When considering migrating to S/4HANA there are five key considerations:
1 – What iteration of S/4HANA is a smart fit your organisation?
There are four basic options for businesses considering migration to SAP S/4HANA: self-hosted and on-premise, hosted by a hosting partner, private managed cloud and cloud ERP. The following Figure gives an overview of the different options.
2 – “When should I begin the migration process?”
According to SAP, moving from traditional SAP systems to SAP S/4HANA should take between 12 and 18 months. However, according to research from Gartner, companies that have already started the process have reported that migration to SAP S/4HANA can take far longer, with key steps potentially taking as long as the entire migration reportedly should.
With the above in mind, assuming you have identified the best ERP solution for you moving forward, it makes sense to start the migration process as early as possible. In addition to ensuring you have enough time to complete the transition to S/4HANA, starting the process earlier may save your business money, as implementation costs are likely to rise as the 2025 deadline approaches.
3 – Have you archived legacy data in preparation for migration to SAP S/4HANA?
Given the size of the task facing in-house IT teams, identifying effective methods of speeding up the migration process may prove crucial. With this in mind, perhaps the most worthwhile preparatory step a business can take in advance of transitioning is to archive legacy ERP custom code. Studies have shown that the majority of ABAP code is customer-specific code, a large proportion of which generally remains unused after being created. Migration to SAP S/4HANA offers a good opportunity to give your ERP system a spring clean. By completing this exercise in advance of migration you will benefit from a reduced migration volume and thus reduced financial and time costs. It really is a win-win!
4 – should I move to a cloud-based EDI approach or can older EDI systems still be compatible?
With such a large-scale transition involving changing the source of EDI data (i.e. your ERP system) there will always be risks. Given the scope of the work involved in the migration to SAP S/4HANA, your EDI solution will inevitably be affected at some stage during the process. With this in mind, it makes sense to use this as an opportunity to transition to a future-proof EDI solution. Moreover, thanks to the modern features of S/4HANA some older EDI solutions may simply not be compatible.
5 – which cloud-based EDI approach shall I choose?
Thanks to the number of cloud-based EDI providers out there, selecting the right EDI partner can be a complicated process unless you know what to look for. Yet, much like deciding to upgrade your ERP to S/4HANA, selecting the right EDI solution for your business constitutes an important step towards future-proofing your organisation.
On the face of it, the most obvious candidate for a cloud-based EDI platform for businesses looking to move to S/4HANA is the SAP Cloud Platform Integration (or SAP Cloud PI for short). However, significantly SAP Cloud PI is an entirely unmanaged solution, meaning that everything is dependent on your in-house resources. Whilst this could potentially be a viable solution for businesses that have a wealth of in-house EDI expertise, for companies looking to optimise business data processes and streamline in-house resources a managed, cloud-based EDI solution represents a far more attractive option.
In short, while 2025 may seem a long way off still, as we have covered, the journey to S/4HANA is a long one, and should ideally not be started without the necessary research and provisions. Given the scale of the task facing teams responsible for coordinating a migration to S/4HANA, it makes sense for decision-makers to use this time to consider what their ideal ERP would seem like an upgrade or outsource alternative processes as necessary. Hopefully, those who consider the above questions and make the effort to identify and implement the best solutions for them will ensure that 2025 starts to look less like a dark cloud on the horizon and more like the dawn of a new, more efficient era for their business.