Brownfield or Greenfield
In the course of conversation about migration to SAP S/4HANA, there are lots of discussions about what strategy to take. Many SAP customers are currently running 4.6, 4.7 or ECC and are in the process of contemplating next steps to S/4HANA. Do we migrate what we’ve got, do we start over (ouch!), or perhaps there is a combination of the two depending upon the complexity of both the installed SAP system and/or the company itself. So, let’s take a couple of viewpoints on both sides of the camp. What are those next steps? Well, there are a couple of serious considerations before getting too complicated. First, you need to run a migration assessment just to discover how complex and/or customized is the existing environment as well as how long it has been implemented. Additionally, if the company is in the midst of a major transformation to renew business processes or enter a new market, these need to be considered as well. A serious change management program needs to be in place to enforce a process of no customizations. At a prior company I worked for, the CEO and CIO (me) were the change control board (CCB). Yes, just the two of us. The operating word at the CCB was ‘NO’ and it was up to the business users to try and convince the CCB that the changes would impact revenue, customers, workloads, etc. Any requested changes by the business users had to be written up by the business themselves – not the IT team. So, the business leaders really needed to think through a process, impact on other areas, numbers of users impacted, costs, and real value to the company.?
Using an amazing app like West Trax Innovation App can help the C-Suite, the business users, and IT come together to really see and understand what the current implementation is about. History has taken its toll and this app tells you key things like the percentage of the standard SAP product that is implemented, by functional area. It also tells you how you stack up to other companies in your industry as well as comparisons to other industries. A key parameter is how much custom ABAP code is hanging around. History shows us that much of the customization takes place over time, adding new ‘features’ or ‘requirements’ that are often not actually used, thus complicating the environment.
The CCB approach, coupled with the Innovation App, can reduce requested changes by the business team by at least 50%, right from the start. Since the business users didn’t have the time, nor upon further consideration, was it worth presenting to the CCB because they rationalized that it actually wasn’t THAT important. It forced people to think rationally about what they perceived as ‘critical’ versus what does 80% of the job with no changes. You’d be surprised how this can simplify a system implementation!
Another key area to consider in the SAP migration process is the data. What’s the condition of the data? Does anyone ‘own’ it or curate it? A major consideration is just how much of this legacy data needs to be migrated. We generally don’t give this a lot of thought and migrate everything, even though much of the data is never access and/or used. I know I am being generic here as there are lots of data to consider in any migration. Also, what’s your companies complexity? Global? Single country? Multilingual? Many instances? Different business units in different industries? Finally, what’s the integration between other systems in the environment, including perhaps other SAP instances? The team working on the migration needs to look at all the facts, to assess these parameters, to determine if the migration can be implemented as a brownfield and a clean move to S/4HANA is at hand.
Now, perhaps greenfield is a better option if a company is really looking at starting over, taking a completely new view as to how the company is currently operating, or perhaps if there are new ways of working in a more ‘standard’ way. Let’s be careful here. There is a culture shift required that needs to be addressed prior to any greenfield implementation. That shift is convincing the many stakeholders that things can be done using the standard functions contained with the S/4HANA environment. There are new functions, capabilities, etc. that can be used by a company. And that’s a good thing! However, many companies start the process of implementing a system as ‘standard,’ no (or very few) customizations (versus configurations) with perhaps the exception being technical integrations to external systems. A greenfield implementation essentially means starting over, throwing out the old conventions and previous ways of working. There is lots of compromise required to get users and stakeholders on the same page. Implementing the ‘80/20 Rule’ can be hard.
Greenfield or Brownfield
If your company can actually rework processes to comply with S/4HANA standard processes, then greenfield is for you. But remember that this will require upfront training of the team as to what greenfield actually means, boatloads of business meetings, agreements, and of course, increased costs and time. SI’s love this since they are going to be part of those meetings! I can smell the invoices from here! Maybe that’s why they call it ‘green’ field!
Seriously, there are serious considerations for both approaches. Companies need to assess where they are going, why they are migrating, what they expect to get as benefits, budget, and of course how this will affect their business processes, consumption of resources, people and technology going forward. S/4HANA is a reality; make the right choice for the right reasons and make sure everyone in the company knows why the selected approach has been taken.