Lessons Learned from a Large-Scale Grocery SAP S/4HANA® Migration

In 2020, SAP® announced they would “provide mainstream maintenance for core applications of SAP Business Suite 7 software until the end of 2027.”

While the company will offer “extended support” until 2030, the feeling in the SAP user community is clear. If you haven’t started looking at migrating from SAP ECC to the cloud-based S/4HANA® yet, it’s time to get rolling.

But hold up.

This is not a good time for a “forget the GPS, just head west” summer road trip style of project management. Hidden potholes, dead ends, unexpected detours, and ongoing road construction lay down that path.

Migrating to S/4HANA is more like planning to move a house. You want detailed blueprints, comprehensive site inspections, careful route planning, and meticulous inspections for possible obstructions.

S/4HANA Grocery Retailer Project

Rizing’s Professional Services Consulting Director Tim Cooper is involved in a migration from ECC to S/4HANA upgrade for a large retail grocery client. The retail grocery company wanted to take advantage of new SAP functionality. They felt migrating now was easier and gave them more time to finesse the installation before the 2027 cutoff.

“This project has taken approximately 18 months from bringing up a sandbox for the first attempt at migration to doing it in production. This includes three integration test cycles, User Acceptance Testing (UAT), three dress rehearsals, and a lot of code remediation.
– Tim Cooper, Rizing Professional Services Consulting Director

1. Minimize Changes in Partner Systems

Cooper recommends constraining changes to SAP and only SAP as much as possible.

“Make the project a technical migration and treat SAP as an island,” says Cooper. “Each change required in a partner system will add time and overhead to your migration.”

2. Plan around the SAP SUM tool lifecycle

According to SAP, the Software Update Manager (SUM) is “a multi-purpose tool that supports various processes, such as performing a release upgrade, installing enhancement packages, applying Support Package Stacks, installing add-ons, or updating single components on SAP NetWeaver.”

But as Cooper notes, the tool has its own release schedule to pay attention to.

“The SUM tool is on a six-month release lifecycle,” he says. “You need to stay current and incorporate it into project planning execution. Specifically, you need to run dress rehearsal migrations using the same SUM version you plan to use in production.”

3. Use New Features Cautiously

S/4HANA offers new features like embedded analytics for creating KPIs, reports, dashboards, etc. While the tool may excite your in-house analytics specialist, Cooper recommends caution.

“Be wary of promising immediate benefits from embedded analytics,” he says. “Getting past the initial excitement and into tangible business scenarios is harder than it looks.”

4. Get SAP Involved

Cooper recommends taking advantage of any help SAP can provide.

“Engage with SAP early in the project to get their advice and some level of accountability,” he says.

5: Work with a Qualified SAP Partner

Moving houses isn’t a do-it-yourself job. To be successful, you’d need help from movers, contractors, electricians, plumbers, a specialty moving company, and utility workers.

It’s no different with migration to SAP S/4HANA.

Get a trusted SAP partner like Rizing involved.

“We can help you develop a detailed roadmap,” says Cooper.

Talk to a Rizing Grocery Retail Expert

Whether you’re just getting started or are well on your way, we can help.