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The Role of SAP Migration Cockpit in S/4HANA Transformation

The SAP Migration Cockpit is what it sounds like: a central control repository used to execute SAP HANA upgrades and migrations from legacy solutions. The cockpit works with both SAP and non-SAP legacy solutions, moving your data to HANA or S/4HANA. The S/4HANA Migration Cockpit is a key tool in the data migration process — the phase of the project where you move actual data, such as customer transaction records and financial information over to your new system.

If you’ve ever restored data onto your computer from a backup, you might think this is a simple process — you just copy the information from the source, “paste” it to the destination and wait for it to complete, right?

Unfortunately, SAP S/4HANA migration isn’t that simple. If you just pasted the data into S/4HANA as is, it wouldn’t work with your new software. Here’s how the migration cockpit helps execute your digital S/4HANA transformation.

Data Objects and Mapping

SAP S/4HANA isn’t just an upgrade of SAP ERP; it’s really a completely new system. Although it performs many of the same functions, the database has been rebuilt, and the applications, completely restructured to harness the new database more effectively. SAP made other changes as well, to organize data more effectively and meet various use cases better than SAP ERP could. That means the data that fills those applications is structured differently as well. So before you move your SAP ERP data into your S/4HANA landscape, you need to transform it into a format that S/4HANA can read.

For example, traditional SAP ERP treated customers and vendors as different business objects. This model did the job, but it wasn’t ideal because of the way real-world businesses work. It’s not uncommon for two companies to have a multifaceted relationship, where each company is both a vendor and a customer.

If you manufacture shipping containers, for example, you might purchase parts for your manufacturing equipment from a supplier, then sell that same supplier containers. In SAP ERP, you’d have two separate records for that supplier. Those records wouldn’t have a defined relationship — the database would just treat them as two separate entities, even though they were the same business.

Additionally, a vendor or customer could only have a single address in the records. If you shipped supplies to the Wisconsin office in January and to the New York office in February, you’d need two different customer entries. In practice, you could end up with half a dozen records or more for the same company. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it was a little messy and confusing for both record keeping and reporting.

S/4HANA replaced both customers and vendors with a new kind of business object: the business partner. In this model, any entity that does business with you is defined as a business partner. You can then further define their relationship as a customer, vendor or both, add in multiple addresses if needed and specify other details.

This is obviously an improvement, making it easier to keep track of the businesses and other organizations you work with. However, it poses a problem when you’re moving from SAP ERP to S/4HANA. How do you take all of your customer records and vendor records, and turn them into a single record of business partners — particularly when you might have several different entries for the same company?

The answer is mapping. Mapping is a system of rules that tell the SAP Migration Cockpit how to reorganize and reformat data for S/4HANA. The data itself doesn’t change, but individual entries are — for example, if you had two vendor records and two customer records for one company, the system would combine all that data into a single business partner record, containing all the addresses and other data in those four records. The system can also mark potential errors in your old records, so your team can go in and fix them.

Migration Cockpit and the S/4HANA Transformation Process

The S/4HANA Migration Cockpit does more than map objects — it guides you through the data migration, automating the process and showing your progress as you go. Migration Cockpit can even execute across multiple lines of business, transferring finance, HR data, marketing and so on based on relevant maps for each.

However, the SAP Migration Cockpit has some limits. First of all, your business may have custom fields in certain business objects. If the tools are specific to your business, Migration Cockpit will not know how to transform them by default. Additionally, those custom fields might not map to a standard S/4HANA configuration — you (or your team) may need to create custom fields in S/4HANA to transform your business objects, along with creating transformation rules for Migration Cockpit

Additionally, data migration is really only one part of the SAP S/4HANA migration. Before you’re ready for data migration, you need to create your landscape, which takes multiple cycles of planning, building, testing and refining. Data migration is, comparatively speaking, a fairly small and straightforward part of the process.

Creating an Effective Digital Transformation Process

SAP and the vendor and managed services community have been working on methods to better automate migration. This is exactly the same thing that has been going on in the wider IT community. Computers are faster and more accurate than people are at doing predictable tasks, such as transforming data or calculating dependencies. Over time, the SAP community has expanded the range of tasks that can be automated, resulting in lower cost and faster SAP transformation.

The SAP Migration Cockpit is just one component in this strategy. Other tools help with spotting custom code, calculating upgrade requirements and dependencies, determining computing power requirements for your new S/4HANA landscape, and other tasks.

Protera CloudVantage has become a leader in this process, transforming automation from a set of discrete tools to an integrated system for your digital transformation. FlexBridge serves as a repository for all of your migration tools, helping organize your SAP project and automate project management, quality control and other essential processes. Instead of moving project files back and forth between multiple apps, your team can use a single interface, providing access and enabling oversight and quality control as tasks are completed.

Protera CloudVantage also brings some new and extremely powerful automation features to the SAP digital transformation process. At the beginning of the project, CloudVantage  audits your system, and provides a complete report of the state of your landscape, including versioning, requirements, custom code that needs to be remediated and other details. It’s essentially a complete blueprint for SAP S/4HANA upgrade or migration — before you hire a single consultant.

Not only does this save you the time and cost of a traditional manual audit, it also empowers you to take control of your migration from the beginning. You’re not dependent on the advice of a consultant, and you don’t have to worry about them missing a detail that could derail your project down the line.

From Audit to Go-Live, Automation Just Makes Sense

The SAP S/4HANA has grown in power and sophistication, and the tools that help you realize a HANA landscape have grown with it. Combined with other tools, the SAP Migration Cockpit has the power to make your S/4HANA transformation journey quick, cost effective and non-disruptive. But many vendors are still very early in the journey to automation. They still rely on slower, manual processes for much of the transformation, which means a slower timetable, higher cost and greater risks of human error derailing your transformation process.

Protera brings the most advanced SAP digital transformation platform, combined with one of the best teams in the industry, to ensure your S/4HANA journey goes without a hitch.