Shelfware – the tumbleweed of Enterprise Apps

Shelfware is not a new topic by any means, but it’s probably novel that SVPs now talk about it. ASUG’s Thomas Wailgum reported that SAP’s Greg Pike used it in his speech at the ASUG Annual Volunteer meeting in Chicago.

“We have millions of lines of code sitting in our standard solutions that are not being used,”

Whilst it would be easy to assume that any “special features” which made it into the final version did so for a good reason, my take is that there are at least two more reasons -in addition to talented sales reps- why the industry faces this problem.

  1. Strong pilot customers: a lot of new suites and applications are built in cooperation with pilot customers who are willing to offer some of their business expertise in return for having a leading edge and financially attractive standard software system. Problem with this approach is that features one pilot customer sees as a ‘Must’ and thus make the final release are not used industry wide. In other words, we’re not really talking about a standard software anymore.
  2. Lack of Training: In many instances, I found that users are simply not aware of new features of their new system or release. Consulting partners, which assisted in the go-live, tried their best to communicate the new aspects and hoped for additional business, but on the customer side there was simply not enough will to set aside time to explore new parts of their system. It’s the “so what does the new SAP release give us?” scenario. More than often, green field implementations and upgrades are performed under great pressure, so looking into new features becomes a “phase 2” task, if that.

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