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4 Critical Elements of an SAP HANA Migration Project Plan


One of the biggest challenges of planning an SAP HANA migration is simply that most companies don’t know what to expect. The technologies and methodologies involved have changed so quickly that the vast majority of organizations on SAP legacy systems have never experienced anything like a modern SAP transformation.

Yet at the same time, companies are keenly aware that they need to get it right the first time. Businesses depend on SAP, and needed is a migration plan that will provide the maximum benefits of S/4HANA or Suite on HANA with minimum disruption and cost. Here are four key considerations to ensure your SAP HANA migration project plan succeeds.

1. Identifying Key SAP Migration Project Stakeholders

Designing a successful SAP HANA migration project plan hinges on the right combination of stakeholders and expertise. Your team will require close collaboration between business, technical and functional team members, from both your organization and your managed services provider. Your team will need a variety of both internal and external stakeholders. On the internal side, you’ll have:

  • Executive Stakeholder: The exec who sponsors the project is a key decision maker, involved with the project at every stage. The executive stakeholder will need to keep track of major migration activities, but will not have to be involved in the nitty gritty of implementation.
  • Project Coordinator: The project coordinator manages the parts of the project owned by the customer. They will be deeply involved in activities such as scoping the project, ensuring readiness and verifying that the migration meets benchmarks and objectives at each stage.
  • Functional Team: The functional team is in charge of assessing what tools and functionality the client needs. They’re also responsible for designing a solution, which can then be implemented by the technical team.In addition to functional experts (often from an outside SAP partner), this team requires internal stakeholders from multiple levels of the company who can work with the functional SME to make sure the solution covers all the tasks employees need to accomplish.

The external team includes:

  • Project Manager: Your project manager should have experience managing successful SAP transformations, as well as familiarity with the technology your team plans to use to implement the migration. In general, this role is filled by the SAP partner organization.Most companies lack the internal expertise and experience. Additionally, your partner can bring along a complete system and technology stack to accomplish the migration, which greatly accelerates the project.
  • Migration Architect: The migration architect assesses the current system, and plans and oversees the architecture that will support the functional solution, as well as the actual transformation/migration process.
  • Project Infrastructure Build Team: You can think of this team as the people in charge of building the scaffolding system and assembling the tools used to construct your landscape. An SAP migration project will require multiple stages of provisioning environments, assembling and testing components of your system and refining them, until the project exactly matches your requirements. Project infrastructure play a crucial role in the process.
  • Migration Engineer: You’ll need one or more migration engineers to perform the actual migration. These stakeholders work closely with the migration architect throughout the project and will be responsible for executing the actual go live.

2. Completing Your SAP Landscape Assessment

One traditional challenge of HANA migrations is that companies go in with very little knowledge of the actual steps required for their particular landscape. Database, OS and application versioning, custom code, tech stack and an array of other factors determine the specific steps, cost and timetable for the migration.

SAP administrators can’t solve the problem. Admins understand how to keep the system running, but generally aren’t experts in migration. Companies generally hire someone to assess the landscape (at significant cost), and have to trust their partner to propose an airtight, cost-effective plan.

Be empowered to understand all of the requirements at the beginning of the SAP HANA migration project planning phase, before even choosing a partner. Request a free assessment of your system that shows the state of your current landscape, and what steps are required to complete your SAP HANA or S/4HANA transformation.

3. Choosing an SAP HANA Migration System

Choosing a vendor is really choosing a system. A vendor shouldn’t just provide a set of technicians — they should provide tools, a system, and a means to control costs and accelerate transformation.

That takes project management capabilities as well as technical capabilities. Your current SAP transformation won’t be your last big project. Even if you’re moving to S/4HANA, you’ll still have to do some minor upgrades before the SAP 2025 deadline. Your migration partner can help you stay on track and hit transformation benchmarks, whether they’re in three months or three years.

More immediately, your vendor can help you eliminate paralysis and confusion during the actual SAP HANA migration project planning phase. Companies planning a migration know their current software, what works and what doesn’t, but they rarely come in with experience with SAP HANA — much less S/4HANA. They’re not simply upgrading each application to a newer, better version — they’re replacing those applications with a new suite of software, a different interface, a new hosting environment and, more often than not, a new approach to SAP administration.

Additionally, they need to consider existing licenses and investments (such as hardware), business changes such as acquisitions and divestments, maintenance schedules for other systems, budget and a range of other factors. Companies can get stuck in a cycle of SAP migration planning, debating and replanning that wastes time and money and only makes the process more difficult.

SAP provides a lot of information, but the problem isn’t so much a lack of information as it is a lack of a process to evaluate that information and use it to make an informed decision. For most organizations, only an SAP migration partner can provide that.

4. Nailing Down the SAP HANA Migration Project Plan

Your project plan isn’t something you create all at once. In SAP Activate — SAP’s system for landscape deployment and transformation — the plan forms over the first two of five phases.

In the Discover phase, you assess your system and set overall goals for where you want to be. In the Prepare phase, you turn broad goals into a detailed plan. That requires you to make a lot of decisions, such as what cloud provider or on-premise solution to use for hosting as well as what type of SAP migration you wish to have.

Making these decisions depends on the research you do in the discover phase. Often, it’s helpful to build a demo system to try out your solution, gain buy in and make any needed changes early in the project. This can be extremely useful for companies going through a major transformation. Seeing the finished product can help you identify the value of your solution, set priorities and justify the project.

Protera goes one step further than other companies, creating a guiding system. Using your own dataset, we can create a functional prototype of your destination system that you can actually use, to experience how your landscape will work with S/4HANA. Not only is it useful in the planning stage — it also serves as a standard you can use to confirm your final system lives up to your SAP HANA migration project plan.

Migrate SAP With Confidence

Your SAP HANA transformation is likely the most important technology project you’ll undertake between now and 2025, yet too many companies feel like strangers in their own migrations.

Contact us to learn how Protera can put you in charge of your SAP HANA migration project plan.