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Are you debating Greenfield vs. Brownfield implementation for your SAP S/4HANA journey? Don’t!

Published on 16 September 2021
Implementation for S\4HANA
Norb Brumbergs
Norb Brumbergs
Sr. Vice President SAP Delivery

Norb is an innovative and effective Senior Information Technology and Program Management Executive.  A driven and passionate leader focused on speed and quality that has delivered large transformational programs  enabling growth and business value.  Experience includes establishing digital foundations through developing and integrating complex solutions in a variety of industries as both a client and consultant. 

There is so much content out there today to help companies decide whether to go greenfield or brownfield when they migrate their current SAP platform to S/4 HANA.  A quick search on SAP greenfield vs brownfield will give you dozens of results with blogs, articles, videos and even people who have coined the term “bluefield”.  At Applexus, we believe this is an oversimplification of how you need to think through your SAP S/4HANA digital transformation journey.  Every client is different, with landscapes that evolved over time with a mish mash of SAP ECC and various other “best of breed” platforms and solutions.  There is a better way to look at how to get to a digital platform that provides improved processes, the ability to innovate and enables the use of analytics and intelligent technologies. The Applexus RunWay model replaces the greenfield vs brownfield debate with a tailored approach to a consumable roadmap resulting in a progressive transformation suited to your unique situation.

We start with five core principles that are important to most companies considering this transformation.

  1. Speed to Value

    The days of 36-month ERP implementations before you see any real value are gone.  No one has that type of patience or the willingness to tie up capital that long before getting any return.  Our approach is focused on improving ROI through continuous delivery of value.

  2. Agile

    It is a big buzzword in IT with scrums and its own manifesto.  But it should mean much more.  We believe things change as you go.   Even in December of 2019, who would have predicted what 2020 would do to business?  A strong Agile approach still requires a roadmap to be established but it also needs to be flexible and allow you to change your mind as business conditions change without putting a huge investment on the shelf for months or years at a time.

  3. User Experience First

    When people think about the user experience, they tend to equate that with the user interface – what the user sees on the screen.  We view the user experience more holistically to include not only the screen design, but the business process flows behind the screens and how well those flows meet the needs of the user.  Addressing the UI without seeing it in the context of the overall user experience often yields a less-than-optimal result.  Also, people often equate fit-to-standard with a standard user experience.   While most people understand the value of staying 100% standard, the reality is that people and companies are not the same.  Strategic differentiation by sub industry, brand and evolved processes that provide a competitive advantage exist.  Lean organizations often cannot absorb the full amount of change that accompanies a digital transformation.   An early focus on the full user experience can help accommodate key differentiators while keeping the SAP core clean and retaining most of the benefits associated with fit-to-standard.

  4. Smart Processes

    The approach to transformation needs to focus on improving your processes by leveraging technologies such as BPI, RPA and AI.  Identifying and automating lower value-add tasks improves the quality of life of your associates while creating new opportunities to reduce lead times and optimize processes previously hobbled by human intervention wait times.

  5. Insights to Impact

    Embedding analytics into your processes enables better and faster decisions.  The embedded analytics enabled by S/4 allow the huge amounts of data that need to be consumed for a decision to be turned into insights that simplify the decision and quickly lead to action.

Applexus looks at your digital transformation agenda in terms of our RunWay model which includes four building blocks with three general options to build a customized roadmap for your journey.  The blocks may be iterative and can be customized based on factors including the complexity of your current landscape, the amount of current customization to your legacy SAP solution, your risk tolerance and your company’s ability to absorb change.

I will pause there and encourage you to reach out to us at to learn more about how we can help build your digital transformation roadmap leveraging SAP S/4HANA and our RunWay model.  My next blog will dig a bit deeper into our building blocks and the options that throw the notion of greenfield vs. brownfield into the category of “old thinking” and how to focus on your unique current state to determine the best roadmap for your journey to a platform that enables innovation for competitive advantage.

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