2nd December 2022 - 19th March 2023

Interview: Automated SAP S/4HANA Migration with SOA People and MIGNOW

00_website_mignow_itv_engWith the release of S/4HANA, SAP also announced that it would phase out the support for older ERP versions of SAP ECC by 2027. For numerous SAP customers, this means a fundamental change of their core system. Although the migration to the promising SAP S/4HANA system offers some advantages (e.g., simplicity, user-friendliness, and security), many companies and decision-makers are concerned about the effort (e.g., time, money, and resources) that should not be underestimated. SOA People, together with its partner MIGNOW, has found a way to accelerate S/4HANA migration and transformation projects, minimize labor-intensive processes and thereby save time, costs, and effort. Dr. Tamas Szirtes (Group Innovation Director at SOA People) and Guilherme Joventino (Co-Founder & COO of MIGNOW) explained to us how this works for SME and large corporations.

erp4students: Hello and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. How are you and where are you currently?


Dr. Tamas Szirtes: Thanks for the invitation to share SAP insights with you and the erp4students community. I am fine and currently working from home. This allows me to join, for example, a steering committee meeting in Belgium, an internal call with French colleagues and an alignment with our German sales team. No surprise, several of these calls are related to our exclusive partnership with MIGNOW, today’s interview topic.

Guilherme Joventino: Thanks for the invite. Right now, I am traveling a lot to speak with people from the SAP community here in Europe. I just left Barcelona where I attended a meeting with SAP together. Now, I am with SOA People at the convention USF 2022 in Lyon, France. A few days later, you can see me already at the Performance Day organized by SOA People in Zandvoort, a small Dutch city close to Amsterdam. In-between, I am available for phone calls and customer meetings. I simply want to make the most out of the time here in Europe, working closely together with SOA People and SAP.

erp4students: Before we get to the core topic of this interview: What moved you to deal with the topics of IT, business and, more specifically, SAP and consulting?

Guilherme: I am a very curious, restless person that likes to continuously learn and improve things. As a student, SAP technologies appeared to me as a promising opportunity where I could have an impact. I thought, this industry needs and searches for people like me that want to find new innovative ways in looking at things and that push the boundaries of what is possible in business and IT. Since my first SAP work experience as key user until today, so much has happened. In hindsight, I am very happy I had made the choice back then to start with SAP as a student.

Tamas: Right from my studies, I was interested in the crossroad of business and IT. Since I was in Germany, you can imagine, it was almost inevitable to stumble upon SAP. Businessmen from all kind of industries talked about SAP and its growing capabilities as ERP system and beyond. I am glad to have joined the SAP world. You can learn so much while providing value to so many different customers. It simply does not get boring as there is always change. As Director of Innovation at SOA People, it is now fully official that my job (and passion) is to continue striving forward and to find the best solutions and innovations for our customers.

erp4students: SOA People is a company with its headquarter located in Wavre, Belgium, and MIGNOW is a Brazilian company. How did you meet and how did the collaboration come about?

Tamas: We were looking for solutions to bring the migration to S/4HANA on a new level for SME and large enterprises. By scanning the global market, we have identified MIGNOW as the most interesting solution by far. I directly contacted Guilherme and this is how our journey started. Today, approximately three years later, the two companies are working closely together and I have no days without talking to someone from MIGNOW.

Guilherme:
Yes, exactly. MIGNOW was already having the first successes in Brazil and I was asking myself how to make this technology also globally available for SAP customers. When Tamas reached out to me, I was very happy. After sharing more what we are doing, we could see how we can complement each other and quickly became partners.

erp4students: The move to S/4HANA comes with enormous challenges for many companies - but what do you think are the advantages that the new system brings with it?

Guilherme: I believe that SAP S/4HANA, which is SAPs fourth ERP suite, developed by SAP itself, is the most successful ERP system. It enables organizations to work seamlessly in a digital economy. Companies benefit from its simplification and centralization for management and administration, the ease of use, resource savings, innovation, improved performance and speed. Plus, over 1450 new features released, illustrate how much SAP is continuously moving forward.

