SAP Watch

March 3, 2009  11:53 AM

What will SAP’s sustainable software look like?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

SAP named Peter Graf its first chief sustainability officer Monday. He’ll oversee development of so-called sustainable software for customers, as well as lead the vendor’s own ambitious sustainability efforts.

SAP has pledged to cut its carbon footprint in half (currently 513,000t CO2) by 2020. Among other things, the company will focus on virtualization in the data center, and cut back on business travel, replacing it with the company’s telepresence system from Cisco.

But the announcement came with less clarity around exactly what these sustainable applications would look like or when they would be available.

Continued »

February 26, 2009  3:32 PM

Where will SAP’s new North American leader find new customers?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

Rob Enslin will serve as president of SAP North America, SAP announced Wednesday.

Seem like he’s got his work cut out for him. It’s no secret that selling software now is tougher, in the United States at least, for every vendor, than it has been in the last few years.

Continued »

February 23, 2009  4:55 PM

Is certification the ticket to a more successful SAP implementation?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

I recently spoke with a company with a unique story — they were actually growing their landscape supply business despite the recession. They credited their SAP Business One software with helping them do so.

But when I asked Bamboo Pipeline about any problems it experienced with the software, its one gripe was a common one — the ERP implementation took twice as long as the company was told it would.

The sentiment is consistent with a recent report by Panorama Consulting Group. Of the more than 3,000 companies surveyed, 93% said their ERP implementations took longer than they expected and 65% indicated that they went over budget. Companies named lack-of employee buy-in and lack of the proper ERP skills as the two main culprits for ERP implementation problems.

Our readers have been lending some interesting advice on how to avoid ERP implementation failures, in response to a recent blog post, “What’s the real trend in failed SAP projects?” The blog questioned who was really to blame for the recent Shane Co. and Select Comfort SAP ERP implementation failures — the software, the system integrators or the company’s management.

Ensuring that you have the right skills on your project team is cited in multiple responses. In that light, SAP’s announcement this week that it will focus on increasing the quality of its workforce — largely through pushing SAP certification – is quite interesting.

Continued »

February 5, 2009  10:09 PM

SAP: We’re not restricting customers from seeking third-party support

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

SAP is not putting clauses into contracts that restrict customers from seeking third-party maintenance despite claims to the contrary, an SAP spokesman said today.

But claims that the vendor was doing so put maintenance and support back on the radar yesterday, sparked by a post on Twitter that generated quick buzz around the blogosphere.

Continued »

February 5, 2009  7:22 PM

Who’s ready to upgrade now?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

Business Suite 7 is supposed to be easier and cheaper to deploy and use, and will give upgrades, “the kiss of death,” as SAP Co-CEO Leo Apotheker put it during yesterday’s press conference.

But most customers have to get past one more “traditional” upgrade before they can leverage Business Suite 7. So one question for the new release is — will it push more customers to upgrade?

Continued »

February 2, 2009  5:56 PM

Welcome to our new blog location on IT Knowledge Exchange

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

I’d like to introduce you to some of our new blog features, as well as the IT Knowledge Exchange.

Instead of a long list of categories, we now have a Tag Cloud. Click any topic in the Tag Cloud and you’ll see only posts on that topic. The more a tag is used, the larger and darker it will appear. These are the most popular topics.

You’ll also notice we’ve integrated more of our related editorial content in the right sidebar. If you’re reading a post about a specific topic and want to know more, be sure to browse these links.

We like when you share our content on social networking sites. To make that easier, we’ve increased the number of bookmarking tools from four to 43.

Looking for more blogs? On the top of the page and you’ll see a row of tabs. You can click the IT Blogs tab to find dozens of user-generated and TechTarget editorial blogs. You can even request your own blog.

To ask your own IT questions to our thousands of users, click on the IT Answers tab. So be sure to pose your own SAP question, browse thousands of SAP answers or help out a fellow IT pro by answering a question.

Thank you for stopping by and be sure to bookmark our new blog location and visit the SAP section on IT Knowledge Exchange.

January 22, 2009  6:28 PM

What’s the real trend in failed SAP projects?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

The big SAP buzz on the web this week is the claim by Shane and Co. that a failed SAP ERP implementation was a catalyst for the jewelry company’s descent into bankruptcy.

Reporters often joke that anything that happens three times signals a trend. So when you consider Select Comfort’s announcement last month that it was halting its SAP ERP implementation as part of a cost cutting measure, it would seem SAP is one step away from being blamed for business failures in this economy.

But what’s the real story?

Josh Greenbaum points out in his recent blog, basically, that it’s not the software’s fault that you didn’t put it in right. He argues that blame for Shane and Co.’s failings lies more squarely with the management team and the system integrator.

The same theme runs through Michael Krigsman’s chronicles of Miami-Dade School District’s SAP implementation, which is over-schedule and over-budget. Krigsman has been focusing a lot of his ink on the systems integrators’ role, plus management’s mismanagement of the project.

As it turns out, it seems a lot more companies aren’t too happy with their system integrators.

According to survey conducted by Forrester Research, a quarter of 1,002 technology decision-makers interviewed were downright dissatisfied with the work, and only 18% are very happy with it, according to research from Forrester Research’s Liz Herbert.

So how do they get better results?

