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Picture of cheese production machines, next to it the Hochland logo, valantic case study: Hochland chooses greenfield approach for its SAP S/4HANA migration

Cheese producer Hochland chooses greenfield approach for SAP S/4HANA migration

Project S/4 Future

With its popular brands, including Hochland, Almette, Grünländer, Patros, Fetaxa, Gervais, Valbrie, and Valbon, the Hochland Group is one of the largest private cheese producers in Europe. More than 5,500 people work for Hochland around the world, generating annual sales of almost EUR 1.6 billion.

This family-run company, now in the fourth generation, has been producing cheese products for 90 years and places great importance on quality, tradition, and culture. The company headquarters is in Heimenkirch in the Allgäu region. Over the last few decades, Hochland has grown into an international company, with branches in France, Spain, Poland, Romania, Russia, and the USA. For many years, a machine and plant engineering division that makes machines for cheese production and packaging has also been part of the company, with locations in Germany, Australia, and the USA.

Challenge

Conversion of an old R/3 system to a new SAP S/4HANA system.

Consulting goal

Cheese producer Hochland migrates to SAP S/4HANA and chooses a greenfield approach, selectively brownfield, combined with agile project methodology.

Customer value add and solution

SAP S/4HANA becomes the foundation for digital transformation at Hochland.

After the design phase in February 2020, the time had come: The decision for greenfield was quite clear at an international kick-off event with 120 participants, even though some voices still indicated great respect for the enormous complexity of the migration project. “In the end, however, the entire Hochland team, including the board of directors, was and will continue to be very enthusiastic,” recalls Brunner about the initial phase.

In June 2020, the agile project methodology “continuous discovery & delivery” (CD&D) was selected. For the “waterfall” pragmatists in IT development, this was completely new terrain. However, valantic’s consultants also advocated for CD&D in the specific version used at Hochland.

For example, Hochland had already reworked certain topics such as recipe development in R/3 and so process models and functions were checked for usability. “We had already set up these sub-areas and then migrated them to the S/4 world as brown spots. So our greenfield approach also includes some bluefield and brownfield points. We are talking here about our “coloring game” in the project,” jokes Brunner.

Infographic on agile integration, framework S/4HANA migration at Hochland

The continuous discovery and delivery (CD&D or AIF) project methodology integrates the planning and implementation of subprocesses in 1-month sprints and thus quickly produces very good results. (Source: Presentation by Jürgen Brunner at valantic Customer Focus Day SAP)

Hochland is not only one of the largest private cheese producers in Europe, it has also been making machines for cheese production and processing for decades with a subsidiary company in Germany and for a few years also in Australia. This was another reason to set up SAP largely as if from scratch and to subject all processes to a review. “We not only have to map cheese processes, we also have a classic machine and plant manufacturer on board,” explains Brunner. Another benefit: With the migration, Hochland is also introducing SAP’s more user-friendly Fiori GUIs, which are crucial for user acceptance.

The migration project from the existing R/3 system to the new S/4HANA in all local companies should be completed in 2024. IT Division Manager Brunner draws a positive conclusion: “I’m very proud that we at Hochland have been able to work with valantic to blaze this courageous trail. We are still in the process of making some adjustments, but even last-minute changes to the method are part of the agile process model.” Brunner regards S/4HANA as an essential component of Hochland’s entrepreneurial vision, which is based on five pillars : Growth, sustainability, increasing efficiency, digitalization, and attractiveness for employees. He especially emphasizes the last, fifth pillar: It’s critical, with the support of the executive board, to “pick up” the employees, train them, and lead them toward the new digital technologies.

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Portrait of Rüdiger Hoffmann, Managing Consultant valantic ERP Consulting

Rüdiger Hoffmann

Managing Director
valantic ERP Consulting