How to Choose the Ideal S/4HANA Migration Strategy for Business Success

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As many are aware, SAP is scheduled to conclude mainstream support for SAP ERP by 2027. This deadline is a pivotal reason for enterprises to transition to S/4 HANA, especially considering the array of new features the updated version offers. The migration journey offers various paths, including system conversion (brownfield approach), re-implementation (greenfield approach), or a hybrid approach. This blog presents a comprehensive set of guidelines to help select the path that best suits individual needs. 

Despite the enhancements and advancements in S/4HANA, numerous businesses remain apprehensive about adopting the new system. They find comfort in the familiarity of SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) with its robust graphical user interface (GUI), which continues to serve them well. However, with the impending end of support for ECC, organizations must either upgrade or incur additional costs for SAP support. Resistance to change may stem from various factors, including resource limitations, strategic priorities, concerns regarding change management, significant financial considerations, and uncertainties about return on investment (ROI). 

Three Approaches for SAP S/4HANA Rollouts

There are three distinct approaches to the challenging yet essential process of S/4HANA migration. 

Greenfield Approach

The Greenfield approach entails starting anew. When migrating from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA using Greenfield, it involves fully reengineering an organization’s SAP processes. Any customizations made in SAP ECC will be entirely replaced in a Greenfield implementation. 

The Greenfield Approach encompasses a full-scale implementation of S/4HANA, fostering process simplification and data migration. It provides a fresh start, enabling the standardization of practices and embracing future digitalization opportunities like automation and innovation. However, it is a complex and costly process that requires a significant investment of time and resources and comprehensive change management. Despite its challenges, this method offers the advantage of addressing deep-rooted issues and aligning the configuration with the organization’s strategic goals. 

Brownfield Approach

Brownfield (or System Conversion) involves transferring current processes to a new tech platform. It is suitable for organizations seeking to preserve a custom environment, signature processes, and data, as it entails a technical upgrade only. The key benefit is a shorter project time, causing less disruption to the business. Brownfield allows migration to SAP S/4HANA without new implementation, preserving existing processes and utilizing elements like interfaces to suppliers and partners in the SAP landscape. 

Hybrid Implementation

The Hybrid approach enables selective retention of essential customizations while offering control over data migration by being selective. It streamlines and accelerates the conversion to SAP S/4 HANA.

Choosing the Appropriate SAP S/4HANA Migration Strategy: Greenfield, Brownfield, or Hybrid?

It’s recommended that an assessment workshop be organized involving key stakeholders like IT, business process owners, and experienced consultants to choose the right approach. Although priorities may vary for each client, here are some guidelines to help in making the decision: 

Check Technical Compatibility

  1. Ensure your current ECC system meets the technical requirements for migrating to S/4HANA. 
  2. Confirm if your SAP system, Business Functions, add-ons, and Industry solutions are supported in the transition roadmap to S/4HANA. 

Assess Customizations and Processes

  1. Review your process and customization lists to determine if they are still relevant and necessary. 
  2. The Brownfield approach might be more suitable if maintaining custom processes is crucial. 

Evaluate Data Retention Needs

  1. Understand if you need to retain historical data in your live SAP system. 
  2. The Greenfield approach only carries forward clean master data and open transactions, while Conversion retains historical data. 

Consider Roll-out Strategy

  1. Determine if you require a Big Bang approach or prefer a phased roll-out to different regions or business units. 
  2. Conversion may be preferable for a global solution, while Greenfield allows for phased implementation. 

Align with Long-term Goals

  1. Assess if your current SAP system inhibits innovation and growth and if S/4HANA can modernize processes and leverage intelligent technologies. 
  2. Greenfield implementation offers a clean slate with modern technology to implement strategic plans and foster innovation.

Consider This Flowchart Before Choosing Your S/4HANA Migration Approach

S/4HANA Migration

The responses to these inquiries shape the core of the transition strategy, guaranteeing that the route selected to S/4HANA not only aligns with current conditions but also lays the groundwork for future expansion and innovation. The flowchart highlights the importance of each decision point in this transformative process, ensuring that organizations make well-informed decisions that align with their long-term vision and operational structure. 

How VE3 Can Assist You with SAP S/4HANA Migration?

Ve3 offers advisory services to its clients to assist in determining the appropriate roadmap for SAP S/4HANA migration. We provide support with system assessment, readiness checks, custom code analysis, code modernization strategy, and actual migration to S/4HANA. With Ve3, our clients receive the following assistance: 

  1. Industry Expertise: Access to industry thought leaders ensures tailored solutions for specific business needs. 
  2. Active Engagement: Participation in customer and industry forums keeps us abreast of technology trends and developments. 
  3. Customized Solutions: Tailor-made strategies are designed to optimize S/4HANA capabilities and maximize business value. 
  4. Holistic Approach: We offer a comprehensive suite of services that cover all aspects of S/4HANA implementation, ensuring a smooth and efficient transition.


S/4HANA represents the future of SAP ERP. It is crucial to select the correct path to migrate your current system to S/4HANA. An experienced SAP advisor can assist you in making this decision. Need assistance? 


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