Follow the Yellow Brick Road to S/4HANA


What’s holding you back from moving to S/4HANA? Confusion about which S/4HANA deployment route? An unclear business case? The fear of business disruption? Whatever the reason, ignoring the looming end of support for ECC in 2027 is the wrong choice.

ERP deployment in 2023 bears no resemblance to your last implementation experience. With SAP’s commitment to standardisation and ‘adopt not adapt’ strategy, the model is clearer and easier to achieve. Furthermore, with an array of tools to support businesses and their SAP partners through the process, from product choice through implementation, the path to S/4HANA is much more straightforward than many businesses realise. Don Valentine, Commercial Director at Absoft, explains.

Brown or Green?

Migration to S/4HANA can be confusing. Given the 2027 deadline, would a brownfield technical migration of ECC to S/4HANA that retains existing customisation and data be the safest bet to minimise disruption? Or do the benefits of a standardised best practice approach present a compelling business case, making the greenfield approach the best option? And, if so, should it be public cloud Software as a Service or private cloud?

SAP’s Readiness Checker tool can simplify the brownfield versus greenfield decision for existing ECC users. Using a set of programmes already in most versions of ECC, the assessment is based on a business’s ECC usage, from configuration to data volumes. It includes key information which helps evaluate suitable interfaces, integrations and innovation for specific business scenarios and needs.  The output is a very clear and detailed view of the work required to achieve the technical migration to S/4HANA, including identifying any custom code that would not work in the new system.

This is a great insight that can support a discussion about the difference between the highly customised ECC systems and the benefits of a standard S/4HANA deployment. The process often helps businesses to understand how and where a standard process would be beneficial, with additional tools such as Process Discovery – unveiling gaps and areas for improvement to maximise individual process efficiency and an App recommendation report also highlighting the alternative app solutions available to cover certain aspects of functionality not included in the standard S/4HANA deployment.

Fresh start – Public or Private

Growing numbers of businesses are moving away from brownfield deployments, embracing instead the clean core, standardised approach with its simpler implementation and easier upgrades associated with limited customisation.

For businesses that decide on the greenfield route – as well as companies considering SAP S/4HANA for the first time – the next decision is public or private? The multi-tenanted public cloud SaaS version that offers limited configuration options or the private cloud single-tenanted approach that offers more flexibility.

That is when SAP’s assessment tool comes into play, to help you with the decision-making process. SAP’s Digital Discovery Assessment (DDA), is a guided procedure that brings clarity to the optimal approach for each business. The Assessment walks SAP partners through a business at a high level, including its operational processes and implementation goals, and then makes a recommendation based on the business’ fit to the standard product.

Fast Track Discovery

With a percentage match in each domain, a business can have a fact-based discussion with its SAP partner about the options. If the DDA confirms the company is an 80% fit for the standard model in every domain except inventory, for example, is there a cloud-based solution or extension that can be used alongside S/4HANA to support that specific business need? If so, then the public cloud SaaS option would be a straightforward fit.

If not, and the business just doesn’t fit the public model, then a private cloud edition gives that more flexibility. While it is still hosted by SAP, it is a single-tenanted approach and the business has control over the choice of hyperscaler. While the recommended ‘adopt not adapt’ approach to the system design and build does deliberately attempt to limit customisation options, taking a private cloud approach does allow for small configuration tweaks that could avoid the need for separate solutions to support specific business objectives.

If the business doesn’t fit any of these standard approaches, then the final option is an on-premise approach, where a business retains the full flexibility 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, the business must be prepared to carry the responsibilities and costs of upgrading and running the system.

Result? Complete Clarity

Armed with the DDA, an SAP partner and business have an immediate vision of the optimal route. In addition, this process provides the SAP licence bill of materials and a clear statement of the scope that will be delivered in the delivered solution. This gives a business complete visibility of the implementation and total cost of ownership and potential areas of process change required to meet the standard, best practice processes defined by SAP in each area, such as order to cash, purchase to pay and record to report.

And with an expert partner by your side, who can oversee technical aspects of your implementation and prepare your business for the right transition, you can expect a seamless road to S/4HANA.


ERP adoption used to be daunting – with a potentially unlimited choice of customisation and long-drawn-out implementations. With S/4HANA, that model has changed completely – and those businesses still ignoring the 2027 deadline for the end of ECC support need to recognise and embrace the new approach.

Standardisation plus the range of tools in place to help businesses make the transition are accelerating the process. The entire experience is very clear and very clean. And, when combined with an SAP partner that takes the time to get to know a customer or prospect, the process should give certainty. It should give confidence that the journey to the cloud is both achievable and desirable. Whichever route is best for the business, the key is to find out now.