ASUG Fall Meeting Roundup: S4/HANA and Greenfield vs. Brownfield Implementation

S4 Implementation – and specifically the greenfield versus brownfield approach – was the focus of a roundtable discussion at the most recent ASUG Michigan Chapter meeting, which took place in October in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

More than two dozen SAP vendors and customers attended the meeting for networking, dining – and even some golf (the event took place at TopGolf, a cold-weather mecca for golfers in Michigan).

A roundtable discussion was led by Mustansir Saifuddin of Innovative Solution Partners,  Ben Eyssenlink of Dart Containers and Arvind Kumar of Gordon Food Service.

“S4/HANA implementations are a dominant point of discussion right now,” said Saifuddin, a volunteer associate leader for the ASUG Michigan Chapter. “We thought it would be valuable to talk through the challenges facing companies in their implementations, as well as the plusses and minuses of greenfield, brownfield and hybrid implementations.” 

The open dialogue with the attendees surfaced several points: 

  • Kumar shared some of the challenges encountered by Gordon Food Service in that company’s S4 implementation.
  • Saifuddin pointed out the data analytics have been significantly improved in S4, and thus a greenfield implementation – with its “clean slate” approach – allows for taking advantage of these improvements out of the box.
  • Eyssenlink shared how Dart Container whiteboarded its orders-to-invoice process and found there were more than 200 touchpoints in that process. The point: In an older system, there are a lot of unnecessary steps that are affected. 

Brownfield vs. Greenfield

A brownfield vs. greenfield implementation is a topic across SAP blogs and tech articles for the past several years. Nevertheless, companies grapple with the tradeoffs:  

    • Greenfield systems allow companies to “leave behind” older processes and provide a “clean slate” approach that makes for  simpler implementation. 

    • A Brownfield approach makes sense for companies who want to preserve existing business processes. The migration process is more automated, faster and less costly, at least initially.  

    • A Hybrid approach allows for “mix and match” of some new implementation, while preserving valuable processes the company does not wish to lose.

    • No matter which migration plan a company decides on, it’s important to have the right partner for the execution of the migration. 

Implementing SAP S/4HANA is a priority for most ASUG members, according to this recent report. 

According to the ASUG 2022 Pulse of the SAP Customer research (member-only report), published early in 2022:

    • 44% of respondents were currently live on SAP S/4HANA or have started to move.

    • 3% of respondents had plans to move in the first six months of 2022.

    • 16% said they would migrate in the next seven to 24 months, and 23% had plans to move over two years hence. 

In addition to the roundtable discussion about S4, the meeting included a presentation by Avantra’s Tyler Constable, executive director for sales engineer for the company, via Zoom looking at three key integrations to drive value to cloud migrations. Avantra was the sponsor of the October meeting.

Companies in attendance  represented the following industries: automotive, consumer products, manufacturing and utilities. 

If you have any suggestions for future content in our upcoming March 2023 session please feel free to contribute them.

ASUG is the world’s largest SAP user group, serving thousands of businesses and connecting more than 130,000 professionals with networking and educational resources. Its mission is to help people and organizations get the most value from their investment in SAP technology. 

The group holds in-person and virtual events and makes  on-demand digital resources available to its members. 

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Mariyah Saifuddin