SAP spells ‘Trust Me’: S-I-M-P-L-E

Say ‘SAP implementation’ to someone who has been through one and you are likely to get a look conveying some combination of pain, pity, terror and dread (and perhaps schadenfreude).

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) giant SAP recently announced an approach and suite of applications called ‘Simple’.

For a company with a reputation of being anything BUT simple, this casting-against-type positioning could be tricky business; successful transformation will not be immediate.

And one look at their recent 2-page WSJ ad indicates they may not yet be fully embracing this ‘Simple’ concept.


5 years ago Domino’s acknowledged that it didn’t taste as good as it should, and used this acknowledgment to justify a reformulation that was the focal point for a new campaign.  By many accounts, this bold ‘we sucked, now we’re better’ approach has yielded good results.


But ERP software is not pizza – – with pizza, a $10 or $15 mistake and you’re on to someone else.

Do a search for ‘SAP Implementation’ and it’s obvious that the stakes are quite a bit higher – – not only $100 million or more, but years of organizational churn and resources, as well as lost opportunity if/when things go awry.  You can’t say ‘we know we’ve messed these up in the past, but going forward we’ll be awesome – trust us’.

A few examples here, some others below:
Avon Products halts an SAP implementation, leading to write-down of $100-125 million
– Waste Management and SAP in $100 million lawsuit
– HP claims $160 million damage from flawed SAP implementation
Select Comfort abandons SAP ERP implementation
SAP issues at Hershey prevents $100 million in shipments for key holiday
While client’s management often has a hand in screwing things up, at the end of the day, it’s SAP’s name in the headline.

SAP has chosen to own ‘Simple’ as its defining principle going forward.  In the ERP space, this is a compelling proposition. And some industry experts are cautiously optimistic.

But based on SAP’s history, it’s a tall order – – and prospective clients will certainly have a ’show me’ mindset.

Requiring 2 full pages to explain Simple is not a great start.


3 responses »

  1. Another excellent post, Dave. I really get a lot from your blog, and it is just one of a very few I have/make time to read. You are right…horror stories about SAP implementations abound, and I am sure there is often fault on both sides, as you acknowledge. I don’t know if SAP used an ad agency for this ad, but if I were the outside or in-house agency I’d be embarrassed, as this dark, complicated, word-heavy ad is the opposite of easy and simple.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That might be one of my favorite ads of all time. “What the world needs now is simple,” followed by two pages of fine print.

    Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been using SAP everyday for the past few months. Went from QAD… SAP is aweful and also uses up way more paper and labels. It’s creating tension between employees and management. One tiny flaw will completely throw off a whole process of shipping something. Then it takes hours and sometimes days to figure out where the problem lies. You will spend more money in the long run compared to a previous system you used before. If you have a choice in the matter, do not go to SAP. You will even have problems sleeping because of the stress level.



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