When it comes to migrating existing ERP systems to S/4HANA, decision-makers can choose between various approaches. Alas, which migration path is best suited for ones own company and enables a particularly fast, secure and cost-minimized procedure? An overview of classic strategies – and an interesting alternative.
Preparing for the S/4HANA migration is keeping decision-makers busy around the globe. The new ERP Business Suite, which will replace the previous version by 2027, offers numerous advantages – such as data transfers and evaluations in real time as well as location and device independence. However, many companies find it difficult to assess the risks of a migration: They wonder which migration approach is the right one. And how to deal with in-house developments within the SAP system that have arisen in the past.
In addition to minimizing risks and the strategic question of how to create the right basis for digitization, the project duration is also an important decision factor. Companies should know that the scope of the project varies greatly depending on the approach. After all, the pace of migration can have an enormous impact on costs and thus on the continued success of the company.
We present the different options for an S/4HANA migration:
Greenfield and Brownfield – the classic procedures
In order to migrate complex ERP landscapes from the old to the new IT environment, companies have so far chosen between the classic migration paths Greenfield and Brownfield. While the Greenfield approach is used to create a new system with new processes and configurations, the Brownfield approach involves first creating a new system and then migrating old data into this system. Both approaches require larger companies in particular to refurbish their legacy systems. This increases the already enormous effort involved in making far-reaching changes to ERP landscapes – such as switching to SAP S/4HANA, for example. In addition, current market requirements often make a mere reimplementation or system conversion impossible. It is therefore worthwhile to look into other solutions.
BLUEFIELD: Intelligent conversion to S/4HANA
With the alternative BLUEFIELD approach, companies are able to combine the advantages of Greenfield and Brownfield. Master data and transaction data can be systematically selected and used in the new system, while historical data is being archived. In this way, the consulting effort, project duration and costs can be significantly reduced. In addition, the BLUEFIELD method offers a high degree of security because it runs automatically and is less prone to errors than manually executed projects.
Combining multiple business transformations in order to reduce effort
Companies can use the BLUEFIELD approach to combine their S/4HANA conversion with other business transformations such as cloud migrations, global roll-outs or upgrades. Experts confirm that combining several projects into one central venture is often proving to be a sensible approach. That way, companies can be optimally aligned with the requirements of the digital age.
Using a traditional implementation approach, on the other hand, transformation projects would have to be carried out individually, which means a considerable amount of additional work.
BLUEFIELD represents a promising alternative to Greenfield and Brownfield. After all, system landscapes are put to the test, streamlined and made future-proof faster than before.
Those who approach the migration in a planned and timely manner will benefit in the near future from the S/4HANA platform, which is particularly fast, flexible and user-friendly – the "S" in the product name stands for "simple".