And, how much is worth bringing over?
One-size SAP doesn’t fit all. Each business has its own idiosyncrasies and an SAP installation likely supports these through custom code created with the company’s individual needs in mind – if you like, the company’s SAP fingerprint; unique and tailored.
But what of the future? Technology is moving incredibly fast, disrupting entire industries, presenting opportunities for the fleet of foot. The pace of change can be a lot to grasp as part of surviving and thriving in the marketplace today – machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things, big data and sophisticated analytics -- are all transforming the business environment everywhere. How can an organisation’s individual needs still be supported when the technology and business landscape is shifting around it?
For organizations positioning themselves for the future, SAP has developed S/4HANA as the next generation of its ERP suite, ECC6. Any SAP-based company will be looking seriously at how best to exploit its possibilities, ahead of the approaching 2025 deadline. While some companies might opt to start afresh with a so-called “green field” S/4 implementation, many will migrate from ECC6 to S/4; a critical part of this will be carrying custom code forward – ensuring that the company’s essential fingerprint is impressed on any new system. This is potentially a daunting prospect.
“Velocity’s experience with customers who are undergoing this transformation show that perhaps 40-60% of custom code is no longer needed.”
The good news is two-fold: not only is there expert help from organizations like Velocity but also the migration represents a great opportunity for businesses to streamline and improve their ERP operations, both in terms of efficiency and cost.
An example of cost reduction might be in archiving data to reduce the operational data footprint, which can matter hugely for S4/HANA’s In-Memory environment. Gains in efficiency can come through the necessary process of examining, selecting and modifying custom code. Such code is likely to have been developed over a period of years, to suit a changing business; Velocity’s experience with customers, such as Naturipe, who are undergoing this transformation show that perhaps 40-60% of custom code is no longer needed and so can be discarded in the migration journey. This analysis is critical at the start of the migration.
Let’s look at the migration pathway to understand where custom code processes fit in:
A prerequisite for this path is an SAP_BASIS >=7.51 system available which can be used for the necessary analysis. This, by the way, needn’t be a production system.
There are four clear steps, two in preparation and two in follow-up:
- Custom Code Evaluation Driven by automated tools, this starts with a Custom Code Migration Worklist. These tools provide readiness reports by, for example, analyzing the Usage Procedure Log (UPL), giving exact data on which code is used where – and, crucially, which is not and therefore does not need further attention.
- Custom Code Update/Modification Custom code must be updated to take into account the different characteristics of S/4HANA’s In-Memory Database – for example, some SELECT statements will need to be modified. Another SAP tool, the Simplification Database, will identify incompatibilities which need updating.
- Custom Code Adaptation Post-migration is the time for custom code adaptation, using SPDD and SPAU transactions and the ABAP Test Cockpit (ATC)
- Performance Tuning For this final step, SAP’s SQL Monitor is an essential tool
SAP provides a comprehensive framework to aid in this migration; and some companies, typically the huge, global organisations, might be big enough and/or expert enough to be able to go through the information and implement a successful migration unaided. However, the readiness checklist provided by SAP is large, comprehensive and the sort of thing that many medium-sized companies will find daunting.
This is exactly where a Managed Services Provider like Velocity is perfectly placed to add maximum value – leaner and faster than the big consultancies and yet, if you choose the right partner, equipped with the right level of experience and expertise to maximize the speed and effectiveness of the migration.
Any organization needs to be looking to the future to understand how to position itself to succeed in a rapidly-changing industrial and technological landscape. Seeking the right solutions and selecting the right partnerships to speed the journey is a critical part of the business planning process.
Read the next blog in our series: Is Data Archiving a Part of Your SAP HANA Migration?
 Diagram taken from “SAP S/4HANA System Conversion – Custom code adaptation process”
 SAP has provided a comprehensive custom code migration guide giving further in-depth detail