Tech people aren’t in the least shy about adapting terms from other disciplines. Firewall, plug-in, virus – there are plenty.
Others include greenfield and brownfield. The first describes a completely new development, and the second (in a tech context, at least) describes an addition to something that’s already in place. To them, more recently, has been added “bluefield” – a project that is a complete rebuild of an existing application.
At Capgemini, we know of many organizations that are moving to the new world of SAP S/4HANA, and as a result, we see all of these courses of action – clean-sheet newbuilds, add-ons, and rebuilds. But it seems to me that none of them quite describe the position in which most businesses find themselves. Nor do any of them encapsulate what is often the best approach.
So – what exactly is that real-world position, and what is the recommended approach?
Let’s take the real-world position first. The problem with it is that it’s hard to be exact about anything. SAP estates in large organizations tend to be multi-faceted and incomplete, involving several versions of SAP, redundant functions, and several workarounds in different places, with levels of complexity that may have seemed to make sense when they were introduced, but that probably don’t fit the business as it runs today.
Now let’s consider the best approach to resolving these complications. In our view, it’s a great idea to use the advent of SAP S/4HANA as an opportunity to recalibrate the SAP ECC (ERP Central Component) – in other words, to redefine the core of the system. This means retiring some fringe systems, or migrating them to a target system, taking the bespoke components out and putting them into SCP or another cloud platform, and implementing cloud products for functions such as sales, procurement, or expenses. It can also mean adding new SAP elements, such as EWM and IBP, as well as developing new microservice functions that provide great user experience, in addition to improved or new business processes.
When the complexity has been removed from the old ECC, it’s possible to move its workload and functions to the new SAP S/4HANA platform, before standing the old one down. All the cloud solutions, extensions, and microservices that have been built around – and not within – the core can then be reconfigured to point at the new platform at the go-live stage.
During this process, data has to managed carefully and the overall target architecture has to be known, but the precise route on the journey ought to be based on business priorities.
The whole approach reduces the risk, does not require a long-term contract with a systems integrator, and can use a multi-source approach. The result is a modern, flexible platform that brings benefits forward and to the places where they are most needed.
I realize this argument may run counter to the advice of the systems integrator sales team, which is trying to land a huge deal, or to that of the software salesperson, who wants to sell everything now, but really, it’s the needs of your own organization that you have to think about, and not theirs.
After all, most projects are a combination of different approaches that get to the same point – at the pace, and at the balance of cost and risk, that the organization wants.
So, then. Why not start on the core, strip it away, get the most-needed benefits fast, and get the business loving the SAP solution they now have? At the same time, you’ll be reducing your stress levels, as well as minimizing overruns, streamlining rollouts, and more besides.
If you want to know more about this approach, please get in touch with me.
You might also want to suggest a name for it. It’s not greenfield, or brownfield, or bluefield. It’s all of these, and more – keeping the best of what you have, re-organizing it, adding to it, and imposing a structure that won’t get cluttered as time passes.
Put green, brown and blue together, and you get not so much a nameable color as something resembling mud. I know: I just used an art app to see. I don’t think anyone will find a mudfield development to be very appealing. So as I say, if you can think of a better term for it, please let me know.