SAP users in the UK struggling to meet 2025 ECC6 maintenance deadline

The UK&I SAP User Group's chairman said the complexity of the migration means customers are struggling to make the business case within their organisation

SAP
Reuters

SAP customers in the UK are still struggling to migrate to S/4HANA before the 2025 maintenance support deadline for the ECC6 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, according to research by the UK and Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG).

The recent UKISUG survey revealed that 58 percent of customers don't plan to move to SAP's next generation ERP system, S/4HANA, in the next two years. While 60 percent of users said they plan to migrate within 12-36 months, 27 percent stated a timeline of more than 36 months.

Respondents cited the cost and complexity of the migration as key blockers to making a sound business case to switch from their existing SAP deployments.

Paul Cooper, chairman of the UK&I SAP User Group, told Computerworld that customers were worried that the shortage of available support would drive up the cost of the upgrade and reduce its quality.

“There are already only finite resources in the partner community to deal with these sorts of upgrades, because it's not a simple, straightforward project.”

Read next: What is SAP S/4HANA? Deployment, pricing, customers and benefits

Cooper currently has no evidence that SAP will extend the deadline, but is seeking further clarity on the issue from SAP's new leadership team of co-CEOs Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein.

The duo was appointed to their roles in October, after Bill McDermott announced that he would be resigned from the role of CEO. McDermott had spent nearly a decade at the helm of SAP, leading its transition to cloud computing and helping turn it into the biggest tech company in Europe, while building a sprawling product portfolio that has caused confusion for many clients.

The co-CEO model is not a new one for SAP. The company's co-founders had also previously jointly-run the business, as did McDermott alongside Jim Hagemann-Snabe prior to his taking sole control. Cooper welcomed the return to the co-CEO leadership structure, but called for Morgan and Klein to provide customers with more help on their business cases and further clarity on the software roadmap.

If the deadline is to be extended, he wants it to be announced well in advance of 2025 so that customers have enough time to plan their deployments with their bosses.

"We're now at that point where if you talk to some of the partners, their concern that they've not got the resource to be able to deliver all of their customers to S4 in the time frame that's there," he said. "Now, what would be great is more package services, more straightforward routes through the upgrades to speed them up, and also greater clarity and assistance on finding where the value is to people."

Further concerns

Customers in attendance at last week's SAP User Group conference in Birmingham are also still concerned over the company's switch to "digital access" – SAP's term for indirect licensing, which forces customers to pay an extra charge when they allow third-party applications to access data held SAP systems without directly logging in, such as Salesforce CRM.

Read next: Demystifying the new SAP ERP pricing model

Cooper said the user group needed more clear examples of case studies that would show the likely cost and impact of moving to the model.

"I'm happy if they're anonymised; we don't need to know the companies that have done these things, but it would be good to see companies that have come through it," he said. "How did they feel about it? What happened? And how long did it take and how painful was it or not?"

He added that SAP had provided substantial detail on the Digital Access Adoption Programme in private, but the company has yet to reveal much publically. This lack of transparency helps explain why only 8 percent of respondents to the UKISUG member survey said they viewed SAP as a “trusted advisor.” 

Cooper said that a more open dialogue with the user community would improve this reputation.

"That is going to help them build trust with us as user groups and ultimately with our members who are their customers – and that can only be a good thing.

Another issue for the user group involved the $8 billion acquisition of Qualtrics made by SAP last year. In the UKISUG survey, the vast majority of respondents said they were either completely unaware of the deal (43 percent) or still unsure of whether it would benefit their organisation.

Read next: Six months in, how is Qualtrics fitting in at SAP?

Cooper believes such a lag in member understanding after an acquisition is normal, particularly as the Qualtrics focus on experience data is outside of SAP’s core market. He was reassured about the benefits by the recent demonstrations of the use cases, but has some concerns that SAP may lose focus on the integration of Qualtrics.

He recalls this previously occurring with SAP Leonardo, a sprawling platform of technologies which was at the forefront of marketing communications after its 2017 launch, but now receives scant publicity.

"That would be my fear: that something else while that's all being developed comes in and distracts,” he said.

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