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back to article Mattress maker can no longer spring for SAP roll-out

With the economy presently being the pits nearly everywhere you look, many folks are warily eying the IT sector for signs of disaster. Will IT spending take further hits in 2009? An announcement today from the US-based mattress maker Select Comfort could be a sign of tech spending on the chopping board – but it also could just …

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SAP crock of

What a surprise a SAP enterprise project being HUGELY expensive, MASSIVELY over budget, NEVER delivering on expectations and finally being scrapped after millions being spent on it.

Has SAP EVER managed to get a fully working enterprise system running on time and on budget?

WHY is anybody buying there crap?

And finally

HOW DUMB are IT managed not to insist on penalty clauses in massive contracts? Every other large project has penalty clauses added to stop this kind of farce from happening.

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"is behind schedule and is significantly over running its original cost estimates"

With an IT project? Why doesn't that surprise me?

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Tip of the iceberg

This is just one of the few that ends up visible; there are many more that are kept very very very quiet to avoid unnecessary embarrassment of purchaser and supplier. It's not just the public sectort that cocks up overblown IT projects, but normally the private sector are good at keeping it out of shareholders views.

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Pirate

Some marketing

Persuading a simple manufacturing/distribution operation that they need $20m of enterprise IT.

Must have been champers all round in the marketing department when they landed that sucker.

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Pirate

If the disease doesn't kill you, the cure will

That sums up the advice from Clinton Group, hidden in the code phrase, "use qualified external consultants". If they thought the original implementation was expensive, they ain't seen nothing yet.

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Stop

SAP need to...

... offer Business Objects as part of the standard applications and stop trying to charge extra for the licences... No one is going to pay extra for fancy applications for next few years at least...

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

Does *anyone* actually _like_ SAP products?

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Alert

SAP's reign is declining

Back in the 80s it was said that no manager would be fired for selecting IBM (mainframe or software). Along came a paradigm shift from the big iron mainframes to smaller, client-server based systems. SAP was(and is) the leader in these systems. However, they have lost sight of why companies switched from the "big iron" and in-house supported COBOL/CICS systems. It was because the client-server gave flexibility. However, over the years it has grown into exactly like the software it replaced. Big, bulky, slow to change, difficult to implement. Expensive to support (both hardware and software). No longer with SAP and similar systems be a "given".

A new paradigm shift will be accelerated by our current economic downturn. Innovative companies will return to the roots of having a core staff of in-house Business Process/Programmer combination people that can leverage the power of various FLOSS ERP systems and their supporting communities. The result is that systems such as Compiere, OpenBravo and other systems will move toward a large scale Enterprise support. Utilizing technology such as Evergreen does with XMPP these systems will be scalable from the smallest implementation on one PC server to supporting Enterprises all over the world.

Finally, organizations will be able to innovate their support systems at the same speed as they need to innovate their business. Waiting for months (if not longer) for "the next release" will be a thing of the past. AND that folks is what we need in the 21st century.

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TLAs

All these TLAs (three letter acronyms) are total bollocks. They, en mass, are a fad that unscrupulous companies, with SAP being the undisputed king pin, can foist on business to help justify the shell game of doing away with managing our business and replace that with an off shore call center.

Running a business is hard. SAP is just a very evil prank being pulled on people who have no damn business making decisions about anything more complex than which breakfast cereal to buy.

It would be nice if the managers got the ax so maybe other MBMs (mouth breathing managers) would be more wary of the vendor with the 10,20, 500 million dollar solution to your pesky day to day JOB.

And a big kudos to goggyturk. Yeah, they could have spent 100 million and had a lovely pack of consultants tell them how to change their business so it conforms to what SAP wants it to be.

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How can they be losing money?

FFS they make overpriced air mattresses!! I have been interested in their products but I am not even going to go near them when they cost at least $1200!!

They tried to go high-end with super-high prices and then have attempted to back up their high-end look with mall shops and advertising. Now with the economy the way it is no amount of advertising is going to get people past the high price.

Ahh but they're trapped - if they try to cut their prices to move more air mattresses then they will shoot their high-end image that they never really attained.

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Stop

Look at the bigger picture...

SAP requires that the company perform a paradigm shift as to how they do business. This shift can make even the most straight forward migration from their old system(s) to SAP a potential corporate failure.

Nike sued Oracle and SAP for their botched implementation many moons ago. In fact Nike told the financial community that this botched implementation had cost around $1 Billion USD in lost revenues and waste in their supply chain.

When will companies learn that IT has become a critical requirement of their business and that you can't cut corners and that when you're changing your core business systems, you have serious risks.

If you want to blame SAP or their BP consultants for under estimating the job, go ahead. But also blame the corporations that don't do their due diligence or get all of the company's stakeholders buying in to the system change, including the need for new hardware.

Sorry, but you could write a very long book doing case studies why SAP implementations go wrong. (Then a followup on Oracle/Peoplesoft screwups.)