Tamas: Yes, exactly. Companies running on SAP S/4HANA can be more agile, work mobile and flexible, increase productivity, improve business performance and… to become insight-driven by having real-time data access!

erp4students: With MIGNOW, you offer a solution that accelerates migration and transformation projects (to S/4HANA) and minimizes labor-intensive processes - and does so automatized. How does MIGNOW, as a software product, work?

Guilherme: MIGNOW is a technology startup that owns the software of the same name. The software is approved by SAP for the automation of conversion processes to S/4HANA and upgrades within S/4HANA. The automation capabilities of MIGNOW drastically speed up decision making in the conversion processes by identifying SAP adjustment points, using SAP conversion tools, based on SAP best practices as well as knowledge acquired in the various conversion processes carried out by us. The rather standardized, big chunk of ABAP codes can be converted automatically, leaving only a minor work effort to be done manually by consultants. On top, we hugely accelerate the processing of the relevant simplification items and give Fiori recommendations based on user history.

Tamas: Here, I would like to give an example. One of our first migrations together with MIGNOW was Galler, a growing Belgian confectionary company. Within only 3 months, they were successfully migrated at low cost and without any disruption to the business. With S/4HANA, Galler benefits now from the latest technology, including embedded analytics, real-time data and the Fiori user experience.

erp4students: The MIGNOW way seems predestined for the brownfield approach, in which, among other things, past customization investments are preserved. A disadvantage, however, is that old structures are often "carried along" and it poses the risk that previous inefficiencies might be also taken over. In addition, a later switch to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud seems to involve considerable effort. How does MIGNOW counteract these difficulties?

Guilherme: Yes, exactly. A brownfield migration refers to upgrade the existing SAP landscape from SAP ECC to SAP S/4HANA while leveraging legacy components. With brownfield, you have the chance to reevaluate and edit existing work processes and only port over relevant ones. As you said, it is a lot of work to check on every single custom code object in sufficient detail to make sure that only necessary, beneficial work processes are taken over to SAP S/4HANA system. This is where MIGNOW comes in. It is AI-driven and can automatically analyze the whole custom code based on best practices. This saves a tremendous lot of time, reduces errors meanwhile giving the opportunity to focus on more complex custom code objects. On average, we have experienced that the deployment of MIGNOW reduces 95% of manual work effort in a Brownfield migration.

A great example for the impact of MIGNOW is our customer and biggest Brazilian retailer Carrefour. We were facing a very complex situation with almost 19.000 custom code objects. As typical for Brownfield migrations, 60% of Carrefour‘s custom code objects were outdated or could be taken to S/4HANA without any changes. The remaining 40% of custom code objects supposedly needed to be manually adapted. Correction and testing take around four hours per object, resulting in around 30.400 hours manual work effort with a classical Brownfield approach. By automating the migration with MIGNOW, only 0,7%, so 135 custom code objects were left to be manually modified. As such remaining objects tend to be more complex, we calculated 12 hours per object, effectively boiling down the amount of manual work to less than 1.600 hours instead of the original 30.400 hours.

Tamas: Yes, this drastic reduction of manual work effort with MIGNOW is unique. Also, SAP has recognized this outstanding automation capacity by awarding MIGNOW with the SAP Innovation Award 2022 in the context of the Carrefour business case. Only with MIGNOW, for Carrefour it was possible to migrate and move to their new data center within only 3.5 months. Details such as Carrefour benefiting from five times more speed to deploy new functionality, makes us even more proud to work as partners together.

Guilherme: However, not every company is suitable for a Brownfield approach as not every company should complete the migration all at once in a „big bang“ or copy large amounts of transactional and master data. The alternative is then the selective or empty shell approach where a copy of the existing SAP ECC system is created that does not contain any master and transaction data. Therefore, we have an empty system, hence called „empty shell“. In an empty shell scenario, companies can significantly speed up their conversion with MIGNOW. By automating the migration of valuable custom code objects, the company can continue to benefit from it in the new system.

