What happens if we tackle the migration from SAP ECC 6.0 to SAP S/4HANA too late?

The majority of all midsize com panies with SAP systems face this question. SAP S/4HANA enables a transformation from a business to a smart business: scalable, individual and innovative. For many, however, the situation is not yet fully tangible.

Companies know they have to act. But how exactly do we tackle such a mammoth project and should we tackle it now or rather wait a little longer? The Hirschvogel Group stood also at this point.

Jörg Ringmeir, Global Head of IT at Hirschvogel, reports: “We have evaluated the added value for us to continue waiting and postponing the SAP S/4HANA conversion. We came to the conclusion: none.”

“The maintenance end date of 2027 has been set, the automotive industry is in a state of upheaval, and there is already a shortage of SAP experts and consultants, which will only get worse. We would have made high investments in an ERP system whose end is clearly defined,” adds Jörg Ringmeir. Hirschvogel is aware: this does not fit with its own growth and digitization requirements. The Hirschvogel Group must act as quickly as possible. The goal: a modern, uniform and standardized system landscape, adapted to the new requirements of Automotive Industry 4.0.

Ten production plants and approximately 3,500 SAP users: the growth of the Hirschvogel Group is remarkable. For several years, Hirschvogel has been considered a global leader in the solid forming of steel and aluminum. However, processes, systems and requirements vary from site to site. Process harmonization? Not a chance!

As a result, the company’s innovative strength is inhibited. Over the years, isolated programming has emerged in the SAP system, but proprietary solutions have also been created and third-party subsystems have been integrated. This “uncontrolled growth” makes it very time-consuming and sometimes almost impossible for the company to provide new functions.

Innovative strength in times of upheaval: E-mobility, CO2 neutrality and increasingly strong competition, especially from the emerging markets the automotive and automotive supplier industry is in a historically unique situation of upheaval. Right now, high innovative strength is the key to success.

The project

“This is not an IT project, this is a business project”. Hirschvogel is launching its corporate transformation under this guiding principle. Smarter, faster, better and more transparent – the smart transformation is intended to take the company to the next level. Hirschvogel not only wants to further develop its core business, but also open up new areas. The key to success: the flexibility and transparency that SAP S/4HANA offers.

In the shortest possible time, the conversion to the new ERP system SAP S/4HANA should be made possible how exactly does that even work for a company as large as the Hirschvogel Group?

In SAP S/4HANA workshops, the All for One Group works with Hirschvogel to create an individual roadmap. A highly qualified project manager is available as a direct contact right from the start. First, a process analysis takes place to map the current state of the processes and identify potential for improvement as part of process modeling.

Which processes need to be simplified? Which functional gaps were bridged in the previous SAP system with island programming and third-party subsystems? And more importantly, are there already standard functions in SAP S/4HANA to close these gaps? All for One’s approach to conversion thus goes far beyond the purely technical change- over and also takes a look at business processes in order to leverage the potential that lies dormant in them keyword: Business Process Management.

Although Hirschvogel wants to master the conversion from the previous SAP ERP system to SAP S/4HANA as quickly as possible, it also attaches great importance to quality. To ensure that only relevant data is transferred from the old system to the new one, the company relies on selective data transfer.

Jörg Ringmeir

Jörg Ringmeir, Global Head of IT, Grupa Hirschvogel

Challenges, lessons and success factors

Jörg Ringmeir, Global Head of IT at Hirschvogel, would like to share his experiences of the SAP S/4HANA transformation and give you some tips to look out for during your transformation to SAP S/4HANA:

The biggest challenges:

  • Selectively transfer our data to SAP S/4HANA while ensuring the highest level of security
  • Manage global go-live: our new SAP S/4HANA system will be launched simultaneously in all international locations
  • What issues do we take care of before, during or after the SAP S/4HANA transformation in such a “mammoth project”?

The most important lessons:

  • Think about the concrete goals of your SAP S/4HANA transformation right from the start
  • In our opinion, continuing to postpone the conversion to SAP S/4HANA does not offer any added value.
  • “This is not an IT project, this is a business project” Win over the business departments for active participation in the project

Tthe most essential success factors:

  • The process analysis during the roadmap workshops revealed some of our dormant potentials
  • Experience & know-how about SAP S/4HANA and the automotive industry made the All for One Group the perfect partner for our transformation project
  • We have established global and local “process owners” including test teams to be able to handle the project

Jörg Ringmeir, Global Head Of It Hirschvogel Group

For this purpose, the All for One Group uses CrystalBridge – The Data Transformation Platform and SNP’s software-based BLUEFIELD approach. This promises a changeover in record time and with minimal downtime. Selected data is transferred to the new system and the remaining data is left in the legacy system as an archive. This allows the project to be implemented quickly and at the same time with maximum security.

In order to fully exploit the benefits of SAP S/4HANA, follow-up projects are planned. The conversion to SAP S/4HANA alone is already a big step into the future for the automotive supplier, but in the “big picture” it is only one of several milestones. For example, projects are planned in the area of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Smart Factory.

“The next big focus we’re setting ourselves is to digitize production across the board. The topics of Smart Factory and SAP S/4HANA run hand in hand. In the future, we have to manage to make decisions almost in real time,” Jörg Ringmeir is convinced.

The results

The project is currently being implemented. The “big bang” is due in 2023: the go-live of the new ERP system will take place simultaneously in the ten global production plants.

Only the relevant data will be transferred from the old to the new SAP system. Hirschvogel is thus ridding itself of old burdens and promoting global process harmonization at the various locations by bringing the new ERP system as close as possible to the SAP standard. To this end, Hirschvogel has established global and local “process owners” including test teams to thoroughly test the new processes internationally. After successful testing, new functions can be implemented at the same time in all locations without any major additional effort. As a result, SAP users in all locations benefit from uniform processes and can work more efficiently.

In the new SAP S/4HANA system, all data from the entire Hirschvogel Group come together: production, maintenance, finance, HR, purchasing, product development and engineering the right data is available to employees everywhere at the right time. Data silos are dissolved and transparency in the company is increased.

The high process efficiency and rapid implementation of new functions in all locations, coupled with the possibility of using new technologies through SAP S/4HANA, provides the perfect basis for greater innovative strength.

This will not only equip the Hirschvogel Group for the future and enable it to master the challenges of Automotive Industry 4.0, but also to maintain its position as a global leader in the solid forming of steel and aluminum. In addition, Hirschvogel is opening up new areas to master the transformation from the combustion engine business to e-mobility.

Thanks to the flexibility of SAP S/4HANA, business processes can be adapted to new requirements at any time. This gives management full transparency of developments in all business areas at all times and enables them to take corrective action at an early stage. The SAP S/4HANA conversion in 2023 will create the basis for future innovations of the Hirschvogel Group. Subsequently, further joint projects with the All for One Group are on the agenda.

The Hirschvogel Group is an automotive supplier. The company from Denklingen, Germany is considered one of the largest, globally operating automotive suppliers in the field of solid forming of steel and aluminum and subsequent machining. The company employs about 6,000 employees. Its clients include renowned automotive manufacturers and suppliers around the world.