Describing Implementation Types and Clean Core


After completing this lesson, you will be able to Describe how implementation types and target architectures influence clean core strategies.

Clean Core Strategies


Embarking on the journey of adopting SAP S/4HANA Cloud requires an important choice for customers. This choice is whether to opt for a new implementation ("greenfield") or a system conversion ("brownfield") implementation strategy. A third option (selective data transition | system landscape conversion) also exists. Let's talk about these options in the context of clean core principles.

Understanding the Different Types of Implementations

Watch the video to get introduced to clean core strategies.

SAP S/4HANA Cloud public edition is a ready-to-run solution. Both private edition and on premise can be considered as tailored-to-fit solutions for enterprises who need that approach.

The Impact of Greenfield or Brownfield on Clean Core Strategies

So, how does the choice between greenfield or brownfield affect companies clean core strategies? In the previous lesson, we saw that clean core refers to an up-to-date system on the latest release. The system includes cloud-compliant extensions and integration, with optimal master data quality and with perfect process design. It ultimately simplifies system architecture, increasing the efficiency and speed of operations.

In the first manufacturing company scenario, let's say the existing system has been in place for years and is packed with custom code, redundant functions, and outdated modules. Adopting the greenfield approach allows us to start fresh, adopting a clean core from the beginning. This approach ensures efficiency and reduces complexity. As we've mentioned, a new system starts by default with a clean core.

On the contrary, a brownfield approach, which is our preferred method in the second inventory management scenario, allows the target SAP S/4HANA Cloud instance (either private edition or on premise) to retain some of the previous system's complexities. This approach may present a challenge. Since we're retaining the existing system we will inherit historic complexities and possibly unwanted customizations. However, in spite of that challenge, SAP S/4HANA can be "clean" in the case of system conversions. It means that the system does not start clean, but we engage in a process to systematically make it clean. To sum up, the clean core strategy in that case lies in us identifying which aspects of the legacy system to retain, eliminate, or transform and then to do so. This requires us to have a strong understanding of our current system's functions and a clear idea of how adopting SAP S/4HANA Cloud can achieve the desired changes. It challenges us to reconcile the old with the new-efficiently transforming and adapting everything (including but not limited to custom code) so that it is clean core compliant for SAP S/4HANA.

One final thing to note. Although not explicitly discussed a selective data transition | system landscape transformation is a third option. This approach allows customers to consolidate multiple ERP systems (due to a history of mergers and acquisitions for example) into one private edition or on premise target.

Clean core can be accomplished with all implementation approaches. The approach chosen by the customer only affects the specifics of how to get there.

Business Processes Are an Important Factor to Consider

There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to pursue a greenfield or brownfield approach. We examine one factor, business process considerations, here. For a complete discussion of all the various factors to consider in choosing which approach to take, see the lesson "Evaluating Between a System Conversion or a New Implementation" in the learning journey "Practicing Clean Core Extensibility For SAP S/4HANA Cloud".

Continuing with our first (greenfield) scenario, if the manufacturing company is willing and able to adopt new business processes based on current best practices with a fit to standard approach a greenfield approach becomes viable. With this strategy, they have the freedom to initiate a clean core strategy without the restrictions of legacy coding and design.

Alternatively, continuing with our second (brownfield) scenario, if the inventory management system uses complex business processes that are necessary and are expensive or challenging to redesign from the beginning, a brownfield approach becomes viable. A clean core as always is possible and the goal. In this case, critical business processes are preserved.

Balancing Business Requirements and Clean Core Strategies

How we apply clean core principles in migrating to SAP S/4HANA Cloud ultimately depends on a balance between business requirements and implementation strategies. Our role as developers extends beyond writing code. We become critical intermediaries in ensuring the upgraded system both aligns with business requirements and adheres to clean core principles. A greenfield strategy presents the simplest and most direct route to achieving a clean core, but is not always appropriate. A brownfield strategy, while it can preserve some complexity due to highly specific business requirements, still offers a medium to transform and simplify existing codes in a clean code-compliant way.

Ultimately, the choice between greenfield and brownfield correlates closely with the business context, availability of resources, and the tolerance for comprehensive change. As developers, understanding these strategies' impacts on clean core principles equips us in making informed decisions for the business.


In conclusion, both Greenfield and Brownfield implementations have their potential in the right setup. As a developer, understanding these implementations and the part they play in maintaining a clean core can significantly influence the success of your SAP S/4HANA Cloud project. Remember, whichever approach you choose, the goal is to promote a clean core strategy. A clean core strategy calls for an optimized, simplified, and flexible system that effectively supports your organization's unique business processes while facilitating innovation and agility.

With an ERP clean core strategy, you can help ensure your organization benefits from the latest release with minimal modifications and cloud-compliant extensions and customizations.

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