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Home Discover our latest blogs Discover our latest blogs End-of-life SAP R/3 and SAP ECC: How to approach Data Migration?
Data & AI
4 minutes reading

End-of-life SAP R/3 and SAP ECC: How to approach Data Migration?

2027, SAP will phase out the ERP systems SAP R/3 and SAP ECC 5.0 and 6.0. This impending end-of-life makes it even more urgent to implement a different ERP system. Whether this is SAP S/4HANA or a platform from another provider, you will face a complete data migration. How should you approach this data migration?

Kevin Stolk

Kevin Stolk

June 12, 2024

Two generations disappearing 

By discontinuing updates, patches, and official support for R/3 and ECC, two generations of SAP will disappear from the scene. SAP R/3 dates back to 1992. In 2004, the German supplier released its third generation of ERP systems: SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) 5.0, followed by SAP ECC 6.0 in 2006. Continuing to use these systems is not an option for most organizations, as the end-of-life can lead to serious security and compliance issues. 

Increasing legacy every day 

Additionally, these two ERP generations are becoming more and more legacy with each passing day. You miss out on the advantages of the cloud, on-premise hosting is a significant cost, the systems offer limited integration and analytics capabilities, and the performance is not impressive. There are plenty of business-economic reasons to implement a different, more modern ERP.

By 'different, more modern ERP,' we also mean S/4HANA, SAP’s fourth generation. This ERP seems like a logical choice for organizations running on R/3 or ECC, but it is not necessarily so. Simply upgrading to SAP S/4HANA is not possible. The underlying database technology, data model, and recommended business processes are fundamentally different from the previous SAP generations. The migration from R/3 or ECC to S/4HANA is comparable in effort to the implementation of a completely new ERP. 

The challenges of data migration 

A full implementation also means facing a data migration challenge. ERP implementations are notoriously risky. A well-known example is a multinational supermarket chain that invested 500 million euros and 7 years in a failed SAP S/4HANA implementation. SAP, which works with standard sales prices, could not be adapted to the purchase-oriented business processes of the supermarket chain. 

A data issue was thus decisive. And data challenges are abundant in ERP-related data migrations. If you fail to avoid such pitfalls, the consequences are usually not as severe as in the case of the mentioned multinational. However, data loss, incorrect information, error messages, and operational disruptions are real risks if the data migration is not executed properly. 

In-depth knowledge of data, business, ERP’s and tooling 

To efficiently and effectively migrate your data from R/3 or ECC to your target ERP, in-depth knowledge of data, business processes, ERPs, and tooling is essential. Data migration for a new ERP is a comprehensive process that involves a lot of complexities. Numerous factors must be translated into rules for selection, validation, cleaning, business-specific logic, and transformation. Older systems like R/3 and ECC 5.0 or 6.0 often contain a lot of customization, which can lead to varying data (structures). Additionally, technical requirements may clash with business and data needs, necessitating inventive solutions. 

In-depth business knowledge  
The executor of your data migration must also have extensive knowledge of your business. Your business processes and objectives need to be incorporated into the blueprint for your data migration: the data migration plan. Technical knowledge of the (source and target) ERP is necessary to understand the architecture, models, and data dependencies within the systems.

Advanced tooling 
Lastly, the tooling. Data migrations are too complex and extensive to be done manually or with homemade scripts. The software used must have extensive functionalities and configuration options for all necessary aspects of the data migration process. This includes data mapping, quality control, audit trails, and applying various rules and logic.

The specialist literally and figuratively at the controls must know everything about (your) data, your business, the technical aspects of ERP systems, and the supporting software. As we will explain later, this combination of knowledge and skills is only found in data migration specialists. 

Specific challenges for SAP R/3 and ECC 

Migrating data from SAP R/3 and ECC 5.0 or 6.0 to a modern ERP system presents specific challenges, including: 

  • Typically a large amount of customization.
  • Modern systems like SAP S/4HANA, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP often use different data structures and models than older generations of ERPs. 
  • Older systems may contain large amounts of historical data, often of varying quality. This data must be carefully assessed, cleaned, and migrated, which can be time-consuming and complex. 
  • Newer ERP systems may assume different standard business processes, potentially requiring your organization to adjust its own processes. Smart data solutions may be necessary for a smooth transition. 

Who executes your data migration? 

By now, it should be clear that migrating to a modern ERP system is no easy task. A common wisdom in the ERP world: separate the technical implementation and data migration. The implementation partner focuses on setting up, configuring, and going live with the system. The data migration partner handles the data migration, data quality, and maximizing data value post-go-live. Data migration specialists work closely with both the implementation partner and the client and serve as the point of contact for all data-related matters. 

The benefits of a dedicated data migration partner 

A dedicated data migration partner ensures optimal data quality at go-live using advanced methods, techniques, and tools while minimizing downtime. Because a data migration specialist knows exactly what to do in advance, in what order, and what it entails, common pitfalls are avoided, and the migration process is completed much faster. 

Cegeka as data migration partner 

The Cegeka Data Solutions department has over 20 years of experience with various data migration projects. A wide variety of source and target systems, different countries, complex multi-year programs: no matter how difficult the data migration is, we can migrate the data in a controlled, managed, and predictable manner in all cases. The customer is always demonstrably in control. 

Smart Data Migration Suite

Our data migration specialists use Cegeka’s Smart Data Migration Suite. This in-house developed low-code tool has all the functionalities and configuration options necessary for an optimal data migration process. The tooling automatically generates required reports, such as cleaning reports and audit trails. 

Want to know more?

Do you want to know more about the challenges, best practices, benefits, and steps to take for a successful ERP data migration? Download our whitepaper "Data Migration in ERP Implementation: From Headaches to Grand Prize." 

Kevin Stolk

Kevin Stolk

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