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IG SAP Switzerland is today the only independent association in the SAP community with a focus on legal and commercial issues. This dedicated force with over 100 member companies is led by Peter Hartmann.
E-3 Magazine
14 July 2021
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

At the beginning of May, Peter Hartmann presented the results of a survey of the Swiss SAP community. The findings from the IG SAP CH association carry weight, as it brings together SAP licensing totals of over 600 million Swiss francs, resulting in maintenance costs of around 120 million francs per year.

This interest group is thus a very weighty voice in the German-speaking SAP community. IG SAP was founded in 2008 by the members of the CIO Circle of Eastern Switzerland and currently consists of C-level management, SAP CC leaders, SAP specialists, legal and licensing experts. The survey was conducted by IG SAP among its members in March to April 2021.

Loyal, but not satisfied

The results of the Swiss survey show a clear commitment to SAP as an ERP software supplier, but less enthusiasm for cloud and only differentiated for the new SAP topics. The subjective assessment of the E-3 editorial team from the survey: There are still too many old (license) construction sites; until SAP provides answers here, the existing SAP customer cannot focus on new topics.

Last year, the maintenance extension of ERP/ECC 6.0 was announced until 2027 and extended until 2030. This should have led to some relaxation in the S/4 migration projects, suspects Peter Hartmann on the basis of the available responses. S/4 Hana has now been on the market since 2015. According to SAP sources, only 8100 S/4 users out of a total of 440,000 were productive in 2020.

A look at the survey shows that existing SAP customers are still having a hard time. Peter Hartmann cites the following reasons for this: additional costs, poor integration, lack of a business case, and the pressure to move toward cloud solutions. All in all, this is preventing many SAP ERP customers from converting to S/4 because they are satisfied with their current status, SAP Business Suite 7.

Digital transformation also works this way - as the German-speaking user association DSAG also noted many years ago. According to Peter Hartmann, this creates dissatisfaction among existing customers because the majority of the maintenance costs paid in are invested by SAP in S/4 Hana. This quickly leads to demands from Swiss SAP users to reduce the maintenance rate for the system that is being phased out.

In the current transformation phase, there seems to be not only dissatisfaction but also a lack of orientation. One of the study participants comments as follows: "Almost everything is changing at SAP at the moment: technology, products, names, license models, (end) dates, prices, conditions, SAP contacts. And many things haven't gotten any better in the past twelve years. In particular, it is a problem to find competent contact persons at eye level - that has become extremely exhausting!"

Rise with SAP

The feedback from SAP's existing Swiss customers speaks a clear language. 97 percent are critical of the current SAP strategy. "Cloud only" is not well received, recognizes Peter Hartmann, because many users continue to rely on their proven and more cost-effective on-prem systems. Hartmann comments: One could well conclude that SAP is not taking customers' needs for more transparency, commitment and orientation seriously. In IG SAP's view, the Rise initiative has created even more uncertainty. In addition, existing customers are skeptical about whether SAP can also be a partner for business transformation.

Cloud first or cloud only does not seem to be a success in the SAP community, one voice from the survey: "We are very limited and very expensive with SAP's cloud solutions. Based on our experience, that doesn't make sense for us. Internally, we are also not taking the standard any further, which also speaks against a cloud variant. Unfortunately, the big jolt through the company to break out in the direction of S/4 has not been felt to date - everyone is pretty satisfied with the options available."

The S/4 conversion has stalled. The French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778) said it clearly in the moral poem "La Bégueule": "My dear child, nothing is more dangerous than leaving what is good in order to have it even better."The digital transformation can also be mastered with ECC 6.0 and an on-prem architecture - which, of course, does not argue against a hybrid infrastructure.

According to another study participant, "The new SAP management is pushing integration at all levels. We hope that it will be possible to keep to the ambitious schedule and that significant improvements in the implementation of add-on products will quickly become visible. Whether SAP already has the capacity to deliver Rise comprehensively, we see rather critically. How the relationship between S/4 Hana on-premises and cloud will develop remains to be seen."

Added value or dependence

For IG SAP Switzerland, the fact is that the approach of a holistic view of business processes, data and technologies contained in "Rise with SAP" is already established in many areas in companies. In this respect, integrated interaction with SAP can certainly be viewed positively. As can a simplification of the complex set of contracts through the single point of contact. However, SAP users have major reservations about this - because of increasing dependence on SAP through Rise.

According to the IG-SAP assessment, a shift from on-prem to the cloud does not bring any advantages in terms of price. SAP is not seen as a holistic digital service provider in Switzerland - also because of the even greater dependency. Peter Hartmann goes on to summarize the opinion of the Swiss SAP community: "In addition, the integration of different solutions is not SAP's strength. The way we perceive SAP, they are also not organized in such a way that they can act as a unified service provider.

For example, there are account managers for on-prem licenses, for cloud solutions, for service and consulting, but they all come from other areas. We don't believe in this 20 percent TCO reduction; I don't know of any approach from SAP that goes in this direction. SAP would have to significantly reduce license maintenance and SaaS fees for us as customers to achieve greater savings. A more flexible licensing model for on-prem licenses would also help. The barriers to parting with licenses you no longer need are far too high."

Existing SAP customers are in a dilemma: wait for the business case or simply make strategic decisions in the direction of S/4? To move away from on-prem and only cloud? Accepting (even) more dependency on SAP, but in return participating in the innovations that are mainly made in S/4?

The fact is that SAP strategy and expectations of SAP customers diverge. Although the proportion of S/4 users has increased slightly in the past two years, much remains unclear: product roadmaps are missing, lack of integration and consistency of S/4 products, inadequate price-performance ratio in the maintenance and support areas.
models and, in particular, deficiencies in service quality.

The survey results also show a high percentage of hosting and out-
sourcing, but, as already mentioned, little willingness for cloud computing. Obviously, the market wants an on-premises model with an outsourced data center - in the end, it's a good idea to retain dominion over your own licenses: You never know what's coming, do you?

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
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28 and 29 February 2024


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The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.