Testing - The Devil in disguise for S/4HANA projects

S/4HANA Testing Jan 18, 2023

Table of contents


SAP S/4HANA is the next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution from SAP that offers a simplified data model and modern user experience. It is designed to provide real-time data processing and analytics, enabling businesses to make faster and better-informed decisions. With the end of SAP support for its previous ERP solutions in 2027, more and more businesses are considering migration to S/4HANA to keep up with the rapidly changing business environment. However, migration to S/4HANA is not a simple upgrade and requires careful planning and execution. In this article, we will discuss the key aspects of S/4HANA migration and the challenges that organizations may face during the process.

Overview of SAP S/4HANA

SAP S/4HANA is a real-time, in-memory, columnar database platform that is designed to run on-premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid deployment. It offers a simplified data model that eliminates redundant data storage and reduces the complexity of the system. This results in faster data processing and more efficient use of hardware resources.

SAP S/4HANA offers a range of capabilities that support various business processes such as finance, sales, procurement, production, and supply chain management. It also includes advanced analytics and reporting tools that enable users to gain insights into their business operations in real-time.

SAP S/4HANA has a user-friendly interface that enables users to access the system from anywhere, on any device, and at any time. It also offers integration with other SAP products, such as SAP Ariba, SAP SuccessFactors, and SAP Concur, to provide a seamless end-to-end experience.

What is Migration of SAP S/4HANA

Migration to SAP S/4HANA is the process of upgrading from an earlier version of SAP ERP (such as SAP ECC 6.0) to the latest version of SAP's flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. It involves transferring data, customizations, and processes to the new system, as well as implementing new functionality and taking advantage of the latest technologies available with SAP S/4HANA.

The migration process typically involves several steps, including system preparation, data migration, functional configuration, testing, and go-live. The specific steps involved will depend on the individual organization's needs and the scope of the project. Some organizations may choose to start with a greenfield implementation, while others may choose to migrate their existing data and processes.

One of the key benefits of migrating to SAP S/4HANA is that it provides a simplified data model that reduces complexity and increases agility. The new system is built on SAP's in-memory database, which allows for faster data processing and analysis. It also includes new features such as predictive analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, which can provide significant business value.

However, migrating to SAP S/4HANA can be a complex and challenging process, requiring careful planning, expertise, and resources. It is important to work with a trusted partner who has experience with SAP S/4HANA migrations to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

Deadline for migration to S/4HANA

The move to SAP S/4HANA, the latest flagship business suite from SAP, is inevitable as the deadline of 2035 is fast approaching. These months will pass in the blink of an eye. The onlookers are slowly beginning to realize the gravity of the situation as the tsunamic wave of migrations from ECC to S/4HANA is getting to its epicentre.

But what has that to do with SAP S/4HANA migration projects and the enterprises looking to adopt S/4HANA?

Well, the more number of conversion projects, the more is the demand for workforce, which means more cost and less quality. Quality takes a toll during the testing phase which I, thus far, believe is the phase that decides the success or the failure of a S/4HANA conversion project. Things might seem fine during the conversion or re-implementation, but it will lead up to multiple production issues after Go-Live.

The move to S/4HANA could be through:

  1. System Conversion
  2. Greenfield Re-implementation
  3. Landscape Transformation

Testing in SAP S/4HANA Transformation Projects

But in all the above methods, the one common yet significant activity is Testing. SAP recommends Activate methodology for S/4HANA Projects.

Each phase of Activate has its own set of buzz words associated with it. For Discover, it is Value Scoping and Impact Study. Similarly, for Prepare it is Project Team Preparation and for Explore the words associated are Cutover Preparation and Design of the system. Coming to the Realize phase, the keyword associated is Testing, Testing, and only Testing.

SAP Landscapes, as we all know, are complex and the business processes are coupled in, out, around and beyond the standard functionalities. In such cases, we are talking about an enterprise which is in the beginning of its Digital Transformation journey. And, the disruption that S/4HANA brings to these landscapes is huge: technically, functionally, business process wise and also technologically.

So, this disruption requires careful compensation in the form of testing. A sustainable way to approach this would be through careful planning, strategizing and highly controlled execution and monitoring. Before we go into the ‘How’ part of testing, let's talk about the ‘What’ part.

What are the reasons for testing failures in an S/4HANA Project?

  1. Lack of Landscape Architecture Understanding (AS-IS to TO-BE)
  2. Lack of Knowledge about the processes or the process owners itself
  3. Improper Scope Definition between the testing and defect management Teams
  4. Piled up Conversations and Collaboration messages
  5. Improper identification of stakeholders and criticality of businesses
  6. Improper execution of plans and phase sign-offs
  7. Improper Monitoring and Reporting Methods

Phew, now let's try and understand what each of these means and how they can evolve themselves into Show Stoppers, Potholes, etc.

