Overview of S/4HANA

The most important information about the new Business Suite

„SAP S/4 HANA is a real time ERP suite for your digital business“ (source: sap.com)

S/4HANA is the new generation of the SAP ERP business suite and has been available since November 2015. Compared to earlier versions, S/4HANA is completely built on in-memory technology and supports business processes continuously without media discontinuity (e.g. creation of reports).

Especially the in-memory technology, which is the core of the HANA database, enables the generation and analysis of big data in short order. This benefits above all the digital business, e.g. on the path to the smart factory.

The interface was modernized and besides the SAP GUI there are browser-based apps available.

Technical and Functional Changes

The jump from SAP ERP 6.x to S/4 HANA is technically and functionally quite large. There are a number of changes, which should be considered at the changeover, and affect existing functionality.

Technical Changes (excerpt)

  • Operation of HANA-ready infrastructure
  • Switch to SAP HANA database
  • Check customer code

Functional Changes (excerpt)

  • Module-spanning parameters like e.g. vendor/customer, material number, messages, documents, are going to be modified. For example there will no longer be a vendor/customer, only one central business partner.
  • The use of the “new ledger” is mandatory
  • Functions of previous external SAP systems (e.g. EWM, APO, GTS) are partly going to be integrated in the S/4HANA core.
  • Single transactions will only be available as Fiori app in the future

The aim of all these changes is to provide exactly one solution for one business process, instead of several transactions for the same process. The SAP landscape will be simplified, too. Many add-ons, like EWM, are integrated in the new business suite and are now a component of S/4HANA. This saves money and effort on the infrastructure.

Benefits of S/4HANA

  • Modern Design:
    The usage is fully tailored to the needs of the users. Role-based and personalized apps replace successively previous transactions, which are thus easier and faster to use. The training effort is low.
  • Modern Architecture:
    A simplified data model and in-memory technology enable the depiction of processes in one single system and creation of reports in real time.
  • Smart Business:
    The system actively notifies about the development of critical key figures. Respond to changes, e.g. failure of a machine or stock levels falling below, quickly and avoid unnecessary outages. But also the development of new business models becomes possible.

Switching to S/4HANA

The change-over to S/4HANA is a strategic decision, which should be made in the next couple of years, as SAP keeps up the maintenance of the ERP business suite only until 2025.

The most useful way to take S/4HANA resp. the HANA database into account to your IT strategy is when

  • Replacing outdated hardware (databases, etc.)
  • Licenses expire or
  • You consider outsourcing the management of your software

Migration Scenarios

As the data model of S/4HANA and SAP ERP are compatible, in addition to a new installation, a migration is also possible.

There are basically 2 ways:

New Installation (Greenfield)

Implementation of a new system along the SAP best practice processes. The data is migrated from existing SAP and / or non-SAP ERP systems. The extensions can be taken selectively

System Conversion (Brownfield)

The upgrade to SAP S / 4HANA is done in the same way as an upgrade or a migration. Configuration, data and extensions are retained.

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Wolfgang Mayer
New Technologies
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