On the 8th of March, on the cover of the German weekly business magazine “Wirtschaftswoche”, there was a story about SAP. Managing Editor Michael Kroker writes, “SAP: A user’s nightmare. SAP is the leading enterprise software company. But for many customers, implementing SAP systems becomes a nightmare. Projects take longer than expected, are expensive – or fail altogether. However, there is another way.”
Michael Kroker has done his research, and it shows. However, there is one phrase that I cannot agree with. He writes, “There is another way.” However, he should have written, “There was another way.”
The beginning of the new year 2019 marked a turning point in SAP’s successful history.
Once upon a time
For a long time, SAP’s management consisted of many genius minds. There were researchers, controllers, programmers, service staff, financial experts, visionaries, and mathematicians.
Once upon a time, there even was a CEO who liked to solve complex math riddles in his free time and was fluent in SAP’s programming language Abap. His name is Henning Kagermann who has a PhD in physics. He was surrounded by IT handymen with the best possible education and reputation: Gerd Oswald, Peter Zencke, Claus Heinrich, Shai Agassi… just to name a few.
Of course, everything wasn’t perfect back then. SAP implementations often got out of hand, and managers and technicians had to fly to Switzerland to assist Nestle, or to Austria to support Swarovski.
However, back then, the entire SAP community was a family – and a successful one at that. People supported each other, and if something went wrong, SAP fixed it. Henning Kagermann and Gerd Oswald never simply cancelled a project. They always found another way.
Now, a nightmare
Now, SAP’s management consists of sales associates responsible for revenue growth. CEO and salesman Bill McDermott concerns himself more with the stock price than his customers. Letting go of SAP’s top managers, Bernd Leukert and Bjoern Goerke, is only the symptom of a deeply rooted change in SAP’s entire structure. It’s a public farewell to traditions and values.
Once upon a time, there was another way. Now, I am not so sure about that anymore.