NTT DATA Business Solutions
Camille van Dongen | December 1, 2023 | 6 min.

Why the SAP ECC deadline is not the reason to upgrade to SAP S/4HANA Cloud

Are you aiming for a move to the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud, or are you just at the beginning of your digital transformation and not even sure how to upgrade your ERP yet? Camille shares why you should think about an upgrade in the first place and lays down the first steps every company needs to take. 

SAP S/4HANA Cloud

Beyond 2027: Mastering SAP S/4HANA upgrade for business agility

The year 2027 will be a hard deadline for the ending of support for SAP ECC. SAP and their partners state that if a company hasn’t moved their processes to SAP S/4HANA Cloud by then, they will face the risk of a lagging system that will no longer be compliant. The consensus is that organizations then will be unable to run their business in a way that they can take the right decision when it counts, cope with events and trends, jump at new business opportunities, or hold a competitive edge.  

It’s quite a pressing reason to upgrade your ERP, but… Should the 2027 deadline really be the driver to move? We don’t think so. We’d like to explain why and share the real reason you should upgrade. As a bonus, we break down the first step you need to take in this blog too. 

Excel-workarounds and Power BI as a standard

The solution that is offered instead of ECC is an upgrade to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and in most cases, the Public Cloud edition. Although an upgrade has less impact than a new project, companies tend to be hesitant to implement new systems. Because, let’s face it, traditionally – and in our slightly biased opinion, wrongfully -, implementations have a bad rep of being time-consuming and too costly.  

With 2027 still being 4 years away, companies don’t feel the urgency to jump into this right away, making do with the tailor-made applications they’ve built through the years. And of course, the countless Excel-workarounds and Power-BI-tools they have. 

These workarounds do the trick to a certain extent. But in our experience, they rarely give the real-time insights and flexibility a company needs in the supply chains of the present. Moreover, if a company is growing, expanding their business, or trying to get new business models or processes in place, the web of different data points, applications, and Excels gets more intricate.  

Combining all these files for a sound report, then turns out to be a tedious nightmare. With plenty of room for errors and loss of precious time and efficiency. Not to mention the inevitable data inconsistencies between different departments. All working with their version of the ‘truth’… 

CEO of RIHO on their move to SAP S/4HANA

When we moved all our international locations and different departments to SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud, I had just one demand. I told everyone that I didn’t want to see one single Excel or Power BI file after go-live, and that we should all rely on the one and only truth: the numbers and data in our SAP system.

Guy Claesen CEO, RIHO

Align IT with strategy

Companies build their short-term and long-term business strategies around staying futureproof, remaining competitive, being able to attract talent, adding value for their customers, and sustainability. Their business processes and, consequently, their IT need to be aligned with that to really deliver on these strategic focus points. However, organizations often still work with functional processes set up back in the day, that correspond with past strategic plans. And these have become a mismatch with the current business needs.  

Strategies and drivers evolve, IT should evolve with it. We see that this often stays behind on company aims and drivers. It stunts innovation, insights, agility, and scalability. TCO of the set-up is high, value for the business process support is low. The flexibility to swiftly adapt to, for example, shortages in a supply chain or integrate new technology to seize new opportunities and meet customer demands, is simply lacking. 

The answer to do better? Stop dabbling with BI, Excel, or whatever spaghetti tooling and legacy processes you’ve created. Invest in functional processes and IT that actually correspond with business needs now and in the future.

How to create futureproof IT in small steps

We experience that most companies are quite ready for digital transformation. Some are even aching for it, since they are losing out on efficiency. But they are overwhelmed by the implications of an upgrade to SAP S/4HANA. It means they have to adapt to new technology, new functional processes, and new ways of working.  

What if there’s a way to turn that perspective in a less daunting one? Why not make a lasting change easy by taking small steps? And let me tell you, that first step is relatively easy and paves the way for a straightforward project with clear milestones and objectives.  

Multiple roads lead to… SAP S/4HANA

Although there are roughly three flavors to choose from S/4-wise, how to migrate to SAP S/4HANA is not a clear-cut path. There are so many decisions to make, and which route you travel is not a one-size-fits-all journey. The path consists of a series of related choices based on factors such as business strategy and drivers, costs, current system set-up, data quality, probabilities, and benefits.  

The answer to the question ‘How should I move to SAP S/4HANA’ is not something you can google. You need to bring in an expert in your industry, your operations and processes, and your IT, to evaluate where you stand now, where you’re headed, and what transformational roadmap fits best.  

In other words: you need to assess your landscape to determine the next steps. 

Perform a health check with an ERP professional

If you’re viewing a house, you get a full sustainability report beforehand that specifies what changes you need to make to get an A energy label and what it will cost you to become ready for the energy transition. If you have a car, you take it for an MOT test each year. And at a certain age, you get doctor’s invites to get your vitals checked out. 

We figured; why perform a health check on your car, your newly to buy house, and health, but not your companies’ IT, data, and business processes to see what steps you need to take for the future? Especially, since a new ERP can cost as much as starter home.  

So… 

  • Are you thinking about a digital transition and SAP S/4HANA, but don’t know where to begin? 
  • Are you in doubt if your current processes can keep up with your long-term strategy?  
  • Are you worried that an upgrade would disrupt your daily operations too much?  
  • Do you dread an upgrade in terms of costs and time?  
  • … or, even though we firmly stated that 2027 should not be your driver, do you still worry about the end of support for ECC? 

Test the best before date of your SAP landscape

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