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Julian Rawlinson21-Feb-2022 10:06:414 min read

Do you really understand what’s new in SAP S/4HANA?

Do you really understand what’s new in SAP S/4HANA?

If you work in SAP you’ll already know what SAP S/4HANA is. It’s the newest incarnation of SAP’s product and it promises to be bigger, better, faster and easier to use than ever before. But when it comes down to it how many of us can say we truly understand on a business process to business process level what’s new in S/4HANA? Sure, we have all heard the SAP mantras that S/4 will provide improvements in:

  • Performance
  • Agility
  • Simplicity
  • Reduced TCO
  • Innovation

But what does any of this mean in real terms?

It’s the same list of adjectives you’ll find all over any software or tech launch from Apple to Microsoft to SAP and beyond.

While these obligatory claims about speed and performance are all well and good for SAP’s marketing department, when you’ve been charged with the tricky task of coming up with a business case for SAP S/4HANA you need a practical, working knowledge of what’s new, what’s changed, and what has been removed.

In our recently published research on the SAP ecosystem’s reaction to SAP S/4HANA, we discovered that:

63% of SAP customers felt that they don’t really understand what is different between ECC and S/4.

80% of SAP customers felt that they don’t really understand which functionality has been removed in S/4.

75% of SAP customers felt they don’t understand what has been simplified between ECC and S/4.

These results are a stark warning and show how under informed people are, and how under prepared they are to create a compelling business case for S/4HANA.

For your business case to be successful it must show that SAP S/4HANA can provide a real competitive advantage.

If you’re going to achieve that, you are going to need a deep knowledge of what’s new and improved in SAP S/4HANA - far beyond the top level speed and performance spiel.

And, if that wasn’t enough, you must also deal with the looming December 2025 deadline when SAP will allegedly stop supporting ECC.

Given the size of the projects required and the relative scarcity of SAP professionals with S/4 skills. this date is starting to focus minds, especially in larger organisations - making the need for a water-tight business case even more significant.

Due to the lack of information around S/4HANA and the rushed approach lots of companies are taking in light of the 2025 deadline, many of the common arguments for a move to SAP S/4HANA  are, to say the least, rather woolly.

What’s needed to create a strong business case is the ability to highlight real and quantifiable benefits. You need to be able to dive down into the detail and see what S/4 will give you and how it will benefit your organisation.

So how are you going to gain this S/4HANA knowledge?

Well, SAP does provide us with lots of sources of information.

Among these are:

The 'What's New Viewer' - this tells you by version what features are new, changed or have been deleted. This repository contains around 2500 entries. Some filtering is possible, eg, by version, line of business or text search, however, it's not very user friendly to navigate.

The Fiori Apps Library- this details all the apps that are available by version, providing an overview of the app and screen shots of what each one looks like.

The Simplification Item Catalog - this gives details of how to migrate from ECC to S/4HANA. This can either be viewed as a 1000 page PDF or via a viewer. Again, this can be filtered and, again, this is not very user friendly.

So, while SAP have technically shared the information about SAP S/4HANA, wading through it to find the bits that you need can be a nigh-on impossible task.

However, while these sources can be impenetrable and viewing each in isolation is a painful process, the content does contain nuggets of functionality and provides a vision of what moving to S/4 will mean.

If you can get to this level of detail, you really can begin to see what is in it for you – and make the decision on whether to adopt a greenfield, brownfield or a hybrid approach to migration. However, it is getting to this level which poses the biggest challenge.

Only by having a thorough understanding of your own BPML (a document some companies no longer keep at all), and combining this with the right information you have taken from SAP’s documentation can you start to understand the features of SAP S/4HANA that will go into your business case.

Ultimately, migrating to SAP S/4HANA is a once in a generation opportunity to revolutionise your business. By taking a rushed approach without a full understanding of S/4HANA, you risk ending up with little more than an upgrade project, moving from ECC to S/4 with an almost identical solution without leveraging any of the benefits and new functionality provided by SAP S/4HANA.

Only by understanding both your BPML and SAPs documentation can you make the most of this opportunity.

If you need help creating your business case for SAP S/4HANA, we can help.

Get in touch