How the Selective Data Transition pendulum swing solves the conundrum binary choice for SAP S/4HANA
In this blog post, I will describe how existing SAP customers can move from their existing SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA using the “Selective Data Transition” (SDT) adoption path and some of the most common value opportunities to use SDT. In addition to the well-established New Implementation (aka Greenfield) or Conversion (aka Brownfield), Selective Data Transition forms another but rather broad-spectrum approach with various use cases. Under the RISE with SAP program and relatively new availability of SDT to SAP S/4HANA on the SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition this adoption path is getting even more increased attention.
Today’s business and IT leaders have multifaceted concerns, challenges and are looking for means to respond rapidly to address the market forces or internal drivers that are pushing them to modernize. Additionally, they are faced with overwhelming facts and opinions about why, when, and how to move to SAP S/4HANA as a way to build an intelligent ERP platform.
In this article I’ll focus on the “how.” In my discussions with CxOs about SAP S/4HANA adoption, most of the time the Greenfield (new or re-implementation) versus Brownfield (system conversion) methods are considered, while the Selective Data Transition path is often misunderstood. Stakeholders frequently wrestle with the conundrum of this perceived binary choice and with evaluating the importance of seemingly mutually exclusive transformation drivers and IT constraints. As organizations plan for business and IT transformation, they should reassess which options are truly available and what each can offer. They should look beyond the standard and well-described Greenfield vs Brownfield playbooks. With Selective Data Transition, organizations have untapped flexibility when considering a move to SAP S/4HANA. Like a pendulum that swings freely back and forth, Selective Data Transition can cover the full range of scenarios between Greenfield and Brownfield which brings interesting new transformation approaches into the mix.
Furthermore, it would be a mistake to view your journey strictly through an IT lens. Instead, why not take this opportunity to completely revamp your processes and resolve the current business pain points? What if there was a way for your organization to keep the historical data that fuels your data-driven enterprise while simultaneously achieving process optimization and landscape harmonization? Be it optimizing organizational structures, processes and the system landscape, or an expectation of being more competitive and agile through operational excellence, these goals must be clearly established to ensure a successful transition into your new digital platform with SAP S/4HANA. Selective Data Transition gives organizations the flexibility to decide how to deploy SAP S/4HANA so that the IT step of SAP S/4HANA software adoption is no longer the constraint. Extend the Greenfield or Brownfield methods to include Selective Data Transition, adopt SAP S/4HANA optimized business processes, and focus your efforts on reengineering the areas of your business that add maximum value and competitive differentiation. Based on their unique business requirements, enterprises have the option between a big bang go-live or a phased-approach whether on premises, cloud, or hybrid.
In my experience, global organizations often struggle with three common challenges that result in a swing of preference from Greenfield to Brownfield and back. Selective Data Transition is the easy, but often overlooked, answer to these challenges:
- How to leverage existing investments (think solutions, systems, way of working) in SAP ERP Central Component (ECC), merge multiple ERPs into a single new or existing SAP S/4HANA, including specific historical data or to carve out specific parts of the business for a later spin-off all while adopting SAP S/4HANA in the cloud?
- How to harmonize global financial data and bring structures (think company codes, profit centers, cost centers, etc.) in line with the business model to better leverage advanced analytics and reporting without the need for a complete reimplementation and quickly eliminate technical debt, drive a finance transformation, and adopt new finance functions by migrating Classic GL to New GL on SAP S/4HANA Universal Journal in a single step, independent of your fiscal year calendars without an upfront New GL project or separate project for subsequent activation of Document Splitting?
- Particularly for large enterprises, how to reduce business risk and move to SAP S/4HANA at the pace of the business with phased go lives while maintaining the majority of the working processes and data structures in the SAP S/4HANA environment so business end users are not slowed down by having to learn a completely new re-engineered process landscape in areas that are already running efficiently. The SDT technique can also be applied for pre-/post-Go-Live data migration loads of historical data for system/business downtime optimization as an alternative consideration for near-Zero Downtime optimization.
The Selective Data Transition approach requires specific tools and software provided by only a few select companies globally including SAP DMLT, cbs, Natuvion, SNP and Datavard. These organizations are part of a global expert community. 
The key takeaway from this article is to select an approach to SAP S/4HANA adoption that is tailored for you. Organizations have different needs based on where they are on the journey towards becoming a fully digital, agile, and resilient enterprise. Organizations need agile practices and flexible methods for adoption of SAP S/4HANA. There is no need to give up your chance for a business transformation driven data transformation even if you have a well-established SAP ERP footprint and without the need for a complete reimplementation. Consider the Selective Data Transition as an option in your Move to SAP S/4HANA.
I hope you have found this blog post informative
I welcome your comments/feedback or ask clarifying questions through the comment section.
 Pendulum Swing for S/4HANA Adoption Image source: Hans Dossche at Capgemini NA
 Selective Data Transition Engagement: https://support.sap.com/ja/offerings-programs/support-services/data-management-landscape-transformation/selective-data-transition-engagement.html