Eighty two percent of IT directors in the UK are frustrated about a lack of clarity from their suppliers over product plans, and are considering switching vendors as a result.

That is the verdict of research commissioned by the SAP UK & Ireland User Group, which in April secured its own agreement with SAP for the software firm to reveal product plans.

The research, which concerned customers of a variety of software vendors, demonstrated that organisations experience major difficulties planning their architecture when they are not clear how the products they are using will be developed.

Craig Dale, chief executive at the SAP UK&I User Group, told Computerworld UK that users saw SAP as “ahead of the game” with its product plans compared to many other vendors, aided by the new agreement signed in April.

IT directors across the board found it of particular concern when suppliers merge, according to the research, which was conducted by Vanson Bourne. Many said it created “uncertainty” as there tends to be a lengthy period of time before merged suppliers announce fresh roadmaps.

When roadmaps are unclear, many businesses said they are forced to resort to costly customisations, or to look for alternative off-the-shelf products. Two thirds of IT directors said they had customised products, only to find their suppliers eventually added the functionality anyway.

“It can be very frustrating for IT departments when they can’t plan ahead effectively,” said Dale. “At a time when budgets are increasingly tight, IT departments need to be able to make sure they are fully maximising their investments.”

At next month’s SAP UK & Ireland User Conference in Manchester, there will be dedicated sessions delivered by SAP highlighting the future product roadmaps for a number of modules and applications. There is also a dedicated stream for BusinessObjects users.