Report underlines the importance of a business assurance strategy for SAP
SAP remains one of the most popular enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, acting as the backbone of business processes for organsations globally. Indeed, around 1,800 of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are currently SAP customers. But the SAP of yesterday looks very different to the SAP of today, with the overall SAP environment undergoing rapid disruption in recent years.
Looking ahead, this disruption will continue with SAP’s (changing) end-of-support deadline for its ECC platform. Add to this frequent changes and updates and, of course, SAP’s strategy to push its S/4HANA Cloud as a complete ERP system with built-in intelligent technologies, and the level of disruption grows.
There are business assurance implications of this evolving landscape, which is why Capgemini, Sogeti and Tricentis have produced the inaugural SAP Business Assurance Study based on a survey of SAP customers across the world. We believe SAP has reached a pivotal point in its evolution, with growing digitisation leading to increased importance of a robust SAP S/4HANA digital core. This is placing extreme pressure on testing which, as we all know, sits at the heart of business assurance.
Continuously optimise your SAP business assurance
This situation is exacerbated the high degree of customisation allowed by SAP and the growing number of IoT devices, external supplier/vendor portals, and third-party applications being closely linked with SAP platforms to support end-to-end business processes. Unsurprisingly, most companies are facing highly complex testing challenges with every update and every upgrade — to SAP as well as to the many interconnected non-SAP components. That’s why we advocate continuous optimisation of your SAP business assurance strategy as well as your broader quality assurance process beyond SAP.
But first, let’s take a step back and look at the as-is situation. Interestingly, our survey found that SAP ECC is still the most popular SAP version, with 43.2% of surveyed organisations currently using it, followed by SAP S/4 HANA with an adoption rate of 33.1%. This perhaps explains why SAP has extended its original end-of-support deadline several times. Nonetheless, our survey showed that despite some inhibitions and challenges in adopting more advanced versions of SAP ERP, most organisations are highly aware of the benefits and importance of moving towards newer versions and automation. In fact, over 91% of the organisations that have not upgraded to SAP S/4 HANA have either already begun the migration or plan to do so in the next 24 months.
Migration needs high level of QA
We found that most SAP customers are currently in the midst of two major migrations: a move from on-prem to the cloud; and a move from ECC to S/4HANA. Both migrations are explored in-depth in the report, where we find many organisations saying that more than 60% of migration effort is consumed by quality assurance (QA).
The need for this high level of QA is clear in the volume of integration between SAP and non-SAP components that must be assured with efficient testing. With the more frequent releases and updates from SAP adding to the cadence of change, we can see that the traditional manual SAP testing approaches of the past are no longer enough. As a consequence, use of automation is on the rise, with 23.6% of organisations having ‘completely automated’ their SAP change and release management procedures and 34.1% having ‘mostly automated’ it.
A new stage in SAP apps development
There’s also evidence that development methodologies for SAP applications are still in catch-up mode compared to those for non-SAP applications, although the ‘Waterfall only’ approach for SAP platforms is on the wane. Waterfall at 27.4% or Hybrid (combining Agile and Waterfall) at 36.1% are still the most popular approaches for SAP implementations, while Agile at 30% is the most prominently used for non-SAP apps. Nonetheless, the gap between SAP and non-SAP is closing as the sequential Waterfall methodology is replaced by the more iterative Agile approach for SAP. So, while SAP is currently lagging behind compared to non-SAP applications, Agile and DevOps have entered centre stage and are progressing. This demands a new approach to Quality Assurance in an Agile environment.
One barrier to business assurance is the incompatibility of SAP and non-SAP applications, which mainly occurs due to differences in technologies used for on-premises and cloud-based integration. It is no surprise, therefore, that 56% of our survey respondents say they use system integration testing as a key tool to overcome integration challenges at the testing stage. And, although many organisations still prefer their internal IT teams and dedicated testing teams to remain responsible for maintaining the quality of SAP business assurance, the overall preference for specialist service providers and system integrators is growing. A significant 47.2% are looking to establish connections with third-party QA teams with extensive SAP and testing expertise.
Why SAP business assurance matters
End-to-end testing and quality assurance are among the most basic requirements for successful SAP implementation. As we state in our report, any negligence or shortfall during testing may prove very costly. Illustrated by several use cases, our report reveals that a large number of organisations (35.6%) had witnessed severe downtime or loss of productivity because of gaps in SAP testing. Some organisations (34%) also admitted to having experienced delay in task completion. Other negative outcomes include issues in data harmonisation (28.3%), security failure (27.9%), and reputational loss (10.5%). In one instance cited in the report, a lack of a holistic, long-term approach to end-to-end testing cost a medical device manufacturer close to US$ 2m due to operations being impeded and products that were needed urgently having to be shipped via alternative routes.
Failing to adopt a comprehensive, risk-oriented testing across all SAP landscapes clearly presents a business risk. Organisations need to be prepared for ever increasing speed of releases and updates — even if they feel comfortable with how these are tested today.
Find out more
The SAP Business Assurance Study is a comprehensive assessment of organisations’ existing status, planned strategies, challenges, and expectations related to SAP implementation and testing. It draws on desk-based research, a quantitative global survey of 759 respondents from large-scale organisations, and a series of expert interviews.