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SAP S/4HANA Upgrade: The need of the hour

SAP S/4HANA Upgrade: The need of the hour

Sarath Arabandi

SAP S/4HANA was introduced in 2015 as SAP’s strategic digital core solution for the Intelligent Enterprise. It was a major shift from the SAP Business Suite to a new future-focused solution that took a cloud-first, mobile-first, and intelligent technologies approach to SAP’s comprehensive ERP solutions.

The first release SAP S/4HANA 1511, has gone out of mainstream maintenance on December 31st, 2020 and successive releases will reach end of standard 5-year maintenance period in successive years.

Why is S/4 HANA upgrade crucial?

  • New Business Functions and Processes

  • New Business Roles

  • New Intelligent Technologies

  • New SAP Fiori Apps & Launchpad Features

Still, running SAP S/4HANA 1610? Start planning the upgrade now!

SAP S/4HANA releases follow a yearly cycle, i.e. every year, there is a major on-premises release. Every release has a five-year mainstream maintenance phase, after which it enters the customer-specific maintenance phase.1

The year 2020 marked the first year where one of the SAP S/4HANA releases went out of support. SAP S/4HANA 1511 mainstream maintenance expired on December 31st, 2020. At the end of 2021, SAP S/4HANA 1610 will reach its end of mainstream maintenance. Mainstream maintenance for every subsequent release will end the years following 2021.

Below is the SAP S/4HANA release and maintenance strategy for calendar years 2020 to 2025 published by SAP.


Source: SAP

Some of the classic features in SAP ERP are still supported in SAP S/4HANA as Compatibility Packs, listed in the Compatibility Scope Matrix.2 The usage rights to run these selected classic SAP ERP solutions on SAP S/4HANA expire on December 31st, 2025.

S4/HANA upgrades: How Zensar helped a for Hi-Tech Manufacturer in the Semiconductor industry

This project dealt with SAP Business Suite upgrade from S/4HANA 1610 to the latest version SAP S/4HANA 2020. Zensar helped the client by providing an impact assessment of the modified business processes post upgrades. In addition, Zensar executed 500+ test scripts in <20 days across the US & Japan for the new upgraded version with Intelligent Platform for E2E Test Automation.

Things to consider for the S4/HANA upgrade

While several factors need to be considered for the upgrade preparations, like understanding the benefits of upgrading and mapping those to expected business, resourcing the required skills for the technical upgrade, the potential timeline for the upgrade, at Zensar our experts feel an important aspect is to decide the upgrade approach whether:

  • To go for a functional upgrade approach, i.e., introduce new functionality as part of your Upgrade scope, or

  • For a technical upgrade approach, do the minimum changes now and introduce new functional changes in the RUN phase post upgrade, e.g., one or more continuous improvement projects.

Once we decide the upgrade approach, we need to estimate efforts to upgrade and the resources required. Estimation depends on many factors, such as:

  • Planned functional scope

  • Whether SAP Fiori is already in use

  • Whether new intelligent technologies are in scope

  • Resources and skills available

Every upgrade project should include performance testing and assume authorizations will need to be adjusted. As a rule of thumb, starting an upgrade project with the most recent SAP S/4HANA release is recommended.

Zensar has proven expertise in SAP S4/HANA upgrades with more than 20 years of experience. To know more about Zensar and SAP partnership, click here.


1. SAP Note 52505 - Support after end of mainstream maintenance or extended maintenance and/or SAP Maintenance Strategy for a description of all maintenance phases

2. OSS Note 2269324 - Compatibility Scope Matrix for SAP S/4HANA

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