S/4 Hana is SAP’s new business software suite with real-time ERP based on in-memory database Hana. The ‘S’ stands for simple; simple pertaining both to a simpler data model and better usability, but not pertaining to the implementation!
Simple or not, customers have to implement S/4 Hana sooner or later. SAP announced sunset support for ECC 6.0, and if customers want to stay competitive after 2025, they will have to migrate to the new software generation.
There are different answers to when and how, but everyone can agree on one thing: The implementation of S/4 Hana is not going to be simple. It will take a lot of time and effort to make it work. Switching to S/4 Hana is more than an upgrade or a database migration – it affects the entire corporate IT landscape.
How to get to S/4 Hana
It’s nothing new that two main roads lead to S/4 Hana, better known as greenfield and brownfield.
Greenfield means starting from scratch – planning entirely new business processes and only keeping the data. Brownfield means optimizing existing processes and data to retrofit them for S/4 Hana.
Whether companies decide on greenfield or brownfield, the quality of master data is important. Ideally, the standardization and harmonization of master data is part of the new process design.
Opting for a brownfield approach usually means arriving at S/4 Hana faster, since existing processes are transferred to the new system. However, brownfield migrations require high master data quality. There are also some typical pitfalls regarding customer-vendor integration or customized analysis.
While the integration of customer and vendor master data is crucial, it’s not exactly easy. There are a few differences between ERP and S/4 Hana that companies have to keep in mind.
For example, in existing ERP systems, customers and vendors are shown as debtor and creditor. In S/4 Hana, it is mandatory to save them both as business partners. This switch requires a new data model.
Switching to S/4 Hana therefore not only means migrating data, but also changing data management.
Master data management in S/4 Hana
For example, Company Y is both customer and vendor to Company X. Up until now, Company X had to create two different data sets for Company Y. In S/4 Hana, however, Company Y is simply a business partner but with two roles: customer and vendor. While assigning different roles, companies only have to manage one set of master data.
Consequently, the two different data sets in the legacy SAP systems have to become one in S/4 Hana. Technologically speaking, this is an effort not to be underestimated. However, there are already solutions on the market (like ZetVisions SPoT) that can reduce that effort significantly.
These solutions have one major benefit: customers can enjoy the best of both worlds. Customers can create one master data set for their business partner with the solution while still being able to work with the traditional classifications of the ERP system. Companies therefore optimize their master data before migrating to S/4 Hana, saving time and money in the process.
Having optimized master data processes and quality, the implementation of S/4 Hana becomes easier, faster and cost-efficient. Regardless of when customers migrate to S/4 Hana, with a solution like ZetVisions SPoT, they can reap the benefits of central master data management anywhere, anytime.