When I started recruiting in the SAP market, HANA was just a whisper amongst the community of what SAP would do in the future. Murmurs of reports that ran 100x quicker than before, real-time data handling and a tool which could enable business to drive digital innovation was discussed quietly and with caution because 5 years ago this was just potential. 

I remember hearing about the few big flagship projects in the UK (cutting edge retailers and automotive companies I shouldn't name) and how they were delayed. were missing deadlines, were way over budget and not living up to the hype in one way or another.

However, fast forward a few years and Centiq have released a report which looks at the present day HANA project in the UK (read the full report here) and it makes for a much nicer read than if one had been released in 2014. 

Researching 250 UK organisations across a range of sectors, the report gives an interesting insight to how and why HANA projects in the UK are being delivered.

A few interesting takeaways I took from the report are:

  • The top 3 drivers for SAP HANA projects were: 1) to process data for real-time decision making 2) to integrate data from multiple data sources and, 3) to consolidate the technology platforms we use
  • 75% of HANA projects have been delivered on time and on budget
  • 91% of customers engage external expertise
  • Skills remain the most significant consideration when organisations look to migrate to SAP HANA

These are all great statistics and more than anything it's just great to see more customers than ever making the leap towards new innovative technology which enables them to do more. 

But, the big question I found myself asking is why has the success rate gone up so dramatically?

Having watched the market change and after speaking to countless clients and candidates, I put this change down to the HANA movement taking off. The best way to articulate this would be with the video below (I'm going to ask you to imagine this video takes place over the course of 7 years rather than 3 minutes):


So, now you are amused and know what i'm talking about... to summarise:

  1. The first HANA project (lone man dancing) is pretty weak. It's doing what it feels is right, with little instruction and a lot of intuition. As a result, it doesn't "succeed" in the conventional idea of what success is, but it knows what it wants to do and that is innovate and take their business profits (dancing skills) to the next level.
  2. Another customer joins the movement (second dancing person) and much of the same follows, this time though both are gaining more confidence and learning from one another. It's easier to be a follower than be the first, but still a little risky. The first HANA project embraces the new project as an equal.
  3. The third joins, making a crowd and, what is starting to become, a movement. The turning point is happening, more projects are looking over and feeling brave enough to start a HANA project of their own. But it wouldn't be on their own, and failure wouldn't be too embarrassing as everyone else is trying this new thing as well.
  4. Fast forward and now there's a huge group of HANA projects - they're taking inspiration from one another, borrowing moves from the next project and avoiding the ones that don't go down so well. Even if a new project joins and didn't know SAP for the life of them they could just copy a similar nearby project.
  5. Then we get to present day. There are so many people doing SAP HANA that those not doing it look out of fashion. There have been so many other case studies to read, opinions to gain and so much development in the style since the first project (dancer) that the chance of failure is pretty low.

And that's how a lone dancer on a hill becomes a flash mob.

What do you think? Why is the rate of HANA project success increasing?