Some 355,000 organizations have a major and unavoidable decision. As SAP users they must decide when to adopt S/4HANA, SAP’s step-change in functionality and technology. It’s OK – they still have about five years to think about it. It’s not OK to ignore the decision – investments will be made that could be wasted and benefits lost.

The “S/4” discussion can be technical: How do we migrate from the current database to the new HANA database? How do we migrate the functionality in the current SAP system (ECC) to SAP S/4? How do we minimize the impact on SAP users?

Alternatively, the “S/4” decision can be business focused: How should the SAP system be realigned to how we work today and want to work in the future? How can the new functionality and usability of S/4 be adopted? How could S/4 be used as the digital platform—for example, fundamentally improving the ways of working with customers and suppliers, integrating with devices across the supply chain (Internet of Things), and providing new digital-based services?

As the thinking on the objectives of the S/4 migration progresses, the key question is “when?” Again, this is driven by customer-specific factors such as in-flight and planned programs, including broader technology initiatives such as cloud and digital.

So, what have some forward-thinking organizations decided?

  • A leading pharmaceutical company is in the later stages of a SAP-enabled, multiyear global re-engineering program. This company has decided to complete deployment before embracing S/4, but is using small proofs of concepts to better understanding their future options
  • A leading aerospace company embarking on a global program has decided to use the latest version of S/4 as a key enabler. The company can then immediately leverage the latest functionality and usability, while reducing investment in the legacy system
  • A leading manufacturing organization is in the initial stages of an in-flight global program based on SAP ECC and has decided to accept the impact of switching in-flight to SAP S/4.  This will avoid significant ongoing investment in the building and deployment of a limited-life platform.