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Greenfield vs Brownfield: Why Transformations Always Overlap

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  • Scoping Risk to Choose the Best S/4HANA Approach  

    With thousands of businesses making the move from ECC 6.0 to S/4HANA private cloud, many organizations are asking how they want to perform the migration. A Greenfield approach gives you a clean start, providing a catalyst for innovation. A Brownfield approach preserves much of your existing business processes and customizations.  

    With so much up in the air in terms of budget, timelines, and possibilities, these decisions are difficult. Unfortunately, answers aren’t always as straightforward as one or the other. A good upfront systems analysis can identify risks, possibilities, and opportunities – helping you build the transformation approach that works best for your organization.  

    Cognitus interviewed Stuart Bierig, Director of Pre-Sales at Panaya, our technology partner, for his insight.  

    “There’s a little green in every brown and a little brown in every green. It all comes down to knowing where value lies for your business”  

    Brownfield vs Greenfield Transformations

    If you choose Greenfield, you build from scratch, starting from a vanilla platform and adding your unique capabilities on top. But, that’s not why you make the decisions.  

    On the other hand, the decision to go Brownfield is normally made based on pragmatics. You want to leverage as much custom ECC code as possible in S/4HANA and transfer business processes over with as minimal impact as possible. Normally you can assume that a minimum of 80% of your custom ECC functionality can be moved into S/4HANA.  

    Greenfield is a different story. Often, it’s selected because you’re frustrated with existing business process inefficiencies. With Greenfield, you can take the time to rebuild functionality from scratch, leverage S/4HANA innovations, and consolidate disparate processes with best practices. That may take a lot more work but it’s a clean slate to essentially redesign the business.  

    At the same time, Greenfield typically increases project time, cost, resource needs, and uncertainty. 

    “That means taking the time to assess those risk factors. E.g., an analysis can point out when a critical ECC business process that’s assumed to work in S/4HANA won’t.  This proactive intelligence allows you to invest appropriate  resources to reengineer it. Panaya’s change intelligence, helps us make the best decisions, not just for your technical transformation, but also for the long-term operational efficiencies of the company.“  

    Greenfield/Brownfield are not the only options  

    Of course, there are other approaches as well. Some organizations take a Bluefield approach. The Bluefield methodology excels at landscape consolidations and guarantees data quality while offering a zero-downtime conversion. But Bluefield doesn’t dictate how you enable your S/4 sandbox – so ultimately, you must take a Brownfield or Greenfield approach to convert your technical components.  

    “We have a client spending four years on a Bluefield transformation, despite having a single SAP landscape (Bluefield normally consolidates data and landscapes). The data-quality and zero downtime make this approach worthwhile for them. They’re also taking the time to reengineer business processes. They’re making this large time and resource investment to strategically make the shift without putting data or operations at risk. “  

    Brownfield minimizes risks but doesn’t offer opportunities now  

    Choosing Brownfield can enable technology transformations that happen faster and at less cost, creating the buy-in to get the project underway. At Cognitus, we have clients who start transformations from a purely technical perspective, leaving the business as much out of it as possible, and only adopting new process innovations once S/4HANA is stable and running. This systematic approach takes more time but also enables an organization to stay compliant with regulatory requirements, to get buy-in from risk-adverse stakeholders, etc. 

    Brownfield initiatives also simplify budgets because, from an infrastructure perspective, you can scope and budget the cost of the transformation and stay relatively on track and on schedule. If you go Greenfield, you have to add in discussions with every department to determine what they need, what they want, and calculate how much building that will cost. So, Brownfield enables you to make the move to S/4HANA with a minimum of disruption – and business transformation – while leaving the opportunity to reengineer the business at a later date. 

    “If you need to have a project done with minimal risk and minimal resources, Brownfield is probably the best approach. And, a tool like Panaya will identify your risk. In fact, if you identify these risks upfront,  they will cost 10 times less to fix than if you discover them later on in the project, where they create UAT delays, extra development cycles, etc. “  

    But Brownfield conversions have their own unique risks. You can normally expect to go through 4+ sandbox iterations during your conversion journey. If something goes wrong, you may have to fix it in ECC, not in the sandbox, and then rerun the conversion process. Getting insights into those risk factors and mitigating them as much as possible can save considerable time and resources.  

    Analyzing the State of Your Environment, Relative to S4HANA   

    “With Gallop Discovery, Cognitus delivers an in-depth environment analysis to show what your current ERP environment looks like relative to S/4HANA. That will allow you to make a better strategic decision on which approach to take. 

    The inventory will tell you what’s deprecated, what isn’t supported, and what impacted, custom components are actually being used. We auto-generates correction tasks and unit tests, and we aggregate SAPs Simplification Item List, ABAP Test Cockpit, results, Code Inspector results, etc. We calculate the true likelihood of failure so low priority tasks, even those from SAP, can be safely downscoped.  

    With all risks mapped, prioritized, and downscoped, you have the insights to plan, accelerate, and de-risk your S/4HANA migration, leveraging the methodology that ensures the best-possible technical and business outcomes for your organization. 

    For more information visit www.cognitus.com or contact sales@cognitusconsulting.com

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