Susan Cannington

A Brownfield migration to S/4HANA with Rev-Trac: What you need to know!

Susan Cannington | July 14, 2020

Migrating to S/4HANA is not a simple upgrade. It’s a significant project which can have a considerable (negative) impact on resources, time, budget, and business continuity. Yet, it is possible to shift to S/4HANA at the speed the business requests without interruptions to daily operations or spiraling resource costs.

Adopting a Brownfield approach can help to reduce costs and minimize disruptions as your organization shifts to S/4HANA. If you want to leverage your legacy ECC 6.0 (or another version), save historical data, and rapidly convert to S/4HANA, Brownfield might be your best approach.

A Brownfield or system conversion allows SAP IT teams to combine SAP landscape rebuild with a consolidation of all SAP-related systems and procedures. It’s less costly because it begins with existing functionality and apps. You don’t have to build them from scratch – just make some tweaks where needed. The Brownfield approach involves a software update, some data transformation, and adjusting of business processes.

What is a Brownfield approach

When shifting to S/4HANA, SAP IT teams will need to maintain the legacy ECC environment for an extended period. How long depends on available resources and the speed at which you hope to make changes.

In a Brownfield approach, dual landscapes are deployed  – N and N+1 – until the cutover. SAP IT teams have to duplicate all systems except production. The duplicated systems (N+1) are upgraded to S/4HANA, while the original Dev and QA (or N) run as usual to minimize disruption to daily operations.

Building your S/4HANA environment in a separate landscape reduces risk, the cost of the project, and the time to go-live.

Brownfield – the challenges

While it is up to individual organizations to develop a conversion strategy that meets budgets, deadlines, and ROI, a Brownfield conversion comes with some common inherent problems.

Firstly, ERP 6.0 and Unicode are pre-requisites for a shift to S/4HANA. So, you may have to make some underlying changes to your legacy systems for a successful migration. Additionally, S/4HANA runs exclusively on HANA, requiring you to adapt your ABAP code to correctly access the new database.

Secondly, if not managed effectively, dual landscapes can threaten the production system stability and drive up costs. Managing concurrent changes across parallel development systems and eventual delivery to the same production system accounts for much of the risk. When you are running two landscapes on two different platforms, it is crucial to keep them in sync to avoid business disruptions.

Other challenges include:

  • Change documentation: There is an enormous amount of code to manage simultaneously. Change history including SAP change requests, approvals and transports are critical to reducing audit effort
  • Testing: What is the process for identifying and managing defects? Different teams in separate locations may handle defects, increasing the level of risk and compliance to standard change practices and policy. Cross application testing may need to be included as a separate test phase

How can Rev-Trac help?

Business doesn’t stop because you are migrating to S/4HANA. Relying on mostly manual change management processes to manage parallel SAP environments can result in accidental shutdowns and overblown project budgets.

With Rev-Trac Platinum – an automated SAP change management platform – you can effortlessly keep legacy and new systems updated and in sync while converting to S/4HANA, keeping the business safe. The technology provides the automation, enforcement, and audit capabilities for SAP IT teams to overcome the ‘dual maintenance challenge’ and minimize business disruption.

What are the key features?

  1. Overtake and Overwrite Protection System (OOPS): Changes need to be protected from accidental overwriting as they migrate through their respective landscapes, whether business as usual (BAU) – N – or S/4HANA – N +1. OOPS can be configured to block all potentially dangerous migrations for most users. Or warn them of likely hazardous migrations, reducing the risk of unscheduled downtime.
  2. Object locking: Unintentional or uncontrolled parallel development can put your S/4HANA project at risk. Time and money are wasted reworking code to include requirements applied to the legacy system in the S/4HANA build. Rev-Trac’s object locking helps to eliminate code incompatibility between the ECC and the new S/4HANA system. The functionality allows users to manage and align changes across parallel environments to avoid conflict and sequencing errors.
  3. Automatic cloning: When shifting to S/4HANA, SAP changes made in your legacy environment frequently need to be implemented in the new landscape. All Rev-Trac requests that have migrated to production are automatically cloned. This creates an ‘intelligent worklist’ of SAP changes, which can be evaluated and reapplied to the S/4HANA environment where relevant, accelerating the build.
  4. Change documentation and audit history: Managing SAP change across multiple landscapes can be a nightmare. This is certainly true in system conversions where the number of teams and people working on the project often changes. In this scenario, SAP changes can be accidentally left off, forgotten, or transported out of sequence. Rev-Trac Platinum provides audit-ready documentation of every change from the original request to go-live.
  5. Cross object dependency checking is also needed to ensure that all dependencies are evaluated prior to migration so that transports are migrated successfully.

The next steps

For more information on how Rev-Trac Platinum helps your organization to safely transition to S/4HANA with confidence, download our whitepaper: “Managing an S/4HANA migration with Rev-Trac”.