SAP ECC vs SAP S/4 HANA Cloud: A Comparative Guide

  • 28 July 2023
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Both ERP (enterprise resource planning) are software solutions by SAP. Both known for their performance and ability to streamline major business operations.

That’s both, SAP ECC and SAP S/4HANA.

So, what distinguishes them? While SAP ECC has been a long-standing and trusted ERP system, SAP introduced SAP S/4HANA in 2015 as the next-generation ERP suite.

With SAP’s announcement to discontinue support for SAP ECC by 2027, organizations are faced with the imperative to migrate to SAP S/4HANA. In this article, we will delve into the key differences between these two systems, equipping you with the essential knowledge to navigate the transition successfully.


Here’s a comparison table highlighting the key differences between SAP ECC and SAP S/4HANA:

Feature/AspectSAP ECCSAP S/4HANA
The MeaningSAP ERP Central Component or SAP ECC is a modular, customizable ERP. It can be configured as per business-specific operations, including accounts to inventory to logistics.It is SAP’s newest generation of ERP software solution that uses advanced technologies, such as AI and ML to unify core operations. It helps analyze huge volumes/amounts of data in real-time.
Default Account-Based CO-PADefault option is costing-based CO-PA (CO-Profitability Analysis)Default is account-based CO-PA, and option to run costing-based CO-PA
FI (Finance) and CO (Controlling)Can manage with bothSimpler system. Part of one, single module in ACDOCA, the Universal Journal. This means period-end ledger closings are automated in real-time.
Integrated Business PartnersCustomers and vendors are different data variables/objectsCustomers and vendors are unified as master data variable/object and are called business partners.
Real-time MRP (material requirements planning)Wait until non-peak hours and run a batch jobRun MRP in real-time
Mandatory Material Ledger (ML)OptionalMandatory (part of ACDOCA)
DatabaseRelational Database (e.g., Oracle, MS SQL)In-Memory Database (SAP HANA)
User ExperienceSAP GUISAP Fiori UX
ArchitectureTwo-tier architectureThree-tier architecture
Data ModelRow-basedColumnar
Real-time AnalyticsLimited real-time analytics capabilitiesAdvanced real-time analytics capabilities
Reporting and AnalyticsTraditional reporting toolsEmbedded analytics with SAP Analytics Cloud
SimplificationComplex business processesSimplified and streamlined processes
Deployment OptionsOn-premisesOn-premises, Cloud, Hybrid
CustomizationsExtensive customizationsLimited customizations, enhanced configuration
System ConversionRequires system conversion for migrationDirect migration
Simplified Data ModelN/ASAP S/4HANA data model
Industry-Specific SolutionsLimited industry-specific solutionsEnhanced industry-specific solutions
Machine Learning and AI IntegrationLimited integrationNative integration with machine learning and AI capabilities
Internet of Things (IoT) IntegrationLimited IoT integrationNative IoT integration capabilities
Integration with Other Systems and AppsTraditional integration approachesOpen APIs for seamless integration
Master Data ManagementLimited master data managementCentralized master data management
Performance OptimizationLimited performance optimizationEnhanced performance optimization
System Maintenance and PatchingManual maintenance and patchingAutomated maintenance and patching
Support and Future DevelopmentExtended support until 2027Long-term support and innovation roadmap

The major difference

SAP S/4HANA revolutionizes features and processes inherited from SAP ECC, resulting in cost reductions and enhanced business efficiency. This transformative shift entails a blend of feature modifications, replacements, and amalgamations, aimed at delivering optimal performance. As a result, some familiar functionalities have undergone changes, while others have been superseded or merged into innovative features that align with the evolving business landscape.

So, what are the latest features that make SAP S/4 HANA manage your data more effectively? Let’s find out.

Advanced Features in SAP S/4HANA

The SAP HANA Database

SAP S/4HANA leverages the SAP HANA database for faster and more efficient operations by reading data from main memory, utilizing column-based tables, eliminating aggregates and indexes, and combining OLTP and OLAP tables.

