiness.

The following figure shows the S/4HANA Roadmap sequence:

The sequence and the related tooling explained in SAP S/4HANA Conversion Guide (Latest Version) within SAP Help.

Business case pretext

The detailed business case is required for providing investment for an S/4 migration. Currently “in-flight” or “yet to be planned” focuses on the influence with organization strategy for a priority of an S/4 upgrade/implementation project. A value assessment with the process and technical elements would provide a plan for capital budgeting for the organization initiative. Once the pretext is established, the next logical questions are “when” and “how”.


SAP S/4HANA Architecture Framework

Now the question is: What is the framework that can help you design a simple architecture which meets all the above conditions? Let’s discuss the simple framework as given in the figure below, which displays the building blocks of the framework.

These building blocks constitute the key considerations while defining the architecture for your SAP S/4HANA transformation project.

The building block (1) covers all aspects of your business requirements.

The building block (2) covers all aspects of the technology infrastructure.

while building block (3) covers all aspects of user experience requirements as well as for analytics (visualization of reports).

Lastly, building block 4 covers all aspects of innovations and integrations, so this framework provides a good way to start designing your architecture. A framework like this can simplify the complexities associated with a large SAP S/4HANA transformation project and help you stay focused on key aspects.

(reference from SAP-Press book “Introducing the Technical Foundation of SAP S/4HANA”)

A quick check: – SAP Business Scenarios Recommendation 2.0 and Readiness Check 2.0

SAP Business Scenario Recommendations 2.0

Your starting point should run the SAP Business Scenario Recommendations report to understand “why” we need to move from SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA; What are the benefits for each area of my business (which includes six lines of business); What is different, and what is new compared to what we are today?

You can request your own SAP Business Scenario Recommendations for SAP S/4HANA. Please follow the instructions and apply on your productive SAP ERP system the SAP standard notes number: 2758146 and 2745851.

Source: Business Scenario Recommendations (BSR)

SAP Readiness Check 2.0

This stage addresses the technical part of your business case; like the where you are today and what you need to get there. For reference, Please check the standard Readiness check(RC) and blog post by my colleague for practical steps on it, respectively:

Source: How to run Readiness Check (RC) and SAP Readiness Check

In simple terms, here where you need to build an assessment of your current IT landscape. Start with reviewing your SAP ECC, analyse usage and configuration data and determine conversion compatibility. Then, now you can begin building your roadmap.

In other terms, If you have finalized your target SAP S/4HANA version and approach for the target system, SAP S/4HANA. Then need to plan to execute the actual process for the conversion to SAP S/4HANA.

SAP S/4HANA conversion impact to other NW systems

  • SAP Note 1388258 – Central Hub systems like Portal, PI & BW need to be upgraded mandatorily to Netweaver 7.31 (min)
  • Either a new Fiori setup would need to be Greenfield implemented or existing Fiori will need to be upgraded in sync with the Target S/4HANA version
  • Solution Manager must be minimum version 7.01 SPS 23 or 7.1 SPS 10
  • If the source ECC system is on HANA 1.0, an upgrade to HANA 2.0 will be needed as a pre-requisite
  • If applicable, upgrade of other NW systems can be done as pre-requisite steps or within the same S/4HANA conversion project.

S/4HANA Sizing

  • Apply the necessary SAP Notes on the ERP system on AnyDB
  • Refresh Database statistics
  • Execute the Sizing Report
  • Analyze the output for the HANA Appliance Memory output
  • Work with the preferred Hardware vendor to order the HANA appliance
  • Only the database server needs to be changed, the application server can be reutilized.

Why do we need Custom Code Analysis?

Possible Sources of Impact to Custom Code

  • Software Changes: The change of software levels (e.g. SPS, EHP, and/or version) has the potential of impacting custom code, especially when custom code makes references to the standard objects that were enhanced/modified as part of the software update.
  • Platform Changes: As there may be platform-specific performance hints implemented within custom code, the change of the underlying platform (i.e. to SAP HANA) could impact the performance of that code. Additionally, implications like sort order also have to be accounted for when changing platforms.
  • Unicode Conversion: The migration to SAP HANA requires that the database is Unicode. If the source system has yet to converted, the conversion can be included in the scope of the migration project. As a requirement for the conversion, all custom code must be Unicode enabled.
  • Business Requirements: Evolution in the business and adoption of innovations can both be drivers for change to custom code. With the migration to SAP HANA, the business may decide to include some of these enhancements within the scope of the project.
  • Data Model Simplification: The simplification of the data model with S/4HANA can have a potential impact on custom code. For instance, the custom code that directly writes to the total tables will need to be adjusted.