Tamas: Coming back to your last point in your question being on S/4HANA greatly simplifies a further move to the Cloud. It is even possible to use MIGNOW for a lift and shift approach where you migrate to S/4HANA and move to a private cloud at the same time.

erp4students: A Greenfield approach stands for a completely new start with SAP S/4HANA on a Greenfield site. When do you recommend companies to choose this approach? Do you provide with MIGNOW the possibility of an AI-supported new implementation or which alternatives can you offer next to Brownfield?

Guilherme: Especially companies that need to reduce their complexities as they have amassed heavily customized workflows and code, should choose Greenfield. With Greenfield, they have the chance to set up a clean, new system from scratch, where they can reengineer their SAP processes and workflows, all based on best practices. As there is no custom code, master or transactional data migrated, MIGNOW is not applicable.

Tamas: Independently from our partner MIGNOW, we have a whole S/4HANA migration portfolio addressing companies also considering the Greenfield approach. For example, we can do a digital transformation workshop to discuss individually about strategy and IT design. For our customers, we carry out business process reengineering in S/4HANA Assessment Workshops. We can furthermore harmonize business processes based on best practices with our prequalified, industry-specific packages. Together with our customers, we also discuss the various deployment options, where they can decide between on premise, our hosting offering or the cloud. Overall, we simply focus on being their strategic partner guiding them through crucial decision-making and implementations on their digital transformation.

erp4students: Companies have apparently many complex choices to take, depending on their business needs and strategy. Can you see a trend how many companies are choosing for Greenfield, Brownfield or Selective?

Tamas: Overall, we can observe from our own experience that the vast majority of companies decide for a Brownfield or Selective approach. This observation I could further validate by conversations with SAP employees, partners as well as through surveys from e.g. the German-speaking SAP usergroup DSAG. They are all talking of roughly 25 percent of companies choosing Greenfield. Recently, I was reading a report of Deloitte about SAP Integration this year where they stated that even less, only 20 percent of their customers, have opted for Greenfield. This further illustrates that the bigger and more complex a company is, the more it tends to choose the Selective or Brownfield approach.

Guilherme: Yes, exactly. Successful companies with a longstanding SAP system simply do not want to lose all their legacy customizations and coding while still embracing the newest SAP innovations. Furthermore, it costs and takes even more time to fully reinvent yourself. So why not continuing to rely on some well-proven work processes? The strength of SAP to enable the handling of complex matters becomes a challenge, of course. On their move to SAP S/4HANA, this should never be underestimated. However, that is why we have developed MIGNOW. For our customers, we are the key to accelerated, resource efficient Brownfield and Empty Shell conversions.

erp4students: Many companies and especially their employees value contact with trained specialists during and after a migration, transformation, or implementation process. How can one imagine the support in the context of an automated and AI-supported migration?

Tamas: The support is not done by a machine. That is why we are partner of MIGNOW. We provide locally the necessary access to and support with the software here in Europe. As we are located in many different countries, we can assist in various local languages and make sure that the automated migration is carried out smoothly. Customers need someone who can be there for them right on the spot, if needed.

Guilherme: I fully agree with you, Tamas. The MIGNOW software is powerful because of its automation capacity and AI. This, however, does not undermine human interaction but rather allows more space for it. Like in normal S/4HANA migrations, SAP Partners like SOA People provide support by e.g. having employees answering open tickets, giving workshops for key users or whole departments and to guide with their expertise during decision-making processes. We believe that humans should be there for each other and machines and software only simplify this interaction such as MIGNOW does by significantly reducing manual work efforts, leaving more time to discuss about more valuable, strategic topics. Like this, being there for each other, we treat every customer.

erp4students: From 2027, support for older ERP versions will be discontinued. What is your advice to companies that are still undecided about which approach (greenfield or brownfield) is right for them?

