SAP Implementation Hurdles: Real-Life Examples and Solutions

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  • Nov 23, 2021

SAP Implementation Hurdles: Real-Life Examples and Solutions

Several companies have faced challenges and difficulties when implementing SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products) software solutions. While it’s important to note that not all SAP implementations result in failure, some high-profile cases have garnered attention due to their difficulties. Here are a few examples of companies that encountered challenges during their SAP implementations and some of the reasons behind their struggles:

Hershey’s (1999):

Hershey’s, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world, experienced significant issues during its SAP implementation. The main reasons for their failure included:

  • Aggressive Timeline: Hershey’s rushed the implementation to be ready for the crucial Halloween season, leading to inadequate testing and insufficient preparation.
  • Lack of Understanding: The company did not fully grasp the complexity of the SAP system and the extent of customization required for its unique supply chain.

Nike (2000):

Nike, the global sportswear and footwear company, faced challenges when implementing SAP. Some contributing factors were:

  • Insufficient Testing: Inadequate testing led to problems in order management and fulfillment, causing shipment delays and customer dissatisfaction.
  • Integration Issues: Nike experienced difficulties integrating the SAP system with its existing software and legacy systems.

Revlon (2018):

Cosmetic company Revlon encountered issues with its SAP implementation due to several factors:

  • Data Integration: Challenges arose from integrating data from multiple sources, leading to inaccuracies and delays in financial reporting.
  • Complex Customizations: Revlon made extensive customizations to SAP, which complicated the system and caused problems during deployment.

Lidl (2018):

Lidl, a German supermarket chain, faced challenges with its SAP implementation. Some key issues were:

  • Overambitious Project Scope: Lidl attempted a broad and ambitious SAP deployment that overwhelmed its existing processes and resources.
  • Lack of Training: Inadequate training for employees resulted in difficulties adapting to the new system.

National Grid (2016):

National Grid, a multinational electricity and gas utility company, encountered issues with its SAP implementation, including:

  • Integration Challenges: Difficulties arose from integrating SAP with existing legacy systems and workflows.
  • Data Migration Issues: Data migration problems led to billing and customer service disruptions.


It’s important to recognize that these cases represent specific instances of SAP implementation challenges and do not reflect the experiences of all organizations that have implemented SAP successfully. SAP projects can fail for various reasons, and project failure can have significant financial and operational consequences for organizations. Some common reasons for SAP project failures include:

  1. Poor project planning is a leading cause of failure. This includes inadequate scoping, unclear goals, unrealistic timelines, and a lack of proper resource allocation.
  2. Without strong support from top-level executives, including the CEO and other key stakeholders, a project may lack the necessary resources, authority, and direction to succeed.
  3. Inadequate staffing, budget, and technology infrastructure can hinder project execution. Skimping on resources often leads to delays and subpar results.
  4. Expanding the project scope beyond the original objectives can strain resources and lead to project delays. It’s essential to manage scope changes effectively.
  5. Failing to manage the organizational changes associated with an SAP implementation can result in resistance from employees and difficulties in adapting to new processes and systems.
  6. Choosing the wrong SAP vendor or system integrator can be disastrous. It’s crucial to evaluate potential partners carefully based on their experience, expertise, and track record.
  7. Excessive customization can make the system complex, difficult to maintain, and costly. Striking a balance between customization and leveraging standard SAP functionalities is essential.
  8. Data migration and data quality problems can lead to inaccurate or incomplete data in the new system, undermining its usefulness and reliability.
  9. Inadequate testing, including insufficient user testing, can lead to undiscovered issues and bugs that only surface after the system goes live.
  10. Insufficient communication within the project team and with stakeholders can lead to misunderstandings, missed requirements, and misaligned expectations.
  11. Inadequate training for end-users can result in low system adoption rates and increased support requests.
  12. Being too rigid in adhering to the original project plan can be problematic. Projects must be adaptable to changes in business needs and priorities.
  13. Unrealistic timelines and budget estimates can lead to project rush and corner-cutting, increasing the risk of failure.
  14. Failing to provide adequate support and maintenance after the system goes live can result in issues not being resolved promptly.
  15. Not identifying and mitigating risks effectively can lead to unforeseen challenges derailing the project.
  16. SAP projects can be highly complex due to the size and nature of the systems. Overly complex projects are more prone to failure.

It’s important to note that SAP project success requires a combination of effective project management, skilled personnel, thorough planning, and a commitment to managing organizational change. Addressing these common pitfalls and challenges can significantly increase the likelihood of a successful SAP implementation. Additionally, organizations should consider leveraging best practices and seeking guidance from experienced SAP consultants to mitigate the risk of project failure.