Brownfield: keep the same structure, improve performance
In contrast, a brownfield implementation of SAP S/4HANA always begins with the existing system – it’s just that some important elements are changed.
“Think of a car,” says Folker. “It’s a little far-fetched, but imagine needing a full engine replacement. You still have the same car with the same history and the same mileage, the same look and feel, etc. Nothing changes for the driver other than performance improvements. Of course, you can take it a step further and add a completely new dash that displays more information in a better, more intuitive way.”
This analogy corresponds to a brownfield migration of SAP S/4HANA that includes SAP’s innovative new interface, SAP Fiori. “Users can use the same GUI interfaces they’ve relied on for years or choose to embrace Fiori, which introduces a lot of benefits and added value,” he elaborates.
A brownfield migration is less costly, since the things that work well for your company don’t have to be rebuilt from scratch. Folker: “Some customers choose small technical refinements of existing functionality and apps, but the migration is a lot lighter. You also get to take your master data with you without having to extract and load it into an entirely new system – it all happens automatically during the migration.”
The main issue with a brownfield migration is that it has to be done all at once, known colloquially as a “big bang”. “If your company has a limited tolerance for downtime, a brownfield can be difficult. And while the migrated system includes the full scope of SAP S/4HANA advantages, you can’t drastically overhaul the way you have set up your system. The modern way of implementing keeps the core ‘clean’ – developments are executed on a specific platform and not in the core. It’s important to note that applying this approach to a migration requires quite a bit of rework, but it could be done in a second phase.”