Prepare your SAP S/4HANA System for an Upgrade

It’s been almost 7 years since the first SAP S/4HANA product version was released. Meanwhile SAP S/4HANA is mature enough as thousands of customers around the world have adopted it one way or another, regardless whether they chose a new implementation or a conversion as the right path for them to transform their businesses.

Remember every SAP S/4HANA product version is under mainstream support by SAP for a period of 5 years through our so-called Support Package Stacks with the latest corrections and bug fixes. This means that SAP S/4HANA 1511 and 1610 are out of maintenance and by the end of 2022 SAP S/4HANA 1709 will be out of maintenance, too.

For us at SAP this means that we have already started supporting our growing base of SAP S/4HANA customers with their Upgrade Projects to help them get the latest product innovations and of course run their businesses in a supported SAP S/4HANA version. In the next couple of years, we will be supporting a growing number of customers willing to upgrade their solutions.

SAP S/4HANA Upgrades should be strongly considered for several motives and advantages:

  1. Maintenance reasons: e.g., Stay on a supported release as per SAP S/4HANA maintenance schedule or replace classic SAP ERP Compatibility Packs (that expire end of December 2025) with alternative new capabilities.
  2. Improve and increase value: Customers will benefit from new features and new business requirements. With each new release, more products are embedded within SAP S/4HANA, e.g., SAP Transportation Management. It is also a great opportunity to improve and grow your SAP Fiori User Experience with new Fiori apps delivered with each release. (SAP S/4HANA 2021 has more than 2400 Fiori apps available).
  3. Technical Improvements: Major performance benefits for both SAP GUI for HTML and SAP Fiori Launchpad. General improvements to all SAP Fiori apps based on SAPUI5 technology improvements. New mobile capabilities on touch-enabled devices. More innovation scenarios can be leveraged, and you can also benefit from improved database with SAP HANA 2.0 to leverage its capabilities on the functional side.

Important Pre-Upgrade Tooling

Perhaps you *as a customer* are wondering what you need to consider for preparing and planning the efforts needed for a system upgrade. The intention of this blog is to give you the basic insights on this. SAP has developed and prepared a set of tools that will help you with these tasks. These tools that can be used (and it is strongly recommended to leverage them) many months before the upgrade project starts and will give you amazing, detailed analysis about your current SAP S/4HANA installation.

These tools are:

  • SAP Readiness Check for Upgrades
  • SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder for SAP S/4HANA
  • SAP Maintenance Planner
  • Simplification Item Checks
  • Software Update Manager – Prerequisite Check Extended
  • ABAP Test Cockpit

Let’s review each of them in more detail:

SAP Readiness Check for Upgrades

As you might remember, SAP Readiness Check was first developed as a self-service tool to analyze the overall status of an SAP ECC System towards a system conversion. Last year SAP delivered the SAP Readiness Check for Upgrades, which provides a holistic analysis of an SAP S/4HANA System towards a successful and smooth upgrade.

The SAP Readiness Check will help you analyze among other things: the relevant simplification items for the target SAP S/4HANA product version, Add-On compatibility, basic Custom Code analysis (which can be enhanced by using ABAP Test Cockpit) and an Integration Analysis. Readiness Check will also suggest selected SAP Fiori applications to be activated according to the system usage.

You should check the documentation and instructions for using SAP Readiness Check for Upgrades in SAP Note 3059197

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SAP Readiness Check for SAP S/4HANA Upgrades

SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder for SAP S/4HANA

As newer SAP S/4HANA releases deliver simplifications and innovation opportunities, a great tool to take full advantage of SAP S/4HANA innovations is a Pathfinder report. The purpose of the SAP Innovation and Optimization Pathfinder is to deliver Innovation recommendations, suggest Business Improvement Opportunities and to help you Optimize IT, which of course will accelerate innovation adoption.

To start your way into obtaining a Pathfinder report about your SAP S/4HANA system you should:

SAP Maintenance Planner

The SAP Maintenance Planner is the central planning tool for Updates, Upgrades, Migrations and Installations (and in the context of SAP S/4HANA, conversions as well) of any SAP ABAP or Java based systems. SAP S/4HANA isn’t the exception.

SAP Maintenance Planner is an important tool for planning and preparing the Upgrade of your SAP S/4HANA installation and it will help you with the following important tasks:

  • It will verify the compatibility of Add-Ons and Business functions for the target SAP S/4HANA release.
  • It will provide the software archives and Stack.xml file later to be used by the Software Update Manager during the upgrade process.
  • SAP Add-Ons can be now planned for uninstallation (see Note 2911053)

If SAP Maintenance Planner detects that there are incompatible Add-Ons, the upgrade planning cannot continue. In this case it is important to verify SAP Note 2974663 and clarify which Add-ons are compatible with your target SAP S/4HANA release.

If an add-on is no longer required, please check with the vendor if a package for uninstalling the Add-on is available. See SAP Notes: 2011192 and 2911053.

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SAP Maintenance Planner

Simplification Item Checks

A new Simplification Item Check run is needed to see how the Simplifications in the new release will affect your current functionality.

As mentioned earlier in this blog, the Simplification Item Check report can be run manually in advance. If the check result indicates items with red status, the reported inconsistencies must be resolved mandatorily. Items in yellow should be reviewed, but will not stop the Upgrade procedure.

  • In order to run the latest Simplification Item Check version you will need to implement SAP Notes 2399707 and 2502552. For additional information see the following blog.