Predictably, one of the ways to ensure success is by management taking a stronger role in the project. One of the biggest mistakes that companies make, Herbert said, is not changing course or correcting problems when they’re detected and just assuming they’ll correct themselves. Missing or forgoing regular check-ins can contribute to this.

So it would seem that in this economy, stronger project management will be even more important, as the margin for error is slim.

“It’s those consensus-driven companies that really cause projects to fail and to take forever because you can never move forward,” said SAP retail vice president Isaac Krakovsky. “It really does come from the top down.”

January 2, 2009  1:52 PM

Will third-party support get a verdict?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

SAP just managed to complete another chapter in its ongoing legal saga with Oracle before 2008 came to a close, requesting a jury trial.

SAP filed its answer to Oracle’s third amended complaint, just before the New Year in the United States District Court in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, another settlement conference is scheduled for next month, and a federal judge has ordered SAP and Oracle to come up with a settlement figure in preparation for it.

While the courtroom battle may have little long-term impact on SAP customers it’s certainly interesting reading. There could be one effect, however — its implications on the availability of third-party software support.

If there’s a monetary settlement, and neither party admits to anything, there may be no answer to just what is and isn’t legal when it comes to third-party support. That may discourage start-ups.

Will a jury verdict better clear up these boundaries, and encourage more providers to spring up? Or is a verdict just as likely to be complicated and ambiguous?

Oracle continues to allege that SAP execs knew TomorrowNow could pose legal problems, and knowingly went forward with an illegal operation. SAP has said TomorrowNow did inappropriately download some Oracle support materials, but SAP didn’t know about it.

“Plaintiffs rely on snippets and excerpts of documents to construct a tale of intrigue, when the truth is far simpler, though less exciting,” according to SAP’s latest filing. “SAP bought [TomorrowNow] with the hope that providing ‘Oracle’ customers a choice in maintenance might give them the time to consider alternative, and better, enterprise software.”

“This case…is simply about whether TN exceeded its rights to access Plaintiffs’ computers, whether that harmed Plaintiffs, and, if so, by how much,” the document states. 

December 30, 2008  4:00 PM

What are your SAP resolutions in the New Year?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

At the newspaper I used to work at, one of my assignments every time the price of gas went up was to head to a gas station and ask people if the cost would change their driving habits. I estimate I’ve performed this task at least five different times.

Inevitably, two out of every 10 drivers I interviewed would say yes. The rest would say, ‘Not really.’ But then, they’d add things like, ‘well, we aren’t taking our vacation this year,’ or ‘I do bundle all my errands into one trip now,’ or ‘I am carpooling to work.’

Television news gave the impression that gas prices were truly crushing people, as if no one was driving anymore. But many people didn’t think about it like that. Sure, gas was really expensive, but they were finding ways to manage because they had to.

I thought of this as I was interviewing SAP customers last week about their SAP resolutions for the New Year. With so much news on how the recession would decimate IT budgets, IT projects and consequently, vendor sales, I expected to hear from SAP customers that they’d prioritized some sort of cost cutting measures.

So I was surprised by the optimism I heard, each one chiming in with the new projects they had planned for the coming year, not even mentioning cost cutting. And when I asked how they’d pay for them, they said they would just have to get creative.

I know a resolution is what you want to do, not necessarily what you will do. But the resilience exhibited by customers is a bright spot in a year that has been filled with some pretty bad news.

So let’s head into 2009 remembering this — despite a dismal economy, just as people are still driving, companies are still finding ways to innovate, because they have to.   

I’d be interested to hear how you plan to deliver innovation in the New Year, and some of the creative ways you’ll do it.

December 19, 2008  10:09 AM

Will more companies halt SAP projects?

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

Most companies that have already started IT projects will finish them even in this economy, analysts and customers have told me in the last month. It seemed like, for the most part, that was holding true.

But the paradigm seems to lose a little luster with Select Comfort’s announcement this week that it’s halting its SAP implementation as part of cost-cutting measures. It appears from SEC filings that the implementation was costing millions of dollars. The bed retailer is also laying off around 120 people — about 22% of its workforce.

No doubt there’s more than one reason why this implementation was halted. But there’s one clue that’s far more interesting than it perhaps being over-budget or behind schedule.

It seems like it was a huge project, and one which the company expected would be completed in early 2008. The company was implementing SAP ERP, CRM, SCM, PLM, SRM, HCM, SEM, BI and enterprise portal to replace its current disparate software systems and facilitate a growth strategy, according to an earlier SEC filing.

“Our current management information systems may not be adequate to support our growth strategy,” one SEC filing said. “We believe this SAP-based IT architecture, along with best-practices-based processes and greater utilization of off-the-shelf, packaged solutions, will provide greater flexibility and functionality for our growing and evolving business model and be less expensive to maintain over the long-term.”

The recession, however, changed everything. Select Comfort now plans to close dozens of stores, according to a press release from the company. Therefore, the software implementation it wanted to help pursue those business plans may need to change as well.

“There are several alternate SAP implementation approaches and given the smaller than anticipated current size of the Company, the approach to SAP software originally adopted may be outsized for the Company’s needs,” a letter from an investment adviser to the company’s board of directors filed with the SEC and quoted in this ComputerWorld story said.

It seems likely that other companies, which started implementations a year or more ago but haven’t yet finished them, may too be facing similar challenges.

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