Revenue Accounting and Reporting (RAR)

SAP S/4HANA’s has a new Revenue Accounting and Reporting (RAR) module, that replaces SD Revenue Recognition in SAP ECC, offering optimized contract management features and easy revenue recognition that is also compliant with IFRS 15.

SAP Fiori User Interface

SAP S/4HANA introduces SAP Fiori, a modern and intuitive user interface that enhances productivity, accelerates onboarding, and delivers a consistent user experience across devices, supporting custom enterprise app development.

Advanced ATP

SAP S/4HANA brings advanced ATP (aATP) with automated capabilities like releasing delivery items, checking availability of stock in alternative plants, and performing mass-level availability checks.

Global Trade Services

S/4HANA introduces Global Trade Services (GTS) integration, replacing SAP ECC’s foreign trade functions and automating processes such as checking of embargo, license checks, and declarations of import/export.

FSCM Credit Management

In SAP S/4HANA, credit management falls within financial supply chain management (FSCM), offering automated workflows for approval of credit limit, risk scoring, and direct interface with third-party credit agencies.

Extended Warehouse Management

SAP S/4HANA replaces Warehouse Management (WM) with Extended Warehouse Management (EWM), enabling efficient management of complex warehouse processes, including labor management and goods distribution.

ACDOCA: The Universal Journal

SAP S/4HANA unifies data modules into ACDOCA, the Universal Journal, eliminating aggregate and index tables, reducing data footprint, and improving system efficiency.

MATDOC: Inventory Management

SAP S/4HANA replaces multiple tables with MATDOC, enhancing inventory management by eliminating redundancy, improving stock reporting, and streamlining material document storage.

While those were the technicalities, what is the overall business benefit of switching to SAP S/4 HANA? Let us discover.

Benefits of Opting for SAP S/4HANA

According to a recent study conducted by IDC, organizations leveraging SAP HANA to drive business growth and operational efficiencies experienced an impressive average return on investment (ROI) of 679% over a span of five years. This remarkable achievement translated into substantial revenue gains of $34.1 million per organization. The study highlights the significant impact and value that SAP S/4 HANA brings to businesses in terms of financial outcomes and overall success.

Advantages of Choosing SAP S/4HANA

  • Simplified data models
  • Easy integration with SAP ECC, SAP B1 and other SAP products
  • Operates in cloud, so has lower operational and ownership costs
  • Automation and AI improve productivity and performance
  • Faster, smarter, data-backed decision-making
  • Scalability and flexibility to adapt resources to evolving needs
  • Faster time to value with preconfigured environments and templates
  • Reduced IT complexity by outsourcing infrastructure management
  • Enhanced accessibility and collaboration from any device, anywhere
  • Cost savings through pay-as-you-go pricing and eliminating hardware investments
  • Continuous innovation and upgrades delivered by the cloud provider
  • Improved data security and compliance with robust cloud security measures

Understanding the key differences between SAP releases highlights the benefits of transitioning to SAP S/4HANA and emphasizes the importance of a smooth migration process. As SAP plans to end support for older versions by 2027, S/4HANA transformation becomes a necessity. The advantages include an enhanced user experience, improved performance, and reduced total cost of ownership.

Setting the Stage for SAP S/4HANA with Enterprise Architecture

To pave the way for S/4HANA, it’s crucial to develop a digital transformation roadmap and consider partnering with a managed services provider experienced in SAP and various cloud vendors. This can streamline planning, development, minimize costs, and mitigate disruptions to your business.

Uneecops has been an industry leader in SAP consultation, migration and implementation services. Uneecops is a member of United VARs, which is an SAP Platinum Partner. We specialize in SAP S/4 HANA deployment end-to-end. Let us begin with a discovery call to understand your SAP environment and the possibilities of seamlessly migrating to SAP S/4 HANA. Let’s 1,2,3 S/4 HANA!

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    About the author

    Uneecops provides a comprehensive bouquet of business automation products and services to help companies optimize organizational productivity and maximize profits. We are a CMMI Level 5 company with various recognitions from our partners and customers affirming our belief in technology led business transformation using ERP, Analytics, CRM and Cloud.