What can A&D companies do to address the challenges of moving from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA?

Apr 27, 2020
  • operations

By Steve Grimes, Senior Solutions Director, US

At this point, most A&D companies have started to discuss their future move from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA. In some cases they have initiated Proof of Concept( POC) initiatives to understand the challenges ahead and what choices they need to make. The more forward-looking companies may have already decided their approach and be developing detailed plans on how to move forward.

Evaluation of the Current Solution

The starting point  in the transition from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA is typically an evaluation of the current solution and a reflective assessment to determine if there is a good foundation to move forward with. In some cases it may be determined it is better to go back to the drawing board and go with a more standard SAP Best Practice approach given the functionality that now exists that wasn’t available when the original design was created.

An evaluation on a process by process basis such as the one shown below can help companies to decide where to position the existing solution overall.

What can A and D companies do to address the challenges of moving from SAP ECC to SAP S4HANA

This information can be aggregated by process and business area to provide an overall view of where the existing solution is good, has known challenges, is no longer supported, or if SAP S/4HANA will introduce new opportunities to consider.

What can A and D companies do to address the challenges of moving from SAP ECC to SAP S4HANA

Once this information has been compiled, it can be used to make a fully informed decision as to what is the best approach.

Brownfield approach

At one extreme a Brownfield implementation will be the most relevant if the majority of the existing processes are assessed as good. This approach allows a system to be technically upgraded from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA and the ability to only fix what absolutely needs to be fixed; an example is the transition to Business Partner being the most obvious essential requirement. The Brownfield approach is often considered as a lower risk and lower cost approach, however other considerations should be taken into account, as well such as the approach to SAP Fiori based transactions vs GUI based ones.

The simple case for a straight upgrade

  • Existing solution is fit for purpose and meets the needs of the business
  • Significant custom functionality has already been implemented that differentiates the business and has no equivalent in the S/4 HANA release
  • Limited budget doesn’t allow for significant redesign of the existing solution

The disadvantage of the Brownfield approach

If you have multiple productive SAP instances and intend to consolidate them into a single instance, there will be challenges in creating a single consistent solution from several conflicting sources.
Over time you will also need to go to a full SAP Fiori based SAP S/4HANA approach so you will end up migrating to new SAP S/4HANA functionality anyway and taking longer to do it. This results in an increased spend over a longer period of time and delaying the benefits realized from the new solution. End users are also refrained from using the tile based SAP Fiori design that is available on any device.

SAP is no longer adding functionality to the GUI transactions and in many cases is retiring them or eroding their functionality. Therefore continuing down a dead-end path with the existing GUI is limiting opportunities to benefit from new functionality and course correct to a more standard overall solution.

Much of the new SAP Fiori designed functionality has no GUI equivalent such as  Bank and BOM Management. This new functionality is typically not backward compatible with the GUI; BOM versions and usages are a good example of this.

Continuing with the GUI as an initial transition onto SAP S/4HANA may be a low risk approach however this needs to be balanced against the benefits of the SAP Fiori transactions the additional information they provide. SAP Fiori brings the ability to navigate from information provided to highlight the need for corrective action and the ability to carry out the corrective action from where you are in SAP Fiori with a couple of clicks rather than endless navigation elsewhere.

Enthusiastically adopting SAP Fiori also guides you down the path of SAP’s product roadmap while avoiding the old mistakes of going completely in your own direction.

Greenfield approach

Greenfield implementation makes more sense if many of the existing processes are assessed as having known challenges. This approach allows a new system to be created based upon SAP Best Practices and provide an opportunity to re-do processes that were never really designed to everybody’s satisfaction.

The simple case for a re-do

  • Existing solution is not viewed as fit for purpose and does notmeet the needs of the business
  • The implementation can be used as a way to bring the whole company together to work on a common solution where everybody can provide input
  • A fit to standard approach based upon existing SAP Best Practices simplifies the overall implementation approach and complexity
  • The end result will be a more forward looking solution in line with SAP’s future vision for their products and roadmap
  • Lower support costs of a more standard solution.

The downside of the Greenfield approach

This approach is likely to take longer and cost more initially but in the long term it should be a more cost-effective approach.

The initial change impact on the organization of transitioning from a GUI based transactional system to a SAP Fiori one will require significant training and support. However, users often adapt more rapidly than the consultants who lead the SAP Fiori driven approach.

Approach to your SAP S/4HANA solution design

Wherever you fit on the Brownfield to Greenfield scale, your solution will likely consist of the components shown below.

What can A and D companies do to address the challenges of moving from SAP ECC to SAP S4HANA

SAP Best Practices and Activate Methodology

SAP Best Practices includes over 200 discrete processes that are pre-configured and come with Test Scripts and associated data so that any of these processes can be quickly and easily demonstrated. Moreover, SAP’s new Activate methodology and accompanying accelerators speed the time to solution implementation,

In short, these capabilities enables a Delta/Fit evaluation between standard functionality and a client’s requirements to be completed in a short time frame.

Your existing SAP Business Processes

These are the core differentiating processes in use today that should be retained.

Discover our FAST Engineer solution

Our FAST Engineer template brings to the table pre-configured solutions and accelerators that can be rapidly adjusted to meet the needs of your business. This supplements the SAP Best Practices by covering processes that SAP Best Practices does not, and providing additional accelerators such as canned Forms. Most SAP partners will have their own proprietary content that they will recommend.

Assess your solution then pick the right path

The key steps to choosing the right path for your transition from SAP ECC to  SAP S/4HANA is firstly a critical assessment of your current solution, followed by a decision as to where you fit on the Brownfield to Greenfield scale.

The source of the content  to bring to the table when running fit to standard workshops can vary from SAP Best Practices, your existing solution or other proprietary content such as delaware’s FAST Engineer template.

In other areas neither of these options may exist so you may need to figure out some processes on your own.

Ultimately, whichever path you decide to take will be a combination of the options explored in this blog, taking into account your company’s assessment and overall business goals to achieve the right balance.