SAP S/4HANA Transformation

Put your trust in "VITAL"
the validated and innovative transformation approach for the life sciences


SAP S/4HANA is the 4th SAP ERP generation and supports companies in taking a big step towards digitalisation or smart enterprise. It covers all functions of ECC 6.0. In addition, some functions that were previously only available in SAP industry solutions or via the connection of third-party systems have been integrated into the standard.
In the course of SAP’s simplification and digitisation initiatives, S/4HANA received a completely new architecture and role-based user interface (SAP Fiori) as well as an intelligent data model. In combination with the in-memory technology of the SAP HANA database, business processes can be executed much faster and more efficiently and intelligent real-time analyses can be performed.
SAP S/4HANA can be operated both on-premise and in the cloud.

The transformation of S/4HANA must be thoroughly prepared. After all, it is about converting an integrated, business-critical business process system. The conversion to S/4HANA is a highly complex project with a large number of affected users and usually tight time and budget constraints. In addition, it usually runs parallel to ongoing operations, i.e. it must not interfere with day-to-day business and should require only a few downtimes, set-up times and conversion times.
For more than 25 years, DHC has been your competent consulting partner for all SAP topics in the life sciences. Our consultants not only have the necessary SAP knowledge, but also in-depth process and industry know-how in the regulated environment. On the topic of SAP ERP, we support you from the strategy, through the creation of the roadmap, to the transformation and validation according to our process model for SAP S/4HANA, as well as beyond that with support and services.


With SAP S/4HANA, different operating models are also offered for the first time, because in addition to the classic on premise solution S/4HANA Enterprise Management, there are now also SAP S/4HANA Cloud solutions.

SAP divides the possible operating models for SAP S/4HANA into:

  1. As a Service (Cloud ERP, SaaS)
  2. As a Product (ERP AnyPremise, on any infrastructure)

SAP S/4HANA Cloud (formerly: SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud, Multi Tenant Edition, Essential Edition)

SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a true SaaS solution with highly standardised cloud services. It is a multi-client landscape, i.e. various SAP customers share a public cloud infrastructure. This operating model is therefore – in our opinion – not an option for the life sciences sector, but it should nevertheless be described briefly.

In this operating model, only the classic ERP core functionalities and selected Line of Business (LOB) processes are made available. Currently, no industry solution is offered for the life sciences.
Automatic release updates are carried out twice a year.

The path to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud is only possible via a complete new implementation (greenfield).

A periodic subscription fee (rental fee) is charged for use and licensing. With the exception of the implementation costs, all costs are covered, i.e. infrastructure costs, licences, maintenance fees, backups, operating costs, etc.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition (formerly: SAP S/4HANA Private Cloud, Single Tenant Edition, Extended Edition)

SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition

In contrast to SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition offers customers their own cloud infrastructure and includes the classic S/4HANA ERP system with the full range of functions (identical to S/4HANA ERP AnyPremise) as well as all available industry solutions and country versions. This variant can be customised and extended (extensibility), i.e. changes to the source code are possible but not recommended by SAP.
SAP provides one upgrade per year, whereby the customer can decide for himself whether and when to install this new release.

The path to the SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition, can take the form of a complete new implementation (Greenfield), a migration (Brownfield) or a “Selectice Data Transition” (Bluefield).

The cloud is operated at hyperscalers such as Azure, AWS, Google, Alibaba or in SAP data centres.

A periodic subscription fee (rental fee) is charged for licensing. With the exception of the implementation costs, this also covers all costs, i.e. infrastructure costs, licences, maintenance fees, backups, operating costs at SAP or a hyperscaler, etc.

SAP S/4HANA on premise

Of course, the classic SAP S/4HANA on premise version is still available, but SAP recommends that its customers operate S/4HANA in the cloud. S/4HANA on premise is a standardised SAP ERP generation that can be customised and expanded. Operation takes place in the customer’s own data centre, with a hyperscaler or as outsourcing with a professional data centre operator.

The path to SAP S/4HANA AnyPremise can either be a complete new implementation (Greenfield), a system conversion (Brownfield) from a previous SAP ERP system (Brownfield) or a “Selective Data Transition” (Bluefield).

This solution includes all available industry solutions and country versions. In addition, SAP S/4HANA AnyPremise can be adapted, extended and changed practically at will. SAP provides one new release per year, whereby the customer decides whether and when to install a new release.

The licences are acquired via a one-off payment and are subject to an annual maintenance fee.

The switch to SAP S/4HANA

Depending on the operating model, the path to SAP S/4HANA can therefore take the form of a complete new implementation (greenfield), a transformation / system conversion from a previous SAP ERP system (brownfield) or a “selective data transition”.

Which type of migration is used depends on various criteria, such as the customer’s existing IT system landscape, the desired degree of standardisation or customisation of the system or the decision for an on-premises or cloud operating model. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully weighed against each other.

We support you on your way to SAP S/4HANA and work with you to develop the roadmap that best suits your company.

When choosing the operating model, our customers in the pharmaceutical industry and medical technology must also take into account that they must not only implement and maintain the system used, but also validate it with the introduction and with each update. With on-premise use – i.e. in-house – S/4HANA Enterprise Management is validated “classically”. If you opt for the cloud variant, there are a few special features to consider when validating cloud computing systems, especially in the life sciences. Although the company hands over the responsibility for operating the system and places it in the hands of the cloud provider, the responsibility for quality always remains with the client.


