Navigating an Effective Migration to S/4HANA

Don Valentine
9 October, 23

What is preventing you from transitioning to S/4HANA? Are you uncertain about which deployment route to take? Do you lack a clear business justification? Are you afraid of disrupting your business operations? Regardless of the motive, disregarding the approaching end of support for ECC in 2027 is not a wise decision.

Previous implementation experiences shouldn’t have a bearing on your current plans in the present day. With SAP’s commitment to standardisation and ‘adopt not adapt’ strategy, the model becomes clearer and easier to attain. Additionally, a variety of tools are available to support businesses and their SAP partners throughout the process, from product choice to implementation, making the path to S/4HANA much more straightforward than many businesses realise. Don Valentine, Commercial Director at Absoft, explains. 

Choosing the Right Migration Approach 

Migration to S/4HANA can be confusing. As the 2027 deadline looms, is it wise to undertake a brownfield technical migration of ECC to S/4HANA which keeps existing customisation options, in order to minimise disruption? Or does a standardised best practice approach deliver for your company more effectively, making a greenfield approach a more attractive option? And, if so, should it be public cloud Software as a Service or private cloud? 

The decision between brownfield versus greenfield can be made much more straightforward using SAP’s Readiness Checker tool. The tool utilises programmes already present in ECC to determine a businesses use of the platform, from configuration to data volumes. It contains vital information that aids in assessing appropriate interfaces, integrations, and innovations for specific business scenarios and requirements. The outcome of this process is a clear and thorough set of objectives and steps required to navigate a seamless technical migration to S/4HANA, alongside the identification of any custom code that would not work in the new system. 

This allows a unique insight into the differences between a customised ECC system approach, and the benefits of subscribing to a standard S/4HANA deployment. Through this process, businesses gain a better understanding of where and how a standard process can bring benefits. Additional tools like Process Discovery reveal gaps and areas for improvement, allowing for enhanced individual process efficiency. Furthermore, an App recommendation report identifies alternative app solutions that can address specific functionalities not covered in the standard S/4HANA deployment. 

Public vs Private

The standardised approach offered by SAP, which allows for easier upgrades and limited customisation, is proving to be increasingly popular with businesses as they move away from more traditional brownfield deployments. 

For businesses that opt for the greenfield approach – along with companies contemplating SAP S/4HANA for the first time – the subsequent choice revolves around public or private deployment. Should they choose the multi-tenanted public cloud SaaS version, which provides limited configuration choices, or the private cloud single-tenanted approach, which offers greater flexibility?

At this point, SAP’s assessment tool becomes instrumental in aiding your decision-making process. SAP’s Digital Discovery Assessment (DDA) is a guided procedure that brings clarity to determine the optimal approach for each business. The assessment guides SAP partners through a high-level overview of a business, encompassing its operational processes and implementation objectives. Subsequently, a recommendation is provided based on the business’s compatibility with the standard product.

Exploring Different Deployment Options Based on Business Needs

The process produces a percentage match in each domain, which offers businesses a fact based analysis of the options the migration routes they have to choose from.  If the DDA confirms that the company aligns with the standard model by 80% in all domains except inventory, for instance, is there a cloud-based solution or extension available that can be employed alongside S/4HANA to address that specific business requirement? If such a solution exists, then the public cloud SaaS option would be a suitable fit.

If this isn’t the case, and the business just doesn’t fit the public model, then a private cloud edition offers additional flexibility. While it is still hosted by SAP, it is a single-tenanted approach and the business still has the power to pick its choice of hyperscaler. While the recommended approach of ‘adopt not adapt’ to system design and construction intentionally seeks to restrict customisation options, opting for a private cloud approach does enable minor configuration adjustments that may eliminate the necessity for distinct solutions to support specific business objectives.

If the business doesn’t fit readily into any of  these standard approaches, then the final option is an on-premise approach, which allows businesses the full customisability of old-school SAP configurability and the ability to add as many developments as they feel they need whilst designing and building their own specific solution. The business also retains control over hosting and infrastructure provider. However, this approach puts the responsibility for upgrade costs and the running of the system in the hands of the business. 

A clear road to S/4HANA

By using the DDA, an SAP partner and business can get a preview of the immediate vision of the optimal migration route for their business. Furthermore, this process offers the SAP licence bill of materials and a transparent statement regarding the scope that will be included in the final solution. This provides a business with comprehensive visibility of the implementation, total cost of ownership, and potential areas where process changes may be necessary to align with the standard. This includes best practice processes defined by SAP in various areas such as order to cash, purchase to pay, and record to report.

Accompanied by an expert partner who can oversee technical aspects of your implementation and prepare your business for the right transition, it is possible to navigate a seamless migration to S/4HANA.


In the past, the adoption of ERP systems was challenging, involving an overwhelming array of customisation options and lengthy implementation processes. However, with S/4HANA, this model has undergone a complete transformation. Businesses that continue to disregard the 2027 deadline for the end of ECC support must acknowledge and embrace this new approach.

The combination of standardisation and the available toolkit greatly accelerates the transition process for businesses. The overall experience is highly transparent and seamless. Additionally, when coupled with an SAP partner that invests time in understanding the customer or prospect, the process instils certainty and confidence. It assures that the journey to the cloud is both achievable and desirable. Regardless of the chosen route, it is crucial for businesses to enquire and determine the best course of action promptly.

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