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SAP has accepted that many of its customers will not be able to migrate to S/4 Hana from Enterprise Core Components (ECC) ERP software by 2025.
The company has announced that mainstream maintenance for core applications of SAP Business Suite 7 software will be supported until the end of 2027, followed by optional extended maintenance until the end of 2030.
“Our customers show us that SAP S/4 Hana is their future direction and that they expect a long-term commitment from SAP to this platform,” said Christian Klein, co-CEO and member of the SAP executive board. “To fully embrace the groundbreaking opportunities of SAP S/4 Hana reflects the individual pace and complexity of our customers’ projects.”
Klein cited recent studies from SAP user groups in the Americas and Germany showing user group members planned to migrate to S/4 Hana.
However, as Computer Weekly has previously reported, migrating from ECC to S/4 Hana often requires a full implementation of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which is both hugely expensive and highly risky. For many, simply replacing the business processes and functionality in ECC with equivalent S/4 Hana functionality does not add business value. Also, the new Fiori user interface in S/4 Hana will require additional end-user training.
In December 2019, a study by consulting firm Resulting IT identified a skills gap and a lack of understanding about the core benefits of the new ERP system.
The report highlighted a looming skills crisis due to the off-payroll working rules (IR35) and Brexit, which could drive up contractor rates for organisations looking to implement S/4 Hana.
At the time, Derek Prior, a former Gartner analyst and non-executive director at Resulting IT, said: “This shows that a large number of respondents are in the early blueprinting stages of their S/4 programme. There is a dearth of live or nearing go-live examples for people to get real boots-on-the-ground experience.
Read more about ECC migration
- SAP customers may consider other ERP vendors as the clock speeds up for the 2025 support end for ECC, but some observers believe a move to another vendor may be just as difficult.
- Organisations on SAP’s ECC are only guaranteed support until 2025, and moving to the latest S/4 Hana ERP is a major undertaking.
“Our member surveys have continued to show that cost and change management are the biggest reasons for organisations not to move to S/4 Hana, which means they need to have a clear business case. With SAP stating that growing numbers of customers globally are moving to S/4 Hana, we look forward to continuing to work with SAP to demonstrate more use cases, so our members can make an informed decision about their future roadmap.”
Paul Cooper, chairman of the UK&I SAP User Group, said: “Back at our annual user conference in December, we highlighted how the end of life of Business Suite 7 (ERP/ECC 6.0) and lack of clarity around the roadmap for S/4 Hana have not helped the customer relationship. We asked SAP to listen to its customers, so it is encouraging that the company has extended the maintenance deadline for Business Suite 7.
“For organisations that have invested heavily in Business Suite 7, this announcement will hopefully provide them with greater certainty and more time to plan a potential move to S/4 Hana.”