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What's your SAP maturity?

by Lucy Swedberg

November 3, 2010

by Lucy Swedberg, Group Editor, SAPinsider & insiderPROFILES

Most industry analysts and IT aficionados would categorize SAP software as a mature technology. It's been around for over a decade, many large enterprises have been using it for years, and its core features and functionality are road-tested. Yet, according to enterprise applications expert Michael Doane, we shouldn't confuse product maturity for install base maturity. In other words, just because a piece of software is mature, it doesn't mean that clients' use of that software is mature as well.

I listened to a fascinating webinar yesterday, entitled "Assess Your SAP Maturity." Doane, along with SAP's VP of Business Transformation Services Uli Muench, presented a 5-tiered SAP maturity model and a series of best practices to help companies ascend those 5 tiers. (Tier 3, for example, is having a defined COE. Tier 4 involves not just having a COE, but having a well-managed COE. This recent SAPinsider article can help you make that jump.)

I picked up lots of great insights and tips during the webcast:

  • When looking at the relationship between business and IT, the mantra of old was "Business requests, IT provides." But that mantra has evolved. Successful business/IT relationships now embrace this theme: "Business leads, IT supports."
  • Even though most SAP shops would never admit it, nearly 20% of them fall into the "clueless" camp when it comes to SAP maturity. 40% are "ho hum," 20% are "cruising," and 20% are "thriving." (These results come from an informal consultant survey Doane conducted.)
  • The answer to implementation or project troubles is rarely running out to buy more software. A better plan is to take the time to stabilize and optimize what you already have.
  • End users are truly the process drivers of your business. The trouble is, rarely does an organization have someone who "owns" end-user competency, and even more rarely does someone "own" a budget to address it. (Stay tuned for a terrific Joshua Greenbaum column on this topic in the next issue of insiderPROFILES.)

But perhaps the best tip of all was Doane's announcement of a "first-time free" online assessment that companies can use to assess their own SAP maturity. This tool, available at, is a great way for customers to find out where they really stand. Unlike long, scripted questionnaires in which you're relying on the recommendations of an outside expert to drive the results of your evaluation, this online assessment is more credible because it lets you take matters into your own hands. You simply set up 2 groups to take the survey -- an IT group, and a business side group. Each participant spends 15 minutes answering a series of questions, and then you compare the results to see how well your business and IT folks align. And though subsequent assessments would incur a fee, a periodic business/IT alignment evaluation like this would really help SAP shops gauge their progress.< /p>

All in all, an informative webinar. The live event has passed, but you can still check out a recorded version of it here: Michael Doane webcast series.

Also, you can join Michael Doane and experts from SAP Consulting for a live, interactive Q&A on Thursday, December 16th. Click here for more details.

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