How to Best Understand The S/4HANA Simplification List

Executive Summary

  • SAP’s has made exaggerated claims regarding S/4HANA’s readiness.
  • SAP continually pivots away from the topic of the completeness of each module.

Video Introduction: How SAP Games S/4HANA Readiness

Text Introduction (Skip if You Watched the Video)

SAP has many changes that it needed to sugar coat when companies were to move from SAP ECC to S4HANA. Therefore SAP came up with some marketing spin on their changes document and called it the “Simplification List.” This is a play on or extension of the SAP Run Simple initiative, which has now been canceled due to its rejection in the market. Calling these changes a Simplification List can be considered a type of word game that SAP is playing on its customers. And SAP is hoping their customers do not notice. You will learn the reality, not the marketing spin, and how SAP has misnamed a listing of changes to S/4HANA from ECC as a “Simplification List” that is anything but simple. You will learn the reality around the readiness of S/4HANA and how this connects with the Simplification List.

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Lack of Financial Bias Notice: We have no financial ties to SAP or any other entity mentioned in this article.

  • This is published by a research entity.
  • Second, no one paid for this article to be written, and it is not pretending to inform you while being rigged to sell you software or consulting services. Unlike nearly every other article you will find from Google on this topic, it has had no input from any company's marketing or sales department. 

*This article was originally written in January of 2017 but has been updated as of February 2021. 

What is S/4HANA?

S/4HANA is the first major upgrade to what was R/3.

  • ..aka ECC (Enterprise Core Component)
  • ..aka Business All in One
  • aka All in One…

SAP’s Position on S/4 HANA’s Readiness

SAP Run Simple is a now-defunct marketing construct that proposed that SAP was designed to be managed very simply. We analyzed SAP’s Run Simple program in the article How Accurate Was SAP on Run Simple? In the article How Accurate Was ComputerWorld on SAP Run Simple?

One thing that will undermine SAP Run Simple is the readiness of S/4 HANA. Incomplete applications are not at all simple—just the opposite.

While researching this topic, I found the following quotation from SAP. This article quote I found is quite amazing. See it below:

“If you look at the S/4HANA system that we released in November of last year that we are calling 1511, we can say that this is already a complete ERP system,” said Uwe Grigoleit, SAP global head of business development for Business Suite on HANA and HANA applications.”

Errrrr… could release a complete ERP system without much of the functionality working?

That seems to be the line Uwe is walking here. I mean, you can release anything, and it is still that thing. A motorcycle with no pistons is still a motorcycle. And you can release it that way. However, when a motorcycle is released that way, it is obvious. With software, it takes much more analysis to verify if the application is ready. SAP and SAP consulting firms have been doing everything they can to hide the actual maturity level of S/4HANA.

Pivoting From the Completeness of Each Module

Let us go on to see more from Uwe.

“Why can we say this? If we are looking at pure modules we are shipping already, S/4HANA spans across financials, material management, inventory management, procurement, distribution, product and planning,” he explained. “It’s going across the vast majority of the ERP system already.”

  • This gets away entirely from the question of the completeness of each of these modules.
  • Uwe does not state that 1511 is not a completed ERP suite in that most of the functionality is incomplete. Some of the old functionality works, but it’s just a big mixed bag.
  • S/4 HANA has multiple modules (recently renamed) called things like Supply Chain, Sales, Research and Development and Manufacturing, etc.. There is no mention of these names even in SAP’s marketing literature as introduced applications. Why? Why the strange four-digit release numbers associated with each version (either on-premises or cloud)?

1511 is a beta release that has some components of functionality changed while many others are not. 1511 comes with a lengthy document called the “S/4HANA Simplification List.”

Is This a Simplification List?

This is a document that describes all the changes to ECC. The term simplification is a euphemism. Let us review the issues.

Issue #1: Misuse of the Term Simplification

Many of the changes are not at all simplifications. Why they would be listed than in the S/4HANA Simplification List is not clear. What is the real purpose of calling the list of changes in the S/4HANA Simplification list? By calling it something so misleading, is this a way of convincing customers that changes are always simplifications?

Issue #2: Functionality Removal = Simplification?

The S/4HANA Simplification List lists areas that have been removed from ECC as “simplifications.” What if you, as a company, rely on this functionality? Is the S/3 Simplification List making things more simple or more complicated?

Issue #3: The Imposition of Enormous Overhead

Even if we leave out the topic of which areas of functionality are ready, we still face a problem.  Unless you are a Greenfield customer that the company relied upon are not part of S/4 HANA. One would need to extensively read the lengthy S/4HANA Simplification List, along with all the associated SAP notes that explain what things (fields, transactions, etc..) have been changed.

A Lot of Information to Digest in the Simplification List

Understanding all the implications is a ton of work. So much so that SAP is primarily focusing on migration or re-implementation is so difficult with S/4 HANA.

Uwe Grigoleit Accuracy Problem

I think Uwe Grigoleit knows that what he is saying is untrue, but as Global Head of Business Development, let’s first acknowledge that he has probably told some whoppers in the past. Considering he may not have ever logged into an SAP system himself, it would be easy for him to hear something second hand and then to start repeating it. Uwe Grigoleit is in sales, so he wants to sell S/4 HANA and therefore has a strong bias to mislead customers on the status of S/4 HANA.

This is not the first time we have run into statements from Uwe Grigoleit. We covered his remarks in the article How SAP Confuses People on S/4HANA on Premises Versus S/4HANA Cloud. And we found his comments to be not only inaccurate but highly deceptive. Whenever we see Uwe Grigoleit’s name, we know we will be receiving incorrect information.

Uwe Grigoleit is an inaccurate source of information on SAP, and most of his statements turn out to not be true when fact-checked.


The S/4HANA Simplification List is misnamed.

Instead of being called the S/4HANA Simplification List, it would simply be called the “changes made is.” Naming the list, the S/4HANA Simplification List makes it seem as if everything in the S/4HANA Simplification list is a simplification. However, in most cases, the opposite is true.

I wrote this article because I am beginning to wonder how many people have investigated S/4 and know that outside of Finance (which also has rough areas and a big question mark with how many Fiori apps can be used). S/4 as a suite is not ready to be implemented. This is still true in 2019.

Curious about the reality of S/4HANA implementations? See our The S/4HANA Implementation Study for real story and details on actual S/4HANA implementations.