In the brownfield approach, the existing SAP ERP system is converted to S/4HANA. During this upgrade, existing data, processes and individual developments are taken over and obsolete data, lines of code and functions are also transferred to the new SAP S/4HANA system.

The brownfield approach is usually faster and cheaper than a new implementation. However, it is only suitable if the existing systems are not very heterogeneous and still close to the standard.

Furthermore, the brownfield approach is chosen when solution extensions are to be preserved or it is necessary to keep the entire history of transaction data.

In the case of very complex systems, however, the disadvantages outweigh the fact that the complexity of the system remains during conversion and that S/4HANA best practices are not applicable. This means that the full potential of S/4HANA cannot be realised. The use of functional enhancements and the maintenance of the system are made more difficult.


For over 25 years, DHC has been your competent consulting partner for all SAP topics in the life sciences. Our consultants not only have the necessary SAP knowledge, but also in-depth process and industry know-how in the regulated environment. We support you from the strategy to the creation of the roadmap to the transformation and validation of SAP S/4HANA according to our process model and beyond with support and services.

There is currently a high demand for experienced SAP transformation consultants. According to a recent study by IT Online magazine, this shortage of experts is considered the second biggest challenge in the transformation to SAP S/4HANA. Since we are also faced with the challenge of being able to offer you corresponding capacities, we work together with a network of consulting specialists for the life sciences.

Our partner network: The LIFE SCIENCES ALLIANCE

In order to be able to offer you pragmatic, cost-optimised and reliable services and IT solutions when switching to SAP S/4HANA, we and the All for One Group have bundled our SAP Life Sciences service portfolio. Since 2020, we have been offering pharmaceutical and medical technology companies industry-specific SAP solutions and, above all, a coordinated approach for the implementation, system conversion and validation of SAP S/4HANA systems with the Life Sciences Alliance.

Our project methodology for the transformation and validation of SAP S/4HANA

For the transformation from SAP ECC to an intelligent enterprise in the life sciences, the Life Sciences Alliance (LSA) has developed the VITAL© approach. VITAL stands for a validated and innovative transformation approach and has been developed by us specifically for regulated industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry and medical technology.

Transformation approach for SAP S/4HANA

The conversion and validation go hand in hand to ensure the most efficient and frictionless transition to the “intelligent enterprise”. The Computerised System Validation is accordingly embedded in the approach and thus supports a risk-minimised project process. With regard to validation, the focus can be placed both on the resulting delta and on a re-validation based on the Digital Process Landscape.

The conversion to S/4HANA is tool-supported with minimal downtime and using automatisms that have been used successfully several times. Different transformation approaches can be used in a targeted manner, both brownfield, with the transfer of all data, and an approach based purely on selected data in time slices. But that is not all! We also support you during the transformation processes using oursolution components to optimise and generate initial added value for your company.

In order to constantly benefit from innovations on a scalable platform, we show you the way out of today’s ECC world towards the “intelligent enterprise”. By using powerful tools such as Cristal Bridge and Signavio, we are able to show you far-reaching optimisation potential even before the technical change of the platform and thus not only focus on necessary changes.

Release change and validation of SAP are deliberately not separated from each other in organisational and methodological terms in order to avoid excess work, inconsistencies and errors!

We accompany you on the way to the “intelligent enterprise” and support you in making the most of the added values of this transformation. Characterised by an evaluationbased on Business Process Intelligence, we show you the possible potentials at the earliest possible stage even before the technological platform change starts. Methods such as Business Model Canvas, Innovation Boards and other business analysis approaches help us to establish the business models with corresponding innovative processes and functions tailored to your needs and to increase your future security and competitiveness.

Following or parallel to the technological transformation, we work with you to develop the path to the future so that you can permanently benefit from innovations for your business and focus on the essential value-adding activities, e.g. by automating regression tests, in order to reduce the efforts in the affected departments to a minimum.

Establish new business models by easily integrating the required solutions from the SAP Ecosystem portfolio. Conversational AI, Intelligent Robot Process Automation or Workflow Management to create more freedom. Enable your departments to realise small adjustments and parameterisations themselves through LowCode/NoCode solutions, such as AppGyver, and thus reduce dependencies.


Ready-to-use integration of solutions from the Industry Cloud and SAP App Store

Generic as well as sector-specific additions as modification-free add-ons

Customised extensions following the “Keep the Core clean” philosophy based on side-by-side extensibility via the Business Technology Platform

Automate processes using technologies such as Conversational AI, Robot Process Automation and SAP Workflow Management powered by SAP BTP

Informationsmaterial anfordern!

Learn more about the DHC approach for SAP S/4HANA transformation!


Benefit from our experience and industry expertise as a specialist for SAP S/4HANA implementation!

  • Over 25 years of implementation and validation experience in the area of SAP ERP.
  • Proprietary method for the transformation and validation of SAP S/4HANA = VITAL
  • Support during the changeover with the SAP S/4HANA Roadmap
  • Excellent industry know-how in life sciences (especially pharmaceutical industry and medical technology)
  • High level of process expertise
  • Sound knowledge of regulations (GAMP 5, ISO 13485, …)
Matthias Bothe

Managing Director & Industry Unit Manager
Life Sciences, Chemie and Medical Engineering
phone: +49 681 93 666 0

Matthias Bothe
Carsten Buri

CEO and Director Sales & Marketing, DHC Switzerland

phone: +41 44 500 888 7

Carsten Buri
Request information!

Learn more about or consulting services for SAP Life Sciences!



Our web sessions are provided as a free service for DHC customers and potential customers.