At a time when it seems like there’s an “app for everything,” there’s one type of application that still holds its position as the mission-critical heavyweight for the enterprise: ERP or enterprise resource planning. For organizations that have reached a certain size, especially those businesses who operate in supply chain management (think materials management, inventory, production planning, and logistics), financial accounting, human resources, and customer relationship management. The reigning champion in the enterprise ERP solutions market for the last several decades is undoubtedly SAP ERP.
The major challenges businesses face when managing SAP ERP
Enterprises choose SAP because the product has the functionality they need for business operations. This is borne out in Software Review’s April 2021 Data Quadrant, which classifies SAP S/4HANA as a product innovator, thanks to its high ranking for product features and customer satisfaction. What keeps SAP S/4HANA from being classified as a Leader in Software Review’s April 2021 Data Quadrant is its fairly low rating for vendor experience and capabilities.
Also read: What Is SAP S/4HANA and How Do I Migrate?
This underscores an undeniable truth anyone who’s ever implemented an ERP system, like SAP S/4HANA (or SAP ECC previously), knows ERP functionality can only take you so far. Eventually, the capabilities of the implementer/service provider – whether that’s SAP or a third-party – have a significant effect on the success of the implementation. Here are five challenges we see most often in our work hosting instances of SAP S/4HANA:
Challenge #1 – The instance of SAP is not customized for the enterprise
Just because you can customize an ERP application doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. This is especially true of a functional leader in the ERP space like SAP. In fact, the more customizable a solution is, the easier it is to misconfigure it, which can lead to application failures and IT security issues. And once configured, the system may need to be recalibrated to the needs of the business with every release of a new version or enhancement.
Challenge #2 – SAP requires specific skills to architect, implement, and optimize
A mission-critical SAP business application will test every element of your IT from infrastructure, to application architecture, to cloud services, and beyond. It’s highly likely that your SAP implementation also includes other application dependencies, such as a third-party CRM or supply chain planning application, that will need to be accounted for during implementation and with every upgrade.
Challenge #3 – SAP requires too many IT resources for day-to-day management
ERP systems have a lot of moving parts, and SAP S/4HANA is certainly no exception. Keeping up with the technical requirements of SAP S/4HANA can be a full-time job in itself. Then there are the day-to-day application requirements. For example, the very nature of the data housed in an ERP system makes it an attractive target for data thieves as well as other types of cyberattacks, including ransomware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS).
Implementing patches as quickly as possible is one element of a defense-in-depth IT security strategy. Unfortunately, with so much on their plate, it’s easy for ERP systems administrators to delay patching while they’re handling “more immediate” challenges.
Challenge #4 – Hardware obsolescence has an impact on SAP performance
Hardware plays a significant role in solution performance. Unfortunately for many enterprises, it’s challenging at best to gauge capacity requirements. They don’t want to tie up capital by overinvesting in hardware, but an IT team that’s stretched thin may not notice when SAP performance begins to degrade due to capacity issues. Just as detrimental to the business, your organization may not be able to scale up IT infrastructure fast enough to take advantage of a sudden, unexpected market opportunity.
Challenge #5 – SAP doesn’t operate in a vacuum
When a mission-critical SAP system goes down, the company goes down. However, unplanned downtime isn’t always a function of the application or the vendor. It can be caused by the environment, such as when a provider loses connectivity, or an untested disaster recovery plan fails just when you need it.
Managed SAP S/4HANA: The best of both worlds
At TierPoint, we have the skills and infrastructure to help you address all five of these challenges. We teamed up with NTT DATA Business Solutions, an SAP Global Platinum Partner, to provide an even deeper array of managed services for our enterprise customers. With the TierPoint and NTT DATA Business Solutions Managed SAP S/4HANA solution, you’ll get:
- A high-performing, secure private cloud environment
- Expert assistance implementing and configuring SAP to meet the needs of your business
- Ongoing monitoring of your SAP environment and instances to ensure optimal performance and availability
- IT architectural expertise and regular hardware refreshes so you don’t need to worry about hardware-induced performance issues
- Day-to-day management of your SAP environment and instances (e.g., patching, updating, maintenance) so you can focus on more strategic IT initiatives
To learn more about how our Managed SAP offerings can help your IT organization, reach out to one of our service representatives.