back to article You know SAP's doing a great job when a third of German users say they 'have no confidence in it'

SAP's German customers are using a meeting in Nuremberg to complain the company should be doing more to make its products usable. The enterprise software outfit's German-speaking users group – Deutschsprachige SAP-Anwendergruppe e.V. (DSAG) – surveyed members (PDF) to find out how well the company's products were helping …

  1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Over complicated

    Thankfully I don't use SAP but...

    Why SAP cannot output the image of the bar code but instead sends it encoded in the bar code font seems a bit silly to me, it can't be that hard. The unicode font package is around £500 per machine and the install and licensing is a flipping nightmare.

    I have installed over 50 of these font packages in the last 12 months just because SAP will not rasterise a bar code. What a waste of money.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Over complicated

      Why SAP cannot output the image of the bar code but instead sends it encoded in the bar code font seems a bit silly to me, it can't be that hard. The unicode font package is around £500 per machine

      I think you've answered your own question there!

      1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

        Re: Over complicated

        Not quite, the unicode font package is made by Stethos and as far as I know not a part of SAP.

        If you fancy downloading their specification and wasting 3 days reading it be my guest. I don't think you can order it direct either but have to go through a Copier / printer manufacturer :/

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Korev Silver badge

    SAP user group

    while 30 per cent of users have no confidence in [SAP]"

    The interesting thing is that this is a SAP usergroup who presumably have an interest in SAP products and have their career invested in them. I wonder what a survey filled out by people without that bias would say.

    1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: SAP user group

      "what a survey filled out by people without that bias would say."

      My guess is that it would be something along the lines of "SAP? What's that?"

      1. Denarius

        Re: SAP user group

        @disgruntled_yank. Err, no. Most would say "Only 30% ???!!! In 2 decades of affliction by SAP applications has only meant rigid irrelevant rules, processes tripling in duration, process screens that were totally uninformative, as in "Now what" or and I am supposed to what ?" being common expressions, massive server buys and poorer as in often, no end result. The PHBs always seemed happy.

        An acquaintance who claims SAP skills insists it is the developers who do a poor job, not SAP. That maybe, except I have never seen SAP projects replacing legacy code be anything but worse and expensive also. More than one of my colleagues has wondered if someone in upper echelons was being paid off. Personally I regard it as fashion driving suckers. Unfortunately even in retirement I have to use the thing.

        1. fajensen Silver badge

          Re: SAP user group

          I have seen too much, but, here it goes: *All* ERP and PLM systems are horrible to use and generally seems carefully engineered by Cennobite Engineers to maximise pain, entropy and dysfunction (and of course the siphoning of resources to ERP/PLM consultants and licensers)!

          This is why sensible companies will employ some people / librarians to the specific role of being the go-betweens for the engineers and project managers and those ERP / PLM systems the projects needs to interact with.

          Companies who don't ....

          Willingly embrace chaos and super fun stuff like not being able to find the one valid product specifications for the regulators on the day they show up amongst the 70++ virtually identical contestants shat randomly all over the system by angry people who no longer give a single toss about the, according to top-management who never used it even once, wonderful, totally user-friendly, PLM/ERP system.

  3. Korev Silver badge


    Am I the only one to be disappointed by the lack of puns like "the software SAPs the will to live"

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: Disappointment

      Indeed. El Reg's headlines are a lot less punny lately. Maybe the punny guy/girl is having a short break.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Being an actual SAP user is a bit of a nightmare...

    Of all the software firms who's tools I have used over the years, I have to say that SAP is the least user-friendly. Convoluted UI's, unitelligible reports, even just plain unappealing color schemes on pages--it was just plain bad.

    1. Cloud, what..... Sorry... Um... - you just made that up.

      Re: Being an actual SAP user is a bit of a nightmare...

      You need to try Microsoft Dynamics............. ;)

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The survey showed that 70 per cent of customers [..] are satisfied"

    And you're happy with that ?

    Real companies strive for 100% customer satisfaction.

    What SAP really is is an excuse to give work to hundreds of consultants, placing them for years in companies to suck the teat as long as possible without actually delivering on the marketing promises.

    SAP lives on the fallacy of throwing good money after bad. Once you've spent tens of millions to get something working, you'll agree to spend a million more per year to ensure some sort of performance.

  6. Dr_N Silver badge

    So two-thirds DO have confidence?!

    This must be FAKE NEWS.

  7. Muppet Boss

    'Have no confidence' does not sound German enough to me

    'We have no confidence in it' sounds as a nice British way to say 'das ist echt Scheiße'

  8. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Last year, German supermarket Lidl reportedly cancelled a SAP project after spending around £500m trying to make it work.

    That seems a deal of money.

    Apart from the fact I've never bought into the superior efficiency of Private Enterprise, I've lost the will to understand the modern world. Needful things like public lavatories and libraries are closed --- not for lack of use, but for costfulness --- whilst capitalists * throw away huge sums just through... incompetence ? carelessness ? stupidity ?



    * Nothing personal against Lidl, as supermarkets go, they seem quite good.

    1. fandom

      "Apart from the fact I've never bought into the superior efficiency of Private Enterprise"

      You see, if instead of Lidl it was a goverment they would still be throwing good money after bad.

      That's were the superior efficiency comes from, private companies can be as stupid as any goverment, but they either stop willingly or they go broke and stop anyway.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        And in the private sector, if you spend 500 million Sterling on an initiative that achieves no results, you are either pushed out or jump before the push comes. In the public sector, it is much harder to force the incompetents out.

