Tuesday 28 January 2020

Why you can get SAP CRM
for free too!

To encourage SAP ECC (and CRM) customers to make the switch to S/4HANA, the latest version has included some powerful CRM functionalities in its license. As a result, you are basically getting a simplified CRM 7 stack for free in S/4HANA 1909. CRM-lovers, rejoice!

So how exactly did this happen?

Let’s recap the CRM capabilities of the latest versions of S/4HANA:

In S/4HANA release 1709 (read as: release year 2017 month 09) SAP offered a ‘customer management add-on component’ (in short ‘CM’). This add-on added CRM functionalities to S/4HANA, but required a separate technical installation. The most important added functionalities were service objects and an interaction center. Unfortunately, these CRM functionalities were simply missing here, and mandatory for a lot of existing SAP customers to consider switching to S/4HANA.


By merging CRM functions into an S/4HANA system, some major pain points of traditional SAP CRM were instantly solved: there was no longer a need for middleware to keep CRM and ECC in sync, the duplication of master data such as materials and partners is gone, technical components such as java stack for pricing no longer exist, Trex for performant searches, different user interfaces, etc.

In other words, adding customer management to S/4HANA created a much simpler landscape than before. This simplified landscape automatically reduces TCO and increases the user experience. Furthermore, the availability of CRM service objects makes the end of the Customer Service by 2025 less bitter.

S/4HANA and the new expansions

A year later, in the release of S/4HANA 1809, the customer management add-on was expanded with more functions. Pre-sales flows like activities, tasks, lead & opportunity management were added. On the service side, solution quotation with product bundles and integration with functional location was added. This meant that end-to-end service processes could be handled with a direct link to assets, billing, and controlling. CM on S/4HANA is starting to make really good sense here.

In the current version 1909 of S/4HANA, the ‘customer management add-on’ is dropped, as well as the additional installation. SAP has renamed the Customer Management offering to  ‘S/4HANA Sales and Service’, and it is by default available in S/4HANA, for free.

S/4HANA Sales and Service now combines ex-CRM and ECC objects in one system. The former CRM WebUI screens received a new skin, called ‘Quartz Light theme’, which makes it look and feel like ‘Fiori 3’. Furthermore, strong features like case management and Outlook integration (using ‘mai Connect’) are also back. This release will please a lot of customers that have invested deeply in their former SAP CRM and ECC systems, but it will also please companies that did not yet have a CRM system. Companies with a strong ECC back-end, but a limited need for CRM, often did not implement CRM in an SAP system.  Instead, they typically used Excel sheets and Sharepoint pages. By upgrading to S/4HANA, they can now finally register all their customer-related activities in an ERP.

The roadmap does not stop with release 1909. In the planning for later this year we find new functionalities like in-house repair management, maintenance plans and service order management. It looks like every release of S/4HANA will get some additional CRM features.


So, is CRM fully back in its former glory on S/4HANA…? The answer to that question is short: no.

While sales and service functions are almost fully covered in S/4HANA, all marketing functionalities are gone. Truth be told, marketing on CRM 7 was never its strong point. Recurring email campaigns and campaign automation could very well be a reason for strict GDPR rulings to be created. Since CRM 7 was launched in 2007, consumers are expecting a totally different experience in shopping today. This is where C/4HANA, the cloud portfolio of SAP, steps in. C/4HANA represents everything in the ‘Customer Experience Suite’. This suite consists of 5 solutions: marketing cloud, commerce cloud, customer data cloud, sales cloud and service cloud.

So, we have S/4HANA and C/4HANA and they have similar functionality? Yes. That’s not only confusing to you, but me and other customers as well. A general rule of thumb to know which product you need:  if it’s anything customer-facing or marketing-related, you should make use of C/4HANA. Anything that involves typical transactional back-office processes can run on S/4HANA. Because there is often a very thin line between frontend and backend processes, it will be a real challenge for SAP in the coming years to clarify this to customers and partners.


Although SAP has invested greatly in C/4HANA, a lot of their customers are deeply invested in SAP CRM and ECC. Those companies are often hesitant to move towards S/4HANA with a C/4HANA frontend. The S/4HANA Sales and Service functionalities now make it possible for them to capitalize on a big part of their historic investments, and enjoy CRM in a simple landscape.

As a CRM guy, I’m happy to see S/4HANA evolve in this way. Because, let’s be honest, it was never the greatest of ideas to handle presales in a separate CRM system, on duplicated data, and then continue the order, shipment and billing in ECC… In my opinion, CRM has finally landed where it should have always been, at the core of your ERP system.


Tim Vermeulen

SAP CRM expert

  • Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin