Low adoption of SAP BusinessObjects and processes for the continuing improvement of SAP operations shows SAP must do more to show the value of its products and services, according to the UK & Ireland SAP User Group.
According to an in-depth customer survey, 69% of SAP customers are using ERP 6.0, the latest version of SAP's core business suite, but this marked improvement in the past year is mainly due to increased efforts by SAP and the user group to demonstrate the value of upgrading, said Alan Bowling, chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group.
The user group has been running a programme to highlight the potential benefits of upgrading to ERP 6.0, such as enhanced levels of functionality and support. "Many users see the need to upgrade, but require advice and support on the best way to migrate," said Bowling.
SAP needs to better demonstrate value
The survey results show that SAP and the user group have a lot of similar work to do around using SAP BusinessObjects, choosing the right support plan, and creating Customer Centres of Expertise (CoE), an SAP certification recognising customers' commitment to continuous improvement of SAP operations.
"SAP is still not very good at demonstrating value," said Bowling.
The survey showed that only 7% of SAP customers are using SAP BusinessObjects, which means most are using other business intelligence (BI) products that are not optimised for and integrated with their core SAP systems, he said.
"Since the launch of HANA [SAP's high-performance analytic appliance], we have been seeing some interesting results with SAP BusinessObjects," said Bowling.
SAP needs to do more about getting across the value of using HANA and the significant benefits it can have in BI by promoting case studies that show how large volumes of data can be analysed and translated into actions in minutes rather than weeks, he said.
Continuous improvement of SAP operations needed
Bowling is particularly concerned about the low number of SAP users setting up Customer CoEs, with the survey revealing that only 14% of respondents taking part in the certification programme.
"This shows that relatively few SAP users in SAP in the UK & Ireland are switching to the mode of continuous improvement of operations, which means that most are not putting in the effort required to get the most out of their SAP investments," he said.
Only if SAP customers set up a CoE will they be measuring and optimising benefits such as reduced downtime and faster development and innovation, he said, but most businesses in the region seem to be using software without bothering about continuous improvement.
Users must consider support options
The survey results highlight support as another important area where SAP customers need more information and support, with only 11% on the reintroduced Standard Support programme. "SAP users have until September to decide whether to remain on Enterprise Support or switch to Standard Support," said Bowling.
It important for businesses to decide what is the most appropriate support scheme for them to be on, he said, as the gap between the costs will begin to widen as planned increases for Enterprise Support are phased in from January.
SAP User Group plays an important role
The SAP User Group aims to provide members with the information they need to understand the value of the two offerings and to make an informed decision on which one is more appropriate for them, said Bowling.
The survey showed that the top reasons for joining the SAP User Group included greater understanding of current SAP products and services and the ability to network with other SAP users, with 78% of respondents saying the user group has the right level of influence with SAP.
"It is heart-warming to see the positive acceptance of the work we are doing in the user group, but the survey shows that we and SAP still have a lot more work to do on the issues of SAP BusinessObjects, Enterprise Support and Customer Centres of Expertise," said Bowling.