The Big Move: What's Your Best Route to S/4HANA ?


The Big Move: What's Your Best Route to S/4HANA ?

Jake Eisbart | Oct 21, 2019

Is it Brownfield, Greenfield or Bluefield™?

In terms of stressful life events, moving to a new home always seems to find a spot in people’s Top 20 list. Not only do you need to decide what your new (and ideal) dwelling will look like, you also need to choose which furniture, appliances and clothing you will be taking with you. Include budget and timeline concerns into the equation, and the whole process can become quite daunting.

Moving your company’s data presents a lot of the same considerations as moving to a new home.

Right now, your business processes, workflows, financial information (and all your other pertinent data) might be on a SAP ERP system that is in need of a new home; a place that will provide tangible business value by making your data faster, easier to understand and empower you to stay competitive in your industry. That “new home” is SAP S/4HANA and a major question you might be asking is: Which route to S/4HANA makes the most sense?

As of the writing of this article, there are three (3) paths that are universally recognized as your most effective options for getting to S/4HANA. They are known as the Greenfield, Brownfield, and Bluefield™ routes and they each have their own unique pros and cons.  What’s more - and in the tried and tested spirit of oversimplification – each of the Green, Brown and Bluefield™ routes share a specific commonalty with some options you might consider when moving to a new home.

For the sake of this comparison, let’s assume that whichever house you choose, they will all be on S/4HANA Ave. A remarkable street that delivers to all it’s inhabitants best-in-class analytics, speed of reporting, storage and user experience.

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Let's take a quick look:

Greenfield: Building a New Home from Scratch

The Greenfield approach is an entirely new implementation. This means that you have the ability to redesign your business process, rewrite your customizations and essentially create your ideal ERP from ground zero to take advantage of the full functionality that S/4HANA has to offer. One of the noted “drawbacks” of the Greenfield approach, however, is that it’s time consuming due to all the change management that a “from scratch” implementation has to offer. In terms of our moving analogy, you are essentially constructing a brand-new home for your data. While this takes a great deal of time, preparation and planning, you will end up with a prescriptively designed home.


Brownfield: Moving into an Existing Home

Brownfield is a system conversion to S/4HANA where you migrate your entire SAP system. Because of this, there is no re-implementation or disturbance to your business processes. In addition, because the Brownfield approach is primarily more of a technical conversion (and not a functional one), it is generally your fastest route to S/4HANA. Brownfield also allows organizations to capitalize on any spend they’ve already done in their current system.

That being said, because you are moving the entirety of your SAP system with the Brownfield approach, reorganizing existing coding, hierarchy and business processes will prove difficult since you aren’t forced to do so. You'll need to find the motivation, the drive, to innovate.  In our moving scenario, this would be similar to buying home that has already been built and then moving in all of your existing furniture and personal items. It makes for a quicker move, but you won’t immediately be able to customize the house.


Bluefield™: Adding Additions to an Existing Home

The Bluefield™ approach – created by the software company SNP – is an SAP certified solution that allows the customer to choose which business process they want to keep and which they want to customize. The Bluefield™ route is essentially a hybrid approach that lets you “migrate and upgrade features and data in a single go-live project.”

Similar to the greenfield approach – but not as time consuming – there is a certain amount of planning that makes it a longer process than performing a Brownfield system conversion. For our moving analogy, this would mean buying a house that you like but building onto it based on your preferences

For a full view of the Greenfield, Brownfield and Bluefield™ routes to S/4HANA – exploring all the essential pros and cons – watch our 30-minute Need to Know webinar.

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Our expert team will follow up with the opportunity for a personal demo to help you identify your ideal route.









Written by Jake Eisbart