ECC to S/4HANA Migration Strategy Using PLM: What to Think About

Author: Peter Demtschenko

Are you considering an upgrade from ECC to S/4HANA? 

Many SAP customers are, as they want to take advantage of the benefits offered in S/4 - such as speed and a more intuitive user interface. But migrating to S/4HANA can be an enormous task.  The more complex and integrated your environment is, the more you need to include in your migration strategy. It takes a solid migration plan that looks at all the variables to ensure you will not negatively impact your day-to-day work. 

There are two common options when upgrading or migrating any solution, which is either the Big Bang or a Step by Step approach. Both have pros and cons which you need to understand before you pull the trigger. If you are using either a 3rd party PLM system with ECC or using SAP PLM functionality, your task gets a bit harder. Since we are a PLM provider company, let’s have a look at this from a PLM perspective.

Here are a few not so simple things to consider:

Reduce Complexity – Moving to S/4 from ECC is a big project, so break it down into smaller chunks and address the chunks first. How you split up the chunks will depend on what functionality you are using today, what systems are integrated or interfaced, and how complex your logistics stream is. Chunking will help identify and group the variables and make it easier to organize and address the issues.  After you address each chunk, you can then sew them back together to tackle the bigger complex picture.

Validate Functionality – Be sure the functionality you are using today is available in S/4. Nothing makes users revolt more than taking away what they need and use today without providing them a solid replacement. This especially goes for PLM users. Be sure to also validate all the back-end functionality your users have today to ensure you can still make and sell your products. Validate all functionality with SAP, or get a roadmap indicating what will be available when. SAP is the expert in S/4HANA, so don’t forget to include them.

Be Process-Focused – Look at everything from a process perspective:

  • What are the processes you are using today in ECC and your integrated systems?
  • What are the processes you need in S/4 and your integrated systems?

Then start the mapping of how to get from one to the other. Be sure all your business processes are covered in S/4. Some may no longer exist or will be replaced with new solutions. You need to check them all off.  Business processes are the arteries of your business from which your data flows.

Find and Use Accelerators – Take advantage of accelerator tools that were created to help you minimize the impact on the business during your project.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • Unless you have a very controlled and contained ECC environment, the Big Bang approach won’t work for you. You will need to use the Step By Step approach, which means you should have tools to support a mixed ECC and S/4 landscape as you migrate over time. You will also need to extend your business processes to run in a mixed environment based on both ECC and S/4.
  • Most likely, you will be running a mixed environment for some time; which will include all the different SAP user interfaces such as PLM Web UI, Fiori, SAP GUI and ECTR for your CAD users. Your business processes will need to be able to run across all of them. This needs to be addressed by implementing the necessary program. We have the tool that can accomplish this for you.
  • Depending on the duration of your project, you may need to automate some key business processes to allow the users to work more efficiently in a mixed environment. Too many manual processes will lead to data corruption issues over time. Once you identify which processes need to be extended, you can use business rules to drive the automation of these processes. An example might be extending your Material Masters and BOMs to several plants at the same time which are running either ECC or S/4 or both.  We have the tool that can get this done.
  • Another consideration is that your business process requires support for more than just Materials, BOMs and Documents. The processes do not end in engineering. The end result of all your business processes is a product; not just a drawing or CAD model. Your business processes need to support all the SAP objects in any SAP UI, to ensure you include all the downstream S/4 users. We have the tool to do this.
  • A very important ingredient in a business process accelerator tool is its flexibility and traceability. Since your business processes will need to run across both ECC and S/4 for some duration, you will need to adjust them as the changes are made to the landscape. If things go wrong, you will also need traceability to be able to back-track and identify and correct erroneous changes. These issues will surface during your project, so investing in the right accelerator tools will save you money as well as unneeded aggravation. We can provide this functionality as well.
  • The newly-created business processes need to be integrated into your engineering tools. Processes can start anywhere, but many need to get to engineering if there are changes needed to product designs. Engineers like their existing tools and they want to work with them as much as possible. If you force them to use others, they will count the button pushes; and we all know how that will end. Avoid at all costs. 
  • Finally, take this project as an opportunity to clean house and standardize what data and processes you can, to make life easier for the whole organization. There is no better excuse for cleaning up data and correcting any incidental things that can be fixed as part of the overall project. What would have been a very big hassle if done standalone, pales in comparison to a full S/4 upgrade or migration. Use the occasion to get these long-delayed tasks done now if it makes sense for your organization.

These are just a few of the things to consider as you think about a move to S/4HANA. If you have questions about starting a project or have already started your move, it’s a good time to discuss what accelerator tools are available to make your team and your business’s journey a lot easier.

Saving time and costs by focusing on improving business processes.  SIMPLE IS BETTER.

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