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SAP S/4HANA - Learn All the Details in Our ERP Wiki

Our ERP Wiki explains everything you need to know about SAP’s most innovative ERP system SAP S/4HANA: Learn more about its features and capabilities, its application fields and how it can be implemented into your IT landscape.

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The Move to SAP S/4HANA

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The SAP Digital Core as the Foundation for Efficiency and Innovation

Throughout all industries and branches, the current situation is very challenging for businesses: market conditions are rapidly changing on a regular basis, so adaptability, agility and quick decision-making have become the basic requirements to remain competitive. In order to be prepared for the dynamics of markets, planning the next steps in advance proves to be the most effective approach. But to be one step ahead of the competition, it is crucial to make valid forecasts on market and business developments.

To achieve this, businesses have to make the most of their data. Data processing and analysis allows companies to make reliable predictions for the future and it provides them with the flexibility needed to adapt to sudden market changes. In the end, this is what enables growth in years to come. To carry out this forward-looking strategy, however, a certain IT setup is needed: a powerful ERP platform with a high-performing digital core that is capable of processing enormous amounts of data. SAP S/4HANA is the most sophisticated ERP solution on the market to master this challenge.

Continue reading our ERP Wiki to gain a substantial overview on all the details regarding SAP S/4HANA or go directly to our product page.

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What Is SAP S/4HANA?

SAP S/4HANA is an example for an ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) which can be imagined as the digital foundation for the entire IT infrastructure of a company.

The “S” stands for “simple” and the “4” indicates that it is the fourth generation of SAP’s Business Suite. It is the follow-up of older ERPs like SAP ECC and is the most efficient and innovative digital core on the market.

Let’s dive deeper into the following questions:

What Is an ERP?

An ERP is a digital platform that controls all the resource-based processes of a company – it can be imagined as a kind of all-in-one solution.

Every application that a corporation uses for its everyday work is administered and driven by an ERP system. This involves for instance the management of the supply chain, manufacturing processes, finances, sales, R&D, and many other areas of application.

Apart from being responsible for processing the elementary tasks of a business, an ERP also controls innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning or IoT. These solutions can be integrated into the ERP setup and improve the performance of all resource-based applications.

To be functional, an ERP requires a database, in which the entire data volume of a business is stored and processed. All the applications that are relevant for a business share access to this database and are interconnected through it. In case of SAP S/4HANA, this database is called SAP HANA.


The SAP HANA database was released for the first time by SAP in 2010 and has brought significant improvements in comparison to other databases.

First and foremost, SAP HANA operates faster than other databases thanks to the highly efficient in-memory technology. In contrast to other database technologies or products from competitors, SAP HANA does no longer store data sets on the slower hard disk. Instead, the in-memory technology allows to store and process data directly within the main memory.

In consequence, this lays the foundation for a simplified data model which, in return, reduces the capacity requirements of the overall database.

In the end, the in-memory technology is what enables real-time data insights as well as data analytics of all the administrative and transactional activities of businesses.

What Is SAP S/4HANA Cloud?

SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a new and innovative deployment option to host your ERP platform. Whereas older SAP ERP systems and Business Suites had to be hosted on-premise, SAP S/4HANA gives you the option to decide whether you want to administer your ERP on-premise or move your entire system into the cloud. Here you can choose between a private, a public or a hybrid cloud landscape.

Using SAP S/4HANA Cloud does not only provide you with all the advantages that come with the SAP HANA database, it also possesses an intuitive user interface and is equipped with intelligent technologies that improve the efficiency of your data analysis processes.

By moving SAP S/4HANA into the cloud, businesses do not have to take care of the administration and maintenance of their IT infrastructures locally. Instead, they can centralize these tasks, which relieves the workload for local IT departments and therefore provides businesses with more flexibility and agility.

SAP Hosting - How Does It Work?

After you have decided to migrate to SAP S/4HANA, you have to choose between different options of how to host your ERP system. Whereas older SAP ERP systems like the SAP ECC (ERP Central Component) or other SAP Business Suites had to be hosted on-premise, SAP S/4HANA gives you the option to decide whether you still want to administer your ERP on-premise or move your entire system into the cloud - private, public or hybrid.

SAP S/4HANA On-Premise

Businesses that want to host their IT infrastructure on-premise can stick to this traditional approach and administer their SAP ERP locally on their own system.

