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Greenfield Vs. Brownfield

Choosing the Right Sap S/4hana Migration Approach: Greenfield Vs. Brownfield Strategies

SAP S/4HANA is a revolutionary technology that transforms the way businesses operate by replacing complex legacy workflows with high-speed operational insights using in-memory computing. For companies seeking to modernize their SAP landscape and gain a competitive edge, migrating from SAP ERP Central Component to SAP S/4HANA is essential.
Choosing the right migration approach is critical to ensure a smooth transition, with two options available: upgrading the existing system to a new version and migrating data, or migrating from the current version with the help of a third-party service provider. Migrating to SAP S/4HANA accelerates digital transformation and enhances operational performance.

SAP S4HANA Cloud Process

When starting a new project, developers must choose between a brownfield or greenfield approach. It also involves budget, timeline, and environmental impact, which can vary significantly between brownfield vs greenfield.
In this article, we will explore the key differences between greenfield vs brownfield SAP projects, identify some critical safety concerns that all developers should be aware of, and discuss strategies to help you achieve a successful outcome that benefits businesses.

SAP S/4HANA Migration Strategies – Greenfield vs. Brownfield

The process of SAP S/4HANA migration is complex and requires a suitable approach and method. SAP HANA enables the storage and retrieval of data from various sources, including middleware systems and enterprise applications, thanks to its support for structured and unstructured data types. Proper planning, preparation, and execution are essential for achieving success. There are various migration options available, but the two most common approaches for migrating to SAP S/4HANA are:

Greenfield Implementation In SAP:

The Greenfield approach in SAP S/4HANA migration represents a fresh start, embracing new technological innovations for process reengineering and simplification. This method involves a complete overhaul, replacing existing systems and processes with SAP S/4HANA’s standard functionalities and best practices.  Greenfield migration is a strategic approach to updating systems and transferring data. It involves creating a new environment or system and migrating data and processes from the old one.

One of the key advantages of the Greenfield approach is its suitability for both new and existing customers, particularly those with complex and heterogeneous systems. It offers the opportunity to eliminate old tasks, enhance flexibility for future needs, and seamlessly transition to the new SAP S/4HANA environment. Overall, the Greenfield approach empowers organizations to leverage SAP Best Practices, optimize processes, and embrace digital transformation for long-term business success.

The most typical benefits of a SAP greenfield deployment are

  • Provides a clean slate beginning of the new implementation
  • Addresses deep-rooted challenges and declutters complicated workflows and heavily customized codes
  • Enables adoption of best practices for process simplification, landscape consolidation, and rationalization of legacy systems
  • Unlocks greater operational efficiencies by re-engineered processes, optimal workflows, and enhanced SAP-centric system capabilities
  • Allows for greater automation, innovation, and business continuity
  • With a SAP greenfield implementation, you can design SAP S/4HANA to fit your business needs
  • SAP Greenfield implementations give you access to all the latest SAP S/4HANA features, without compatibility concerns

Disadvantages of Greenfield Implementation:

  • More Time Needed: This approach takes longer due to upfront analysis, process changes, data cleaning, and building everything from scratch.
  • Change Management Boost: Switching to a whole new system might require extra effort to help employees adapt and get comfortable.
  • Training Time Increases: Employees will need more training on the new system and processes.
  • Potentially Higher Costs: Starting fresh can be expensive due to the time and resources needed for implementation.

Greenfield deployment is best suited for companies that seek to improve their existing processes and add-ons to S/4 HANA, as it provides enhanced capabilities for managing financials, logistics, and other business operations.



Brownfield Implementation In SAP:

The brownfield approach is a popular method for upgrading existing SAP S/4HANA systems that have been in use for at least a year. This method allows businesses to take advantage of new features without disrupting current processes. Brownfield migration involves upgrading the hardware and software of an existing system with minimal disruption to the legacy systems. This approach is faster and less expensive than building a new system from scratch. Brownfield migration is a strategic approach to updating systems without disrupting operations or wasting resources. Unlike greenfield projects, which start fresh, brownfield migration leverages existing infrastructure to transition to newer systems or technologies. This cost-effective and practical approach optimizes systems while minimizing downtime, ensuring a seamless transition and a competitive advantage.

Advantages of brownfield approach include:

  • Faster deployment times
  • Minimal impact on business processes
  • Allows for re-evaluation of previous customizations and existing workflows
  • Supports selective component picking during the migration from ECC to the SAP S/4HANA platform.

Disadvantages of Brownfield Approach:

  • Limited New Features: You might not be able to add all the latest features from the new system if your old system can’t handle them.
  • Legacy Issues: Upgrading an existing system can sometimes drag along old problems that can slow things down or limit how much the system can grow.
  • Custom Code Challenges: If you’ve made a lot of changes to your old system, it can be tricky and time-consuming to adjust them for the new system.
  • Modernize, Not Overhaul: Ideal for upgrading your existing system with the latest features while keeping your current setup.
  • Cost-Effective Choice: Generally less expensive than starting fresh.
  • Faster Implementation: Leveraging your existing system infrastructure can speed up the migration process.
  • Complex Systems: Works well with intricate system architecture or extensive integrations.
  • Future Growth: Consider your future needs – a Brownfield approach might limit flexibility for future changes.

In short, Brownfield migration is a budget-friendly option for updating your existing SAP system without a complete overhaul.  However, it’s important to be aware of the potential limitations in terms of flexibility and legacy issues.

What you need to know when choosing S/4 HANA Greenfield and Brownfield

Greenfield Vs Brownfield

When deciding between SAP Greenfield vs Brownfield , there are several factors to consider, including budget, timeline, business goals, and IT infrastructure. brownfield implementation may require more investment, but it can provide more significant long-term benefits, such as increased efficiency and improved business processes. Greenfield implementation may be more budget-friendly and less disruptive, but it may not provide the latest technologies and best practices. 

Ultimately, the choice between Greenfield vs Brownfield implementation depends on the company’s unique needs and objectives. A thorough analysis of the existing IT environment, business goals, and budget can help organizations make an informed decision that aligns with their overall strategy.


Choosing the best SAP migration approach depends on your organization’s modernization goals and the level of risk you are willing to take. If you want to start with a brand new system implementation, then the greenfield approach is suitable. It’s important to note that the difference between the greenfield and brownfield approaches is that the former does not require any new application development, and existing applications remain unchanged. In contrast, a brownfield approach involves developing new applications that integrate with your current ERP system, typically through OBIEE. Ultimately, the choice depends on your organization’s unique needs and preferences.

Why Choose A5E? 

At A5E, we have extensive experience in both greenfield and brownfield implementations, and our consulting services are tailored to meet the specific needs of each project. Our approach combines specialized process consulting services with cutting-edge technology platforms to enable organizations to become more flexible and responsive in addressing the constantly changing demands of the market. 

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