The Swiss Property S/4HANA Case Study

Executive Summary

  • Swiss Property is one of the S/4HANA Cloud case studies released by SAP that is quite clearly faked.
  • This is done to help make S/4HANA Cloud appear more implemented than it actually is.


Swiss Property is an 80 person company (at the S/4HANA implementation) based in Zurich, Switzerland. This is an unusual company to implement an ERP system like S/4HANA, and at the same time, its website receives less than 1,000 hits per month. Their career page did not have a single open roll when we checked their website on March 2, 2017.

Our References for This Article

If you want to see our references for this article and other related Brightwork articles, see this link.

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

  • This is published by a research entity, not some lowbrow entity that is part of the SAP ecosystem. 
  • 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. As you are reading this article, consider how rare this is. The vast majority of information on the Internet on SAP is provided by SAP, which is filled with false claims and sleazy consulting companies and SAP consultants who will tell any lie for personal benefit. Furthermore, SAP pays off all IT analysts -- who have the same concern for accuracy as SAP. Not one of these entities will disclose their pro-SAP financial bias to their readers. 

Brightwork has not yet performed a total cost of ownership on S/4HANA, but ECC has traditionally been the Rolex of ERP systems. R/3 or ECC has been highly complex and the most expensive ERP system that one could buy and implement.

Although many people, mainly SAP consultants, will say that this is justified because ECC has more functionality than any other ERP system. This is one of the things that explains ECC and R/3’s dominance in the ERP space for Tier 1 companies. SAP has, for many years, now attempted to sell ECC into the SMB market, but very little has changed concerning ECC implementation times or costs. Decades after SAP’s accelerated implementation methodology – called ASUG-was introduced. SAP projects take roughly the same amount of time as they always have (although there are far fewer large SAP projects than there once were due to market saturation). Therefore, ECC never became a cost-effective solution for the SMB market. Brightwork estimates that ECC still has the highest TCO of any ERP system. (See the online TCO calculator for details) Many consulting companies would not build their consulting practices so aggressively around SAP if SAP had a low TCO. Furthermore, because recently developed applications by SAP have more problems in implementation (in the same software category) as more mature applications, S/4HANA would have to have a final TCO higher than ECC.

The Size of Swiss Property

Therefore, selecting such a system for such a small company raises eyebrows. One question that naturally arises is how did Swiss Property afford to purchase and implement the software? As I stated, SAP’s ECC and S/4HANA are considered to be the best fit for a Tier 1 ERP customer. This is a customer with over $1 Billion in revenues. SAP ECC does sell into Tier 2, which is classified as between $50 million and $1 billion. But it is extremely rarely found in the tier 3 market. Many SAP account executives will not pursue a customer for ECC if they are less than $150 million in yearly revenue.

Swiss Property is very clearly a Tier 3 customer. Natural questions arise given the information released about the Swiss Property S/4HANA implementation.

  • Why did Swiss Property require an ERP system? Could it have combined merely a financial system along with a real estate solution?
  • One of the arguments proposed by Swiss Property was that they required the HANA database underneath S/4HANA. But given the tiny amount of data that Swiss Property processes, is that true? How high could the processing needs of such a small company like Swiss Property be?
  • The information released about Swiss Property is that this is proposed as the first company to have implemented S/4HANA Enterprise Management (EM). S/4HANA EM is the full “suite” of ERP. Swiss Property is a company that works in real estate. It designs and organizes construction. Swiss Property can’t have implemented EM because Swiss Property does no manufacturing, and they do not have a supply chain. Secondly, at the time of the Swiss Property implementation, extremely little of the suite outside of Finance was even ready to be implemented.
  • Swiss Property stated that it implemented the software in 2 months. This is an unbelievable implementation duration.
  • Intelsys implemented Swiss Properties. Intelsys is based out of Estonia. Intelsys offers “Digital Construction,” which it states is a combination of S/4HANA and Autodesk CAD (Computer-Aided Design) application. This is a solution designed for engineering and construction companies. However, Intelsys has a website that gets somewhere around several hundred page views per month. Therefore, while Intelsys is an interesting concept, it cannot be a substantial implementation company.

This S/4HANA EM implementation went live on January 18, 2016.


The Swiss Property case study seems to have been manufactured. Many of the essential features do not make any sense, and the scope of the implementation has been overstated. As with many other S/4HANA implementations, the timeline is not believable.

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