Each year, companies receive a new version of SAP S/4HANA with additional functionalities. Furthermore, each core version receives quarterly updates in the shape of Feature Pack Stacks (FPS) and Service Pack Stacks (SPS), which improve the system stability and contain performance optimizations.

SAP S/4HANA in a Public or Private Cloud

If you decide to host SAP S/4HANA in a public or private cloud, your ERP is located on a SAP server and gets fully managed by SAP. These deployment options will lead to a significant reduction of costs for hardware and system maintenance.

Businesses that go for a public cloud hosting will receive a new core release of SAP S/4HANA as well as all the Feature Pack Stacks and Service Pack Stacks on a quarterly basis. All these updates are implemented automatically and give companies the advantage of faster innovation cycles and quicker response times.

Choosing a private cloud deployment shares the same conditions as the on-premise hosting. Hence, you also receive a new annual core version combined with quarterly Feature Pack Stacks and Service Pack Stacks. The difference, however, is that you can decide whether you want to integrate the new SAP S/4HANA release or keep your actual version.

SAP S/4HANA in a Hybrid Cloud

Running your SAP ERP in a hybrid cloud architecture can be regarded as a multi-platform usage scenario. Thereby, customers can run SAP systems or services in a private cloud that is located in a classic on-premise data center and combine it with one or multiple public cloud provider platforms and services. This hybrid cloud architecture can be set up seamlessly and allows a uniform administration and operability.

A hybrid cloud provides businesses with several advantages, but the biggest asset is most definitely an increase of flexibility, for instance in regard of data location and processing: you can decide that certain data sets stay on-premise, which is reasonable for sensitive information with special security setups. Non-sensitive data sets, on the other hand, can be moved to the public cloud environment.

Another key advantage of splitting between public and private cloud is compute power. SAP customers can define to use compute power of the public cloud and retain data in the private cloud or vice versa, use on-premise compute capabilities and move data to the public cloud.

You can find further details on SAP Hosting and the various deployment options on the following website.

What Are the Advantages of SAP S/4HANA?

The advantages of SAP S/4HANA are multi-layered, and an implementation does not only have a positive effect on the productivity of your IT landscape. In fact, the integration of the most powerful SAP ERP leads to immense optimizations of all your business processes.

  • Better performance: The high-performing digital core boosts the entire workflow of your company thanks to real-time data insights and faster data access.
  • Simplified processes: Streamlined business processes and a performance increase become possible on the basis of a simplified data model, which also eliminates data locks.
  • Improved usability: The intuitive SAP Fiori user interface guarantees a higher ease of use and enhances the overall user experience.
  • Higher cost-efficiency: The centralized database structure allows the unification of corporate-wide IT processes which relieves your IT departments.
  • Broad applicability: SAP S/4HANA can be used in all kinds of industries or line of businesses thanks to industry-specific software extensions that can get integrated.
  • Modular expandability: Innovative solutions like IoT, AI or machine learning can be easily implemented which makes SAP S/4HANA a truly forward-looking platform.
  • Global accessibility: Obtain permanent access to your SAP ERP and choose to operate it on-premise, in a private or public cloud or even as a hybrid cloud solution.
  • Intensified sustainability: With its sophisticated measuring tools SAP S/4HANA will improve the sustainability management of your corporation by reducing your carbon footprint as well as your data footprint.

For a more in-depth look on the several advantages, please visit our website that explains everything in detail.

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What Are the Applications of SAP S/4HANA?

The applications of SAP S/4HANA are highly versatile and can be used across all industrial sectors. Companies from all kinds of industries can profit from the most advanced SAP ERP – not only because of its high-performing capabilities, but also and especially due to its modular expandability.

In total, there are 25 industry solution packages including specific modules for the following branches:

What Are the Business Areas of Application?

Almost all the departments of your company will benefit from an implementation, since SAP S/4HANA offers an incredible range of productive functionalities. Our ERP Wiki provides you with an overview on the areas of application:

Supply Chain

Optimize your entire supply chain and inventory management – from orders of materials over planning your demands to the delivery of your products.


Make all your SAP manufacturing processes more efficient by incorporating digital technologies that lead to shorter production cycles, automated production methods, and therefore lower overall costs.


Re-organize all your transactional processes with SAP CRM including pre-sales, administration, distribution as well as accounting and boost the productivity of your sales department. Visit our website for more details on the topic of sales and marketing.

