Most firms using SAP are still failing to exploit the enterprise platform to its full potential by making better use of their SAP systems’ standard functionality, according to a study from IT consultancy West Trax.

The firm, which specialises in enabling firms to get more from their SAP systems, said its latest cost/benefit analysis of firms’ use of SAP showed that, in those business areas where some SAP standard transactions had been used by companies, a very high proportion of the available functionality was still going unused.

Instead, customised systems were used for between 20% and 40% of transactions, generating substantial – and in many cases avoidable – development and support costs for end-user organisations.

And the study even showed that many such system customisations were “seldom or never” used.

“Supporting this reduncant code generates significant overhead in terms of maintenance costs, hardware requirements, time and skills”, said West Trax. “It also extends risks, costs and workload for projects such as upgrades, consolidation, virtualisation and outsourcing.”

West Trax said establishing a baseline of current system usage and optimisation levels was the first step many IT chiefs needed to take to get a handle their own organisation’s usage of SAP.

“CIOs in many organisations are unaware of how frequently the standard and custom transaction in their systems are used,” it said. “As a result they are unable to accurately quantify and exploit the significant value and benefits that could result from system optimisation during a major project.”