A quicker, cleaner path to SAP S/4HANA migration

How to move faster to S/4HANA with UiPath automation

Right now, cloud is an innovation facilitator. Pretty soon, it’ll become a business necessity. According to Gartner, any enterprise looking to remain competitive by 2028 will have already made the move. The cloud, for them, will be home.

For SAP® customers, the move to cloud means SAP S/4HANA. Three-quarters of them are planning to migrate over in the next five years. And with good reason. SAP S/4HANA represents a breakthrough in enterprise resource planning (ERP) performance. It’s simpler, cleaner, and faster than any SAP solution before. It builds on the tools available in older versions to offer significantly enhanced functionality and a raft of new business processes. And, because it’s in the cloud, enterprise users benefit from regular software updates and enhancements.

The challenges of change

The criticality of SAP ERP means migration to cloud will be both complex and challenging—not least to ensure data consistency and to map core business processes to the new system.

SAP S/4HANA uses a different underlying architecture than previous SAP systems and requires a re-architecting of data models and business logic. And the data often needs to be cleaned and transformed—which can be a complex and risky endeavor.

As users are all too aware, most SAP systems are also extensively customized. When migrating to SAP S/4HANA, all that custom code needs to be assessed for compatibility. It may even have to be rewritten.

Then there are integration considerations. With up to 77% of the world's business transactions touching an SAP system, SAP S/4HANA often needs to integrate with a vast range of applications. Making sure these integrations are maintained or re-established in the new environment can be a major technical challenge.

In common with all cloud migrations, technology leaders want to mitigate the costs of downtime and lost productivity during the switch—something SAP estimates will take between 12 and 18 months. Keeping a tight rein on project timelines and budgets to avoid overruns and unexpected costs will be key.

Creating a clean core

It’s important to remember that a move to SAP S/4HANA isn’t simply a shift to a cloud operating model. It’s bigger than that. A migration of this kind is one of the few times that enterprises get an opportunity to analyze their current applications and processes—at least at the depth needed to effect major ongoing improvement. And the fact that they don’t really have a choice in no way detracts from its significance.

Enterprises can eliminate excess customization baggage and technical debt. They can remove and/or re-engineer inefficient processes. And they can embed the kind of ‘automation first’ approach that delivers continual, long-term value.

In SAP terms, that means developing a clean core. This is a fundamental shift in how enterprises think about their ERP systems. It’s all about balancing the need for custom functionality against the benefits of standardization and simplicity. Fewer customizations mean less complexity, less testing, fewer silos, and improved performance.

A clean core allows customers and partners to differentiate their business processes and develop extension applications on top of standard SAP functionality. In short, a clean core drives innovation. It makes it easier to adapt systems to changing business requirements. And again, in the press of daily business, it’s rare that enterprises have an opportunity to do it. So, when preparing for your SAP S/4HANA migration, it’s not a chance you should miss.

The positive impact of automation

In terms of preparing for and accelerating the move to SAP S/4HANA, automation has a huge role to play.

It can, for example, dramatically reduce the complexities associated with identifying existing business processes and redefining them to map to the new environment. Typically, these processes are hardwired into the core of the system through custom code. This code often needs to be rewritten to ensure compatibility, which is time-consuming and costly. By decoupling these customizations through an automation layer, business processes can be quickly defined and optimized via drag-and-drop operations—removing the need for extensive ‘new’ coding and maintenance.

Similarly, by automating data mapping and transformation, enterprises can be confident of data integrity in their new SAP S/4HANA structures.

But why wait for the migration project to start? Adopting automation before the journey begins will free up human capital. Talented people can then focus on transformational projects rather than mundane taskwork.

This more strategic approach to automation—adding capacity in advance of a major project—is a great way to streamline costs and achieve a faster, smoother, and more error-free transformation.

However, to focus purely on automation as a way of getting to SAP S/4HANA faster is to miss the wider transformational opportunities once migrations are complete.

Automations created during the move can also be repurposed to drive ongoing operational efficiencies—embedding that ‘automation first’ mindset to continually transform end-to-end processes on top of that clean core in SAP S/4HANA.

To the cloud and beyond

Get to SAP S/4HANA faster with UiPath

We’re evolving our SAP partnership to boost migration support and help customers take full advantage of the innovation lifecycle that follows any transformation to SAP S/4HANA.

The goal here is to help customers operate in a state of persistent innovation. Not just using automation for migration, but to uncover and exploit wider improvement opportunities—using the full capabilities in the UiPath Business Automation Platform.

With UiPath, enterprises can enjoy a smoother transition to SAP S/4HANA. Disruption to operations is minimized, reducing impacts on internal users and customers. Moreover, you can start to realize the value of SAP S/4HANA faster, too—automating virtually any combination of applications to unlock new opportunities for innovation and growth.

Whatever your approach, you want your cloud journey to begin in the best way possible. And you want an improved and fully optimized environment that continually adds value when you’re there. With UiPath supporting your SAP S/4HANA deployment, you can have both.


David Pearson Headshot
David Pearson

Senior Director of Technology Alliances, UiPath

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