Transitioning to SAP S/4HANA

Date: January 05, 2018
By: Lorraine Howell

Developing Your Adoption Strategy

Once you have created a business case for your organization’s transition to SAP S/4HANA, the question quickly becomes: when is the best time to make the move? Understanding what “style” of adoption suits your unique business will have important ramifications for your transition plan.

A best practice when deciding on a path to adoption is to hold a strategy workshop with the IT leadership team. In our experience, businesses looking to transition to SAP S/4HANA generally fall into one of two adoption categories:

  1. Strategic Adopter. Strategic adopters are organizations for which S/4HANA could deliver significant benefits to their business and/or support strategic business initiatives in the short term.
  2. Tactical Adopter. Tactical adopters see the benefits of moving to S/4HANA, but these benefits are not significant enough to make switching an immediate priority. Businesses with particularly complex SAP environments also often fit into this category.

Are you a strategic or a tactical adopter? The answer will shape your journey forward.

If you are a strategic adopter, you need to make moving forward with S/4HANA a top priority—even if it means taking on additional risk as an early adopter. While the idea of “additional risk” makes many shy away, being an early adopter isn’t a bad thing if you do the appropriate planning. For strategic adopters, a faster move to S/4HANA can also result in significant financial advantages, which make a few bumps along the road entirely worthwhile.

For tactical adopters, the question is not if you’ll move to S/4HANA, but what timeline works best for your organization. This could be any time between now and the end of 2025, when SAP stops providing support for prior ERP versions—though most organizations would be best served by not leaving this important transition to the last minute.

One way to help decide on a go-forward date is to consider all of the work that needs to be done to make a move feasible and create a corresponding timeline/deadline for the transition. Another is to consider at what point not moving to S/4HANA creates more work, delays important projects or results in more lost revenue than committing to a transition. Tactical adopters should also look at other events and changes that are occurring within the business. For example, if you are looking at embarking on other SAP initiatives or integrating new apps into your current suite, you may reduce duplication of work (and associated cost) through an earlier transition.

Understanding what adoption strategy best fits your business is an important step before developing your transition plan. In our next blog, we’ll look at how to build a plan to support the move to SAP S/4HANA on your ideal timeline.

Completing Your Transition to SAP S/4HANA


When identifying the most appropriate path for your business to move to SAP S/4HANA, there are two important decisions that must be made: what version are you going to choose, and what is your approach to transition? In many situations, it’s best to decide which version of SAP S/4HANA you want to use, then choose the best approach to get you to that goal.

Once you know your desired version, you can choose the route to adoption. As discussed earlier, you will be deciding on one of three different adoption paths:

  1. New implementation. This is the greenfield implementation of S/4HANA into which data from a legacy ERP system is migrated. While this approach is a good fit for new SAP customers migrating from a third-party ERP system, existing customers may also choose this approach to achieve a clean implementation. As only data migration is involved, customers can move to either an on-premise or a cloud-based version of S/4HANA.
  2. System conversion. This is the complete conversion of an existing SAP Business Suite, ECC, or Simple Finance system to an on-premise S/4HANA system. This approach is also appropriate for customers looking to upgrade from S/4HANA 1511 or 1610 to a newer on-premise version.
  3. Landscape transformation. This is the merger of multiple source systems, such as ERP systems used in different regions, into either a new or existing SAP S/4HANA system. As this can be a very big leap, some customers may want to look into using Central Finance as a “stepping stone” in this transition process.

If you are looking at a new implementation, SAP has a tool that can help. The SAP S/4HANA Migration Cockpit is an advanced tool that can vastly simplify the transition and data migration from an ECC environment to S/4HANA. This tool also supports legacy migrations.

If you are planning to move forward with a system conversion, SAP has a System Conversion Guide that can help with your planning. This guide provides a detailed, step-by-step outline of the preparation and tasks that you will need to complete to successfully convert to S/4HANA. The process outlined also walks you through the use of a variety of free SAP tools that will make your way forward easier, such as the Maintenance Planner and the Software Update Manager (SUM).

Another useful tool is the Migration Roadmap Viewer, an interactive website that gives you a clear visual overview of the details of your migration project, from the discovery phase through to deployment. This can be particularly useful in the creation of your project plan.

Regardless of your desired version or adoption path, one final area that all customers are encouraged to consider is what we might refer to as a longer-term functional roadmap. Often, focus before and during a transition process is on the transition itself, doing what needs to be done to get the business to S/4HANA. But it’s also important to consider the implications of and opportunities created by the move. Starting from the top down, look at the wider implications of the move to S/4HANA, from your Business and IT Vision through to the implementation project itself.

For example, consider: what are the longer-term benefits that SAP S/4HANA can bring to your company, and how can you best take advantage of these opportunities? In what order will you roll-out new business functions or SAP Fiori apps, and on what timeline? Where is the low-hanging fruit, and what areas require more detailed planning, training or adjustment time?

SAP S/4HANA: Your Journey Ahead

SAP S/4HANA offers exciting opportunities for today’s modern businesses, now and for years to come. Whether you’re already moving forward on your journey to SAP S/4HANA or are planning a transition for the future, Illumiti is here to help.

From personal advice to in-depth support, Illumiti can provide assistance to help you understand the unique benefits your business can realize from a move to SAP S/4HANA, plan and prepare for your move to the desired implementation, and assist you to realize a smooth transition.


Real-time insights drive better decision-making

The advanced SAP HANA in-memory platform removes the technical constraints that held back earlier ERP systems. While a traditional ERP system uses siloed data and delivers insights through a reporting tool, the SAP S/4HANA digital core provides unified data in real time with intelligent, predictive tools to deliver insights based on business patterns and trends. The result is instant line-of-sight on critical business data, enabling you to make faster, better decisions.

Personal, responsive user experience with SAP Fiori

Re-imagine your user experience. SAP S/4HANA is designed for SAP Fiori, a modern, role-based user experience (UX) that provides instant value to any user, in any role, in any line of business.

With Fiori, complicated, difficult user interfaces are a thing of the past. Fiori is personalized, responsive, and available on any device, simplifying the user experience across the business.  Fiori on SAP S/4HANA lets your employees can quickly focus on high-value tasks, increasing productivity and adding value to your bottom line.

Lower total cost of ownership through simplified architecture

SAP S/4HANA delivers a dramatic reduction in TCO, thorough:

  • Smaller data footprint with no need for aggregates, materialized views or indexes
  • A simplified landscape that blends transactional and analytical systems into a single platform
  • Reduced setup costs and increased time to value with SAP Activate
  • Native, out-of-the-box integration of SAP Cloud solutions including SuccessFactors and Ariba
  • Lower testing costs
  • Increased asset utilization

Increased productivity with smarter, simpler business processes

SAP S/4HANA drives a transformation in business models, business processes, and the IT operations that support both. With SAP S/4HANA, you can not only focus on the highest priority tasks in real-time and dynamically react to changing priorities, but also simplify your business processes to unlock greater efficiencies across the organization.

Don’t let unnecessary complexity slow your business. With SAP S/4HANA, you can:

  • Monitor achievements in real time with KPIs instantly refreshed
  • Eliminate end-of-period bottlenecks
  • Achieve continuous intercompany reconciliation
  • Gain continuous visibility into financial reporting
  • Gain full management visibility of close tasks
  • Automate routine tasks

If you have questions or would like individual support on your company’s journey to SAP S/4HANA, please contact Illumiti at

About the Author

Lorraine Howell

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