SAP S/4HANA Deployment Strategy and Technical Tools

SAP Fiori apps reference library

Please find the details here.

Transformation Navigator

Please find the transformation navigator here.

Roadmap Viewer

Please find the roadmap viewer portal.


Please find the Pathfinder link.

Innovation Discovery Tool

Please find the Innovation discovery tool link.

SAP Roadmap

Please find the SAP Roadmap process details.

SAP best practices explorer

Please find the SAP best practices explorer and solutions documentation.

SAP S/4HANA Readiness Check

Please find the SAP S/4HANA readiness check portal.

Simplification Item Catalog

Please find the Simplification Item Catalog portal.

Simplification Item Check

Please find the Simplification Item Check portal.

Code Inspector / Custom Code Migration Worklist details

Pre-checks link

Maintenance Planner (MP)

The Maintenance Planner checks the system with regards to business functions, industry solutions, and add-on. The Maintenance Planner is a pre-requisite for the system conversion to SAP S/4HANA.

For more information regarding Maintenance Planner within SAP Help.

Software Update Manager (SUM)

Software Update Manager (SUM) is the technical tool for system conversion to SAP S/4HANA. This needs to run before Maintenance Planner (MP) and should be used the latest version of SUM.

For more information regarding Software Update Manager, for the conversion of SAP Systems to SAP S/4HANA.

Go to SUM link -> Click on “System Maintenance” -> “Download SUM”.

Database Migration Option (DMO)

Database Migration Option (DMO) is a one-step migration approach for conversion to the SAP HANA database. Database Migration Option (DMO) is a part of the Software Update Manager (SUM).

For SAP S/4HANA Conversion, DMO combines installation of SAP S/4HANA, on-premise and database migration to SAP HANA in one tool.

From SCN blog, with the helpful information on DMO of SUM – Introduction

SAP S/4HANA Trail link

Migration Cockpit link

SAP Data Services with Rapid Data Migration content details

Strategy and Roadmap

Recently, SAP announced a maintenance commitment to SAP S/4HANA up until the end of 2040. While choosing the right path for your organization for transition to SAP S/4HANA. Here, again there are two important decisions to be taken:

  • What version will you choose: SAP has released an upgrade to the on-premise edition each year as 1511, 1610, 1709, 1809, 1909 and least recently, 2020. Each of these releases has introduced significant additions and advances to the platform.

          SAP S/4HANA: Release 1511

          SAP S/4HANA: Release 1610

          SAP S/4HANA: Release 1709

          SAP S/4HANA: Release 1809

          SAP S/4HANA: Release 1909

          SAP S/4HANA: Release 2020

Also, I wrote separate blog post regarding “Product Information” on SAP S/4HANA Release 2020 – Short Guide

When to update and why?

Since to update your S/4HANA requires consultants to be certified solutions or re-certified on every release of SAP S/4HANA. Also, while deciding which release of SAP S/4HANA your company goes live on, will depend on following parameters/factors.

  • What is your transition approach: It is always first to choose a version with a delivery to go for the latest and then choose an approach for implementation. The following figure needs to be checked.

Technical Migration to SAP HANA:  SAP Business suite must be on SAP HANA, for transitioning to SAP S/4HANA. The actual conversion starts with the SUM tool. SUM tool performs execution part including Database migration option (DMO) and SAP S/4HANA Conversion. (This links will be helpful for DMO approach Community Wiki: DMO and DMO Guide)

System Conversion/Brownfield Implementation: This option is available for on-premise versions 1511 onwards and transition of existing – ECC, Business Suite on HANA, Simple Finance to S/4. The cost-effective is solely depends on the current systems’ custom code and integration with 3rd party systems and solutions.

Greenfield/New Implementation: This is the new implementation of S/4HANA into which data from a legacy ERP system is migrated. This is a mandatory choice for new SAP Customers. Some of the existing customers also adopt this approach to conceal the shortcomings of their existing customization and adopt new innovations.

Central Finance/Functional Phased Greenfield: If clients want quick benefits for consolidating their finance transactional process on existing ECC, Business Suite systems, Central Finance outlines quick benefits of S/4 and not having to immediately implement S/4 for their legacy systems. This framework is best suitable for companies with a heterogeneous system landscape and having different versions in different systems.