Lack of Business Architecture Understanding (AS-IS to TO-BE)

Why should someone even think about landscape architectures while considering the move to S/4HANA? It is important to understand the current to-be process. Basically, S/4HANA Conversion is process and data driven and not just a technical upgrade. For we know, the simplifications from S/4HANA cut across everything, right from field changes to process simplifications. So, a vision of the architecture design becomes inevitable during the test requirement phase or even during the assessment project you undertake before your move to S/4HANA.

Lack of Knowledge about the process or the process owners

There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a transformation project. An organization requires a clearly defined Business Process Documentation to start the transformation project. But, most of the times, organizations miss out on this critical factor. They do not undertake this study before starting the project. This could pose a serious threat to the transformation project.

Without the business process understanding, it would be nearly impossible to move into S/4HANA with so many simplifications.

Improper Scope Definition between the testing and defect management Teams

A proper end-to-end testing means we are talking about a BPML that has been running businesses for many years. An average sized enterprise may have around 1000+ processes, each having multiple test cases based on their data. When a RACI Matrix is drawn on the test management, it would make the system integrator accountable. The Project Health deteriorates severely only during the testing because of the involvement of the test engineering teams as well as business end users. So, a clear scope definition on the test items as well as the KPI Metrics is required. If not a plan, then at least a testing strategy is needed.

Piled up Conversations and Collaboration messages

The introduction of external business and testing teams brings along hundreds of email communications and issue logs every single day. So, a pile-up of communication data means improper test and defect management, which would eventually reduce the project health as well as the productivity of the consultants.

A conversation pertaining to a test case log or an issue log could give so much information about the entire project itself, like the criticality of the business process to be tested, type of defect, if the issue has been raised to SAP or not, aging of the Issue etc

Improper identification of Stakeholders and criticality of businesses

A transformation project testing does not mean a 100% coverage of the BPML items. It could also mean covering the items that are getting impacted and are critical to the business. This way, the project team can focus on what’s really necessary and get the test cycle done in quickly. But the second question now is,

“Who knows what gets impacted when the move to S/4HANA is made?” and “Who can estimate the criticality of the business processes?”

Thus, identifying the key stakeholders and the criticality of the business is very essential for the success of the testing phase. Why the business criticality should be considered is a whole different topic by itself which can be taken up in a separate blog where the v³ analysis would be covered.

Improper execution of plans and phase sign-offs

When we talk about plans and cycles, it involves what needs to be executed, when it has to be executed, how it has to be executed, who has to execute it, the entrance criteria and the exit criteria definitions.

Related custom objects, T-Codes, business processes, modules, WRICEF objects, standard functions, OSS notes, TR objects, etc. A lot of effort will be saved with the help of all these trivial information. Execution of test cycles also means they are directly linked to the phase closures and sign-offs.

Improper Monitoring and Reporting Methods

With huge data being generated every day across multiple workstreams, reporting would be a challenge with data accumulated in multiple places and across spreadsheets. There are several chances to miss out on critical impact items and thereby ending up with overhead issues in the long run.

The readers might now get an idea on what and how an unplanned testing affects the transformation project. The above problems can have multiple different ways of handling it. We’ll discuss more on how we can come up with suitable methodologies and frameworks to tackle them in the upcoming blogs.

Overview of Ktern.AI's Digital Labs

KTern.AI is a digital transformation platform that offers SAP testing automation and governance through its Digital Labs product. The platform offers automation-driven productivity in SAP testing, with features such as accelerated automated test scenario insights, data-driven governed approach, enterprise-grade platform compliance to SAP standards, and non-invasive, no-code intelligent techniques.

Digital Labs includes several features such as Test Repository for smart test management, Test Scripts & Evidences to streamline continuous testing with governance of test scripts, Test Reporting to gain visibility of SAP testing with auto-generated reports, Test Scenario Recommendations to accelerate timelines and reduce efforts in test automation, UAT Signoffs to orchestrate UAT signoffs for every release, and several bots to aid in test orchestration, generation of test reports, file and script orchestration, test recording, assertion and condition definition, and test self-healing.

An overview of the test suite - KTern.AI | Digital Labs

KTern Digital Labs is endorsed by several SAP enterprises and has received accolades from several organizations. The platform also offers a Value Discovery Platform for enterprises to discover the value they can derive from their SAP projects.


In conclusion, migrating to SAP S/4HANA is an important step for businesses looking to modernize their systems and take advantage of new technologies. The migration process can be complex and challenging, but with proper planning, execution, and support, it can be a smooth and successful transition. It is crucial for organizations to understand the potential benefits of S/4HANA and to carefully assess their current systems to determine the best approach for migration. By investing in the right resources and working closely with SAP experts, businesses can ensure a successful migration that unlocks new opportunities for growth and innovation.

Next Step

With the kind of automation that KTern offers for system conversion, it’s time for you to get started with SAP S/4HANA Conversion rather than worrying about the complexity of the migration. Want to learn more about KTern? Look at our demo system or schedule a guided demo according to your available timeslots.


Edson Frainlar

Mission-driven Full-stack Developer with a passion for developing KTern, Dev Collaboration, and teaching. Curious to explore Quantum Information and Computing.