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SAP data migration helps manufacturer consolidate on S/4HANA

SAP data migration can be time consuming and difficult, but may be worth the hassle if the destination is a leading-edge, consolidated ERP system.

For Pregis, a Chicago-based manufacturer of protective packaging, the destination was S/4HANA, the newest ERP platform from SAP. To get there, Pregis had to move data off two older systems: a "small, legacy version of SAP" and another ERP system that ran on an IBM AS/400 midrange computer, says Bob Border, the company's vice president and CIO, in this video interview recorded at the 2016 Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, Fla.

"The company was at risk -- it was a 22-year-old system -- [and we] couldn't upgrade it," Border says. "Really, risk drove our decision point. When we made that decision, S/4HANA was our clear choice, our path moving forward."

Border considers the S/4HANA implementation to be a "greenfield" project that required a fresh start on the new ERP system. With it came a significant SAP data migration project, especially from the AS/400 system. "We had a lot of typical issues that you have with any SAP implementation," he says, including data cleansing.

Border says integration of formerly siloed business functions has been a major benefit of S/4HANA since it went live early this year. "Bringing that together under one system has been very good," he says. "Now we have data that's more real time. Even though we're not going into SAP directly, our reporting system's allowing us to tap that data real time, and the speed of that data to make decisions has been greatly improved."

Asked for his advice to others who might be considering an S/4HANA greenfield project, Border again points to SAP data migration and data management issues. "Don't underestimate your data conversion. Data is usually not the cleanest thing in the world whenever you're starting a project like this."

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