Did SAP Kill Elvis?

15th March 2021

Written by Michael Duffy

Keeping your ERP system up-to-date is crucial, particularly if you are using Oracle on-premise ERP platform (EBS) 12.1. Start planning your upgrade now to avoid compliance and potential support risks.

My inbox has recently been filling up with consultants happy to advise on, and be paid for, ways to get ERP change projects back on track.

My thoughts were is this a sign that changes have become more difficult, that organisations are less prepared and over-optimistic, or have we just not learned the lessons of past failures?

Thinking back to previous ERP failure headlines my favourite is “Did SAP kill Elvis?”  Ok, the actual quote referred to eLWIS (pronounced like Elvis in German). It related to the alleged €500 million Lidl spent on a SAP project that had to be canned and resulted in the loss of their CEO and Head of IT.

Apparently, the issue related to how the base cost of stock items (purchase or sales price) was registered and exemplifies the key issue when implementing any system – do you adapt the software to the organisation, or vice versa?  Also, does the organisation really understand and have they fully mapped their existing processes or are they a collection of ad-hoc systems built over time and heavily dependent on human interpretations and interactions.

A very simple but effective piece of guidance I was given years ago was “simplification before automation”, closely related to garbage in – garbage out.  Unsurprisingly the bigger and more complex the organisation, whether a retail chain or a hospital, the less realistic it is to expect a huge change like an ERP system to go smoothly.  This is why those emails keep appearing.

If your organisation continues to use Oracle EBS 12.1, you may be impacted with compliance and potential support risks.  For anyone considering an ERP change the policy from the start must be:

  • Fully understand how the business systems currently work.
  • Where are the gaps, inefficiencies, and risks in the processes.
  • Have a realistic view of how much the organisation can flex to fit into the rigid constraints of any new system. Customisation is expensive and risky.

The next step is to have protection plan for the before, during, and after stages so you won’t need the expensive advice of the “we can fix your project” experts.  Suggestions based on proven best practice will be in the next blog.

Meanwhile, we all know Elvis was spotted recently in that chippy in Barnsley.

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