There’s a revolution going on in the SAP world. SAP ERP support will stop by 2025, forcing organizations currently using SAP ERP (EEC) to migrate to S/4HANA.
The new SAP ERP suite will run exclusively on HANA, SAP’s own in-memory database. The problem is using S4/HANA for document storage can drive costs high fast, while causing several issues with licensing, content accessibility, compliance and retention management, just to name a few.
If you’re looking to drive down costs in your migration to S/4HANA and avoid problems like the ones we mention above, why not look into alternative document management for SAP? Here are five compelling reasons why you should consider Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems like Alfresco or OpenText during your migration to S/4HANA.
SAP typically manages huge amounts of business-critical data and documents, such as invoices and contracts. Without any ECM platform integration, all SAP documents will be stored within the HANA database. That creates another content silo, next to your SharePoint environment, document management platform, or any other content repository where you already manage part of your organizational content.
We notice such content silo proliferation in many organizations, but you should be aware that it brings considerable hidden costs. For one thing, your governance principles (e.g. retention policies) will have to be replicated over multiple systems.
Also, permission structures will need to be managed over all those repositories. Or think about soaring integration costs when content from multiple repositories is needed within a business process.
All these issues can be solved by offloading your documents from SAP to a centralized document management repository such as OpenText Documentum or Alfresco.
S/4HANA has its own “in memory” database. While this makes the database faster, it also means that when you store your documents in SAP, your document storage cost will increase. After all, it’s Tier-1 content storage system.
ECM solutions allow you to store the documents on disk, lowering the storage cost considerably. What’s more, most ECM platforms provide much more refined storage management capabilities.
Alfresco, for example, provides an AWS S3 connector allowing you to store your data on specific storage classes so that you can tune for cost versus performance. OpenText offers similar SaaS solutions to optimize your storage costs.
A common observation in organizations using SAP is that users who occasionally work with SAP documents (e.g. for approving specific invoices or contracts) not always have a SAP license.
This could happen either because of license cost or because of the complexity of working with SAP. In this scenario, offloading your content to an ECM platform typically is of great help as it allows you to route your contracts and invoices through an ECM-based workflow, outside the SAP context.
Migrating from ERP to S/4HANA is the ideal opportunity to archive older data. Some data or documents might not be active anymore but still need to be kept for legal reasons or be available for consultation.
This is why migrating the data and documents to a digital archiving platform where they can be retrieved easily will be a wiser move than migrating them to S/4HANA. This will not only save you a lot on storage costs, but it will also keep your SAP environment cleaner and make sure non-active data is properly managed and retained long term.
For this use case, OpenText InfoArchive offers a cost-effective solution, combining records management with high-volume archiving of both data and documents.
Convinced that your SAP project will benefit from offloading its documents to an ECM platform? If these four reasons are not enough, check this: both Alfresco and OpenText offer certified integrations with SAP, tackling all of the above challenges. In addition, OpenText also offers an SAP-integrated solution for smart document processing of incoming invoices.
Hans De Bal is a Senior ECM Consultant at Amplexor based in Belgium, specialized in Alfresco. Leading a team of developers, Hans focuses on providing clients with robust solutions against their business requirements. He has been responsible for successfully leading Alfresco projects for public and finance sectors. As an open source enthusiast, he’s also frequent speaker at BeeCon Alfresco Developer Conferences throughout Europe.