Friends don’t let friends start an SAP ECC project

11 October 2017

Julien Delvat

Julien Delvat

SAP S/4HANA Consultant

If you are considering an SAP ERP implementation why wouldn’t you go with the old faithful SAP Enterprise Core Component 6 (ECC)?  It’s mature, tried and tested, used by multi-billion dollar companies the world over.  Julien Delvat, SAP Mentor and ERP expert, explains why he’d never let a friend install SAP ECC 6.

Look at your phone. Do you still carry a flip phone or did you join the 21st century and pick a smartphone? Now look at your ERP. Which generation does it belong to?
If you were building a new office or plant, would you invest in wired ethernet or wifi? In your meeting rooms, would you install chalk or digital boards? So, when it comes to a new ERP project, should you select the 1985’s SAP ECC or the 2015’s SAP S/4HANA?
The choice seems obvious, right? Yet, we still have conversations with customers who are considering ECC for their next implementation project. Let’s consider three reasons why we wouldn’t let our friends start a new SAP ECC project.

End of maintenance

Your ERP is the backbone of your organisation. Every ERP project takes time, budget, and critical resources away from operations. The return-on-investment (ROI) is long, usually in the region of 5-10 years.
Assuming a project starts early in 2018 and is completed by the end of the same year (if you’re running a tight ship), if you selected a traditional database you would only enjoy a maximum of 2 years on the new platform, before the end of maintenance (31.12.20),  and 6 years (until 31.12.25) if you jumped on the SAP HANA in-memory database.
This clearly is a short-term strategy that would be highly unlikely to see a ROI, and instead would lead to extra expenditure in terms of both effort and budget in the long run.

SAP Business Suite – End of Mainstream Maintenance. Source: SAP

End of development

SAP development teams are still delivering some features and functions to the ECC platform through Enhancement Packages, especially to meet regulations like Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, the focus of the organisation has clearly shifted to S/4HANA and S/4HANA Cloud.
Some customers are still convinced that S/4HANA is not compatible with their requirements. This might have been the case with release 1511, focusing on Finance, or even with 1610, focusing on Logistics, but 1709 now extends the scope to Manufacturing.
There are indeed still a few exceptions, especially related to few modules in Industry Solutions like Public Sector or Oil & Gas. But these need to be checked on a case-by-case basis using the published roadmap. For more details, check the S/4HANA Roadmap by Industry.

SAP Cloud and On-Premise Delivery Schedule. Source: SAP

Focus on workforce

We were recently engaged by a privately-owned company that just installed ECC 6. Surprisingly, they’re considering moving to S/4HANA in the short term. They shared with our team that one of their main reasons for engaging in this project is to attract and keep the best employees. This is a refreshing perspective we’d love to see spread. This is confirmed by SAP customers starting their S/4HANA journey who responded to the ASUG Research's survey:
"How ASUG Members Look at SAP S/4HANA in 2016. About 11% of them cited “we need an improved user experience so our staff can be more productive” as one of their top reasons for selecting S/4HANA and its Fiori user-experience".

In short, there may be reasons for organisations to complete their ECC rollout before adopting S/4HANA. There is also sense in selecting Business Suite on HANA as a tactical step before S/4HANA.
However, when you start to consider end of maintenance, end of development, and gains in workforce satisfaction and productivity, we wouldn't recommend SAP ECC as the solution of choice for any new ERP project. If you want to take the lead as an automated enterprise, then as friends, we’d recommend you consider S/4HANA or S/4HANA Cloud instead.

About the author

Julien Delvat

SAP S/4HANA Consultant

With over 15 years’ experience of developing cost management applications at SAP Labs France, coupled with significant experience of architecting, designing and implementing these systems for clients across the globe and industries, Julien is perfectly placed to offer Bluefin’s customers unrivalled expertise in the colliding worlds of finance and technology. It’s not with good reason he’s known as a ‘Costing Geek’!

When it comes to collaborating with clients, Julien likes to get under an organisation’s skin. He wants to know what makes a company tick, what their priorities are and what the reality is on the ground. Doing this assists him to build information systems that reflect their true business needs.

Julien’s contributions to the SAP Financials community have been recognized through publications in professional blogs and journals like and SAP Expert, as well as multiple speaking and panel opportunities at conferences like SAP Financials, SAP Controlling, Sapphire / ASUG, and SAP TechEd. He is most passionate about his roles as an ASUG volunteer for the Financials community and as an SAP Mentor, working as a trusted advisor to build new communication channels between SAP and its customers.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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