Don't blame SAP. Blame everyone involved.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh Dear

Having just been involved in a $20m SAP implementation I can say without doubt that the company will not get a return on that money. It only paid for a basic system which is not even integrated into production or sales. Amazing what managers and employees trying to get the latest systems in their CV's will buy......

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Anonymous Coward

SAP a dinosaur

of the computing world. May as well install the software with a flat cap and a whippet by your side.

SAP is a terribly antiquated way of looking at information and accounting systems, wouldn't surprise if they go tits up this recession, over priced, complicated and hyped.

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I concur

And PeopleSoft will be right behind them, both products attempt to minimize the number of people who need to be employed by a company (paper pushers, people who help manage accounts, etc.). Non-IT companies that use them, not being aware of what the software will actually do to save money, are sold the product to replace far too many people. SO instead of having people ready to take over if the systems fail (becuase they remember how to use the paper versions), they end up paying huge amounts of money for highly skilled IT staff to get things working again, many times requiring a reprogramming of one or more of the digital forms, or database structures, just so business can start back up again, when it really should never have stopped completely in the first place.

But big IT marketers love carrying around their bags of bells and whistles, and management love taking credit for saving that immediate short term money from the many people the software replaces, but when the shit hits the fan, all they do is play the blame game while investors and employees suffer the damages. It's not like the management that made the uneducated decision care if blame goes to the IT industry as a whole and give us all bad reputations, for a few (too many) people's mistakes based on false promises and dollar signs. The worst part for those businesses is that the managers that make the decisions to adopt these technologies to save a buck, never take responsibility for losing the buck, which is why I tend to be pickier about who I work for, and can tell when I'm being set up as a sacrificial blame target from a mile away. IT gets caught up in sales far too often and it always ends in false promises, employees being undervalued, and massive failures. Having monopolies just prolongs those things, they don't avoid them forever.

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SAP works and works well

I have been implementing SAP for 13 years. It is quite simply the best ERP system available especially for the multi-country, multi-language needs of international companies.

The majority of Fortune 500 companies use SAP because it is simply the best product available.

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@Paul White

If SAP is so 'multi-country, multi-language' then how come my brother-in-law has to use a SAP system which only works in English - even though his branch is in Sweden?

Most other countries on his SAP system are have to use English as well - and this 'multi-language' system cost millions.

I very much doubt that SAP has been a success in all of those Fortune 500 companies - that's if they're still using it.

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Anonymous Coward

@Paul White

If SAP is the 'best' ERP system, how come the user interface looks like it was designed by an idiot?

I know four-year-olds who could design a better UI.

I remember when these systems were DOS-based, and while you often wanted a crib sheet, ONE crib sheet was enough.

I now need around 30 pages of cribs sheets to do simple actions, as you need to click here, click there, type an apparently random code in that box and then choose a menu item. And we're not doing clever stuff - this is just a warranty repair of something!

There's no keyboard shortcut for most of the internal actions - fail.

Where there are shortcuts, the same button does completely different things depending on where you are - Enter executes, except when it doesn't - abject fail.

It's incredibly reliant on a fast network connection - fail.

It's really hard to charge people for stuff - I can send out a freebie really easily, but charging them for it is quite difficult. I can't even determine a price for something without jumping through hoops and using a calculator.

I don't know how they managed it, but sometimes the close and minimize buttons don't work.

If you accidentally try to log in twice because the login script died, it pops up a massive "We'll sue your *** off" dialog box, instead of a more sane "You're already logged in elsewhere - log in here instead/cancel" option.

My biggest bugbear is this one:

If you accidentally hit 'Enter' too early, SAP moans that you didn't type all the necessary data. Ok - that makes sense.

Except that it refuses to let you enter that data, and insists that you have to do it one field at a time and *try to re-run the transaction in between*. And if part-way through entering the data it gets *just* enough to do the transaction, it'll run it.

Even if it's not enough to do the whole procedure - just that step. And then you're stuck, and have to go to someone with high enough privileges to edit what you just entered and type the rest of the data you'll need later on.

Which of course means that plebs like me tend to get assigned much higher privileges than they actually need - opening up the chance to do even more accidental damage.

I've also found that I need a big paper pad next to my computer to write down all the various random transaction numbers it assigns to things, because it refuses to put them where I can actually re-use them.

I'm not alone in this - even our logistics manager thinks SAP has huge issues.

All this means that we tend to avoid SAP if we can.

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@AC 17:51 GMT

I am not suprised, SAP is representative of a large family of IT products designed by marketing for managers. Which should read "designed by the people who do not know a thing except how to sell things, for people who do not know a thing". It looks nice and marks all the checkboxes, which is a big win for those in need of updating CV.

Good news that shareholders started looking at the sticker. Perhaps the current downturn will do to dinosaurs of IT what a falling meteorite did to dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.

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