SAP recently announced its “2025 Deadline,” suggesting support will end for all legacy products such as ECC and R/3 come December 2025. This has sent a shockwave through the industry and companies are scrambling to take action, and not all in a good way.

Y2K Déjà vu

We all remember 1999, when the threat of Y2K caused a digital transformation of its own. The threat of global IT shutdowns lead to massive upgrades and system replacements, and many thought the world could literally end come January 1. Although not quite as widespread, this SAP 2025 Deadline threat may be a very similar analogy to what we are facing now.

Ultimately, as the clocks turned to the new millennium there were some glitches, some delays and a few headaches, but we survived. The same will more than likely be the case for any legacy SAP customers who haven’t made the switch come January 1, 2026.

In fact, those that wait may be in a better position that those that rush to implement S/4HANA in the next few years. The recent SAP failure at Revlon and other recent companies are a somber reminder of the risks of rushing into a premature SAP go-live. Yet, Accenture, Deloitte, Capgemini and other SAP systems integrators have a lot to gain by fueling the fire to rush new S4/HANA implementations.

Consider the following facts and scenarios:

Many legacy SAP companies are some of the largest companies in the world

A 5-year transition may simply not be realistic for a very large or complex organization. Massive SAP transformations can take years to prepare, map and modify business process and get architecture in place before even moving the technology. Trying to cram something like this in before 2025 – without having the time for proper SAP transformation readiness and organizational change management – may be a costly mistake. This is one of the biggest risks of SAP S/4HANA implementations.

Rushing this transformation will undoubtedly overrun OCM efforts

We all talk about the importance of people, but as soon as a budget or timeline gets pressed, OCM is the first thing to go. Companies that push too hard to get new technology in place before the workforce is ready, fail. This is why SAP organizational change management is so critical to SAP S/4HANA deployments.

Consider this a massive SAP sales campaign

There is really no other reason to threaten end of support. Oracle (the sleeping giant), on the other hand, with similar issues in getting legacy customers to the Cloud, has promoted a Lifetime Support Policy. SAP is simply making a business move, which if run successfully will bring in billions of dollars for the German giant. Given the only reason is revenue for SAP, do we really think that SAP will stop supporting those companies that have not yet made the move? I’m no economist, but this would make no sense.

SAP is suggesting they want to focus more energy on HANA, thus the end of support for legacy software

But shouldn’t they be putting effort into HANA before forcing everyone to move? If they don’t have the R&D needed now, it’s going to be Armageddon if a significant percentage of their customers rush into a transition. There is already a shortage of certified S/4HANA resources and pushing more businesses over to the new platform will only magnify this problem.

SAP ECC and R/3 customers still have alternatives

Even if SAP does, in fact, end support come January 1, 2026, ECC customers still have options. The software will still work, and there will be PLENTY of alternate support providers and highly trained resources ready to continue supporting the product. This also leaves time to compare S/4HANA vs. Oracle ERP Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 – or a plethora of other systems in the market. Basically, you are not forced to change if you are not ready to change.

Conclusion

With this said, there are some very compelling reasons to move to S/4HANA, and in the end, all ECC customers will eventually need to move to S/4HANA (or an alternate cloud solution such as Oracle ERP Cloud). But there is no sound reason to move before timing is right. Independent and technology-agnostic ERP consultants such as those at Third Stage can help you navigate the best path forward.

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