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SAP’s roads all lead to SAP S/4HANA

18 Nov 2021

SAP’s customers have known for a long time that the only way forward is the SAP S/4HANA platform.

More than just providing more functionality and insight, this SAP environment makes integration with the rest of the corporate infrastructure and the outside world much more straightforward and powerful. The transition process towards HANA is less clear-cut. Will you go for a radical transformation or for a modest makeover? Whichever strategy the client chooses, Capgemini will be there for them.

SAP will no longer support the current ERP business suite from 2027. By then, those SAP customers who still want a future-proof version to rely on should have completed their transition to the S/4HANA in-memory platform.

Incidentally, there are other reasons to switch to this new version in good time. Thanks to its simplified data model and extremely user-friendly SAP Fiori user interface, the new environment is more straightforward, more intuitive, and faster. Moreover, the open environment allows better integration with other business software and cloud applications, providing an excellent basis for corporate and process innovation. Last but not least, S/4HANA features a powerful engine for real-time analytics, which enables you to make rapid, informed decisions or adjust business processes when needed. The sooner you can benefit from these advantages, the more competitive you will become.

Tailored migration

Migrating an ERP package will always be a project that impacts business operations and requires a substantial financial investment. Not every organisation will be prepared to undertake a ‘big bang migration’; some will be happy with a straightforward upgrade and conversion to S/4HANA. Other companies may want to enjoy all the benefits of this new environment right from the start. Then there is a whole group somewhere in between these two extremes.

Capgemini has developed three approaches to offer each client a migration path tailored to their needs and ambitions. The customer can use the ‘greenfield’ approach for an entirely new implementation, including redesigning processes, to exploit the new platform’s functionality to the full. In contrast, a ‘brownfield’ migration only requires upgrade and conversion, without process reviews, no innovation, and minimal business impact. While all historical data will be preserved, they will not undergo a ‘cleansing’ process to improve quality.

Customers can also opt for a ‘selective data transition’. This might be a good choice if one department needs innovation, while another does not immediately see a need for a complete transition to the new environment with all the associated costs. In that case, Capgemini will be happy to meet them to discuss which modules will be included in the new system for each department and where to remain as close as possible to the existing way of working. For the latter group, we will look into data ‘cleansing’ so that at least the data quality can be improved.

While ‘greenfield’ migration is clearly the most likely to bring innovation and competitive advantage, it will not be appropriate for every organisation at this time. For those choosing this complete restart ‘from scratch’, it is essential to realise that it will significantly impact the organisational structure and involve a far-reaching change management process. A ‘greenfield’ approach usually means a radically different way of doing business, which companies are not always ready for. Unless there is an explicit and absolute buy-in from management, the organisation can expect a considerable backlash from employees. They will be faced with a new environment and will also have to adopt a different way of working if they are to make the most of their potential. They will only accept this if they fully understand the company’s objectives with this new way of doing business.

Multi-pillar as a prerequisite for flexibility

Whichever of the above three options the client chooses, Capgemini will always suggest an agile approach to the client’s migration project in which the new environment is developed on a modular basis and is always tested before progressing to the next step. Obviously, we will start with the elements that bring the organisation the most business advantages so that they can reap the benefits as quickly as possible. Further modules will be added gradually.

The ‘Multi-Pillar’ Service Architecture (MPSA) is key to this flexible migration approach. This involves dividing the environment into core processes – financial, logistics, etc. – and supporting processes – often SaaS software such as Ariba, Concur, SuccessFactors, or others. We keep the core as standard as possible, and it will not be interconnected with the other pillars. In this way, when an upgrade is made, the supporting software is less of a concern, and we can upgrade the standard core to the new version quite easily. The supporting processes and services will then gradually be upgraded at the pace the customer considers feasible and desirable.

In this way, the ideal of the ‘renewable enterprise’ comes a little closer. It will not be necessary to upgrade everything at once. Instead, you start with the core and then plug in other functionalities and processes whenever possible. At the same time, the innovation made possible by the first pillar can be enjoyed to the full.

For SAP customers migrating to S/4HANA, Capgemini is the right partner regardless of whether they prefer greenfield, brownfield, or something in between. The two companies have a shared history spanning more than three decades of joint development. Many of the solutions developed by Capgemini for clients in specific projects have subsequently been recycled by SAP as generic solutions. This is a logical consequence of the long-standing close cooperation and, at the same time, an ultimate recognition of Capgemini’s expertise in the field of SAP.

Capgemini has an extensive pool of SAP experts (over 22,000), and with more than 11,000 certified consultants, it is the strongest SAP partner in Europe. Moreover, Capgemini has the appropriate mix of technical and business consultants, which is an increasingly significant advantage in these innovative times, when advanced technology and in-depth sector knowledge increasingly need to work hand in hand to make a real difference for the client. Capgemini is your partner for the entire end-to-end process, from writing business cases and project management to extended testing and delivery, integration and maintenance of the new environment, and the associated change management.

Bram Sabbe is Practice Head of the Package Based Solutions department (SAP S/4, Oracle, HCM Solutions) at Capgemini Belgium – Contact: