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Moving to S/4HANA?

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SAP’s HANA reached its 10-year anniversary this year, an event marked by some unusual cuteness from the enterprise software company. HANA’s younger sibling, S/4HANA, turned 5 in February and the platform appears to be hitting its stride: a recent ASUG outlook update indicated all customers surveyed were either live (16%), in the process of moving (21%), or planning to move to S/4HANA (63%). No customer indicated having no plans to migrate to S/4HANA, a quite remarkable leap from just last year, when 12% remained on the fence.

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As more companies move to S/4HANA, each will need to understand its unique organizational reasons for doing so, align those needs with overall project goals, establish KPI’s to measure success, and garner support for a project that touches most business processes. In my conversations with company executives, IT professionals, and business users over the years, I’ve encountered distinct personality types shared by organizations that have completed their S/4HANA migrations. While they share a common goal—implementing S/4HANA—their reasons for doing so vary, which influences the path they choose to get there. Here are the three most common:


These companies recognize S/4HANA as SAP’s future path and they want to get there as safely as possible. They tend to have a mature SAP organization (user base and support) and want to leverage their internal expertise as much as possible, often complimenting with system integrator (SI) support to supply S/4HANA-specific expertise. This usually results in a quasi-technical upgrade (the crawl), followed by a stabilization phase (the walk), and completed with functional enhancements (the run) the organization deems beneficial based on the business user’s response following the stabilization phase.

Their main driver isn’t business-led ROI or major process improvements, but the reality of needing to move to S/4HANA (regardless of the maintenance date extension). And they want to do it before the market o experienced S/4HANA consultants thins (remember, 63% of organizations have plans to move) to help with overall risk mitigation. Although these types of organizations understand the functional benefits of S/4HANA, as well as the additional cost of a crawl-walk-run approach, they still prioritize risk mitigation over business enhancements and cost. This results in a longer transition timeline, but the organization prefers the safety and security of having the project done by them, not to them.


These companies consistently grow, organically or inorganically; yet, their success is also their struggle. The growth they achieve comes with more customer products, offerings, services, processes, systems and complexity. Due to this, their ERP system is highly customized, they have integration challenges with 3rd party applications, one-off workflows are in abundance, and all worsen with each acquisition or new offering. That means IT spends most of its time making SAP work without considering best practices or standard functionality to keep up with growing business demands.

This twisted environment creates an opening for S/4HANA, which is perceived as an opportunity to standardize across their organization--one global chart of accounts, a single ERP instance, less custom code, and standardized processes with S/4 Best Practices or Model Company. Also, with SAP folding industry-specific functionality into their flagship ERP system, it allows companies to adopt S/4HANA without the need of an industry solution such as SAP IS-Oil. All these components allow growing organizations to return to standardized processes and position themselves to scale. In the long term, the organization has an easier system to maintain and upgrade, resulting in less effort and cost and its focus can return to valuable growth areas, particularly around acquisitions and customer offerings.



This type of organization sees S/4HANA in the purest form SAP intended. They see the technical advantages of HANA: reduced data tables, in-memory RAM, and upgraded code. They have brought in their business analysts and SME’s to evaluate the feature-rich standard functionality of S/4HANA, put tangible ROI’s to the enhancements, and have committed to business transformation that S/4HANA supports. These types of organizations tend to be progressive when it comes to technology and have a start-up-type culture, regardless of size.

In these sorts of organizations, there is a willingness to learn, roll-up the sleeves, and win in the race to becoming truly customer driven. Executive leadership typically views technology as a core component of business operations. These companies move towards S/4HANA to outpace laggards. Standard components like AI and Machine Learning provide a way forward for organizations that want to minimize monotonous tasks and focus their efforts instead on value-add initiatives usually centered around new market opportunities and customer needs.

Finding a system integrator who understands your goals, the path you will need to take to achieve them, and the pitfalls along the way can help you save time and build the kinds of processes that will future proof your organization. Enowa has focused on SAP ERP projects for over 17 years and has an incredible track record from project planning and Readiness Phase 0’s all the way through execution and hyper care—be it Selective Data Migration, Green or Brown Field. Our success rate is rooted in our intimate team approach and business process expertise.  

For additional information on our S/4HANA expertise, please visit: enowa.com/capabilities/hana/s-4hana.  

Or talk to us today to ask a question or discuss your S/4 plan.  

About the Author

AJ Dettorre has helped organizations with their business and IT needs for several years. During his tenure at SAP, he worked with executives, managers and end users by assisting them in their software evaluations, building business cases, and aligning SAP’s offerings to their strategic initiatives. More recently, AJ moved from the software side of SAP to services, while also moving to the east coast and joining Enowa in Philadelphia, PA. He currently supports companies throughout the US with a major focus on S/4HANA, data and analytics, and ECC enhancements. AJ’s first-hand experience at SAP provides an additional value to his customers by providing them with a range of software and service knowledge.

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