Wednesday, 08 August 2018 08:50

German giant Lidl's six-year bid to switch to SAP fails


Germany global discount supermarket chain Lidl has had to discontinue a move to SAP after six years, after the system was pronounced dead on arrival and the firm decided to revert to its old inventory system. Lidl's annual revenue is about €100 billion.

Lidl spent about €500 million on the switch. planning for which was begun in 2011, the German news site Handelsblatt reported. About 1000 staff and hundreds of consultants were involved in trying to implement the new system.

The system even had a neat name: eLWIS and in April 2017, SAP gave Lidl an award for being one of its best customers.

A month later, Lidl's IT chief Alexander Sonnenmoser resigned and by July this year eLWIS had been declared as unusable.

Handelsblatt said that one of the biggest issues Lidl faced was that staff were geared towards doing things one way and the new system made it necessary to change many processes, something the management was not ready to do.

Instead, the software was adapted, and the numerous changes to the code meant that it became more complex and thus more susceptible to failure.

IT experts were quoted as saying that communication may also have been an issue, with lack of proper definition of what the new system was meant to achieve.

Changes of personnel at the management level meant that there were constant cancellations of planned features, such as an online ordering service.

Handelsblatt said nobody at SAP was willing to provide any comment about the Lidl failure, apart from pointing out that many German retailers used SAP for Retail without much fuss.

It said that the biggest challenge Lidl faced now was retaining all its tech talent as many software engineers did not fancy messing around with in-house code that was three decades old.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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