Tamas: Since 2015, the birth of S/4HANA, we have received this question many times and have developed a methodology to answer it. We run a number of technical and functional assessments in a few days’ effort and at the end of this exercise, we give a clear answer about the approach (greenfield, brownfield or selective), but also about target architecture, data management, project timeline, budget estimate, organizational impact, change management, etc.We cover all aspects that decision makers need to know. Based on these insights and the company’s strategic objectives, they can then take the right decisions for the future of the company.

Guilherme:
Brownfield and the selective approach tend to be quicker than Greenfield as you do not need to start everything new from scratch. With MIGNOW, the manual work efforts and therefore time can get even more reduced, meaning that Brownfield and Selective are becoming significantly quicker options compared to Greenfield. Considering that there are limited resources available to migrate, companies do need to think not only about their digital transformation itself but also what is feasible at which cost. If they do not migrate soon, they run at risk to be without SAP mainstream maintenance with SAP Business Suite 7 core applications from beginning 2028 onwards. Meanwhile, they have to keep in mind not only their own limitations of internal resources but also what resources are available at SAP and its partners. In this context, I believe that MIGNOW is getting even more attractive beyond its actual value proposition as only with MIGNOW you can migrate accelerated amid scarcity of resources.

erp4students: How would you convince companies that work with 15+ year old SAP systems and believe that such old systems and data cannot be migrated and therefore tend to start over with another provider (other than SAP)?

Tamas: SAP has accumulated so much experience and knowledge about the requirements and complexities of companies while providing solutions to ensure compliance with legal frameworks worldwide that this should not be underestimated. Other ERP providers have a genuine challenge to keep up with what SAP and its strong partner network has to offer. Also, it has become fully clear that it is possible to migrate from SAP ECC to S/4HANA. Thousands of companies around the world have done this already successfully. We have done it many times, too. Companies on S/4HANA benefit from the newest innovations and get more agile. Considering all the challenges that they have to face, especially nowadays, running on SAP S/4HANA is definitely a huge competitive advantage.

Guilherme:
True. Especially when you have complex company structures and requirements, SAP has proven to be the right choice. With S/4HANA, SAP is revolutionizing itself again. We are right now part of a new era of digital transformation and innovation. SAP genuinely invites and incentivizes not only its own employees but also the whole partner community to work daily on the mission to develop and provide the best solutions possible for its customers. Therefore, I recommend every company running on an outdated SAP ECC to have an open-minded look at what awaits them in S/4HANA. Without knowing what capabilities, features and user experience they can have, I doubt they can take the strategically right decision for the future company IT landscape. Also, being afraid from the conversion itself, should not be the critical reason why a company would consider other ERP systems. That is also why MIGNOW exists: to SAP customers, we offer a unique opportunity to simplify and speed up their migration.

erp4students: Since you have been working in the IT and SAP area for years: What are your tips and tricks for young graduates who also want to work in this area?

Guilherme: Are you interested in topics such as ML, neural networks and automation? When you love learning, trying out new things and, additionally, you are always determined to excel, then IT and SAP could be something for you. It is a very fast paced, dynamic environment. Stay naturally curious. Engage with inspiring people and let them guide you. Broaden your horizon. Focus on the customer. Understand their problems and processes. The moment you disagree with a person about a business process or a business process is simply too complex, ask yourself why. Are there existing already better solutions? If not, what could be a better way? That is the moment where you might be close to an innovative idea!

Tamas: To advance most quickly in IT and SAP, I advise to join a consulting firm. The learning curve is much steeper there. Young professionals can progress faster in their career. I personally think thatthe best choice is a company which is not too small and not too big. Big enough to be impactful, but small enough to be personal.

Thank you very much for answering the questions and I wish you all the best for the future. Kind regards and stay healthy.

More Information:

» Website SOA People
» Website MIGNOW


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