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Empty shell migration S4HANA

S/4HANA migration via Empty Shell: the best of both worlds?

People planning to switch to SAP S/4HANA often have the classic migration scenario in mind Greenfield versus Conversion? Greenfield restart vs. the migration of data without major process-related, functional and organisational changes? Actually, this isn’t an area where everything can only be black or white; a middle way is possible too.

This middle way between the two scenarios is commonly referred to as the Empty Shell Approach or Shell Conversion. But what exactly is behind it?

What is behind the Empty Shell approach to the S/4HANA migration?

In the Empty Shell approach, the first step is creating a copy of the existing SAP ECC system, which does not contain any master and transaction data. We, therefore, have an empty system, hence the name “Empty Shell”.

The first actions can now be initialised on this system, detached from the current operations.

  • In-house developments that are no longer required can be erased. However, developments you would like to continue using can be made S/4HANA-capable.
  • Customising (such as inactive company codes and the settings dependent on them) which is obsolete can be erased.
  • Previously identified potentials for optimisation can be reset before the migration to S/4HANA.

Once the preliminary work is complete, the ECC system is upgraded to the S/4HANA system. The classic project phases in an S/4 implementation now follow. The system is configured, tested and trained. The master and transaction data are also migrated. According to the complexity of the organisational structure, the go-live can take place as a big bang or with a gradual roll-out of SAP S/4HANA in different companies.

Comparison between the Empty Shell approach and Conversion

If we compare the Empty Shell approach with a conversion (Brownfield approach) or a Greenfield approach, there are various advantages to starting with an empty system:

  • Data (customising, developments) can be cleaned up to get rid of old burdens from the past and work with a leaner and more up-to-date system.
  • Optimisation potentials (e.g. introduction of a new general ledger, controlling area merger, chart of accounts harmonisation, etc.) can be realised in advance on the old, empty system and carried over into the new system.
  • The first steps towards S/4HANA can be taken independently, and initial experience can be gained without changing or jeopardising the current processes, functionalities or organisational structures.
  • Selective data migration is possible. That means outdated organisational structures and completed transaction data (customer orders, production orders, purchase orders, etc.) can be excluded from the migration.

Is Empty Shell the right approach for you? The migration approach which is right for you depends on certain criteria. Before deciding on a migration scenario, you should ask yourself the following reflection questions:

  • Are you considering a redesign of your financial processes? Would you, for example, like to standardise the charts of accounts in various companies? Or to optimise your organisational structures by merging controlling areas, for example?
  • Would you like to get rid of obsolete settings (customising, inactive company codes, data, etc.) to have an up-to-date and future-proof system?
  • Would you like to carry out a selective data migration to keep the migration as simple as possible?
  • Would you like to harmonise and standardise your processes?
  • Would you like to modernise your IT landscape and switch from several SAP systems to a single SAP system?
  • Would you like to start the S/4HANA project soon, without changing the current customising and processes?

It is now well known that the S/4HANA transformation means a major investment in terms of time, money and resources. It is, therefore, all the more important to weigh up the framework conditions (strategic, tactical and operational) carefully beforehand, to make a good decision regarding the appropriate scenario.

Whether you need a Greenfield, Brownfield (S/4HANA conversion) or a hybrid approach such as the Empty Shell approach presented here, we will be pleased to support you in choosing the migration scenario that is right for you, in the form of our Strategy Workshop, for instance. Request your workshop today and secure a 50% discount! The offer is limited and only valid until 31.12.2021.

Workshop SAP S/4HANA Strategie

Workshop SAP S/4HANA Strategie

Are you responsible for developing the S4HANA strategy in your company? We will teach you the cornerstones of the s/4HANA implementation. The impact on business processes, organisations, master data and employees are covered at the workshop, as well as migration scenarios and target architectures.

To Workshop Offers

S/4HANA workshop offers

Are you just starting out with S/4HANA? We will give you an initial overview.
You will learn about the innovations in S/4HANA in logistics, accounting and the user interface. In addition, migration scenarios and appropriate project approaches.

Time required: 0,5 days

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You have the task to develop the S/4HANA strategy in your company? We teach you the cornerstones of the S/4HANA implementation.
Effects on business processes, organizations, master data and employees are topics of the workshop as well as migration scenarios and target architectures.

Time required: 1 day

Read more

You have already gained an initial overview, but have further questions on various points? You can put together your own workshop from a modular system of possible in-depth topics. As the workshop is put together individually for you, the required time is not fixed.

Time required: 0,5 – 2 days depending on individual arrangement.

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The S/4HANA implementation “on the greenfield” is already set for your company?
In the workshop, we develop together with you the appropriate roadmap with time and budget planning and address topics such as data transfer, preliminary work, etc.

Time required: 1 – 2 days, depending on individual arrangement.

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You have decided on Conversion as the scenario for your migration? Learn in the workshop how to best approach your SAP S/4HANA conversion project and develop your digital roadmap.

Time required: 0,5 – 2 days depending on individual arrangement.

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About the author
Martina Ksinsik
Martina Ksinsik
I am Customer Success Manager at PIKON Deutschland AG and Account Manager at many of our key accounts. I have supported many of our customers from the beginning and develop solutions for their individual challenges together with them.

1 thought on “S/4HANA migration via Empty Shell: the best of both worlds?”

  1. Actually I read it yesterday but I had some thoughts about it and today I wanted to read it again because it is very well written


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