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SAP’s S/4HANA is the foundation for the vision of an intelligent enterprise. In this role it is one of the most well-rounded solutions a company can invest in since it offers a lot in terms of long-term flexibility and adaptability – two things that backend solutions have historically lacked. SAP S/4HANA might seem like a huge investment for retailers and fashion companies, but the business transformation benefits it offers to a company are priceless. In my role as Chief Solution Owner for Fashion I am happy to share some thoughts.

Many customers are currently in the process of architecting their way to a new, more flexible but at the same time solid IT foundation. Surely, not every customer will start with a greenfield approach and consequently, the topic of migration is worth a closer look.

There are multiple blogs and articles around moving to S/4HANA. frank.densborn explains the general approach on how to migrate to SAP S/4HANA. He mentions three scenarios – new implementation, system conversion, and landscape transformation.

paulrussell describes the smooth process of migrating to S/4HANA. jamestapearce elaborates on how to run SAP S/4HANA Migration with SAP Solution Manager. And there are many more blogs about the topic.

But why now another essay about the topic and why is it different for Apparel and Footwear companies?

Historically, SAP fashion customers have different system landscapes. The formerly known brick and mortar retailers run SAP Retail (industry specific standard SAP ERP) whereas the so-called brand manufacturers run SAP AFS (highly modified SAP ERP).

In September 2017, SAP launched SAP S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business that enables fashion companies to transfer business models, reengineer business processes and reimagine their work, so that they can intelligently match their demand and supply, act as an integrated unit and unlock business innovation.

With S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business, SAP delivered THE real-time fashion platform to

  • Create a smarter, faster fashion on a common data and forecast foundation.

  • Empower employees and redefine customer engagement and commerce

  • Contextual and personal experience throughout the customer journey

  • Create efficiencies, insights and new revenue models via business network and IoT

  • Reinvent commerce with connected business partners, connected consumers, and connected devices

  • Build leading fashion functionality

  • Transform business processes with complete and real-time understanding of customers, inventory, and sales

  • Simplify IT landscape and business processes to unlock business innovation

The specific group of 300+ AFS customers run a system with a highly modified data model. Similar to all SAP Business Suite customers, maintenance is secure until the end of 2025. However, business models have rapidly changed and being close to the end consumer is of utmost importance for fashion brands. Vertical integration of the value chain has become a challenge for these customers and they seek for one integrated platform for retail, wholesale, and manufacturing. With the release of S/4HANA 1709 FPS2, SAP offers all these capabilities in this platform.

But one question remains: how to get there?

A solution to support customers on their journey is needed which is embedded in SAP S/4HANA Migration Cockpit. This tool facilitates the migration of master data and open transaction data from SAP AFS system to SAP S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business thus ensuring the business continuity.

The SAP S/4HANA Migration Cockpit is part of SAP S/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA Cloud (included in these licenses), supports customers with the new implementation scenario, and is the tool of choice for migration to SAP S/4HANA.

This article covers the new implementation of SAP S/4HANA (greenfield): customers who are migrating from a non-SAP legacy system or - as the AFS customers - from an SAP ERP system and implementing a fresh system that requires an initial data load. In this scenario, the SAP S/4HANA system is implemented, and master and transactional data are migrated from the legacy system, thus standard data migration tools and content has to be used.

Furthermore, there are specific migration requirements for AFS customers:

  • Necessity to adopt SAP S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business and leverage the product capabilities to reengineer business processes

  • Adopt the article master concept in SAP S/4HANA to utilize the stock segmentation capability and streamline the internal processes.

  • Necessity to migrate open transaction items to SAP S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business to ensure the business continuity for e.g. purchase orders, inbound delivery etc.

Business data package for data migration from AFS to SAP S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business

In order to support an important customer base of SAP to move to S/4HANA, SAP is planning to release a business data package for the migration of data from AFS to SAP S/4HANA for fashion and vertical business. This business data package facilitates data migration from an existing AFS system to SAP S/4HANA.

The data migration process is divided into five different steps:

1. Analysis (future scope – not part of the current release)

  • Analyze and identify redundant master grids in the source system

  • Capability to identify grid values that have not been used after a key date provided by the user

2. Data selection

  • The relevant data will be selected based on a selection criterion, which is company code in the current scope

3. Transformation

  • Converts source data model to S/4HANA data model

  • Structure mapping process, such as mapping between source and target fields

4. Migration

  • Migrate master data and open transactions

5. Validation (future scope – not part of the current release)

  • Checks completeness and consistency of data migrated, based on predefined validation checks. For example, check for the GL account balances to tally.

For the upcoming release, SAP plans to provide business data migration from SAP AFS to SAP S/4HANA as a restricted shipment for the key AFS wholesale components, master data objects, open transaction data objects and a guided procedure for safe migration. The capability to rename or renumber the values such as article numbers, company code, plants etc. as well as the capability to validate data by simulating the data to be transferred with target setting is planned.

For 2019, it is planned to deliver business data migration from SAP AFS to SAP S/4HANA for key AFS wholesale and manufacturing components in the area of master data and open transaction data. Furthermore, the continuous extension of inherent validation of the migration result and a facilitated execution of the migration by increasing automation and guidance provided for the user is planned.

Please continue the journey in part II, where I will share the scope, how to conceptually approach the data migration, which prerequisites are necessary, as well as best practices.
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