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More Than 50 Percent of SAP Customers Use Excel Spreadsheets for Change Management

A market study by Basis Technologies shows that dependence on outdated IT tools and fear of the unknown are hindering the world's largest companies' business S/4 transformation.
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine
November 30, 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The S/4 conversion rate is disillusioning and it does SAP S/4 Hana a lot of injustice, because the ERP software could be helpful. The fact is that very few existing SAP customers want to switch to S/4. The most recent study by Basis Technologies reveals the reasons: 88 percent of the companies surveyed admit that the challenges pose insurmountable obstacles to SAP-supported business transformation. More than a third of companies are delaying SAP changes because they fear business disruption, and almost all respondents worry about the unintended consequences of disrupting critical business systems due to changes in their SAP landscape.

The discussion about who takes or should take responsibility for SAP-led transformation strategies reveals an interesting contradiction in the study: more than a third of SAP managers believe that the executive level (C-suites) should take responsibility for transformation strategies involving SAP because of their role in planning business change.

However, according to SAP managers, only 13% of CEOs actually see themselves as responsible for the transformation. In reality, more than half of SAP managers state that they themselves are responsible for this change process in their company. "Senior management needs to raise their IT awareness so that they can make more informed decisions," explains Mark Albrecht, CRO and Managing Director DACH at Basis Technologies. "IT departments often work in silos and the remit of CIOs has changed so much that they don't necessarily have the awareness of SAP that they should. The reality is that the modern CIO is focused on newer, shinier, but ultimately less significant technologies. To realize its full potential, SAP should instead be at the center of an organization's transformation strategy."

If you had the ability to control changes in SAP at will, what would be your greatest need, Basis Technologies asked around 200 SAP users. The answer: a better understanding of the impact of changes before they are introduced. The SAP community is unsettled, as a new study by Basis Technologies has now discovered. The company surveyed 200 SAP users and half of them shy away from S/4 conversion because they are unable to assess the impact of process changes. The situation of existing SAP customers with regard to S/4 Hana can be interpreted as an educational crisis.

In addition to existing solutions for managing changes in the SAP landscape, SAP itself recently launched the first generative AI product for companies to adapt business workflows and simplify processes. Despite the existence of such smart solutions, 85% said they were more reluctant to make changes in SAP than in other applications. According to the study, this lack of trust and reliance on outdated manual tools and processes is having a negative impact on companies' ability to achieve their growth targets. The majority of companies admit that the challenges associated with implementing changes are essentially insurmountable obstacles to SAP-based business transformation. 

In a survey of 200 companies, specifically SAP executives and managers using SAP in the UK, US and Germany, Basis Technologies found that some companies are simply not taking advantage of SAP's innovative capabilities. This is despite the fact that 93 percent of companies worldwide use SAP in some form. Instead of taking advantage of the opportunities and possibilities of this modern technology, companies are more concerned about the complexity. 

Around 42 percent of those surveyed by Basis Technologies fear a dependency on external partners due to the necessary development or lack of internal expertise. The lack of knowledge about Hana and S/4 is a major challenge for many CEOs, CFOs and CIOs. Even IT tools from SAP to push through the S/4 conversion over a weekend do not help here if the company's own employees are overwhelmed with new business processes, Fiori and user roles.

"Companies are suffering from a kind of SAP hangover that is hindering best practices and relying on archaic spreadsheets," explains Mark Albrecht. "It's amazing that at a time when SAP is launching a generative AI offering for businesses, they are still trying to run and manage their systems as they did in 1985. When SAP was originally launched, there wasn't the same focus on agility and change management."

Half of those surveyed and 56% of decision-makers in senior positions see technical innovation as the greatest threat to business continuity and the success of their company. Due to technical progress and the resulting urgency to adapt or run the risk of being left behind, many existing SAP customers take the exit of a technical release change, which means that the added value of a digital transformation is lost. Companies in Germany in particular see this agility, i.e. the ability to change their systems quickly, as a solution for overcoming threats.

When it comes to the biggest threats to success, however, certain differences can be observed between the decision-making levels within companies. Change managers specializing in SAP are primarily concerned with social influences such as resistance to change and differing priorities. If the entire organization is not pulling together at a strategic level to maintain an optimal business outcome, this ultimately becomes a significant barrier to progress.

Many companies are facing the challenge of moving away from decades of sub-optimal practices: Uncertainty is causing more than a third of organizations to delay SAP changes because they fear business disruption. And nearly all organizations are concerned about the unintended consequences of disrupting their critical business systems when trying to implement changes within their SAP landscape.

Base Technologies
Peter M. Färbinger, E3 Magazine

Peter M. Färbinger, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief E3 Magazine DE, US and ES (, AG, Freilassing (DE), E-Mail: and Tel. +49(0)8654/77130-21

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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,
At the exhibition center 2,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
69115 Heidelberg

Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
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.