Changing customers’ misconceptions about data migration for SAP S/4HANA

In this blog, I want to share some common misconceptions that I’ve encountered time and again among customers planning to convert to SAP S/4HANA. They all know they need to get started at some point soon, but various factors are holding them back, especially when it comes to data migration. Having run SAP systems already for many years, they’re faced with massive volumes of data that have accumulated over time. And the mere thought of how to migrate all this data and how much it will cost is enough to make them bury their heads in the sand.

Here are the three main misconceptions my colleagues and I have come across so far, and how we’ve been putting customers’ minds at rest.

Belief that all data has to be migrated to S/4HANA
We were surprised at the number of companies running SAP that still believe they have to migrate all their data to S/4HANA. The main reasons for this include the legally prescribed data retention times and the need to be fully compliant with GDPR. What they don’t realize though is that they can be selective about what they choose to migrate. Of course, after data cleansing, the volume will already be less. And then by separating their historical and operational data, the volume transferred to S/4HANA is massively reduced. They’re pleased to find out that their historical data can be compressed and stored on an external platform, but they can still access it via the SAP interface whenever they need it for audits and so on.

Belief that it’s going to cost a fortune
Cost is a major factor. With the deadline for S/4HANA getting ever closer, customers do realise that the pool of available SAP experts will get smaller, so rates will inevitably go up. Despite this, many are dragging their heels as they still fear that they’ll end up footing an expensive bill to migrate their data. Especially as some customers have numerous SAP and non-SAP systems that they plan to move over. We’ve been putting them at ease when it comes to costs and pointing out where they can in fact make considerable savings. We explain that once the data has been extracted, these legacy systems can be shut down, so there are no on-going maintenance costs to cover. This in itself is a tremendous cost saving. And with less data being migrated, significantly fewer manhours are needed to support the migration process, further reducing the overall cost of the project. We also explain that by keeping the new system lean, this has a positive impact on operating costs as less IT infrastructure and computing capacity are needed. To prevent SAP S/4HANA from continually amassing huge volumes of data, the JiVS information management platform, for example, enables continuous rightsizing of data, so customers can continue to minimize their data footprint.

Belief that it will take months to migrate the data
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard: “It will take us months and months to migrate our data!”. By now, we’ve already put the customer on the right track regarding data migration volumes and costs. So then we point out that with smart automation tech, the data migration time can be reduced to several weeks. It can even take just a few days. At this point, I hear them breathe a sigh of relief, when they realize that, in fact, they can migrate tens of terabytes of data per day.

We’ve sat down with lots of customers and corrected these misconceptions. Many of them wishing they’d had a clearer understanding of the facts from the outset. We’re increasingly playing the role of advisor in this respect, helping to speed up their decision to get started. The conversion to SAP S/4HANA is still going to be a huge undertaking, but knowing that certain aspects can be handled more easily and quickly and at less cost is very reassuring for them.

I’d be interested to hear other people’s experience of what is holding customers back, feel free to share your stories and any misconceptions you’ve come across!