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10% Higher S/4HANA Adoption Over Lockdown

The UKISUG survey shows 10% Higher S/4HANA Adoption: there is the good news, but there is a complex picture emerging from user groups around the adoption of S/4HANA, the need for more technical support during migrations, and user awareness of Rise with SAP.

This week IgniteSAP will discuss the UKISUG survey and see what light it can shed on some of these themes.

The UKISUG Survey 2021

UKISUG is the UK and Ireland SAP User Group. A recent survey of their members has indicated 26% of organisations use S/4HANA compared with 16% the previous year. This demonstrates that within this sample there has been an increase in S/4HANA adoption despite the lockdown.

The same survey suggests that 9 out of 10 were satisfied with the implementation and over half of those new users found the experience to be “good or excellent”.

The chairman of UKISUG, Paul Cooper commented:

“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”.

Calls for Training and Technical Support for S/4HANA

The survey also raised the issue of a lack of support among a smaller group of respondents. This is a legitimate concern when the migration typically involves a substantial amount of changes to business processes.

38% of those surveyed agreed that SAP is not providing sufficient technical resources and training for their customers, and this was also shown to be a reason why migrations are not taking place: because of concern (among 71% those yet to move) that a lack of technical skills will slow migrations down.

SAP users have previously campaigned to extend the support for Business Suite 7 until 2027 but this is kicking the can down the road and not addressing the problem directly.

Paul Cooper said: “It does take time to get [consultants] up to speed. 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.”

Both Sides Need to Cross the Skills Gap

In SAP’s defence we should point out that though there is a perceived lack of support and training during the migration process, there is certainly comprehensive training material being made available through a variety of routes: such as the Training Shop and the SAP community.

This does not however address the widening skills gap as SAP has released products and upgrades at a rate that apparently exceeds the speed at which IT consultants can gain proficiency in those solutions in real-world situations.

As with any conversation, the burden of transferring such a vast amount of information lies equally with those providing the training and those who need to absorb it. But as Paul Cooper has pointed out it is going to take some time before consultants are comfortable with the changes.

Search now: S/4HANA jobs

This conclusion supports the comments of DSAG Chairman Jens Hungershausen following their own survey in September when he said that “conventional migration hasn’t yet been fully replaced by organisational change projects and digital end-to-end processes”, and recognised that both DSAG and other user groups, along with SAP were responsible for educating those who were yet to see the potential added value in implementation of intelligent business technologies.

Sustained Product Education for Rise with SAP

With Rise with SAP, however, SAP faces a different sort of conversation: product education.

Since the beginning of the year SAP has been conducting a product education campaign to ensure as many customers as possible understand the platform and the advantages it can bring in accelerating their move to the cloud.

The response in the UKISUG survey among their members was somewhat muted: 11% of those surveyed indicated they were planning to use Rise with SAP, 44% were extremely or somewhat familiar with the product and 30% of those surveyed said they had not heard of it.

Paul Cooper said that this reflected surveys from user groups representing America and German language users, ASUG and DSAG:

Our findings are very similar to recent research from both ASUG and DSAG, in that it shows many organisations still aren’t overly familiar with RISE with SAP, what is covered by the single contract and how it could help them.”

Questions in the UKISUG survey about Rise with SAP did demonstrate that those who were planning to use it were aware of the benefits and of those who were not cited a lack of understanding and a lack of case studies.

Users Follow Users

Overall UKISUG themselves were not discouraged by the apparent lack of enthusiasm for Rise with SAP, and that they were hopeful that with a sustained effort SAP could get a lot more SAP users to take notice.

“People are at different points in their ownership and use product life cycles, and therefore, it might not be relevant for [all]. But as I said, we’re seeing a lot of interest… it’s easy to jump onto a low number, but if you look at some of the other things, people are starting to get familiar with it and understand it. And that’s what you’ve got to get in that first wave.”

Bridging the Gap

We can expect SAP to take account of the need to close the skills gap, and to provide further training for those users in the process of migrating to S/4HANA or other SAP products, but it is hard to imagine a scenario where SAP slow down their rapid development as a corporation and so it is for IT professionals to make a sustained effort on their own behalf to sharpen their skills and keep up to date with SAP products, in order to make the most of the tools available.

Rise with SAP is gathering momentum among users and we will see that pick up speed as more case studies provide real-world examples of customers benefiting from the platform. However, it may take some time as some users will wait to see if any early adopters flush out unforeseen problems.

SAP user groups are a benefit to both SAP and its users in bridging the gap between them. UKISUG along with others such as DSAG and ASUG start conversations with surveys and conferences. This collects a wealth of experiences which carry genuine weight with SAP, and this influences SAP’s decision making process to the benefit of users. In turn, the user groups offer valuable insight into how SAP marketing and education is being received among the wider SAP community, and so SAP would do well to listen closely.

This survey and other user group surveys are showing a slow but steady progress toward digitisation across the board, in all industries. IT consultants will benefit substantially over the next five years if they augment their SAP skill set now and reposition themselves in the market ahead of their contemporaries.

If you are looking to find your new career path in the SAP ecosystem and need some advice or support regarding how to retrain or make the most of the changes we are seeing, then please contact IgniteSAP so we can help you.

Read More: A DSAG Survey: An SAP Market Indicator