• Johan Steenstra, Partner |

For many, this news will have come as a relief: SAP does not want to discontinue maintenance for its current Business Suite generation already at the end of 2025. Instead it will extend it until the end of 2027 - and at additional cost even until the end of 2030.

More time to get the S/4HANA transformation right

This decision gives companies more time to prepare. Many saw it as an enormous burden to go through the conversion of their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to the new SAP platform S/4HANA within a relatively short time. After all, the introduction of a new system is costly and complex and an ERP is a central system that affects virtually every area of a company.

Introducing a new ERP platform is not simply an IT project but is also of strategic importance. That’s why SAP decided to extend the deadlines: introducing S/4HANA can bring added value, particularly when companies revise their processes and/or introduce new business models during implementation.

It is to be welcomed that SAP is giving companies more time to get the ERP transformation right, i.e. to take advantage of the opportunity to streamline historically grown organizational structures, standardize processes and consolidate systems as part of the migration to S/4HANA. This reduces structural costs, accelerates processes and improves governance.

Fewer project backlogs likely

The SAP decision is good news for companies that have been under pressure due to limited resources. After all, an ERP migration can tie up budgets that may not be available for other projects. The extended maintenance period allows companies to rethink their priorities to a certain degree.

Another point is that the SAP decision also eases the situation a little bit for ERP service providers and experts. A survey conducted by Lünendonk & Hossenfelder together with KPMG revealed that the majority of companies want to start implementing S/4HANA from 2022. Had SAP maintained its original idea of ending its maintenance in 2025, this would have caused project backlogs. By giving companies more time, most will have a chance to experience a less rushed transformation.

Postponed does not mean canceled

The maintenance of the previous SAP systems will expire in any case. The Lünendonk study also showed that every second company wants to make adjustments and optimize processes in the course of the S/4HANA conversion. A quarter of the companies surveyed chose the greenfield approach, i.e. they want to set up all their business processes in S/4HANA from scratch.

For these companies, the SAP decision does not fundamentally change anything. While 2027 or even 2030 may sound even further away than 2025, it is still worthwhile to deal with S/4HANA now and to get a headstart on the implementation.

Because the sooner business processes are optimized and digitized, the sooner the benefits can be reaped. A thorough ERP conversion needs enough time if the outcome is to be secure and ultimately successful.

This blog article is the first one of a series featuring multiple topics around SAP S/4HANA.

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