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ERP transformation timeframes cut from years to weeks

Businesses are no longer questioning the value of digitisation, SAP execs say, but the c suite is still holding things back

ERP systems

The timeframe for large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) transformations has been slashed from months, and in some cases years, to just a matter of weeks.

Such programmes of change might be multi-staged and traditionally required intense planning and execution that takes place over up to a decade. However, a combination of conditions including the aftermath of COVID-19 has sparked businesses into moving fast.

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“We’ve got examples of six weeks; of going from as-is to there in six weeks,” said SAP customer success lead and member of the SAP SE Executive, Scott Russell. “Now that is incredibly rapid.”

Speaking at SAP Sapphire, the Hague, Russell highlighted how the market has shifted considerably as soon as over the last 18 months, adding this movement is being driven by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). 

Many customers of SAP’s newly launched RISE platform, for example, are mid-sized firms looking to implement rapid ERP transformations to keep up with the competition.

“[Businesses] are willing now to just move,” Russell continued. “Actually, I’ve seen programmes where they haven’t perfectly defined everything, but they’re moving and they will be agile enough to adapt as they go because they know that to wait is to give their competitors an advantage that they’re no longer prepared to do.” 

“We just don’t see ERP long-term implementations anymore. The market doesn’t want to implement that way. We certainly don’t want to; we want to help them get time-to-value even if it’s in a multi-step journey.

He echoed comments delivered by SAP president EMEA North, Rohit Nagarajan, who stressed in his keynote address that nobody was questioning whether or not transformation was necessary anymore. 

Scott reinforced this by suggesting the biggest factor driving decisions right now is the fear of standing still. At the c-level, especially, executives are fearful of not changing, although are being held back by the barriers of culture and convention, particularly the established processes that already exist within their businesses.

Pushed further, Russell said the biggest concerns among its customers was, indeed, their CEOs and c-level executives dragging their feet. That behavioural and cultural change, specifically, was something they needed to overcome, in order to commit to and appreciate the benefit of undergoing fast-paced digital transformation projects. 

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