S/4HANA migration crowd wisdom

Greenfield vs Brownfield Approach on Your Move to SAP S/4HANA

A recent Panaya crowd wisdom survey revealed that while SAP recommends re-implementation (Greenfield approach) of SAP S/4HANA, the majority of organizations surveyed is reluctant to attempt this approach and prefers a gradual implementation methodology, that helps securing existing investments (Brownfield approach). 14% Greenfield vs. 31% Brownfield (35% undecided yet).

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An additional survey conducted during DSAG Technology Days in February confirmed this trend for the DACH region. Indeed, only 25.7% of implementations were completely new (Greenfield) vs. 55.7% conversions or transformations (Brownfield). 18.6% of organizations surveyed were undecided.

Brownfield vs Greenfield guide



A new implementation of SAP S/4HANA, also known as a ‘Greenfield’ migration, enables complete re-engineering and process simplification.

The Greenfield approach lets organizations predefine migration objects and best practices. It lowers Time-to-Value and TCO and facilitates faster adoption of innovation.



System conversion, also known as the ‘Brownfield’ approach, enables migration to SAP S/4HANA without re-implementation and without disruption to existing business processes.

At the same time, it enables reevaluation of customization and existing process flows.

The Brownfield preference trend also makes sense considering the implications of a Greenfield migration on testing

SAP S/4HANA Move: The Change Management Perspective

A SAP S/4HANA migration is not only a technical challenge. It also touches and affects nearly every business unit. From a change management perspective, a Greenfield implementation project is a major undertaking.

Organizations are daunted by the difficulty in identifying the dimensions of potential change caused by a radical reconstruction of the entire SAP environment.

As opposed to a full migration, with system conversion, IT professionals and users can build on existing elements of the SAP environment, as well as on systems interfacing with supplier and partners’ systems. The gradual approach minimizes delays and disruption caused by testing to mission-critical applications.

Change managers can take time and adjust the migration-pace based on available budget and market conditions (e.g., development freeze during busy season). Additionally, a step-by-step migration allows for more leverage of business users experience.

Taking the Brownfield Approach? Here’s How

A Brownfield conversion presents a risk-free opportunity to cost-effectively combine the SAP landscape rebuild with an overall consolidation and harmonization of all SAP-related business processes.

A system conversion is preferable to new implementation as it can be broken into several distinct phases – enabling companies to keep a clear view on the project scope and to continuously optimize their project management. For example, consider the 4 steps below:

  1. Optimize Your Custom Code
  2. Upgrade to EHP
  3. Implement SAP Business Suite on HANA
  4. Prepare your Move to SAP S/4HANA

Greendfield vs Brownfield Approach

The migration phases towards SAP S/4HANA

 Brownfield Greenfield guide

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