SAP’s Looming Deadline

Author: Chris York

The Challenge:  Eliminate the risk of migrating complex SAP systems to S/4HANA

The Looming Deadline ending ECC Support

SAP has a significant presence in much of the Fortune 1000 as well as mid-sized businesses. These companies have spent significant time and financial investment to fully integrate SAP ECC into their enterprise. There are also multi-national enterprises with numerous ERP systems across the globe. These organizations must meet numerous legal and regulatory requirements. The time and effort to design and deliver a stable process environment given these complexities cannot be underestimated. The user community at these companies has settled into a routine with their current SAP system. They know how to do their job with the T-Codes (Transaction codes) they use every day. End users are not eager for the disruption of a new system. The system is accessed via Fiori, a modern web app user experience. The traditional SAP GUI is no longer the primary way of accessing the system. This change alone causes fear among many users. 

The IT staff at these companies has spent years honing their knowledge and skills with SAP ECC as well as the custom programs that have been used to mold the system to their business processes. Most organizations are not staffed to allow time for ongoing education. This results in a significant skills gap when considering S/4HANA. SAP has said that S/4HANA is not an upgrade to ECC; it is an entirely new system. S/4HANA is a micro-services architecture built on top of an in-memory database. Enhancements to S/4HANA should be done in the Fiori front end and no longer in the SAP GUI in ABAP. This poses a huge hurdle for organizations that have complex ABAP programs with custom screens for users. These organizations must consider if those business processes are still required in S/4HANA. If they are still needed, then custom web apps should be created. The skills required a move away from ABAP programming and toward full-stack web development. The result of all of these changes is a significant impact on the IT staff.

We know that SAP set the deadline for ending ECC system support for 2025 – a short few years away. Customers are hoping that SAP will eventually extend that deadline and provide more time. For the moment, you have to plan based on the deadline that has been announced. Many large clients recognize the project timeline to move to S/4HANA could be 12 to 18 months. Given this, decisions must be made soon to begin the migration process. Preparation for this should include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Have your SAP IT support team spend 4-5 hours each week learning about HANA on the Open SAP platform (http://Open.sap.com)
  • Catalog your current landscape design and establish an initial list of systems to be replaced during the S/4HANA migration project
  • Catalog ECC enhancements and gather the functional and technical specifications for each of those
  • Identify the business subject matter experts (SMEs) who will be engaged on the project
  • Establish a resource plan to support your existing SAP ECC system while embedding your best IT resources on the S/4HANA project
  • Identify potential risks to your project and possible mitigation plans

Executives are asking themselves how they can reduce risk and disruption in migrating to S/4HANA in addition to long-term planning, a decision critical to success in the migration approach. Ameri100 supports our clients in three main approaches – greenfield (new implementation), brownfield (upgrading Suite on HANA to S/4HANA), and carve-in/carve-out (lift and shift configuration, enhancements, and data to S/4HANA). Each of these approaches has its pros and cons, depending on your situation; however, Ameri100 offers a hybrid approach to minimize risk.

We leverage SAP Central Finance and S/4HANA to deliver S/4HANA as a greenfield project. Central Finance synchronizes financials, Central Payments synchronizes payable activity, and S/4HANA can be implemented more quickly. This approach allows a phased migration to S/4HANA, where finance operations move first. Subsequent phases are determined in concert with our client but would typically involve sales, manufacturing, logistics, and service operations. What is unique about this approach is that we have the option to fully leverage S/4HANA capabilities without recreating the same ECC functionality. S/4HANA is a drastic improvement in user experience, speed, and efficiency and delivers opportunities for real transformation across the business.

Executives will appreciate this approach for a number of reasons.  It minimizes disruption to business operations by allowing a controlled migration to S/4HANA by business function. It spreads the investment over different fiscal years – based on the agreed-upon road map. It balances the demands on end-users to execute their day job with the time commitment of a new implementation and provides a longer runway for IT support to upskill and complete knowledge transfer for the new S/4HANA system.

Our team stands ready to support your migration road map to S/4HANA.  For more information on Central Finance, fill out the form below and we will share our white paper “Ameri100 Central Finance Roadmap.” Check back soon for more posts on Central Finance or subscribe to our blog to get weekly updates in your inbox.

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