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Historic Data - Carry what you need in S/4HANA

Customers in their digital journey with S/4HANA are often perplexed on various questions pertaining to historic data. Such as how much history data is needed in future system? History data required at all in future system or only open transaction data will suffice? What are different ways to carry historic data from legacy system to future system? etc.


In S/4HANA there are various opportunities to elevate current processes to next-generation processes. As we can imagine with popular examples of next-generation processes in front of us such as automatic invoice matching, predictive maintenance, managing stock in transit historic data is very essential. In this example of automatic invoice matching process utilizes artificial intelligence to automate the invoice to payment matching. AI uses matching criteria by learning from the historical financial clearing information. If sufficient history is not available, automation will not work as expected. Therefore, you need to transition history data to your new system to take full benefit from day 1 of operation in new system or wait for couple of years till sufficient history builds up in the new system.  

Running current processes in new system after transformation may need historic data, too. This can be further supported by process or compliance constraints. Service history, Spare Part consumption, and historic consumption data for forecast are few examples of processes which require history data. 


While data is important and its importance is growing in digital world where this enterprise asset is often regarded as 'new gold' or 'new oil', it is also important to know what are the options available. Here are the options -


  1. Open/Current Transaction Data in S/4HANA and keep legacy ERP on in read-only mode: In this option only open and current transaction data is migrated to Target system. Often we have history data belonging to these open transactions which we still need to be migrate. Example invoices already posted, partial good receipt against a Purchase order, delivery already made for an open Sales order. Data migration to S/4HANA can be handled using data migration tools which work in S/4HANA. Normally there is no impact on project timeline with this approach. This process has basic requirement on data reconciliation.

Users can be granted a read-only only access to refer any historic data they may need. Legacy system can be re-platformed to cheaper hardware to save cost.

  1. Open/Current Transaction Data and entire History Data in S/4HANA :  In a Hybrid or new implementation project, where open and current transaction data plus entire transaction data history migration to target system is required, customer need to get specialized Service for required tool and knowledge to achieve this. The historical data for entire duration (all fiscal years) belonging to the considered business can be part of scope. (E.g. - All closed Sales Orders, 5-10 years old  Projects/Sales Contracts etc.). Complexity in migration and data reconciliation will grow with differences in process design (process dissimilarity) in source and target system. Testing scope will be higher in this case.

Note: In case of System Conversion, Software Update Manager tool takes care to convert the legacy data in place during S/4HANA conversion.     

  1. Open/Current Transaction Data and Selective History Data in S/4HANA: Open and current transaction data plus selective data such as time sliced History (for example 2 or 3 fiscal years of data). The historical data for desired duration belonging to the considered Business is migrated. (e.g. open sales orders plus all closed Sales Orders within last 2-3 fiscal years.). Such project require deep knowledge of data models of source and target system, relationship and dependencies between different business objects in the scope. This scenario requires high level of alignment between various domains (finance, logistics) to give business rules for selection of data to minimize risk of data inconsistencies in migrated data. It will add to data reconciliation effort mainly. 
  2. Open/Current Data in transaction system and History Data in data retention solutions: Open and current transaction data is migrated to target system. Whereas, the historical data (complete or selective) belonging to the considered Business is migrated to inexpensive data retention platform. Example - Open sales orders in this example will be migrated to S/4HANA and all closed sales orders will be accessible from data retention platform). Archive technologies such as system decommissioning solution can be used on current ERP to make a snapshot available to access history data from an inexpensive platform. Alternatively, Business Data Warehouse can be leveraged. This reduces data foot print in target system and at the same time makes history data available to users on a data retention Platform.

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