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Tips for executing an SAP S/4HANA brownfield implementation

Executing an ECC-to-S/4HANA brownfield migration involves tools such as SAP's Maintenance Planner and Software Update Manager. Read on for insight into brownfield conversions.

Editor's note: In part three of our five-part series on SAP S/4 HANA conversions, we will discuss executing an S/4HANA brownfield implementations. In part one, we discussed the basics of a transition from SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) to SAP S/4HANA. In part two, we discussed the preparations necessary for a brownfield approach to migration.

Here we are. In our previous article, we discussed the information you'll need to develop an execution plan for an SAP S/4HANA brownfield implementation. You're now well on your way to converting your customer's existing SAP environment, without reimplementation or disruption to their existing business processes.

Before commencing, it's important to recognize your planning approach will influence your ability to adapt to next-generation processes. Additionally, your approach will affect which new capabilities of S/4HANA and its supporting products you can use. Make sure your planning process includes a roadmap for an innovation phase so you can capitalize on the advantages of SAP's Intelligent Enterprise model.

Getting started: Review available documentation

The first thing you need to do is review SAP's current documentation regarding a conversion from ECC to S/4HANA.

Start with the Release Information Note (RIN), which contains information on the application of Feature Package/Support Package stacks to S/4HANA. Be aware that this information is subject to change with each release of S/4HANA. Regularly check applicable RINs for changes.

Following the readiness check, review appropriate operating support system (OSS) release note guidance. SAP's "Conversion Guide" is also a good place to start, as the guide explains the conversion process in full.

Another useful point of reference is SAP's Product Availability Matrix (PAM). The PAM serves as a collection of technical and release planning information on SAP product versions. You'll find information on availability dates, maintenance end dates and upgrade paths, as well as technical release information.

The tools for S/4HANA brownfield implementation

Now that we've reviewed the appropriate documentation, we must take stock of several necessary tools for the conversion process:

  • Maintenance Planner, in conjunction with Support Package Manager/Support Add-on Installation Tool
  • Software Update Manager (SUM)
  • Customer Vendor Integration Cockpit
  • The Quick Fixes (or Ctrl +1 shortcut) feature of ABAP Development Tools (ADT) in Eclipse for automatic code adaptations

Maintenance Planner

The cloud-based Maintenance Planner is available through SAP Solution Manager. It provides a centralized tool for setting up updates, upgrades and new installations within the SAP system environment.

Software Update Manager

You can run the Software Update Manager after completing the appropriate pre-steps, and implementing all the necessary adaptations that ensure the system and custom code is suited to S/4HANA. The SUM tool completes the following tasks as part of a one-step conversion: 

  • Optional database migration (if the source system is not yet running on the S/4HANA database, use the SUM's Database Migration Option to migrate the database to S/4HANA during the conversion)
  • Installation of the S/4HANA software
  • Conversion of your data into the new data structure used by S/4HANA (this is the automated part of the data migration)

Once the SUM has completed the technical conversion, you can start adapting your own custom code.

A customer can also optimize their downtime as part of the conversion process. This SAP blog post provides further information about SUM downtime optimization.

Code correction

You must adapt any modifications or enhancements through code correction using the standard transactions SPDD, SPAU and SPAU_ENH. This is the same process as in previous upgrades to the SAP Business Suite product portfolio (except that the SPDD and SPAU tools have been renewed). 

You'll also need to fix any issues related to SAP S/4HANA simplifications. To find them, use the ABAP Test Cockpit (ATC) in your converted system with the check variant "S4HANA_READINESS."

In order to minimize your code correction efforts, SAP now offers automatic code adaptations using the Quick Fixes (or Ctrl +1 shortcut) feature of ADT in Eclipse. We recommend using this feature for custom code adaptation, as SE80 no longer supports all required development objects (such as CDS Views) in S/4HANA.

Brownfield conversion post-steps

After running the SUM, you'll need to conduct the following activities, often called "post-steps":

  • Note that S/4HANA will introduce a new style of output management. Other existing frameworks can be used, as well, depending on the application.
  • Review existing back-end PFCG role menus for obsolete transactions and transaction code replacements.
  • Plan and enable SAP Fiori as a user interface. Activate the appropriate applications and apply the necessary security.
  • You may need to do application-specific follow-up steps. Specific OSS notes will be available to consider if this is the case.
  • Use the Obsolete Data Handling tool to delete obsolete data that remains after the conversion of your SAP ERP system to S/4HANA.

Once you've completed these steps, you can properly evaluate your S/4HANA brownfield implementation and see where you stand on your journey.

In our next article, we'll analyze a different approach to S/4HANA migrations: the Selective Data Transition approach.

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