Don't expect another SAP support deadline extension, user group warns
German software giant unlikely to repeat 2020's concession to users pressure
SAP is likely to hold firm on the 2027 support deadline for ECC, its earlier-generation ERP solution used by thousands of businesses worldwide, making a repeat of 2020's concession unlikely, according to one user group leader.
The number of users already starting or planning their migration to the latest S/4HANA ERP platform, together with intransigence from the German software giant, means that legacy ECC and Business Suite 7 users need to find a way forward before support is cut off, said Paul Cooper, chairman, UK & Ireland SAP User Group.
"At the moment, SAP are being very strong in holding that line that [the 2027 deadline] will be the end or the beginning of the end if you purchase extended maintenance which runs until 2030," he said.
In February 2020, SAP caved into customer pressure by agreeing to extend standard support for Business Suite 7 (BS7) applications — which includes the ERP Central Component or ECC — beyond 2025. At the time the ERP stalwart confirmed "mainstream maintenance for core applications of SAP BS7 software until the end of 2027."
Last week, Gartner revealed that despite its seven years on the market, SAP S/4HANA has not been licensed by two-thirds (69 percent) of ERP Central Component (ECC) clients, according to data from calendar Q3.
"Currently, Gartner sees little evidence of the acceleration of migrations that would be needed to meet SAP's 2027 target to terminate mainstream maintenance support for ECC. After 2027, SAP will still offer extended maintenance until the end of 2030, but with a 2 percent premium for software support fees," the global research organization said.
However, research from the UK & Ireland SAP User Group shows a growing momentum behind migration projects from ECC to S/4HANA.
Almost nine in 10 (89 percent) organizations are either using or planning to use SAP S/4HANA, compared with 74 percent in 2021, according to the recent survey of 114 member organisations.
The research found concerns about the skills and training required to implement and manage SAP S/4HANA. Of those organizations yet to move to SAP S/4HANA, 92 percent were concerned a lack of available skills would slow their migration, up from 71 percent in 2021. Almost a third of organizations (32 percent) rated the level of training provided by their services or consultancy partner during the implementation process as poor or very poor, compared to 34 percent in 2021. A further 36 percent said SAP doesn't provide customers with enough technical resources and training to help them manage SAP S/4HANA.
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"We're still seeing a skills shortage in the marketplace and there is a big push by partners on their recruitment and training, but also in end user space, there's a shortage of skills. There are some demographic issues hitting some organisations: in industry where people who were at the forefront of SAP in the 90s are now starting to retire," Cooper said.
There was also concern among users about consultancy partners' certifications and SAP credentials. "You want to ensure that the quality of the skills that you're buying in on your project means the deliverables will be achieved by the resources that partners put in front of you. And one of the ways that you can kind of test that is to have these benchmarks around certification," Cooper said.
The user group chairman said the growing interest in S/4HANA was underscored by the UKISUG's recent conference, which for the first time included a stream of customer case studies showcasing experience on the in-memory ERP system. ®