        1. Denarius


          How does your explanation handle the F35 ? Got both in there

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

            Re: @MarkettingHack

            The F35 is basically government work, and it got screwed up by bad testing decisions at the Pentagon. Which is not to say that Lockheed is blameless, it is just that they know that the DoD will never let them go out of business, even if Lockheed Martin gets pretty slovenly at times.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    I recall hearing horror stories like 20 years ago about how difficult SAP rollouts are, how plenty hit a dead end after spending several million on the attempt, and expensive (both expensive rollout and very high recurring licensing fees.).

    1. CRConrad

      Re: Difficult

      Exactly. And people STILL buy that crap today?!? Who are these (presumably) CIOs / COOs / CFOs; don't they know anyone else in the industry, or how the **** have they managed to miss hearing of this?

      1. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Difficult

        Easy: If you work with IT and want to get onto The Board, like those hair-dressers in HR already are, you will need to have an IT-budget that is visible on the summary reporting levels that the top management are presented with. If you are not visible there, you and your problems are, per definition, totally insignificant (because the CEO's only deals with important issues).

        Luckily, VMWare, SAP, Enovia, Rational and so on completely understands your ambitions and problems; They will help solve it for you.

        The FOSS-guy, that really skilled BOFH who basically runs everything for nothing, will remain in the windowless basement office because he (it will be a He), costing 'nothing', is totally invisible to the CEO-aisle, unless something breaks! So, all the CEO-aisle ever hear from that guy is: Problems!!

  10. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Of course they have no confidence in it

    They can understand SAP's error messages.

    Icon is for the non-German speaking users who get a SAP error message.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Of course they have no confidence in it

      "LIAR" is pretty simple.

      As to what it actually means or what to do about it? Never did work it out.

      I prefer user-facing error messages to be less, I dunno, accusatory

  11. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

    Have a friend who was doing SAP consultancy in the late 2000s. He already mentioned back then that SAP is a huge ffing mess, with the engineers at the company actually no longer in control of the humongous beast of software it had become.

    It seems that after the original founders sold it, that the product has gone down hill fairly fast.

    This also shows in the ridiculously high and generic requirements for any host that needs to run any SAP instance.

    It's much cheaper to put in a bespoke solution and just as extensible in the future.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      "This also shows in the ridiculously high and generic requirements for any host that needs to run any SAP instance."

      I completely agree with this from a historical perspective. Trying to size an on-prem infrastructure to host SAP (and any required supporting environments) in the past was always a work of witchcraft which even SAPs in house technical architects seemed to struggle with. I'd also say however that the infrastructure vendors themselves such as IBM, HP et al also used to struggle with this. This was always a problem when trying to manage project budgets and realising that you need to go and rapidly buy more CPU, memory and storage during testing at some extortionate cost to keep timelines on track.

      In my view, the move to SaaS, PaaS and elastic infrastructure has really solved this problem, but has naturally increased operational risk in others. It's taken away that whole underlying infrastructure delivery problem - which in itself has reduced time to implement in a really positive way (kinda').

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge


    I've been working on and running ERP delivery programmes for the last 15 years across SAP, Oracle EBS and a few others, and my opinion is that as a product SAP is (in a very Germanic way) overly fussy and needlessly complex. It sacrifices efficiency and speed and usability for "completeness". The move from separate R/3 apps to a more joined up underlying infrastructure in ECC made it slightly better from an integration perspective. Their licensing model is an absolute maze of hidden costs which unfortunately does seem to mean that a lot of projects software and OPEX costs overrun simply because nobody really understands them - and because they change so often. And yes, SAP product development vs product marketing does seem to be somewhat disjointed (to put it in a civil manner).

    I think it's unfair to say the software is crap though because when it works, it works quite well from a technical perspective. And as I've said before on these hallowed El Reg boards, most ERP projects overrun not due to the underlying software itself, but due to incomplete business process analysis and requirements specifications, that, and a lot of larger 3rd party integrator being (A) shit generally, (B) promising more than they can deliver, or (C) bidding lower simply to win the work - and the client bean counters not challenging them.

    That said, Oracle EBS is no better. I've actually worked with some free open source ERPs that do a better job than either of them.

    1. SonofRojBlake

      Re: Interesting...

      "I've actually worked with some free open source ERPs that do a better job than either of them"

      Names, man, names! Enquiring minds want to know...

    2. HmmmYes

      Re: Interesting...

      Yep, me too. Give us a product name!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting...

      I'm pretty sure it sacrifices correctness as well --- my previous employer used it for vacation booking, and for a while, if you tried to book a holiday in a month with fewer than 31 days, it would move it to the corresponding day of the next 31-day month.

      Or the employer before that, whose SAP-based HR system let me change all parts of my address except for which country I was in, which had to be done by a specialist (in an office very near SAP's headquarters).

  13. matthewdjb

    I've made a lot of money out of SAP being a bit crap. I see no need for it to change.

    Btw, the clue is in the name of the programming language. ABAP means in German "Allgemeiner Berichts-Aufbereitungs-Prozessor". While this is generally rendered in English as "Advanced Business Application Programming", an alternative would be "Common Report Application Programming". Or CRAP.

    What do you do for a living?

    I'm a CRAP programmer.

    Yes, I think you probably are.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only took us $4 mil

    "Last year, German supermarket Lidl reportedly cancelled a SAP project after spending around £500m trying to make it work."

    At a prior company, it only took us $4 mil before we canned the SAP project.

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    How do they stay in business?

    Having been exposed, briefly, to SAP, I do not see how they are still in business.

    It's the Rube Goldberg machine of software.

  16. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Had all my strength SAPped

    Worked for a billion-dollar-plus enterprise that went with SAP ERP tools. Theoretically the ERP solution is tailored to support and augment existing business processes and rules. In actuality what happens is that the organization gets distorted to match the ERP software design. It constantly reminded me about jokes from my ex-Soviet Bloc friends who said Russia is shaping the New Soviet Man with unbelievably uncomfortable train and airplane seats...

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