SAP Trends to Watch: SAP S/4HANA®, Automation, and Anticipating Risk

BrandPost By Tricentis
Dec 13, 2019
Enterprise Applications

Smart organizations will view the move to SAP S/4HANA as a way to improve testing and business processes.

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Credit: iStock

The ongoing SAP Trends To Watch series presents the latest findings from Tricentis research related to topical issues facing SAP customers.

Tricentis recently partnered with the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) on a study of SAP customers to determine the status of SAP S/4HANA migrations and identify related challenges.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about SAP S/4HANA

According to the study, SAP customers fear the impact of SAP S/4HANA changes on their customizations and business processes, are uncertain that their organizations fully understand all of the risks of migrating to SAP S/4HANA, and doubt that their current testing approaches are up to the task.

Key findings from this study:

  • 72% of SAP customers have not begun a migration to SAP S/4HANA. The status of SAP S/4HANA adoption is an ongoing topic of interest for many. These findings correspond to other studies showing a majority of organizations are deferring plans to convert their current SAP ECC systems, despite SAP’s announcement they will sunset support for ECC in 2025.
  • ECC customizations are the top SAP S/4HANA migration risk. 63% of respondents cited “too many customizations” as a risk associated with moving to SAP S/4HANA. Given that SAP has warned that the massive architecture, process, and data model changes in SAP S/4HANA will break most of the custom ABAP code currently deployed on SAP systems, this worry is well-warranted.
  • Integrations with 3rd-party applications are an overlooked migration risk. More than 60% of respondents plan on maintaining or increasing the number of non-SAP applications connected to their SAP systems as a result of moving to SAP S/4HANA. These integrations drive an organization’s end-to-end business transactions, but integrations that work fine in SAP ECC systems may break in SAP S/HANA due to the same architectural and data model changes that threaten ECC custom code.
  • SAP customers realize they need automated testing. A full 41% of survey respondents noted that their organization’s lack of automated testing was a concern. Although most SAP customers currently rely on manual testing when they update their SAP systems, the increasing pace and breadth of SAP updates—coupled with the adoption of Agile/DevOps methodologies— have forced organizations to recognize that manual testing is just too slow, costly, and inefficient to support the demands of modern SAP projects.

The Custom Code Challenge

Another pressing challenge for SAP customers: determining which ECC customizations they can safely bring into their new SAP S/4HANA systems and which they are better of dropping.

Given the number of ECC customizations that are now available in standard implementations of SAP S/4HANA, as well as the breadth of code-breaking data model changes, it is somewhat surprising to see that most organizations still plan to bring the majority of their custom code with them. In fact, 65% of customers plan to migrate a quarter or more of their custom code to SAP S/4HANA. This number jumps above 90% when you include organizations that are planning to migrate any amount of their custom code.

Customers Expecting to Migrate Custom Code to SAP S/4HANA

customer expecting to migrate graph 1200 Tricentis and ASUG Survey

These customers would be well off using tools from SAP and other vendors to help them identify and mitigate issues in their custom code as part of their migration planning.

Integration Proliferation

As companies connect more and more 3rd-party applications to their SAP software, it can be difficult to keep track of them all, let alone test them. Many respondents (62%) plan to maintain or increase the number of non-SAP applications connected to their SAP S/4HANA systems.

Predicted Use of 3rd-Party Applications Integrated with SAP S/4HANA

predicted use of 3rd party 1200 Tricentis and ASUG Survey

As with custom code, the impact of SAP S/4HANA changes on integrations with external applications must be thoroughly assessed during the migration process, or critical end-to-end business processes may break unexpectedly in production.

Don’t Hesitate To Automate

SAP has announced it will release updates for SAP S/4HANA more frequently than it did for previous versions of its software. Relying solely on manual testing can delay an organization’s adoption of these upgrades, increase the risks to business processes, and stifle innovation. While organizations can and should use manual testing for some functions, automated testing must be a critical part of their SAP upgrade strategy.

How SAP Updates Are Currently Tested 

how sap updates are currently tested 1200 Tricentis and ASUG Survey

If organizations view the move to SAP S/4HANA as an opportunity to improve their testing processes along with their business processes, their migrations can be much smoother and the risks to their business processes greatly reduced. If they start transforming their testing processes now, they can take advantage of all the speed and risk coverage benefits of continuous test automation while still on SAP ECC.

You can find additional results and analysis in the complete ASUG + Tricentis Survey report.

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