SAP comes clean on problematic roll-outs

SAP has inserted a "go live check" clause into its contracts to ensure it is not blamed for problems in mission-critical...

SAP has inserted a "go live check" clause into its contracts to ensure it is not blamed for problems in mission-critical implementations.

SAP chief executive Henning Kagermann told Computer Weekly that SAP had taken a joint approach with systems implementers IBM and Accenture to agree a shared approach to customers rolling out SAP systems.

"It is OK if the implementation is not mission critical, but if it is then we are being honest with our customers about any potential problems."

Kagermann also warned that it was important for the company and its system integrator partners to speak with one voice when highlighting potential problems with implementation. "We are using Sapphire [SAP's customer conference in Orlando] to put a joint proposal to other partners. It is simple but we have not done this before," he said.

The move is part of SAP's attempts to leave behind a series of problematic roll-outs during 2000 and 2001, such as Hershey, Whirlpool and Volkswagen.

Kagermann said software was often blamed for wider problems with a project, such as if the implementation programme was too ambitious, data was not cleansed or staff were not trained.

The overall quality of enterprise software has improved considerably in recent years, Kagermann said. "Quality is an issue for the IT director if they are running very new software."

He dismissed the idea of any industry-wide supplier initiative to improve software quality. "The only way is to deliver better products yourself," he said, adding that a reputation for quality gives competitive advantage.

Its CRM version 4, which was launched at Sapphire, was tested by up to 150 users who had packages with partial functionality.

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