The Florida Crystals S/4HANA Case Study

Executive Summary

  • Florida Crystals is a case study for S/4HANA that has some surprising claims, including that the implementation was performed in an unheard of 4 weeks. In this article, we will cover the likelihood of what Florida Crystals says is true.


Florida Crystals is a sugar refiner based in Florida. Florida Crystals have made some rather extreme claims about its implementation of S/4AHANA. The following quotation is an excellent example of this.

The Video

This is a video of the CIO of Florida Crystals at an ASUG event.

4 Week Upgrade of S/4HANA?

“This year at ASUG Annual Conference and Sapphire Now, he announced that Florida Crystals had pulled off an upgrade to S/4HANA and Simple Finance 2.0 in just four weeks.” – ASUG

This is another one of the silly claims. This brings the Florida Crystals under suspicion as a client that received something in return for the claim. Once a company claims to be able to do something that is not possible, it does bring up the question of why they did it. So let us review some of the quotes from Florida Crystals.

Florida Crystals Chose S/4HANA Because it is not a Development Shop?

“We are not a development shop, so we rely on SAP for our IT solutions and innovations in feature and functions,” says Whittington, who was interviewed in the ASUGNews Studio at Annual Conference and Sapphire Now.

This is a peculiar statement as the vast majority of SAP customers are also not “development shops.” Development shops usually are software vendors. But this statement is a reason to use packaged applications in general. It is not a very good reason individually to purchase any one application in particular.

Florida Crystals Must be on the Bleeding Edge?

Of course, that requires Florida Crystals to stay very close to the bleeding edge with SAP’s new releases, but to Whittington, that’s worth the effort.

That is certainly untrue. The vast majority of SAP customers that run ECC are also not development shops, but they have not migrated to S/4HANA, and they don’t stay near the bleeding edge with SAP’s releases. Whittingham’s logic here is simply incorrect.

Not Worrying About Bricks and Mortar is a Good Reason to Purchase S/4HANA?

“Think about IT when you don’t have to worry about bricks and mortar and hardware, and you’ve got SAP as your development [shop],” he says, adding: “I think that’s the future.”

That is not the future, that is, in fact, the past. Companies transitioned from using predominantly internally built applications to packaged applications in the 1980s. Although there was never a complete transition as the packaged applications could never do everything that the custom-built applications could do.

In part of the quote Whittingham is actually describing not hosting an application or set of applications on premises, but instead either having one’s applications hosted or SaaS-based. But this is a different topic from whether a company purchases applications from a packaged software vendor, rather than building the applications internally.

When is it Wrong to do Due Diligence Up Front?

“During an interview in the ASUGNews Studio, Atkinson shares some of her lessons learned on the high-stakes project and how the team dealt with data migration challenges. “You’ve got to do your due diligence up front,” she says.”

This is a strange comment. When would the opposite be the case? Is Atkinson intimating that S/4HANA Finance is a challenging implementation? If so, the supposed 4-week implementation timeline would seem to contradict that.


I could go into more detail in the Florida Crystals S/4HANA implementation, but the case study is simply not credible. Florida Crystals are receiving some type of SAP-related benefit that is not being published. There are probably career reasons for why Florida Crystals attended ASUG and presented fallacious information on its S/4HANA experience. But those details are private.

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