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Canton of St. Gallen
Migration to S/4HANA with a ‘Brownfield’ approach

The St. Gallen Financial Services Authority and the University of St. Gallen wanted to switch to SAP S/4HANA – on the existing infrastructure and with special exceptions.

Kanton St. Gallen

The challenge

The administration of the Canton of St. Gallen in eastern Switzerland has been working with SAP Release ECC 6.0 since 2011. The decision to upgrade to S/4HANA was made in 2019 for modernisation reasons and because mainstream maintenance was scheduled to end. The main users of the SAP systems in the Finance Department are the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Human Resources Department, each with one instance with the development, test and production systems that are hosted externally. The FSA instance houses the cantonal administration, as well as two other clients: the University of St. Gallen and the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences in St. Gallen. The latter did not want to make the switch to S/4HANA, so the additional challenge was to keep the existing SAP system and the old database available without making any changes. For the Human Resources Department, the database change to HANA was completed, since there wasn’t a corresponding S/4 solution in the HR division yet.

Our solution

Upgrading the existing systems with several project partners

SAP Lifecycle project: A preliminary study showed that upgrading the existing systems (brownfield) would cover the requirements best. A complex project requires a great deal of know-how, which is why the Canton invited tenders separately in four lots (service areas (SAs)) and involved several expert partners:

  • SA 1 for upgrading the existing Oracle database to HANA

  • SA 2 for porting the standard FI/CO modules from R3 to S/4HANA, implementing the central business partner and the Universal Journal, and migrating the existing processes

  • SA 3 for dismantling the SD module, which had been customised in recent years, to SAP Standard

  • SA 4 for adapting various special modules and proprietary developments (portal) for operation under S/4HANA

itesys – bringing all the threads together

Lisa Ruch (Project Manager) remarked: ‘The biggest challenge in this highly complex and resource-intense migration project was coordinating the sub-projects at technological level. We entrusted itesys, our long-standing SAP Basis partner, with this extremely challenging task. itesys was familiar with our systems and had extensive expertise acquired from numerous S/4 and HANA migration projects.’

The client is raving about…

A new system on the existing IT structure

When a ‘brownfield’ approach is taken, the technological substructure is renewed without making any changes to the existing IT structures and processes. So the key issue was exchange between the infrastructure and application specialists. Ms Ruch (the Project Manager) remarked: ‘itesys set up a sandbox that the application partners could use for testing purposes very early on. The application partners have benefited greatly from itesys’ S/4 and HANA migration expertise.’

Legacy system remains available for a client

To bridge the large gap between the source and target systems, the experts at itesys set up a ‘sluice’ where a copy of the productive system was first migrated to an upgradeable interim version (EhP8). The original productive system with Oracle DB can still be used by the University of Applied Sciences.

Intense exchange and timely training

‘Numerous stakeholders have constantly exchanged information and worked with one another over the course of a year. This worked very well thanks to itesys’ professional technical project management. The scheduled downtime was used to train the staff on the innovations. So they could resume their work afterwards with the appropriate knowledge,’ said Lisa Ruch, drawing an all-round positive conclusion.

itesys' services

Canton of St. Gallen Financial Services Authority | Davidstrasse 35 | 9001 St. Gallen | Switzerland

  • Migration to HANA for the systems used in the Financial Services Authority with an EhP8 upgrade

  • Conversion to S/4HANA for the systems used in the Financial Services Authority

  • Migration to HANA for the systems used in the Human Resources Department

  • Migration portals (Oracle DB to SAP HANA)

  • Technical project management

  • Provision of the infrastructures in the data centre (incl. sandbox)

  • Development of project and sub-project plans

  • Distribution of the work packages

  • Coordination between all the project participants at a technological level

  • Transfer of migration know-how

  • Monitoring and reporting

  • 24/7 SAP Basis support

Book consulting


  • Preliminary study to clarify the ‘Road to S/4HANA’ (brownfield) approach taken by the partners

  • Smooth migration of the ERP system and DB system with the ‘brownfield’ approach

  • Upgrade to SAP S/4HANA

  • Retention of the existing IT structures and processes for the further education institutions

itesys’ professional technical project management and expertise contributed significantly to the complex migration project’s success.
Lisa Ruch, Project Manager, Canton of St. Gallen Finance Department