Case Studies

Airbus DS Optronics S/4HANA Case Study

Executive Summary

  • This is the research case study of Airbus DP Optronics.
  • We evaluate this case study for accuracy.


Airbus DS Optronics is a supplier to defense contractors.

Here are some of the following quotes from the S/4HANA implementation.

“In our industry, information that is two days old is already out of date,” explains Airbus DS Optronics director of information technology Jochen Scheuerer “For us it is of far greater significance to be able to access real-time data.” The reporting is also based on numerous sources, such as an Embedded Business Warehouse (BW), ABAP reports, and Microsoft Excel data. On this basis, ad-hoc reporting was just as impossible as data visualization.

To enable a consistent panoramic view of all business administration processes in the company, Airbus DS Optronics chose SAP S/4HANA Finance. The transition was not only aimed at making key company metrics available for all important management meetings as real-time data. The objective was also prevent discrepancies between forecast and current data, and to establish more efficient finance and management accounting processes.”

Replacing the Data Warehouse and Performing All Reporting Off of the ERP System?

This is part of the marketing appeal of S/4HANA that all reporting would occur in ERP and would not have to have data pushed to BW (or other data warehouses). However, the issue with this is that we are not seeing reporting migrating away from BW. Perhaps a bit too in depth for a case study evaluation like this, but the ERP system does not provide all the reporting that is required by companies. Virtually all companies do some reporting off of their ERP system, but this is different from SAP’s proposal that all reporting will be performed within S/4HANA.

Project Timeline

“The project began at the end of May 2015. An important step for the change was implementing SAP S/4HANA Finance without disrupting business processes. The new system had to be ready for the November 2015 month-end close, and the 2015 year-end close had to be completed within the first four days of the New Year.”

This is a five and a half month implementation duration. This is one of the lengthier and, therefore, more realistic implementation timelines we have observed. ECC would nearly always take more than a year to implement. With some implementations stretching into the multiple years. However, in this case, only one module, S/4HANA Finance, was implemented, which makes a 5.5-month implementation duration more believable.

Digital Transformation?

“SAP S/4HANA is bringing Airbus DS Optronics one step closer to a fully digitalized end-to-end process. “We were able to conclude this important chapter for the digitalization of Airbus DS, at the highest quality level, in time and on budget,” says Jochen Scheuerer.”

This is covered in the article The Problem with Digital Transformation and Modern IT Projects. But a new system replacing an older system does not have anything to do with digital transformation. Digital transformation occurs when a previously non-digital process is made digital.

Upgrading to S/4HANA?

“In the end, the complete upgrade was handled over the course of a single weekend thanks to the combined efforts of both teams. And with the transition, Airbus DS Optronics was also able to retire its embedded SAP Business Warehouse.”

No S/4HANA cannot be upgraded.

That is an important fact. If customers read this and think that S/4HANA can be upgraded to from ECC, then they will be disappointed.

Setup for Using Fiori

“The implementation of SAP S/4HANA has also paved the way for a vision of the future that includes SAP Fiori. With SAP Fiori apps, all key metrics that DS Optronics relies on will be available on mobile devices. In this way, users can review these numbers anytime and anywhere in a very intuitive way, providing them with role-specific, real-time visibility into KPIs.”

Fiori is a big topic, which we have covered in some previous articles, including What is Actually in the Fiori Box.

However, it is indisputable that there is no reason that Fiori would be limited to HANA. SAP started off making Fiori apps for AnyDB until they were unsuccessful in charging for Fiori (due to pushback from user groups). In response, SAP only made Fiori apps for HANA after that point, using Fiori as a carrot to move customers to HANA so they would not have to give Fiori to current customers for free.

Therefore, the quotation, given this context, is highly misleading.

Why SAP Could Open Fiori

If they wanted, SAP could open Fiori to AnyDB, allowing it to be used at the bulk of its customer base. SAP chooses to exclude all customers from using Fiori unless they purchase and use HANA. Secondly, Fiori has shown signs that it probably will not be SAP’s long-term solution or successor to SAPGUI.

“For example, SAP S/4HANA helps make the reporting processes for controllers easier by eliminating redundancy and reconciliation efforts, enabling them to spend more time on core tasks. In addition, cost centers now profit from full insights into all figures needed for planning.”

We covered this in detail in the following article, An Analysis of the SAP S/4 1610 Information.

And in the article Getting Clear on S/4HANA.

However, there is no evidence that S/4HANA eliminates redundancy and reconciliation efforts. SAP also repeatedly claimed that S/4HANA cut out hundreds of hours from the reconciliation process, and there is no evidence of this either. From our detailed research into these areas, we can say with confidence that the things stated by Airbus regarding reconciliation did not happen. Airbus was lead to say these things by SAP. The phraseology used by Airbus is remarkably similar, if not exact, to SAP’s marketing literature on the topic.


Information released by SAP in this case study is inconsistent with Brightwork’s research into S/4AHANA. It seems highly unlikely that the things proposed in the case study happened, as stated by SAP. This is not a credible case study.

This article is part of The S/4HANA Implementation Study. Please see that study for the overall conclusions.