Last week SAP announced the availability of their S/4 HANA 1610 release. Why is this significant to the oil and gas sector? Well, S/4 HANA 1610 is the first full S/4 HANA release to include the oil and gas-specific functionality of the IS-OIL industry solution. Opportune joined SAP, SAP oil and gas operators and partner firms to get a deeper insight into what to expect from this release, what is still to be developed and the options for migrating to S/4 HANA.

The S/4 HANA solution is SAP’s answer to ERP in the digital world: an underlying in-memory database that provides the analytical backbone; simplified data structures that reduce reconciliation and improve reporting; and a much-needed user interface that is role-based, process-simplified and mobile-enabled (the Fiori 2.0 solution). Also—as this is a major SAP S/4 HANA release—it can be deployed in the cloud or on premise.

From an oil and gas perspective, whilst previous versions of S/4 HANA FINANCE were compatible with Oil Solutions and have some HANA optimisations, this is the first full S/4 HANA solution to include the Downstream Oil Solutions (no Oil Solutions in the previous 1511 release). Upstream companies will know that the Joint Venture Accounting functionality has long been part of the SAP Finance core so they are also included, but have been available previously. The release also includes the first FIORI experiences specific to oil and gas role and optimisations to the traders’ and schedulers’ workbench functions. Of course, there are still some future release enhancements: notably, Upstream Operations Management, Commodities Management Integration, enhanced supply chain planning and further FIORI enablement.

So, for companies new to SAP—admittedly rare in the oil and gas sector—this release represents the obvious deployment option; but for many companies already on SAP what are their migrations choices? Well, SAP are keen to point out that this is a new product; as such moving to S/4 HANA 1610 should be regarded as either a new implementation or conversion rather than a simple upgrade. However, for companies not looking to make that big a step right now, the option to move their current SAP ECC suite onto the HANA platform, with the possibility of upgrading to S/4 HANA FINANCE could be approaches that start their HANA journey.