What is SAP S/4HANA and what are its characteristics?
SAP S/4HANA – also known as SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA – is based on SAP HANA and, therefore, leverages all functions of the efficient in-memory platform for data management and applications. Among others this includes its ability for intelligent text mining, forecast analysis, simulations, and real-time decision support with real-time access to all operational data. In addition, business clients get a new user interface that offers a new experience on all devices.
Another asset of S/4HANA is that it is available in three different options: as an on-site solution (“On-Premise”), in the cloud or as a combination of both (“Hybrid”). These different options allow customers to get tailored solutions for their specific needs. Furthermore, the data model has been simplified. Unnecessary tables including data have been removed to increase the storage capacity.
As already mentioned in part 1, S/4HANA is based on the SAP HANA platform for which a completely new code has been developed. SAP began to reprogram the entire Business Suite, starting with the Finance application. The data model has been restructured, based on the new application code. This new application was introduced as SAP S/4HANA Simple Finance. With the help of the existing tools, customers can continue using their classic SAP ERP Finance applications for sales, procurement, and inventory management. S/4HANA Finance and existing ERP applications are fully compatible so that all postings made via existing ERP applications are immediately visible in S/4HANA Finance. In a second step, SAP rewrote the remaining ERP applications with new data models and application codes to provide the first comprehensive core solutions from SAP S/4HANA.
Furthermore, S/4HANA includes integrated functions of SAP HANA that can be utilized in all S/4HANA applications. Some of the core functions and their meaning regarding S/4HANA can be described as following: SAP HANA can handle both business logic and database services. HANA provides a versatile environment with efficient tools for development. In addition, SAP HANA has in-memory engines and can convert all data types into universal data. The integration of many options for data makes it possible to analyze continuously streaming-data, to read data from every source by using remote access, to read big data and much more. Another important asset of S/4HANA is the use of OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) as well as OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) requests simultaneously, so that no other data must be moved to another system.
Due to the efficiency of HANA, every table can be merged into an ad-hoc unit. In doing so, no other units are necessary. HANA can produce different data views from tables of the same source. At the same time, HANA is able to compress tables automatically. In case of backups of big data volumes also less memory is necessary. In S/4HANA Finance there is another change regarding financial postings. Instead of two separate records (financial accounting record and cost accounting record) there is now a detailed receipt. This receipt covers information about legal aspects up to internal accounting aspects in one table.
Furthermore, S/4HANA allows production planning for lot sizes down to the size of one in real-time. Based on a customer order, one can calculate the effects on the requirements for all dependent subcomponents. This means that the inventory management department can start with the material requirement planning immediately.
With the introduction of SAP S/4HANA, SAP took also the chance to introduce a new design to provide a completely new user experience. This new concept for the User Interface is called SAP Fiori and is compatible with all stationary and mobile devices. The SAP GUI is still supported for the on-premise edition of SAP S/4HANA and can be used alongside SAP Fiori apps. This makes it easier for existing SAP customers who are familiar with the classic interface to adapt to the new UI concept. In addition, there is a number of transactions that have not yet been converted to SAP Fiori Apps so that the SAP GUI is still required for some aspects.
Stay tuned for the next article where you get to know what is special in the in-memory platform of SAP (S/4) HANA.
by Gohar Zatrjan
Schulungsunterlagen SAP SE (in German)