back to article London university on hunt for £17m SAP ERP replacement

City, University of London is sizing up the market for a new SaaS ERP system set to replace its SAP ECC software in a contract worth up to £17m. According to a tender notice published this week, the 20,000-student institution is looking for a supplier to provide, implement, and support the software and enterprise resource …

  1. Abominator

    £800 per student. That kids is where your fees go.

    And that won't be the only admin platform that is a massive cost base.

    1. boblongii

      It's not £800 per student unless they do this every year.

      1. philstubbington

        And £7,400 per user!

    2. NeilPost Silver badge

      Universities UK

      You would think Universities UK - strapline

      .. “ 140 universities One voice

      We are the collective voice of universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”

      Would be a great place to drive 1 common U.K. (and perhaps Ireland) -wide shared services core ERP/Finance/HR/Student platform that you know just works and has common middleware/interface links into into Student Loans/Finance and related other Institution’s … but who am I to spout common sense with my anti-monetarised Communism lack of choice rant. It might even stop them pissing (very high watermark) student fees money up the wall and reduce the costs for all.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Oh, brilliant

    Another massive ERP failure in the making.

    Gotta go stock up on popcorn.

  3. philstubbington

    I’ve not been around SAP for a while, but when they talk about standardised process is he talking about IT or business? Worrying if it’s the latter.

    1. BenDwire Silver badge

      Oh yes, he means business processes all right. Think about it, if they are only offering a single solution, then everybody must change the way they do things to fit.

      I once considered SAP over a decade ago, and that was what we were told then. Thankfully we chose a different solution that worked well for us.

      1. NeilPost Silver badge

        Agreed… though common business processes would iron out a lot of supplier/customer gremlins and make interfacing/Middleware and API’s less challenging.

        For example much of the world uses SI default units and similar scientific method for a reason.

  4. Robert Grant

    > Oliver Betz, SVP head of product management for SAP S/4HANA, said: "I'm a true believer in the cloud as the future state-of-the-art model. However, that requires standardisation which needs to happen on the customer side: they have to agree on standardised processes. You cannot have these modifications that you had in the on-premises world, that's not how the cloud works. You will go in a direction where you have quarterly or at least twice per year releases, which you have to absorb and agree to."

    > At this point customers are entitled to ask themselves: if they need to go through the pain of changing business processes with SAP, why not look for another vendor at the same time?

    Very good, El Reg. Exactly. If SAP offers zero customisation (which "the cloud" can offer, they just don't want to) then why not go to a whizzy ERP startup?

    Anyone want to start one? :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standard doesn't mean that one size fits all

    Given that 70% of global business transactions involve SAP there is no one size fits all rather a wide range of business processes covering most industries. Within that extensive configuration of the supported business processes there are many options to suit customers. However on premise customers have also had the freedom to code their own changes or even fully bespoke design. That is no longer possible in a public cloud SaaS offer. So getting the benefits of SaaS means resisting the temptation to bespoke and people changing to work with standard. This is not specific to SAP as no cloud vendor can be every global enterprise I.T. department. Nobody expects desktop software vendors to make a customer specific version for them and still pay $100 per user.

    If a SAP customer does want PaaS and the ability/cost to go non-standard, they can buy a Tenant that they will manage starting from standard. So that's taking some advantages on the infrastructure and platform in the cloud. However you'd have to have a strong reason to do that. Way more than we like it how it is now..

  6. Lorribot

    What do mean "I" have to standardise?

    If only those business decision makers actually understood what the rocky road to standardization means business processes not IT and billing costs. they may then choose not set off on that journey to cloudy niravana.

    Here's to a bunch of failed mega migrations to SAP cloud just like back in day when every SAP implementation seemed to fail (thinking BA et al) once all the business change kicked in..

  7. Colin Bain

    Good Luck

    All will be well until they get to "improved usability and control will support our staff, students and partners"

    As ever this is listed last and is only given passing attention. After all what would users know?

    Users know that they are going to lose learning time and support and productivity. Oh and if there is an onboarding package that would avoid the user hurt, that will be cut because it is thought to be too expensive, you know, people are smart, they will just get on board.

    And the payroll utility (a misnomer if ever I heard one!) will take more time and cause more headaches and lost time that you can ever calculate. Not that the system could actually do that either.

    How do I know all this? You may well ask! I had the un/mis fortunate situation to be not only a user, but a sub implementor. Which means I had to explain to people why their pay wasn't right, why we could never get it right, why the password change was so arcane it seemed like the system was designed just to frustrate our most valuable resource.....people!

    I am so waiting for the follow up, so I can write those immortal four words.....I told you so.

    Tick Tock

  8. Anonymous Coward

    "However, that requires standardisation which needs to happen on the customer side"

    <TRANSLATE> ...

    "The customer is always wrong. Their job is to pay our bills and these twits couldn't even manage that simple task."

  9. 0x80004005

    Cookie cutter business processes == cookie cutter businesses

    We keep hearing the mantra "The software IS the business".

    So once you go down the road of "I'll take a standard SAP implementation please", then you're no different to your competitors.

    You'll end up with the same costs, same inefficiencies and provide the same service level as everyone else.

    Reduced to being a commodity provider with commodity-level margins.

    Oh wait a moment, we're talking about universities here - I guess no-one cares about the costs/inefficiencies (since it's govt. money) and certainly no-one cares about the service level.

    Trebles all round then!

    1. low_resolution_foxxes

      Re: Cookie cutter business processes == cookie cutter businesses

      I assumed it was students money?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cookie cutter business processes == cookie cutter businesses

      So once you go down the road of "I'll take a standard SAP implementation please", then you're no different to your competitors.

      University business does not compete with its peers on processes such as Hire to Retire, Source to Pay, or Order to Cash which are all for administration.

      They compete on the academic aspects including range of courses, quality of teaching, partnership with industry that have little to do with the administration operated on SAP SaaS.

      So the old on premise thinking of we are specialised, different, can't work as standard is still poor value and wrong.

      Some things should be commodity, so there's money left for genuine innovation and advantage.

      1. philstubbington

        Re: Cookie cutter business processes == cookie cutter businesses

        That’s the difference between an implementation and the continuous improvement that should follow.

        A cookie cutter implementation (as much as is possible) gets you up and running as quickly and cheaply as possible, with any inherent improvements in the new platform.

  10. sketharaman

    Haven't we seen this movie before?

    Back when I got into ERP in the mid 1990s, there was no cloud, SAP used to strongly discourage customization on its onprem version. But I've yet to come across a single large enterprise that uses the SAP base product as it is, without some extension / customization or the other.

    I wonder if cloud will be any different. Even assuming that cloud v. onprem is more than just a question of deployment, I don't see how a company's unique business process on onprem can suddenly be replaced by a standardized business process on cloud.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But is it reallyt?

    Big value headline "London university on hunt for £17m SAP ERP replacement" ...

    Reality from

    "Contract value is expected to be approximately £8m over the first two years of the contract, with annual charges of £0.5m - £1m thereafter".

    Hardly £800 per student is it?

    "the university currently relies on SAP version is ECC6 EHP5, with no plans to upgrade along the SAP path" .

    An upgrade would be to EEC7 or 8 but they are end of life before the end of the decade so not a lot of point in an upgrade.

    The move to S4/Hana is a re-implementation not an upgrade so what ever SaaS move they make is the same disruption.

    But ignore all of that, you've made an article out of an FOI request and a public tender. Yay!

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