In 2025, SAP will end its support for older versions of the ERP system. For companies that do not complete migration to S/4HANA by that time, loss of support will mean having to manage on their own with any errors that may be caused by changing laws and lack of access to new functions and technologies.

Is five years a lot?

When considering migration to S/4HANA, it is important to remember that there are thousands companies in a similar situation. This means that the search for the right service provider should be started as soon as possible. Companies should plan and secure the resources required for the migration of their systems without any unnecessary delay. After contracting the provider of such services, they will be able to breathe easily again, knowing that they will make it before the deadline announced by SAP. This will also enable access to the new functions and improved performance of the system after 2025.

Although five years is a relatively long time, it is important to note that the best service providers may later be swarmed by potential clients. Consequently, it is reasonable to ensure a safe time buffer in order to protect the company against any unnecessary stress caused by the approaching deadline.

Benefits of S/4HANA

S/4HANA has many new functions that should, in themselves, be a strong incentive to migrate. The digital transformation of business eliminates, in particular, delays resulting from having to process large amounts of data, complex infrastructure or manual running of specific processes, i.e. the typical problems associated with old ERP systems. With S/4HANA, the company will gain access to more effective tools, quicker processes and significantly simplified IT infrastructure. These are, after all, the core values of modern technology – effectiveness, speed and simplicity. What is equally important is that S/4HANA helps in reducing IT costs while also improving user satisfaction.

The new user interface of the system has been written in HTML5, JavaScript. SAP Fiori is a modern work environment compatible with all types of equipment and working in real time.

More specifically, S/4HANA is a relational database management system (RDBMS). This way, important information is stored in a column-oriented database (in addition to the row-oriented database) and processed in the RAM memory of the server (“in-memory”). Another advantage of S/4HANA is the possibility of removing I/O operations from the hard drives, which can then be used for long-term storage of data and backup copies. This approach enables the combination of transaction functions with analytical functions in a single database without the need to copy the data. The column-oriented storage used in the new version of the system frees the user from having to use indexes and materialised views. S/4HANA also eliminates queries involving a full table scan. This is further accompanied by an entire range of interesting administrative solutions, easier and more intuitive modelling of information in the SQLScript language and the capability of sending information to a large number of servers.

Migration to S/4HANA – where to start?

Although the company has to hire a professional partner to migrate to the new version of the system, both parties are involved in the entire process already during the preparatory phase. First, it is necessary to agree upon the strategy and map of the migration to S/4HANA – this plan includes the basic technological approach as well as the advanced business approach.

The next step is a time-consuming analysis of recommended discrepancies between the old system and the new system. These differences are placed on the migration map and they depend, in particular, on the extent of the migration. The client may decide on a simple conversion, business reimplementation or an exceptionally complex transformation. Matters important during the analysis include: money, time, recommended migration path, risk and planned division of duties and responsibilities between the client and the partner.

Also, during this period, it will be necessary to convert the SAP ERP software licence to S/4HANA and update the server infrastructure (cloud, on premise).

Migration SAPport

SAP makes every effort to enable easy migration to the new version of its system to the largest possible number of companies with adequate time to spare. Support for its partners includes knowledge transfer, training and effective tools.

One of such tools is called “Business Scenario Recommendations” (available at www.S/4HANA.com), and it analyses the business benefits of migration to the S/4HANA for a specific enterprise. The tool considers the existing SAP system of the client. “Business Scenario Recommendations” may be used with assistance of the partner, who will help in interpreting the results and making the right decisions, but it can also be used by the clients on their own.

It is worth mentioning that a demo of the S/4HANA system is available to clients on the SAP website, and it can be used for 30 days to test the functions of the new version.

Experienced partners, such as HICRON, support their clients in the technical analysis of the migration to S/4HANA. We propose optimum platforms and indicate the extent of required adaptations and recommended process changes.

The value of such a project depends on the complexity and number of migrated systems, business areas, and on the scenario of the migration itself. The cost of the service itself usually does not exceed PLN 200–800 thousand. However, there are also extra costs due to the need to convert the licence for the existing software and update the server infrastructure.

After money, time is another important factor critical to the implementation. Migration usually takes no more than 4 to 10 months. However, as I stated earlier, this time runs from the moment you decide to act. In order not to delay it, you should contract a partner as soon as possible. Why not give us a call today?

Author: Robert Stiller, Sales Director, Associated Partner at Hicron