Steinbeis Paper: S/4HANA for the Green Revolution

Specialist for recycled paper relies on SAP Brownfield for migration

At a glance

     Steinbeis Papier GmbH
      Paper industry
     Glückstadt, Germany
     350 employees
      281,3 M € turnover

The company

100 percent recovered paper: Steinbeis papers are produced according to this principle without the raw material wood. And this has been the case since 1976. The European market leader for graphic recycled papers requires 79 percent less water and 73 percent less energy in production than in the manufacture of a conventional virgin fiber paper. It also emits 42 percent less CO2. With an annual production of more than 300,000 tons of paper, Steinbeis Papier makes a significant contribution to the sustainability of the printing and paper industry. And with its almost 350 employees, it is constantly developing the complete paper recycling process chains. All in the spirit of the Green Revolution, because sustainability is the business model of the entire Steinbeis Group.

How can we successfully implement SAP S/4HANA while creating the freedom we need to permanently improve our business processes? We answered this question clearly in the preliminary project with abat. Our roadmap for the brownfield migration is set!

Ulrich Middelberg, Head of IT Steinbeis Papier

The challenge

Following the principles of the circular economy, with the latest production standards and technologies, Steinbeis Papier produces recycled papers that contribute to a rethinking in the industry and in consumer markets and significantly shape the development of the recycled paper market. State-of-the-art technology is used to produce high-grade products with consistently high quality - a complex process with many challenges even in one of the most modern recycled paper mills in Europe. The portfolio includes printing and copying papers, offset papers, digital printing papers, and wet-strength label papers, each with different challenges in production and processes.

Since the beginning of the 2000s, Steinbeis has been mapping its corporate processes with a very sophisticated SAP ERP that is tailored in detail to its own requirements. Due to the end of maintenance for SAP ERP announced by SAP, the system will have to be replaced in the medium term. SAP S/4HANA is an obvious successor system. One of the key objectives here is to map more processes using the standard processes of the new system than before.

The solution

The best-practice processes provided by SAP in S/4HANA generally support significantly more processes by default than previous generations of ERP software from Walldorf. There are also standardized approaches for migration with SAP Greenfield and SAP Brownfield, which can also be implemented in combination. In order to find out which option was best suited for Steinbeis Papier, the medium-sized company commissioned the IT service provider and certified SAP partner abat with a preliminary study. Within 12 weeks, the abat consultants worked with Steinbeis Papier to develop an evaluation matrix and a recommendation for further action.

The project

What works in the standard? And what doesn't? In order to decide which approach will implement the introduction of SAP S/4HANA as effectively and efficiently as possible, a fit-gap analysis is recommended. It shows where adaptation effort is required and to what extent. The project team conducted this analysis for the five main processes in the company: Sales, Materials Management, Finance & Controlling, Production Planning and Production Control. For this purpose, abat created an S/4HANA prototype that maps these processes in the standard. In a number of workshops, the team examined the actual processes to find the so-called gaps, i.e. deviations from the SAP standard. The next step was to evaluate the gaps. Using T-shirt sizing, i.e., S, M, L, XL, the adaptation effort was roughly calculated. In addition to these technical tasks, part of the project team was also responsible for designing the system architecture, including integration into the existing system landscape with interfaces and master data management.

The project was implemented 100% remotely via MS Teams. The coordination of the people involved within the project team proved to be a challenge during the course of the project. In order to master the large number of workshops, a high degree of flexibility and personal commitment was required both on the planning side and from the people involved.

Many workshops - one list
Another important success factor for completing the preliminary study within the set time frame was abat's strictly systematic approach. This included a strong focus of the workshops on individual topics, which were systematically worked through without getting lost in a detailed recording of the actual processes. Ultimately, the goal was to adopt and implement as many standard processes from SAP as possible - ideally via greenfield migration. In the course of the workshops, a whole series of gaps became apparent, particularly in the APO/PP area. Here, the central control of order production is carried out on the basis of several dozen attributes that are specially adapted to the processes at Steinbeis Papier. In total, the project team identified 45 gaps as part of the fit-gap analysis.

From analysis to recommendation
In the next step, consultants and decision-makers discussed all 45 gaps in the change management board. They looked at them point by point: How large is the gap and how can it be closed? Does it make sense to adapt the business process to the system through an organizational change? For example, by having a missing report created by employees who are relieved elsewhere? For example, the new SAP controlling standard provides many reports at the touch of a button that previously had to be created manually as Excel sheets. In other places, the question is: is it worth reprogramming the system to save additional effort?


Timely completion of the preliminary project according to a variant of the SAP Activate methodology
Identification of XY adoptable SAP best practice processes and 45 gaps
Sound decision for SAP Brownfield
Roadmap with detailed descriptions of the next steps

The results

Based on the results of the fit-gap analysis, the expert consultants created an evaluation matrix for three different migration variants: Greenfield incremental, Greenfield Big Bang and Brownfield. The matrix shows the extent to which each of the variants meets the individual criteria required by Steinbeis Papier - from high maintainability and low testing effort to the lowest possible cost of implementation. From the sum of the individual evaluations, which were carried out jointly by the project team, the Brownfield variant emerged as the best solution overall.

In addition to this clear recommendation by the experienced consultants from abat, Steinbeis Papier received a detailed roadmap for the next steps. It covers the further preparatory activities up to the introduction and optimization of the processes on S/4HANA.

This includes, among other things, the detailed analysis of the actual processes, the customer vendor integration and the creation of an archiving concept. The upcoming tasks are described in such detail that the documentation can be used as a tender for the follow-up activities. A rough schedule for the next steps is also already included.

In addition, Steinbeis Papier now has benchmarks for APO, FI/CO and SD/MM. Graphical representations show how close the respective department works to the SAP standard - measured by the maturity of use. This makes it possible to quickly identify where the company benefits from the standard functionality and to what extent. And where the SAP standard still offers optimization potential for the company's processes.

Contact our abat consult expert

Martin Schönborn
Senior Consultant
+49 421 43046-0

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