With SAP ECC maintenance coming to an end in 2025, Adam Sawley, DXC Oxygen’s recently appointed general manager of consulting, enterprise solutions, says deciding when to move to SAP’s next generation technology, SAP S/4 HANA, has become a priority. Adequate preparation can ensure an intelligent migration.
When is the right time to move to new technology? It is a thorny enough question when implementing a new line of business application or a point solution, but even more vexed when it involves an organisation’s core ERP software.
“End of life for ECC is six or so years away, and in the last few months we have started to see the market sit up and think about the best way to approach the change,” says Sawley.
A big leap forward
Paying simply to keep a legacy ERP solution running, without any room for innovation, is not attractive for most organisations running SAP. Fear of being left at a technological dead end is an obvious motivation to move to the next iteration, but Sawley says there are also plenty of positive reasons to adopt SAP’s new digital core technology.
“It is the entry point for a big leap forward. It is the necessary foundation to access some of the leading-edge technologies – such as AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things – available from the SAP Cloud Platform.”
He says adopting SAP S/4 HANA makes sense if organisations want to embark upon a digital transformation of their business or realise digital improvements that have already been embarked upon.
“Over the past few years’ investments in digitalisation have focused on peripheral applications, while the core of the business has been supported by ERP technology that hasn’t changed for over a decade. With the arrival of SAP S/4 HANA that is about to change.
“Transforming the core ERP will offer organisations performance gains, thanks to the in-memory capabilities of HANA. It will also maximise the value of existing digital investments and deliver new tools that enhance the productivity of the workforce to meet employees’ modern expectations.”
SAP S/4 HANA comes equipped with SAP Fiori design tools that will make it a lot easier for organisations to deliver an improved user experience to staff. “Field workers will be much better served, for instance, with screens and apps that are simplified to match their needs but tightly integrated with the back-end system, so they can access and enter information when and where they need to.”
The right time to ‘go cloud’
The adoption of SAP S/4 HANA will also signal a move to the cloud for many organisations, Sawley believes.
“The decision will be whether to move to SAP’s public cloud, subscription-based version or a hosted version of the on-premise edition. The former is an intelligent software-as-a-service solution that provides all the benefits of the cloud, such as large and rapid scalability, a shift of costs from capex to opex, and ‘pay as you go’ usage pricing. The latter offers the full functional scope of SAP S/4 HANA with a broader support for industry solutions.”
Sorting wheat from the chaff
Sawley says one of the things that needs careful thought is whether organisations should bring their old configuration directly across to SAP S/4 HANA or take the opportunity to weed out any customisations or legacy code and data that may no longer be relevant to their business.
“In the time that ECC has been operating, most organisations will have gone through significant change – through acquisitions or new business initiatives. Along the way they may have spent money on customising their system to meet the need for new business processes. Migrating to SAP S/4 HANA is an opportunity to assess what they really need to take with them. Ideally, they should leave all the redundant processes behind.”
But finding out exactly what lurks beneath the ERP bonnet can be difficult. Sawley says customers are now able to take advantage of new tools that automatically shine a light on code, data and processes that may need attention, prior to making the move to SAP S/4 HANA.
Smart tools to simplify transition
“DXC Oxygen partners with a number of companies – including Ibis, Smartshift, SNP and Datavard – who have smart tools that provide insights into what code, data and processes need to be retained, optimised or jettisoned,” says Sawley. “These companies are independent but remain closely aligned to SAP. Our DXC colleagues in Europe have used them successfully on a number of migrations.”
Knowing what data to migrate from the old to new database can have huge cost implications, says Sawley. “Fast-changing data needs to be held in-memory, which is where the costs lie. By optimising what is held in-memory, a business can save a great deal of money by sizing their HANA appliance appropriately.”
DXC Oxygen offers an innovation and analysis service to help customers get to grips with these granular migration issues. “We help them get a better idea of the challenges, and of course, the benefits they will reap. It is what we call an intelligent migration approach.”
Customers who want to approach the migration slowly can undertake a series of small incremental improvement projects, such as identifying and removing any processes that are no longer relevant to the business, or eradicating junk data from their system. “These types of short term clean-ups make the eventual migration that much faster and smoother,” says Sawley.
Reaping the benefits of digitisation
Once the core migration is done the advanced technologies, such as machine learning, embedded into the software offer profound improvements to ERP functionality, says Sawley.
“Most competing ERP software is alert driven; the software tells the user that something must be done, and it is up the user to action it. SAP’s software will learn, memorise and execute the task on behalf of the user. This is the true promise of a digitally enabled organisation as it automates routine tasks, freeing up talent to take customer care, innovation and growth to new levels.”
Discover where DXC Oxygen & S/4HANA can take your business: Time4DigitalCore
This article is sponsored by DXC Oxygen.