Landscape Transformation/Selective Data Transitions/Consolidation: Clients with large scale user base with different regions, multiple source systems must go with a different approach. These organizations may opt for consolidating all systems into a single S/4HANA instance and go with the transition to S/4HANA and may also adopt a mixed approach of greenfield and brownfield, as suitable for their source systems.

Custom Code Evaluation

ECC system contains a large number of custom development objects (Z/Y Objects, Modifications and Enhancements) which majority of them not used productively. Therefore, monitor system for a longer period and do some housekeeping and eliminate the code, which is not used anymore within your productive business applications.

Standard Custom code migration guide here.

These links may help in achieving custom code adaptation during system conversion/Landscape Transformation: SAP S/4HANA System Conversion – Custom code adaptation process and Custom code adaptation for SAP S/4HANA #ASUG Webcast Recap

SAP Activate Methodology

SAP Activate is the innovation adoption framework that expedites SAP S/4HANA implementations throughout the customer lifecycle. It offers ready-to-run digitized business and technology processes, guided configuration, and next-generation methodology. SAP Activate supports customers at multiple starting points, including new implementation, system conversion, and landscape transformation.

SAP Activate methodology is SAP’s new software implementation methodology that builds on proven approaches and SAP’s experience to offer a consistent, agile method for any deployment type – cloud, on-premise, hybrid, or mobile. It offers support for initial implementation and continuous innovation with SAP S/4HANA. The implementation best practices walk project teams through planning, build, and deployment of their SAP solution. SAP Activate methodology caters to customer-specific configuration and extension requirements to reflect each customer’s own business practices while remaining extremely scalable – nimble enough for smaller engagements and robust enough for larger projects.

Please check the link for SAP Activate Roadmap “Transition to SAP S/4HANA” using Roadmap Viewer.

The roadmap is combined for all transition approaches. SAP can work alongside a partner through “SAP Value Assurance“.

Transitioning to SAP S/4HANA Cloud

Many customers are also considering a move from on-premise Data Centers to Hyperscalers. There are many unions stated between the move to a hyperscaler and the move to SAP S/4HANA.

You might also find this SCN blog useful: SAP S/4HANA Cloud Deployment Options and SAP S/4HANA Cloud Deployment on Hyperscalers

ECC to S/4HANA conversion steps

S/4HANA Conversion steps
1. Build a Sandbox (SBX) system on AnyDB via system copy from Production
2. Migrate Sandbox (SBX) system on AnyDB to SAP S/4HANA. Fix all issues, custom coding here
3. Migrate Development system to S/4HANA. Use the DEV S/4HANA system as a Development system for the conversion project
4. Migrate the Quality system. This will be used as S/4HANA Quality system for the conversion project
5. Mock Cutover and Dress-Rehearsal (Migration to S/4HANA) based on a fresh system copy of PRD
6. Go-live. Conversion of the S/4HANA Production system
7. Decommission ERP systems running on AnyDB database, decommission S/4HANA SBX system.

Note:- New SAP S/4HANA production support systems to replace the current ERP systems.

Don’t wait! Start now…

According to a study conducted by ASUG (Americas’ SAP Users’ Group), only 32% of SAP customers have already implemented SAP S/4HANA or have begun the conversion process. Are you part of the remaining 68%? What are you waiting for?

Useful links: Technical-specific preparation

OpenSAP Course: OpenSAP course “Your Path to SAP S/4HANA

SAP S/4HANA product-related Training: SAP S/4HANA Overview and Business Processes

Discover SAP S/4HANA Gives an introduction to the next-generation business suite SAP S/4HANA

SAP S/4HANA Trials Experience SAP S/4HANA with trials for the cloud and on-premise editions

Detailed SAP S/4HANA Roadmaps: SAP product & solution roadmaps

Feature Scope Description (PDF) Provides an overview of the available features

SAP Help Portal:

SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA

SAP S/4HANA System Conversion – At a glance

Maintenance Planner (SAP Help Portal) and

Simplification Item Catalog

Pre-checks in System Conversion

SAP S/4HANA Simplification Item Check – How to do it right

ABAP Test Cockpit – an Introduction to SAP’s new ABAP Quality Assurance Tool

ABAP Testing and Analysis Community: Link

ABAP Call Monitor (SCMON): Link

Usage Procedure Logging (UPL): Link

Best Practices Custom Code Lifecycle Management (CCLM): Link

ABAP custom code migration and recommendations for SAP HANA:

Further information see

On regular basis, this document will be updated. Thank you.

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