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SAP transformation: first clean up, then get started

How companies can best prepare for their migration to SAP S/4HANA and save time and money in the process

August 26 2022Marcus Flohr

Housekeeping expedites SAP migration

Data provides an indispensable foundation for innovative, digital business models and is an important asset for companies. That is why the introduction of SAP S/4HANA should always be combined with a sustainable data strategy and optimised data storage. By carrying out housekeeping that accounts for the organisational and infrastructural aspects of the migration, it is possible to avoid project risks, accelerate the migration and save on costs.

Which data will remain in use and which will not?

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Large companies around the world often have several thousand users working with SAP in their day-to-day work. The volume of transactions and the amount of data produced are correspondingly extensive. That is why T-Systems identifies which data will be used and is indispensable for the new SAP system before the migration even begins, but also which data can be archived or deleted.

In order to understand exactly what data is available in the company's SAP landscape and what dependencies there are between data and individual systems, it is necessary to have a comprehensive overview. This prevents data that is still needed from being accidentally discarded during the migration to SAP S/4HANA.

Reduce migration costs, reduce risks

T-Systems' holistic approach to SAP transformation provides exactly this kind of overview. A 360 degree scan of the existing SAP landscape conducted prior to the migration reduces the costs and risks of the migration to the SAP S/4HANA target system. Key elements of the data and system check include standardized SAP on-board tools and special analysis tools such as the Data Migration Factory, which automatically scans the SAP system being migrated and offers insight into all technical parameters.

In principle, the customer remains responsible for data protection and compliance during data and system migration. T-Systems analyses the data, but has no knowledge of its content – i.e. whether it is personal data, quantities, or account numbers. Nevertheless, the file size and file type, e.g. invoices or tables, are clearly identifiable, allowing the required storage space for SAP S/4HANA to be estimated and planned at an early stage.

Existing SAP landscape under examination

How is the existing SAP landscape analyzed in detail? T-Systems starts by installing an ABAP program in the SAP system being migrated. The tool automatically analyses the running SAP operations and returns all the information. This process takes only a few hours, depending on the amount of data, and on-site appointments are not necessary.

SAP experts from T-Systems then analyze the results and make recommendations for a migration approach. This may be a brownfield or greenfield approach, or a Selective Data Transition that brings together the advantages of new implementation (greenfield) and system conversion (brownfield).

During the analysis, it was discovered that one customer had more than 7,000 self-programmed applications in the SAP system, but only used about 20 per cent of them. Excluding the idle program and the associated data and transactions from the migration process reduces not only the time and effort required for the project, but also the storage and licensing costs in the SAP S/4HANA target system.

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Important preliminary work for the transformation

T-Systems uses the results of the analysis to prepare an individual migration roadmap for the customer. This includes, among other things, which housekeeping activities need to be completed before the changeover, and takes into account whether the client has already done any preliminary work: for example, making use of SAP Fiori in its user interface or having implemented the SAP S/4HANA Simplification List, which allows transactions, modifications and modules to continue to function in the new SAP S/4HANA landscape the same way as before.

Housekeeping should consider the following questions:

  • Is the existing SAP system at the necessary release level for an SAP S/4HANA migration, or does it need to be upgraded?
  • Is the company already using SAP HANA or will it be necessary to replace other databases first – e.g. from IBM, Microsoft, Oracle or SAP Sybase?
  • Is the SAP landscape based on Unicode, a standard for language representation and a basic requirement for installing SAP S/4HANA?

Do we know all the dependencies that exist in the SAP environment with regard to data and interfaces, and have these been adequately documented?

Ready to make the leap to SAP S/4HANA

T-Systems tries its best to ensure that the customer only has to shut down his SAP system once during the housekeeping activities – for the actual system migration. All preparation is mapped in an SAP system that is encapsulated in a sandbox, which is similar to the legacy system and makes the jump to SAP S/4HANA quick and easy.

In the sandbox, T-Systems can, for example, update the Linux operating system, carry out an SAP upgrade, implement a Unicode conversion or transfer the previous Oracle database to SAP HANA. Then, finally, everything will be in place for a smooth S/4 migration. The advantage: instead of experiencing multiple periods of downtime for upgrades or database migrations, there is just one downtime – when making the switch to SAP S/4HANA. Our experience shows that this method can save up to 30 percent of migration costs and minimize many risks.

Less downtime saves millions

This method enabled a DAX company to significantly reduce the costs of migration: three SAP legacy systems needed to be mapped into an SAP S/4HANA solution. With the help of the Data Migration Factory, we were able to avoid seven downtimes with an average duration of 24 hours during the changeover. One hour of downtime costs the customer about € 50,000, meaning that the customer was able to save several million euros in total.

About the author
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Marcus Flohr

Program and portfolio manager SAP S/4HANA migrations, T-Systems International GmbH

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