Implementing SAP S/4 HANA–The Next-Gen Enterprise Software

Over the last two years, SAP S/4 HANA has been making headlines as the new transformational ERP solution released in the early February of 2015, S/4 HANA is SAP’s next-gen business suite designed to help enterprises run their businesses in a simple yet sophisticated manner. This suite is built on SAP’s proprietary in-memory platform, SAP HANA.

For long SAP has been the leader in the ERP space and with S/4 HANA it has moved further ahead in competition.  Interestingly, while ERP software providers aim to provide simpler and more intuitive solutions, enterprises or users find it difficult to switch to newer solutions unless of course these solutions are similar to the versions that are already in use.  So it’s even more important that while S/4 HANA makes for a really good transformational solution its proper implementation is of utmost importance.

SAP S/4 HANA Editions


From the implementation point of view there are two S/4 HANA editions – On-premise and Cloud. The cloud edition was released in the early May of 2015 keeping in mind those customers who actually preferred cloud based solution or were intending to move to cloud from on-premise systems.

On-premise edition: This edition is similar to current SAP business suite in terms of functionality, coverage, industry-specific support and localization.

Cloud edition: This edition emphasizes SAP’s intention to move to cloud based solutions. This edition consists of functionality for business processes such as – accounting, controlling, finance, marketing, sales, procurement, project system, etc. It can also integrate with other SAP solutions such as – SAP Ariba, Hybrid and Field glass.

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As of end 2016, SAP announced that about 5,400 customers have implemented S/4 HANA and a large number of them went with On-premise edition.

The Implementation Process

The implementation process depends on the customer’s or enterprises’ current situation or starting point. Implementation varies according to whether a customer is on an existing SAP system or on a non-SAP system.

There are three types of implementations or implementation scenarios:

New Implementation: This is done for all customers who need to migrate from a non-SAP legacy system to S/4 HANA system. This obviously involves implementing a fresh system where all the data from legacy system is transferred and this is done by a set of standard data migration tools.

System Conversion:  This is done for all customers who currently use SAP based solutions and wish to migrate to S/4 HANA. If the customer is not on HANA database then this scenario also involves Software Update Manager and Database Migration Option.

Landscape Transformation: This is done for customers who want to consolidate their current regional SAP systems into one global S/4 HANA system or carve out selected entities or process as part of their move to S/4 HANA.

Transitioning process to SAP S/4 HANA is divided into six phases as per SAP implementation methodology.

Phase #1 – Discover

In this phase an overall strategy is underlined for digital transformation. S/4 HANA plays a key role in this strategy and it is therefore important to understand and discover the benefits of implementing S/4 HANA. Customers can also identify the high-level areas of existing solution that would eventually benefit from S/4 HANA implementation.

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Phase #2 – Prepare

Once the discovery phase is completed, the “Prepare’’ phase comes into play. In this phase, a first version of the implementation plan is made which will also include findings from ‘’Discover’’ phase. This phase actually sets the tone for implementation process and will include some preparation activities. All such activities should be planned in detail and should be completed to save on downtime.

Phase #3 – Explore

In this phase, the to-be-design of S/4 HANA is defined and documented. Existing functional gaps are prioritized, documented, and validated. On the technical front, the technical design of the to-be-solution is designed and documented. Towards the end of this phase all technical and functional aspects of project implementation are designed, documented and are ready to be executed.

Phase #4 – Realize

In this phase the technical architecture and infrastructure required to set up S/4 HANA is prepared. The custom code is adjusted and application and analytics functions are implemented. Project specific training is prepared as per requirements and end-user training is conducted.

Phase #5 – Deploy

This is the phase where all preparations are made to go-live. In this readiness of S/4 HANA to go-live is finalized. This phase includes, rehearsing cutover, finalizing IT and infrastructure operations and final testing. Finally, the productive instance of the solution is implemented before going live.

Phase #6 – Run

The S/4 HANA is now live and is available for customers to log in and use the solution. IT operations such as bug fixing, performance are further optimized during this phase. This is the phase where extensive care is taken, and post this phase the complete operational responsibility is transferred over to the production support team.

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SAP Activate

The SAP Activate frame work is a unique blend of best practices, methodology, and guided configuration to help customers implement SAP S/4 HANA. It is exclusively, designed for IT professionals who are involved in the migration, integration, configuration and or extension of S/4 HANA. SAP Activate helps enterprises or customers to quickly implement and continuously innovate with S/4 HANA, in short – it is the quickest way to streamline and simplify enterprises operations through S/4 HANA.

SAO Activate is available both as a package with SAP S/4 HANA and separately as stand-alone software.

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