SAP Compatibility Packs: What You Should Know Before Investing

March 6, 2023

As more companies start to plan their transition to SAP S/4HANA, it’s time to take a closer look at SAP compatibility packs as well as the available alternatives.

These packs are resources that allow you to use a compatible version of a related SAP Business Suite product in SAP S/4HANA. As such, you can access functionalities from the older SAP ECC—that is, the ERP (enterprise resource planning) central component—that aren’t already in S/4HANA. And while it’s not the same as using a native S/4HANA feature, it does give you the same basic results.

In addition to the packs, which expire before the start of 2026 (or the end of 2030 for a few exceptions), SAP has made other options available to customers. As such, enterprises migrating to S/4HANA have an important choice to make.

Whether or not to use SAP compatibility packs depends on your specific needs for application features as well as the timing of your upgrade. Using the packs, it shouldn’t take much additional effort to move to S/4HANA. You can deploy the functionality you need now, then complete the switch once these features become available directly within the new system.


Source: Shutterstock

What Are Compatibility Packs?

Compatibility packs are tools that enable you to run SAP’s ECC features within their newest ERP software. It’s a layer that combines old and new systems. Specifically, these packs are versions of the SAP Business Suite software that work with S/4HANA.

The standard SAP Business Suite products don’t run on S/4HANA. Therefore, compatibility packs are a necessary addition should you wish to use older software on newer installations.

Compatibility packs handle features from the ERP core, line-of-business, and industry solutions to deliver business continuity. You can keep using Business Suite technologies, while SAP works on adding the equivalent features to S/4HANA. Note that these packs are only for on-premise S/4HANA, not the cloud.

How Long Will the Packs Last?

The compatibility packs are temporary. Usage rights will expire at the end of 2025. However, this expiry date does not apply to the standard SAP Business Suite products themselves—only to the related compatibility packs for S/4HANA. In the meantime, you can run both the standard product and the compatibility pack simultaneously.

SAP plans to eventually roll out new features for S/4HANA that will make these compatibility tools redundant. These new products will have their own licensing, separate from compatibility packs and the ERP software.

Who Are the Packs Aimed At?

SAP compatibility packs are for customers who have already bought licenses for S/4HANA Enterprise Management and the packs for a Business Suite product. You can see the list of compatibility packs in this matrix. The compatibility scope matrix remains the same for all releases of S/4HANA, so you can rely on it up until the scheduled expiry date.

Are There Alternatives?

When it comes to human resources functionality, SAP offers several alternatives. SAP Human Capital Management (HCM) has a compatibility pack to run on S/4HANA. As with other packs, this will expire in 2025. Thereafter, you can migrate to SAP Human Capital Management for the on-premises edition of SAP S/4HANA, also known as H4S4.

A Worthy Investment?

Although SAP compatibility packs let you run ECC code in S/4HANA, they do come with some limitations. As such, you’ll need to gauge whether they’re worth the effort. Also, bear in mind that their usage rights expire on December 31, 2025, which means having to upgrade to a more stable solution before then. Moreover, with less than three years of validity remaining, the cost-benefit analysis of the compatibility packs has changed.

There’s no additional licensing cost for the SAP compatibility packs themselves—provided you’ve licensed the underlying software and SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management. In addition, consider the costs associated with maintaining your on-premises infrastructure compared with those to complete your application and data migration to S/4HANA in the cloud.

For some businesses that have functionalities they want to upgrade to S/4HANA, the SAP compatibility packs make sense. They’re a stopgap solution that can tide you over until 2025. This assistance may be useful enough to justify the challenges.

Other organizations may prefer to jump straight into S/4HANA without the SAP compatibility packs. If you can afford to go without the features that aren’t yet available in the new ERP system, a fresh approach could well be more efficient.

Consider Your Options

SAP offers compatibility packs as a method of handling its development and adoption cycles—which can last for several years. However, as they have alternatives to many of the solutions requiring a compatibility pack, it’s worth considering different options.

In some cases, there’s already functionality in S/4HANA, in which case you can just go ahead and make the move. In other cases, there’s a solution in development and you can choose whether to wait or use the SAP packs.

You also have the option of licensing SAP Business Suite software separately from SAP S/4HANA and then connecting them. In this scenario, you’d have side-by-side installations of two complete systems—and hence no need for compatibility packs.

Ultimately, to decide whether SAP compatibility packs are a worthwhile investment, you’ll have to weigh the aforementioned costs against the benefits of keeping your existing functionality through 2025.

SAP Compatibility Packs Connect S/4HANA with ECC


Source: Shutterstock

For businesses transitioning from the older ERP offering to S/4HANA, upgrading all functionality is challenging yet essential. In some instances, this can be done natively in S/4HANA; alternatively, you can use SAP compatibility packs.

Although these packs themselves are free, they do require licensing of the relevant software you’ll be connecting to. In addition, the compatibility packs expire relatively soon. As such, there’s a debate as to whether it’s worth using this upgrade path versus the available alternatives.

For many companies, SAP compatibility packs provide a practical bridge to cover the upcoming years. This can assist businesses in their migration to S/4HANA.

As the leading full SAP service provider, Approyo helps organizations deal with compatibility packs, migrations, new installations, and any other ERP needs. Contact Approyo if you need assistance with SAP compatibility packs or with managing S/4HANA.

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