Sourcing & Procurement

SAP S/4HANA assists the purchasing department of your company with all its everyday tasks – may it be handling orders, analyzing costs and conducting risk management.

Research & Development

Increase the efficiency of your entire innovation process by prioritizing development projects based on data analysis, enabling an inter-divisional coordination of projects, and performing a smart lifecycle management.


Offer your customers the best service possible with SAP CRM by supporting your customer service department with a fast access to your entire customer data set and an interconnection of all your distribution channels.

Human Resources

Use SAP HCM to provide your human resources department with all the means to effectively take care of administrative tasks such as personnel planning, salary accounting or overall corporate-wide cost management. Visit our website dedicated to Human Experience Management.

Asset Management

Manage your productive assets and facilities better by using data analysis to enhance processes, reduce downtimes or maintenance costs, predict economically reasonable investments, and allow a more efficient production.

Find Out More About the Next Steps to Implement SAP S/4HANA

The multiple benefits, the broad applicability, and the flexible ways to implement SAP S/4HANA have convinced you to switch from your old ERP?

Find out how our experts will help you to integrate SAP’s powerful ERP into your company and how to take on next steps.

Visit our SAP S/4HANA product page
Business man explains the history of SAP ERP

What Is the History of SAP S/4HANA?

Part of our ERP Wiki is to take a look at the history of SAP S/4HANA, which had its first release in November 2015. In opposition to older SAP ERPs, whose maintenance support will end in 2027, SAP announced ‘an innovation commitment for SAP S/4HANA until the end of 2040’.

Like every other software solution, the platform has been continuously updated on a yearly (on-premise) or quarterly (cloud) basis since its initial rollout. Every update has introduced new innovative functionalities and added productive features to the SAP ERP suite.

Knowledge about the history of SAP S/4HANA and its versions is crucial for multiple reasons:

  • To determine if all the functionalities that your business requires are integrated in the specific version.
  • To decide which version to incorporate in regard of your current IT infrastructure.
  • To make predictions on the development of the SAP ERP suite in the future.

The current version SAP S/4HANA 2021 was released on October 13th, 2021. The seventh release of the ERP suite introduced major improvements, which enhances the user friendliness, the automation of processes as well as the performance of data analytics.

We assembled all the details on the simplification lists of each SAP S/4HANA release on the following website.

Learn about the releases of SAP S/4HANA
The Move to SAP S/4HANA

When Is the Right Time to Move?

Before a shift to SAP S/4HANA can be managed, some consideration and planning has to be done. This, of course, will take some time, but the move forward to the next generation SAP digital core should be on the agenda of every company in the imminent future.

Apart from the fact that SAP S/4HANA will instantly lift your IT – and consequently your whole business – to another performance level, there is another important reason why you should consider an upgrade rather soon than later: SAP will stop the maintenance support of older ERPs in 2027.

You think that it is still plenty of time until 2027? Keep in mind that an implementation does not happen overnight. The sooner you decide to upgrade your current SAP ERP, the quicker you will profit.

Read our article “3 Reasons Why You Should Move to SAP S/4HANA Now”, in which we point out why now is the perfect time to finally organize a transition.

How Does the SAP S/4HANA Shift Work?

An SAP S/4HANA transition can be performed by using three different implementation methods. Which method you choose is highly dependent on the IT setup that is currently in use in your company. Since we are digital experts, we can help you with your transition. To get further information, visit our dedicated website on how to implement the most efficient SAP digital core.

How to Prepare for an SAP S/4HANA Implementation?

If you are intending to organize your switch to SAP S/4HANA, but have concerns about a downtime of your system, you can rest assured: your ERP landscape will be operational throughout the entire transitional process.

Nevertheless, you can prepare for your transition by making some considerations regarding your internal resources. The following aspects are important in order to enable a smooth implementation:

  • Carefully evaluate which transition path meets the requirements of your business
  • Gain an overview of all the data and processes that you want to convert
  • Evaluate if you possess the know-how to manage the ERP change
  • Check the capacities and the availability of your IT department
  • Set up a timetable for the realization of the overall project
  • Coordinate all the individual departments of your business
  • Adjust your overall project schedule to the transitional period

In case you need assistance: we from NTT DATA Business Solutions have managed over 460 successful SAP S/4HANA projects for global customers in the most diverse industries.

Our Successful SAP S/4HANA Projects

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