Handling historical data during SAP transformation – you don’t have to choose between everything and nothing

Implementing Business Transformations such as M&A, divestitures, or technology “rejuvenation” such as S/4HANA migrations in SAP landscapes usually puts an interesting question in front of SAP architects and decision makers: how much history do we need? How much history do we want?

When using the SAP standard applications, you will find the choice between everything or nothing. Special tools, such as the Datavard Transformation Suite (DTS), help SAP customers overcome this limitation. In this blog post, I want to explain just how the DTS accomplishes this.

SAP standard comes with serious limitations

Here are two examples which illustrate the impact of this limitation in the SAP standard:

  • Either you migrate or include all historical data, or none of it. For example, when migrating to SAP S/4HANA you have the choice between the system conversion, or a greenfield approach. The SAP conversion implements a brownfield migration which includes all historical data, while obviously in a green field implementation you need to start from scratch. Then, questions as to legacy SAP system decommissioning and handling of legacy data will logically follow.
  • Similarly, when implementing an M&A scenario, or a divestiture where a part of a company needs to be carved out, you can either hand over a complete system copy to the buying party (fully aware that maybe part of your data would end in the hands of a competitor), or have the carved out company start with a greenfield and no data. Then, however, you will need to find a way to hand over at least some legacy data to the buying party to allow them to keep the business running.

Of course, the SAP standard applications have been built with another goal than transformations in mind. Robustness, following accounting standards, and the ability to handle thousands of concurrent users were the primary goals when SAP set out to design its ERP solutions, up to and including S/4HANA.

Each SAP transformation project is different and requires a flexible approach

Some transformations today are preparational activities for S/4HANA migrations. Others are standalone projects, aimed at reflecting changes in today’s business reality in their ERP landscapes, data and processes. Business transformations require different technology. Examples for such transformations are:

  • Mergers & Acquisitions, and divestitures where a part of an existing SAP system needs to be carved out and, possibly, subsequently integrated into another SAP system landscape
  • Harmonization of SAP data, e.g. changes of the Chart of Accounts, master data harmonization, etc.
  • Changes of the SAP organization structure such as mergers of company codes, re-structuring of profit centers or cost centers, or relocating plants from one company code to another
  • TCO reduction through merging SAP clients and / or systems
  • Migrations to SAP S/4HANA or BW/4HANA.

Using dedicated tools such as the Datavard Transformation Suite has some major advantages. The DTS was designed from the ground-up to handle all data in SAP systems and environments, data including customizing, master data, transactional data, open items and historical data. Some scenarios and modules in the DTS have been tested and matured in countless Datavard projects over the last 20+ years while others, such as the selective S/4HANA transition are newer. In fact, the DTS selective data transition scenario from legacy SAP systems to SAP’s S/4HANA is currently turning into Datavard’s flagship transformation scenario with many customers migrating to the latest SAP ERP solution. Datavard is a member of the SAP S/4HANA Selective Data Transition Engagement group which is headed by SAP itself and staffed by four exclusive, hand-picked suppliers.

Benefits of the transformation approach

Using the transformation approach comes with many benefits:

  1. Inclusive. All data can be included, even open processes or closed fiscal years.
  2. Flexible. Data can be selected, either based on time slices (e.g. fiscal years), or organizational units (e.g. company codes or plants), or combinations of time slices and organizational units
  3. Independent. This makes the transformation independent of any key-date: it is not necessary to pick the first day of a fiscal year or period as cutover date which makes project planning much easier.
  4. Minimal impact. The impact on ongoing business processes is minimized, because (for example) partially open orders are available before and after the transformation, and business processes can seamlessly continue in the transformed environment
  5. Near-zero-downtime. Required downtime can be severely shortened, for many scenarios even to near-zero with the DTS.NZDT near-zero downtime component.
  6. Secure. A standardized, tool-based approach brings safety and security. The DTS implements an end-to-end transformation approach, starting with analysis and project simulation, leading into transformation tests with automated data validation and auditing support.
  7. Fast. Even though seemingly more data is included in transformations than in a classical green field approach, transformation projects are realized much faster thanks to the efficiency and automation of various tasks
  8. Supports multiple systems. Finally, the Datavard Transformation Suite comes with unique transformation engines and content, not only for SAP ERP, but also for other solutions such as SAP BW, SAP B/4HANA, CRM, GTS, and SCM.

DTS analysis and simulation help to choose the best approach to any transformation

One of the great things when using the DTS is the accelerated project execution from analysis to production cutover. The DTS analysis and simulation components help to rapidly define the scope and pick the ideal approach to any transformation. This screenshot gives a real-life example and insight into the level of information which can readily be plugged out of this fully automated system analysis:


SAP transformation simulation with DTS

The outcome of a project simulation is a recommendation on the approach, data scope, timeline and schedule, a RACI grid, and even an effort estimate and a project visualization.

A classical Gantt-chart is part of the project simulation, however the DTS.Simulate module provides different visualizations for SAP architects which help set up and staff the project appropriately.


SAP transformation project roadmap

The DTS project visualization helps to jump start projects by setting up “swim-lanes” with milestones, following a comparison of a journey on a train map. Each milestone is reflected as a train station, and when implementing parallel project streams, they are visually linked between different project streams.

Summary and take-aways on the Datavard Transformation Suite

  • DTS provides automated, tool-based way to implement any kind of Business Transformation which comes with a wide range of benefits for SAP customers
  • End-to-end project implementation, starting with a fully automated assessment of the as-is situation, followed by a project simulation and standardized, safe project execution
  • The DTS includes automated testing / data validation and auditing support
  • DTS transformations works for SAP’s ERP, but also for BW, CRM, SCM, and GTS solutions.
  • The DTS combines various transformation and analysis engines in one suite to deliver and orchestrates transformations
  • DTS has been used in conjunction with partners and SAP applications such as SAP LT for 20+ years in countless transformation projects in all industries and regions by both Datavard and our implementation partners