Software Update Manager – Prerequisite Check Extended

Many of you know the Software Update Manager is the tool needed to install the software archives that were previously downloaded with the SAP Maintenance Planner Upgrade calculation. However, since SUM 2.0 SP08, there is a valuable functionality that will allow you to collect a list of major issues without requiring to resolve each of them before proceeding to the next issue. This functionality is the Prerequisite Check Extended of SUM:

The Prerequisite Check Extended can be called by running SUM and choosing Prerequisite Extended Check Tool in the Scenario Strategy screen at the start of the run. The SAP Maintenance Planner Stack.xml will have to be provided.

This check will provide information like:

  • Check if the current SAP S/4HANA Application server OS and SAP HANA database version are outdated for the target release
  • Inactive objects in the system
  • Simplification item checks report
  • Missing SAP notes

At the end of the run you can collect the logs and reset SUM.

For additional information see the following blog.

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SUM dialog screen on how to make use of Prerequisite Check Extended

ABAP Test Cockpit

Remember I mentioned that with each new SAP S/4HANA release, new simplifications are delivered? Well, this will possibly have an impact on your Custom Code.

ABAP Test cockpit will help you analyze the affected Custom Code objects and give you in advance the opportunity to estimate the needed effort for the relevant code remediation. With this said, it is important to emphasize that there is no need to wait for the first Upgrade cycle (Sandbox or Dev) to finish analyzing the code.

ABAP Test Cockpit can be set up beforehand in many ways:

  • Remote ATC with SAP GUI: A standalone Netweaver 7.52 or higher (SAP_BASIS >= 7.52) can be setup as the Central Check system.
  • SAP Fiori Custom Code Migration App: A fresh SAP S/4HANA 1809 or higher can be setup as the Central Check System.
  • SAP Fiori Custom Code Migration App in SAP BTP: If you are a BTP customer, a Central Check System can be based on an SAP BTP ABAP environment.

Since Custom Code remediation and ABAP Test Cockpit is a big topic, I highly suggest checking the following materials and blogs:

Custom Code Migration Guide for SAP S/4HANA 2021

SAP S/4HANA System Conversion – Custom code adaptation process

ABAP Test Cockpit in the Cloud – What is already possible

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Options to run the Custom Code Analysis

Having reviewed these tools: again, it is strongly recommended to leverage them before your project starts as it will save you valuable time.

Further recommendations

Last, but no least: I have some additional recommendations to help you ensure a smooth SAP S/4HANA upgrade:

Integration Analysis

The Integration analysis offered by SAP Readiness Check needs to be enhanced with an additional review. Reasons for this are:

  • Most integration is covered by integration testing
  • Version interoperability between SAP S/4HANA and other SAP NetWeaver systems should be validated with the help of SAP Note 2251604
  • Check dependencies for older releases of SAP products with the Upgrade Dependency Analyzer (UDA)
  • Integration to analytic platforms like SAP BW or SAP BW/4HANA should be checked as well. Refer to SAP Note 2500202

Sizing

With features delivered by SAP S/4HANA such as SAP Embedded Analytics and the embedded deployment of SAP Fiori, the demand for additional hardware resources is increased. Because of this, sizing should be reviewed accordingly to avoid performance issues.

The landing page for benchmarking and sizing can be found here and it will guide you through many of the aspects that need to be considered to properly size your SAP S/4HANA solution. The HANA-based quick sizer has to be used for this. You can also check this video to get an idea on how Quick Sizer works.

Downtime Optimization Options

Depending on different factors, the system downtime duration in an SAP S/4HANA upgrade is an important topic for several customers. SAP offers different downtime optimization options to help our customers meet their business continuity expectations:

  1. Standard: SUM already offers several optimizations with the standard approach, as several upgrade phases occur while the system is still operational.
  2. nZDM: near-Zero Downtime Maintenance is also included in SUM. This approach extends downtime optimizations by partly moving time consuming activities into the uptime phases and uses a Record & Replay technique for selected applications tables. Check SAP notes 1678564 and 1678565 to review restrictions, prerequisites, terms and conditions.
  3. ZDO: Zero Downtime Option is included in SUM as well. This approach reduces the technical system downtime to an application restart. In general, this approach will further reduce the overall upgrade downtime compared to the standard and nZDM approaches. Several prerequisites and restrictions should be considered. Review these in SAP Note 2707731

Best Practices Guide for Upgrades

An amazing asset available for all our customers. I’m talking about the Best Practices guide for upgrading SAP S/4HANA. This guide provides lessons learned, guidance and best practices for upgrading your current S/4HANA release to a higher one.

The guide includes as well great advice for those who want to manage the pace of organizational change by running multiple, repeatable Continuous Improvement Projects after upgrade to drive more business value out of their SAP S/4HANA solution over time.

SAP Support Continuous Quality Checks

Customers are entitled to Continuous Quality Checks as part of their SAP Enterprise Support agreement. This means that when an SAP S/4HANA upgrade Go Live date is close, customers can book the following CQC services by creating an incident under component SV-BO-REQ:

  • CQC for Upgrade, consisting of:
    • Analysis session: includes a parameter setting check and sizing (delivered 5 – 6 weeks before the upgrade Go-Live)
    • Verification sessions: Parameter setting check and performance analysis (delivered 6 weeks after the Go-Live)
  • CQC Going Live Support:
    • Monitors your system on the first 3 – 5 productive days after Go-Live to detect issues before they arise.

I hope you found this blog post helpful. We have reviewed important information on tooling and great assets that will help you fast-start your SAP S/4HANA Upgrade project. Feel free to leave comments and feedback. You can follow the Software Logistics – System Maintenance tag to receive updates on blog posts here.

Wishing you all a successful Upgrade project!

Brought to you by the SAP S/4HANA RIG