Although SAP will only maintain its old system, SAP ECC, in a more limited and more expensive form from 2027, many companies are still hesitant about switching to S/4HANA. Yet the new system brings numerous advantages, says Alexander Paulus, Managing Director of CNT Management Consulting in Atlanta: “S/4HANA is the enabler for corporate consolidation because many companies still run on many different SAP systems from companies they bought in the past.” With the new system, he says, organizations set the operational stage for how businesses operate in the next ten to fifteen years. Due to the size of the project, however, many companies need the support of external IT consultants, as integration is hardly feasible without their years of experience. Even with help, the changeover usually takes several months and depends on various factors. Accordingly, expert Paulus recommends tackling the shift as soon as possible so as not to run into time constraints in the end – and benefit from the modern system at the same time.
Moving to the Cloud
Transitioning to SAP S/4HANA opens a gateway to many transformative benefits that empower companies to thrive in the modern business landscape. Paulus calls the switch a “paradigm shift” and elaborates: “With its fully integrated and cloud-ready architecture, S/4HANA enables enterprises to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and gain real-time insights across their entire ecosystem.” The platform's agility paves the way for quicker decision-making and adaptable strategies, while its consolidation capabilities bring disparate systems together, reducing complexity and fostering a more coherent organizational structure. Through adopting S/4HANA, organizations position themselves to ride the wave of digital transformation and propel their journey toward becoming a Digital Enterprise. It also seamlessly integrates with other cloud products from SAP.
Overcoming Hesitancy Amid Advantages and Transformation
Despite the advantages that S/4HANA has over SAP ECC, a degree of hesitancy still prevails among many companies when it comes to making the switch. As with any new technologies, there are early adaptors, the majority, and laggards. “Nobody knows precisely where we are in the process of switching from ECC to S4HANA, but likely somewhere in the early majority”, Paulus states. Surveys suggest that around 70 percent of ECC clients in the United States still need to have the switch licensed. This hesitation often stems from concerns about a perceived lack of a business case, the complexity of migration, potential disruptions to ongoing operations, and the need for substantial investment in time, resources, and expertise. Additionally, as with any transformative technological shift, there exists a learning curve and an adjustment period that some companies may approach with caution. However, Paulus advises clients to focus on the positive side of the transformation: “Companies can either get on the new platform and run things as they did before, or – and I strongly suggest the second option – they can take advantage of all the new possibilities of the new system.”
Seamless SAP System Migration to S/4HANA
Thanks to standardization, processes can be moved to the new SAP system faster and without long shutdown times, and the innovative functions of S/4HANA can be used directly. The duration of the projects ranges from four months for simple updates to two years or more for really complex projects. Since this is a pure conversion, the schedule is highly compact but still offers sufficient room for necessary corrections, testing, and training sessions. It is nevertheless advisable for companies to create the prerequisites in their preliminary projects to reduce the conversion’s complexity. Paulus concludes: “The earlier the change, which is obligatory anyway, happens, the sooner companies can also benefit from digital innovations and gain an edge over competitors.”
About CNT Management Consulting GmbH
CNT Management Consulting Inc. is a multi-award-winning international consulting firm with a focus on digitalization. For more than 20 years, CNT has been supporting companies from various sectors in the development and implementation of SAP solutions. From eleven locations, such as Atlanta and Vienna, the service provider supports more than 250 customers worldwide.