Switching to S / 4HANA: Many SAP users are still hesitating

Many user companies are considering switching to SAP’s new ERP generation S / 4HANA, as a joint survey by the German-speaking SAP User Group (DSAG) and the Americas SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) shows. Accordingly, 70 percent of DSAG and 55 percent of ASUG members are implementing S / 4HANA or are planning such a project.

The user representatives interpret these numbers in such a way that S / 4HANA picks up speed on both sides of the pond. “Overall, it is clear that S / 4HANA projects are being implemented or planned more and more, both in DSAG and in ASUG,” says a message from DSAG. 483 companies in North America participated in the survey, 217 companies in the DACH region.

However, the results also show that the new ERP product generation from SAP, which was launched five years ago, is only slowly starting to roll. Only twelve percent of SAP users have switched and live in this country, compared to 16 percent across the pond. The most widespread solution among members of both SAP user groups is SAP ECC with 84 percent at DSAG and 78 percent at ASUG. As reasons why no S / 4HANA project has yet been implemented, US users cite the costs, a missing business case and ongoing SAP ECC projects. The DSAG members who do not want to switch to S / 4HANA simply see no need for the switch, are uncertain about the functions and – thirdly – cannot see a business case.

The users appreciate SAP’s new software, but there is no real enthusiasm. Only eleven percent of DSAG members (ASUG: 17 percent) rate S / 4HANA as very positive, 40 percent of DSAG members (ASUG: 41 percent) as rather positive. SAP can also only partially polish its reputation with the new software. For 13 percent of the US ASUG members, the perception of SAP by S / 4HANA has improved significantly, compared to 14 percent for the DSAG members. 33 percent of the ASUG members speak of minor improvements, but only about a quarter of the DSAG members.

The surveys show that there are some significant differences between German and American users in the approach to the new SAP products. For example, this affects the effects of S / 4HANA on business processes. The new ERP platform affects the existing processes for around three quarters of the local customers. In the United States, it is only 13 percent who see it that way. DSAG board member Marco Lenck sees this discrepancy in a different corporate culture, because “the business processes of the members from both user groups should not differ fundamentally.” Ann Marie Gray, Vice President of Content Strategy and Research at ASUG added: “It seems that ASUG members have a lower priority to redesign their processes as part of their migrations.”

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A similar picture emerges when it comes to the chance of removing unnecessary code. Only 19 percent of the ASUG members see this as useful, but 41 percent of the DSAG members. “The ASUG members may have focused more on the purely technical conversion to S / 4HANA,” says Lenck. For the DSAG members, on the other hand, migration is often used to clean the system straight away. Overall, the cleanups seem to be working well. Half of the DSAG members (ASUG: 61 percent) expected problems with the customizing cleanup, but only around a quarter (ASUG: 24 percent) confirmed this.

Overall, the switch to S / 4HANA turns out to be rather complicated from a user perspective. Almost half of the ASUG and DSAG members who introduced S / 4HANA found the changeover more difficult than expected. 37 percent of German SAP users (ASUG: 18 percent) also complained about missing functionalities. SAP also has to improve when connecting S / 4HANA to other systems. Only three percent of DSAG members (ASUG: seven percent) rate the ability to integrate with third-party applications as “very good”; six percent find the interaction with other SAP solutions successful (ASUG: 27 percent). “DSAG has already emphasized on several occasions that an integration between SAP solutions is required by the user companies,” Lenck reminded the software company of his promises. “SAP is working on this and will implement it in the interests of the users.”

How users switch to S / 4HANA:

There are clear differences between the German and American SAP users when it comes to cloud use. This primarily concerns the use of cloud satellites such as Concur, SuccessFactors and Ariba, which SAP has bought over the past few years. While 58 percent of ASUG members already rely on Concur, only 17 percent of DSAG members are willing to do so. SuccessFactors has 46 percent of ASUG and 23 percent of DSAG. And Ariba uses 32 percent of the ASUG members, but only 11 percent of the DSAG members. DSAG man Lenck is not surprised at this result, since the solutions mentioned were all developed in the USA.