New research released today by the SAP UK & Ireland User Group has revealed that more than half of organisations (54%) are planning to upgrade their SAP software over the next 12 months. However, of those users questioned 70% still felt that the cost of upgrading was too high, particularly at a time when many organisations are facing reductions in IT budgets.
The survey questioned 100 SAP user organisations in the UK and Ireland, providing a snapshot of members’ views on software upgrades and the business challenges they were facing. The disruption to day-to-day business was one of the major concerns of organisations when it came to upgrading systems, with 93% either concerned or very concerned about the length of time it takes to perform an upgrade. Meanwhile, 79% were equally concerned about system downtime and 59% were concerned about losing data should they undertake an upgrade.
The research also highlighted the issue of staff training being a challenge when it comes to upgrading systems. With organisations needing to spend time and money getting employees up to speed using new software, 68% of respondents said that staff training was a big challenge. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that 85% also said that getting management buy-in for upgrades was a considerable challenge.
“The research highlights that many organisations still have a lot of concerns when it comes to upgrades,” said Alan Bowling, chairman of the SAP UK & Ireland User Group. “With IT departments looking for short-term cost reductions, some are limiting activities such as upgrading their software. However, organisations need to be wary that delaying their upgrade cycle doesn’t cost them more in the long term, because older versions may require more maintenance and management and have limited capability compared to newer versions.”
Of the organisations interviewed, only 35% were currently on the latest version of SAP (SAP ECC 6.0), with many organisations still on earlier versions of the software. Of those organisations planning to upgrade, the majority (62%) cited that coming to the end of their current maintenance period was their main reason for upgrading, followed by new application functionality (26%) and new technical functionality (12%).
Despite many respondents saying that they felt that the cost of upgrading was too high, the research did reveal that users believed that SAP’s use of enhancement packs was an easy and cost-effective way to upgrade key systems once on the latest version of SAP. In fact, 92% of respondents thought that other software vendors should also adopt an ‘enhancement pack’ model when it comes to offering upgrades.
“Many SAP users will be facing important decisions on whether to upgrade their software over the next 12-18 months. At this year’s annual user conference, we will be aiming to further educate our membership how to best approach upgrading their SAP software and make best use of the latest functionality. By doing this we would hope that users will be well on the way to realising further performance and cost-reduction benefits,” concluded Alan Bowling.
The SAP UK & Ireland User Conference 2009 is taking place in Manchester, 23-24 November 2009. During the conference there will be a dedicated session in the event’s Senior Executive Forum discussing ‘The business case for upgrades’, with a further session looking at ‘IT optimisation’ focusing on how organisations can drive more value out of what they already have.
About SAP UK & Ireland User Group
The SAP UK & Ireland User Group’s membership (sapusers.org) is open to users of SAP in the UK and Ireland. Membership consists of organisations of various sizes and includes some of the largest private companies and significant public sector organisations in the UK and Ireland.