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Why SAP S/4 HANA Implementations Fail

Implementing SAP S4/HANA is not a trivial undertaking. Gartner have previously reported up to 75% of ERP implementations do not fulfil their full expectations. This article will examine some of the most common reasons these projects fail. 


Not Just an IT Project 

Many organisations still see SAP S4/HANA implementations as solely technology-based projects in which data and systems need to be migrated from one platform to another. This is only true in “brownfield” implementations which only offer the outcome of being on the latest system and not the benefits of the new features it enables. To achieve long term strategic benefits, implementations need to be undertaken as re-evaluations of a business’ end to end processes (also known as “greenfield)This means a change management plan for staff and business operations need to be at the heart of the strategy to ensure success. 



Any project without an influential and engaged sponsor is going to have difficulty mobilising. This is particularly true where participation is required from SMEs across the organisation, not to mention significant investment is needed. Having a senior sponsor on board will help with resource allocation, alignment to organisational strategies, issue resolution, and project communication within the executive community.  


Reluctance to Embrace Standardisation

Many enterprises have complex systems and processes which are the product of legacy technologies and technical debt. The temptation when implementing a new ERP system can be to transpose the custom nature of these rather than consider a fresh and simpler approach. SAP S/4HANA provides a number of “best practices”; standardised business processes which have been designed to require little to no customisation. There will always be some exotic scenarios where customisation is needed, but the more a company takes on during an implementation the greater the cost, timescale, and risk to on time delivery. 


Poor Risk Management

SAP S4/HANA implementations will inevitably impact a number of operational and mission critical systems. Proper identification, evaluation, and mitigation of potential risks should be carried out at all stages of the project, or the consequences can be significant. 


Poor Testing

While not the only workstream as previously mentioned, technology is still an integral part of SAP S4/HANA implementations and rigorous test management is a pivotal step in any system delivery project. SMEs should define User Acceptance Testing Scenarios which verify the new systems are fit for purpose to avoid operational disruption. 


Lack of Independent Governance

Having an independent team separate from the customer and system integrator can help alleviate the challenges of accurately reporting progress. This takes bias and emotion out of the picture and holds both parties accountable to the schedule and deliverables they signed up to. 


Considering a SAP S/4HANA or other ERP implementation? Integrated Cloud presents a SaaS application that is designed to reduce risk, improve transparency and governance by bringing automation and a consistent delivery to SAP S/4HANA PMO delivery. Download the free brochure here. Alternatively, Contact Us for more information or to organise a demo here

Michael Dolan

Michael has been part of Integrated Cloud's journey since 2013 and has worked as a key resource on several large transformation programs for clients all across the world. Michael is Head of Product Configuration, meaning he uses industry knowledge and expertise to head up the team that implement changes to CloudCube using the CloudCubeDNA low code application builder toolset.