Basis CTO: Avoiding ‘SAP stalemate’ means being smarter than spreadsheets

The basic laws of physics play out every day in the global software supply chain. So let’s ask ourselves what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? 

Many large SAP customers across the globe are facing this conundrum when it comes to significant digital transformation. Market shifts such as competitor pressure and changing consumer demands mean they cannot afford to stand still, but fear of disrupting their core SAP systems halts meaningful change.

SAP stalemate

“It’s a hidden truth that organizations running SAP find themselves trapped in the very network of tools and processes that once made them agile. Held back by a fear of system collapse, they are truly at a stalemate,” said David Lees, CTO of Basis Technologies, a technology company that provides enterprise SAP customers with change management software. “Even now, enterprises typically build large, complex SAP estates that are extremely fragile in the face of change.”

Lees reminds us that business leaders (generally) fully understand the importance of transformation in SAP, but they currently rely on outdated tools to implement system change, such as Excel spreadsheets or Word documents. He likens it to the equivalent of using fold-out paper maps when satellite navigation sits at your fingertips, with its traffic updates, speed limits and ETAs.

In an age powered by agility and innovation, this outdated method of managing change needs to be left in the past.

SAP core strengths

“SAP presents an exceptional opportunity to optimize processes, boost efficiency and foster growth. Notably, 77% of the world’s transactional revenue flows through the SAP system, highlighting its significance across the world of business,” said Lees. “Moreover, SAP is making significant strides in generative AI investments, poised to revolutionize innovation for its customers. Additionally, the SAP cloud platform offers ground-breaking features, making it a compelling avenue for genuine digital transformation. It occupies a central role in most organisations, influencing all departments and promising a path to meaningful progress and evolution.”

But despite their firm belief in SAP’s significance and its potential for driving business growth, senior leaders are (argued by firms like Basis to be) failing to invest in the tools needed to unlock innovation. Many organizations cling to outdated and ineffective tools when managing change within SAP systems. When more innovative options are readily available, this insistence on using limited tools is illogical.

Smarter than spreadsheets

“Spreadsheets have a role, just not as a foundational tool underpinning complex systems with critical dependencies. Their limitations have become increasingly apparent in the current phase two of the digital world, where AI, real-time insights and data lakes are the norm. Spreadsheets are firmly rooted in phase one and no longer meet the demands of modern businesses,” advised Lees. “To effectively manage change within SAP systems, organisations require real-time visibility, collaboration and integration. This includes automated impact analysis, adaptive governance, automated backout, landscape flexibility, change orchestration outside of SAP and integration with the rest of the enterprise toolchain. They can achieve that ‘release when ready’ goal just by moving to efficient, modern technology.

Back to our real world vs. virtual universe comparisons, let’s think wider here. While it wasn’t too long ago that all car glove compartments housed the humble fold-out map, we’ve long moved on from its two-dimensional limitations. It served its purpose, but now we have access to much more innovative alternatives.

This is how Basis says we should view analogue systems in SAP change management.

When changing market needs demand enterprises work faster, why do they continue to use tools that slow them down? We need to break this cycle and start striving for true innovation, for the sake of digital transformation initiatives now and in the future.

We also need to move away from the steady acceptance of projects in SAP being monolithic, large and slow.

Seamless strategic steps

“To unlock the full potential of SAP and propel their organisations toward success, senior leaders must invest in modern tools explicitly designed for change in SAP. By making this shift, enterprises will achieve seamless integration, real-time insights and collaborative functionalities, aligning SAP with other tech worlds,” concluded Basis’s Lees. “With the right mindset and tools, change management will become a strategic enabler to power innovation, eliminate risk and drive growth, ending the digital transformation stalemate once and for all.”

The bottom line being driven here is a solid statement insisting that instances of historical waterfall-style deployment can be left in the spreadsheets; a modern agile-based approach is what will propel organizations forward.