Author: Paul Gendreau

3 Paths to S/4HANA, not 2!

You’ll hear “greenfield” and “brownfield” used in common conversation about transitioning from ECC 6.0 ERP to S/4HANA. These two words — and too few words — cause more confusion than clarity.

To be clear, there are three scenarios for moving to SAP S/4HANA:

  • New Implementation
  • System Conversion
  • Selective Data Transition

The first two receive wide attention, but the last is thought provoking.

SAP Retail for SAP (non-Retail) Experts

SAP (non-Retail) experts often encounter skepticism when joining an SAP Retail project.

If that’s you, then you’re likely thinking:  Hey, I’m an expert in FI, IM, MM, SD, or whatever. How much different could “Retail” be?

You got this, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not.

This quick read is first aid for mitigating healthy skepticism.

And it applies for both SAP S/4HANA Retail for Merchandise Management and SAP S/4HANA for Fashion and Vertical Business. I use SAP Retail as shorthand to mean both applications. Activating either Business Function brings foundational master data differences into play, and that’s where the skepticism begins.

The Secret of SAP Retail Master Data

The Essence of SAP Retail Master Data — my recent blog post — was all about massively creating product data, location data, and product data that’s location specific. This video goes to the next level.

After you’ve brilliantly orchestrated master data to create master data — perhaps billion of rows — how do you maintain this over time … with least effort?

For that, you need to understand a concept called Reference Handling.

Sharing is Caring

Red Green, Man of Wisdom

One of my seven granddaughters — Charlotte, the three-year-old — cheerfully reminded me of this truth. As they say, out of the mouths of babes!

Through example and repetition, her mother — my daughter — is teaching her daughter a foundational lesson. One that most humans learn to their unending profit. But, oddly, without an explanation rooted in self-interest (We never explained it quite that way to our children).

Merchandise Category Hierarchy: WHY (Business View)

Merchandise Categories classify Products, but in SAP Retail that’s a small part of the story.

Merchandise Category Hierarchy is relevant both for SAP S/4HANA Retail for Merchandise Management and SAP S/4HANA for Fashion and Vertical Business. SAP Retail is used in this document as a shortcut to mean both applications.

As context, let’s first differentiate between the two main product hierarchies that you’ll find in SAP Retail:

Merchandise Category Hierarchy vs Article Hierarchy.

The Essence of SAP Retail Master Data

The essence of SAP Retail Master Data is manifested at the intersection of Products and Locations. We also call them Articles and Sites, or Materials and Plants. Take your pick; the SAP lexicon is forever morphing for your enjoyment 🙂

Whatever you call them, the number of Products times the number of Locations is a big number in SAP Retail. It quantifies the Retail Master Data challenge, and billions is the typical unit of measure.

You’ve got to massively create and maintain product data, location data, and product data that’s location specific. Yes, please, and with least effort.

A central concept permeates SAP Retail Master Data to enable master data creation: using master data to create master data. If you get your head around this idea — even at a high level — then you’ll begin to grasp the elegance and uniqueness of SAP Retail Master Data.

Master Data for creating Master Data

This subject is like jumping out of an airplane. If you’re not afraid then maybe you haven’t sufficiently considered the scope, risk, and potential consequences.

The question: If master data is important then how much business importance should you assign to the master data used to create master data?

“Foundation” is an unsatisfying metaphor. Master data used to create master data — I’ll call this Reference Master Data — is more like a super-structure upon which master data is created.

Simple eCATT Data Migration Example

My first experience with Extended Computer Aided Test Tool (eCATT) wasn’t much fun. In fact, I still cringe when I hear or say “eCATT.”

You don’t have to be a techno-wizard to take advantage of eCATT basics.

It would be fair to say that I still dislike eCATT. But the best SAP Functional folks are the best, in part, because they’re aware of every tool in their kit. And sometimes eCATT is the right tool for the job. In rare cases, it’s the only tool for the job.

You should know a bit about eCATT, even if you plan to avoid it, as I do.

Peeking Behind the Curtain of S/4HANA Business Partner

Of all that you’ve likely read on the topic of S/4HANA Business Partner, it’s typically not clear – or simply said – that Customer and Vendor Masters fully exist in S/4HANA, exactly as they did in ECC 6.0. They’re just hidden behind Business Partner.

What’s more, and to the point, SAP S/4HANA Sales and Distribution (SD) and Materials Management (MM) modules — and many others — remain blissfully unaware of Business Partner. They continue to use only plain old Customer and Vendor Masters.

Full stop! What does that mean for your Business Partner master data design in SAP S/4HANA ERP? It means that you’re more responsible than ever for the maintenance and outcome of Customer and Vendor.

Years after introduction, plain statements such as these about the S/4HANA implementation of Business Partner – practical implementation advice for SAP Architects and SAP Master Data practitioners – remain in short supply. Written hot on the heels of surviving the crucible of multiple implementations of S/4HANA ERP in 1709 and 1809, this document aims to mitigate that deficiency.

Let’s take a good, long peek behind the curtain, shall we?