SAP S/4HANA is a technological breakthrough that changes the way enterprises manage their business operations. By innovating complex legacy workflows, it provides high-speed operational insights using in-memory computing. Moving legacy systems from SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) to SAP S/4HANA is a critical step for any organization looking to modernize its SAP landscape and become truly intelligent.
With "adapt or accept” as the new normal, executing the SAP S4/HANA migration strategies after doing the S/4HANA assessment holds significant importance. It helps in achieving a competitive edge while adding zero technology burden and accelerating the digital transformation quotient faster, which further enhances the operational performance of SAP systems.
The SAP S/4HANA migration strategies can be explained as a set of options that guide you through migrating your SAP S/4HANA system. In the process, choosing the right migration approach is the first critical step to ensure that transition to SAP S/4HANA is smooth. Depending on your starting point and systems, SAP S/4HANA migration can be done in two ways.
First, migration from the previous version where you would need to upgrade your existing system to a new version and then migrate data from the old systems to the new ones. This process may take some time, but once it is complete, you can use the new software without any problem.
The second option is migration from the current version. If you are using an older version of the SAP ERP system, then you can easily migrate data from that system into a newer version by taking help from a third-party service provider who also offers migration services for that purpose.
The promising SAP S/4HANA migration benefits
SAP S/4HANA migration helps businesses to create a seamless backend for SAP's portfolio through quick simplification and standardization of legacy business processes. Businesses that are responding to the adoption of SAP S/4HANA migration enterprise-wide are able to unlock the many promising benefits:
Breaking down SAP S/4HANA migration strategies - Greenfield versus Brownfield
SAP S/4HANA migration is a major undertaking that requires the right approach and method to be taken. With SAP HANA's support for both structured and unstructured data types, it allows users to easily store and retrieve data from multiple sources, including enterprise applications and middleware systems. The key to success is planning, preparation, and execution. There are several ways to migrate your SAP S/4HANA system to SAP S/4HANA, but the two most popular migration approaches are
It is a new SAP S/4HANA system built from scratch. This approach is typically used when the existing SAP R/3 system has been around for several years and has proven to be stable and reliable. Greenfield's approach involves a complete overhaul of the existing SAP HANA infrastructure and applications, with new hardware and software requirements. The goal is to deliver a highly available and high-performance environment, enabling business users to achieve maximum innovation transformation across the SAP-centric systems.
Greenfield implementation is a relatively simple option for the S/4HANA transition that enables businesses to reduce Time-to-Value and Total-Cost-of-Ownership through the fast adoption of predefine migration objects and decluttering complicated workflows and heavily customized codes. It works by addressing the deep-rooted SAP migration challenges and re-engineering the existing workflows along with process simplification followed by a greater level of initial disruption.
Most common advantages of SAP greenfield deployment are
- Clean slate beginning of new implementation
- Handling deep-rooted challenges
- Adoption of best practices for processes simplification, landscape consolidations and rationalizations of legacy systems.
- Unlocks greater operational efficiencies by re-engineered processes, optimal workflows, and enhanced SAP-centric system capabilities.
- Greater automation, innovation and business continuity
However, the main downside to this approach is that it takes time to get your new system up and running. Also, the cost of greenfield deployment is higher in comparison to brownfield because it involves a complete assessment, planning, and redesign of business processes. Therefore, it is an ideal option when there is no existing ERP system that needs to be migrated. In this case, the company will build an entirely new ERP system that is based on the latest version of SAP S/4HANA.
It is an existing SAP S/4HANA system that has been in operation for at least one year. You can use this method if you want to move away from an obsolete system but still want something that works well with your current processes. Brownfield works by taking advantage of some new features not available in an older version of SAP S/4HANA.
The brownfield approach is used when an existing ERP system is being migrated to the latest version of SAP S/4HANA. This can be done by either updating a standalone system or by integrating it into an existing core business application. With a brownfield migration, you can upgrade the existing hardware and software with zero disruption in the legacy systems. There is no need to re-architect your entire system or start from scratch when you choose the brownfield approach; instead, you can build on top of an existing foundation.
Yes, brownfield is all about upgrading the legacy SAP ERP systems and processes with a major focus on delivering quantifiable return on investments. It works by optimizing the custom ECC code and previous components followed by SAP S/4HANA conversion. Brownfield implementation ensures faster process transformation by mimicking ECC-based processes with quick access to many features of S/4 HANA, including SAP Fiori, HANA database, and Embedded Analytics.
The most common advantages of SAP brownfield deployment are
- Faster deployments with shorter timelines
- Minimal business change impact and process disruption
- Enables re-evaluation of previous customization and existing process flows
- Supports selective picking of components during ECC version to SAP S/4 HANA platform
Making a choice between Greenfield vs. Brownfield: what you need to know
Which migration approach is best? The answer typically depends on the SAP modernization goals and how much risk your organization is willing to take for rapid innovation. If you are looking forward to the initial system implementation then go with greenfield. Remember, the only difference between the greenfield and brownfield approaches is that with a greenfield strategy you do not need to develop any new applications and all existing applications will remain unchanged. On the other hand, a brownfield strategy works by developing new applications that integrate with your existing ERP system (usually through OBIEE).