UK and Ireland S/4HANA migrations accelerated during 2021 COVID-19 lockdowns, figures reveal

UK SAP users stuck with their migrations to S/4HANA during COVID-19 lockdowns this year, according to fresh figures released today. But skills among partners and SAP technical resources are still a worry.

A survey by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG) showed 26 per cent of organisations are now using SAP S/4HANA compared with 16 per cent in the same survey last year.

An increase in 10 points on a survey of 352 SAP user organisations seems reasonably significant, given the nation entered a lockdown on 5 January that did not fully lift until July.

Of those taking the plunge, nine out of 10 said they were satisfied with SAP S/4HANA, and 52 per cent rated their implementation experience as good or excellent.

Paul Cooper, UKISUG chairman, told The Register: "For some organisations, their business model was completely changed by what was going on, and for others, they almost shut down. What I did hear, though, was some of those organisations took the opportunity, while the users were not around, to accelerate some of their projects and didn't furlough their IT teams. Because they knew that coming out the other side of the pandemic, technology change and transformations were going to be absolutely paramount for the recovery, so they kept their IT teams very busy."

Meanwhile, a significant minority of users voiced concerns about the state of the support they were getting for the S/4HANA migration, which can involve major business process change as well as technical upheaval from the earlier ECC iteration of the SAP ERP system.

About a third (34 per cent) of organisations rated the level of training provided by their partner during their implementation as poor or very poor, while 38 per cent said SAP doesn't provide customers with enough technical resources and training to help them manage S/4HANA. Of those organisations yet to move to S/4HANA, 71 per cent were concerned a lack of available skills will slow their migration.

Lack of skills among IT service providers was one of the reasons SAP users lobbied hard - and successfully - to have the support deadline for Business Suite 7 (including the ERP Central Component) extended from 2025 to 2027, Cooper said. But the problem has not gone away.

"It does take time to get [consultants] up to speed," he said. "If they've only done the training, it's not as good as someone who's been a user of the product, and has done a few implementations, or has come from a business-centric background as well. You need those skills alongside people who have gone through a graduate route into the partners: they need that mix of people. It is still a concern."

While SAP partners can poach the best consultants from each other, and even end users, that ultimately only drives up costs and doesn't increase the total pool of talent in the market. ®

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