Japan’s Itochu Corporation simplifies systems after S/4HANA migration

Published: 28/April/2024

Reading time: 2 mins

Key Takeaways

⇨ Itochu is a conglomerate with eight different business divisions operating across hundreds of offices globally

⇨ Itochu sought to upgrade its 24-year-old SAP ECC system to S/4HANA to modernise and simplify its environment

⇨ Vietnam’s FPT Software was chosen to implement the migration, helping finish the project in three phases

For conglomerates that have existed for a long time, IT systems become more complex thanks to numerous add-ons, changes and modifications to meet business requirements. 

That was exactly what happened to Japan-headquartered Itochu Corporation, whose systems had become complex enough to make it challenging for users to access some functions and difficult to implement essential modifications for futureproofing. 

With its origins dating back to 1858, Itochu is one of Japan’s largest “sogo sosha” companies, or companies that trade in a wide range of products and materials while also providing logistics, manufacturing plant development and other services. It is also a Fortune 500 company with more than 4,200 employees across 87 offices globally and seven in Japan. 

Itochu has eight major operational divisions, namely textiles, machinery, metals and minerals, energy and chemicals, food, real estate, IT and financial services and an eighth division focusing on consumers (headlined by convenience store chain FamilyMart). 

The company first adopted an SAP ECC system in 1996 aimed to support the entire business. After 24 years of add-ons, changes and modifications, Itochu started exploring a migration to S/4HANA to modernise the systems and the business. This was part of a wider company initiative to digitalise processes, adopt an expandable platform and keep the system simple for high reliability. 

The company sought to migrate 1250 apps and enhancements from SAP ECC 6 to SAP S/4HANA Cloud Extended, as well as simplify and reconfigure its finance function. 

Itochu also wanted to develop some 375 ABAP add-ons, 25 SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) reports, new SAC interfaces, some 100 new Fiori screens and 51 new Fiori apps to SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) to enhance the SAP S/4HANA environment. 

SAP Ariba was also on the wish list for customer procurement chains, as well as regressive automated testing to help reduce manual processes. 

The company turned to Vietnam-headquartered FPT Software to help with the migration, kicking off the project in 2019. The SAP Regional Strategic Services Partner was chosen for its experience with S/4HANA migrations and its large talent and resource pool to speed up the process. 

 The deployment was completed in three phases, with Itochu’s North America operations going live first in 2019, followed by Europe in 2022 and Asia in 2023. 

Itochu also had to deal with regulatory challenges at its European offices, where some reports in the SAP ECC system had to be changed when converted to S/4HANA. Another challenge was the complex taxation system in India. 

The project also involved deploying some robotic process automation (RPA) projects, with a separate team within FPT assisting Itochu. 

“We asked FPT to achieve the impossible over and over, and they quickly gathered the resources we needed. This procurement capability was very helpful and allowed us to move the project forward without any delays,” Itochu Techno-Solutions Corporation General Manager Mari Takei said. 

“They also had a quality control office in Vietnam. Everything was reviewed once in-company before being delivered to us, so that was very reassuring.” 

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