Is Legacy Code Stopping You From Modernizing?

Carl Dubler

Part 1 of the “Journey to Intelligent ERP” series

One of the essential requirements for doing business in the digital age is flexibility. We’re constantly told how the ability to adapt quickly to changing business conditions is the key to making IT relevant and valuable.

What can you do to help provide your organization with an IT infrastructure that supports the agility it needs to thrive in a demanding world? One answer is to make sure that your company can take advantage of the very latest technological innovations to enable new business processes, provide real-time visibility, and simplify the IT landscape.

For this reason, many IT departments are currently considering modernizing their ERP software to take advantage of the superior capability of in-memory computing. However, many companies are finding that custom code within their existing ERP solutions is hindering the transition.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be examining key considerations in a series of blogs for CIOs and their teams who are looking at modernizing their ERP solutions. Let’s start by investigating the issues faced by companies that have invested heavily in custom code.

Is legacy code holding you back?

Having an ERP solution that is adapted using custom code is nothing unusual. In fact, you’re probably in the minority if your team hasn’t at some point written its own code within your business software. Perhaps there were gaps in the functionality available 10 or 15 years ago when your company first deployed its ERP solution. Or maybe it didn’t make sense for your organization to change its processes to fit the software, so it changed the software to fit the processes.

Whatever the reason, in 2018, the custom code that seemed like such a good idea then, may be getting in the way of your efforts to help your company become more agile. Taking advantage of the latest ERP capabilities may not be possible without a significant effort, cost, and time. And even then, you may run into the same issues with later upgrades and deployments.

Back to standard?

So, what’s the answer? In truth, there is no silver bullet, and what will work for some may not work for others. Some companies will, quite rightly, take the view that their custom code is critical to the smooth running of their operations and must stay – no matter what the time and cost implications.

However, even in organizations where some custom code is considered essential, there may be long-forgotten programs that are no longer useful. According to analyses conducted by SAP in recent customer implementations, as much as 50% of custom code is actually unused.

Know what you’re dealing with

For CIOs, a key priority must be to gain a clear understanding of the scale of the issue. You need to know how many applications utilize custom code, how many are obsolete, and how many are essential to the business.

Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to understand the impact for your transition to a modern ERP system, and put a plan in place to get there. And you will also be in an informed position to have necessary conversations with the business about the possibility of adapting some processes to take advantage of standard functionality within your next-generation ERP solution.

In the next blog, we’ll look at tools that help you take an inventory of your custom code, as well as software that helps you return your systems to standard. In the meantime, read more here about the SAP Readiness Check tool for SAP S/4HANA. You can also learn more by reading the SAP S/4HANA Journey Guide. 


Carl Dubler

About Carl Dubler

Carl Dubler is a senior director of Product Marketing for SAP S/4HANA. With an IT career stretching back to the late 1980s, he has done nearly every role in the business. In his ten years at SAP, he also managed SAP’s first commercially available cloud product and first cloud product on SAP HANA.