The Hidden S/4HANA S Oliver and KPS Failure

Executive Summary

  • S Oliver failed in its implementation of S/4HANA, a fact that has been kept secret.
  • We cover this failed S/4HANA case study.


We have been warning people about S/4HANA’s implementation problems for several years now. We covered this in the article Why Did SAP Fake S/4HANA Maturity So Aggressively? and explaining how both SAP and consulting firms have significantly misrepresented S/4HANA’s maturity. We covered this in the article Analysis of Mark Chalfen’s Article on S/4HANA Maturity

In this article, we include a failed implementation that has yet to be published.

Failure at S Oliver

S Oliver is a clothing retailer that sells in multiple European countries. This is a screenshot from their website.

KPS Strikes Again?

KPS Consulting, which was part of the ridiculous Lidl failure, which we covered in the article KPS Continues to Promote HANA for Retail for Lidl After Failure, and also the Home24 failure, which we covered in the article The Hidden S/4HANA Home24 and KPS Failure. KPS was also the implementer with S Oliver. This is listed directly on the KPS website.

According to KPS, as with Home24, the S Oliver S/4HANA implementation was a massive success.

Prepare to digest the impressive facts about the implementation (according to KPS)

The solution portfolio to be implemented comprises SAP S4 FMS on HANA, SAP Retail, SAP CAR, SAP EWM, SAP BW, Finance, Controlling.

However, what is listed on the KPS websites is not actually what happened on the project.

Scope Issues with the S/4HANA and Other SAP Application Implementation

The first thing we noted was the scope of the project versus the size of the company. Let us review some of the peculiar issues on an application by application basis.

  • SAP S / 4HANA FMS: FMS is the Fashion Management Solution. S/4HANA is not at the point of development where it has much in the way of industry solutions.
  • SAP Retail: SAP Retail is another industry solution.
  • SAP CAR: SAP Customer Activity Repository is supposed to provide customer information in a central repository. It was introduced in 2014 and very rarely comes up as a solution sold by SAP.
  • SAP EWM: EWM is a very complicated and troublesome application.
  • SAP BW / BI: This is SAP’s business warehouse.

*All of the items in red are what we consider high-risk implementation SAP products.

The total expense of these combined applications both in terms of the license fee but, more importantly, the implementation and maintenance overhead is ridiculous for this size of a company. And this is not the extent of what was sold. S/4HANA requires HANA, which is one of the highest overhead databases that one can implement. It is not mentioned by KPS, but S/4HANA can’t be implemented without it.

Notice the risk level of the multiple products that were sold to S Oliver.

Selling SAP Without Any Concern for Implementability

Our analysis of what was sold to S Oliver is very similar to what KPS and SAP sold to Home24. That is that it was entirely built around trying to sell the most recent items to S Oliver rather than focusing on more sophisticated applications that worked. We recently had a client that was about to purchase a smaller set of SAP products, but the set or BOM included S/4HANA. We told them that their sales BOM was extremely risky. As we explained why it became apparent that the junior CIO did not want to hear this.

In our view, S Oliver only had a reasonable probability of going live on just a few of the SAP applications they were sold, with S/4HANA being one of them.

This overall configuration of the sale brings up the question of Is it Right to Lead Clients into SAP Software Failure? Because this is clearly what SAP and KPS by recommending these applications to S Oliver. SAP and KPS took advantage of what S Oliver did not know. Without any concern for their ability to implement, they stuffed S Oliver with an unimplementable combination of experimental applications, and applications that were not a good fit for S Oliver. 

EWM Implementation

This is a video from S Oliver that was published several years ago. The plan was to implement EWM first and then connect it to the S/4HANA system that would replace the previous ERP system.

KPS’s Performance at S Oliver

The problems at Lidl and Home24 have impacted the S Oliver implementation as well. KPS does not appear to have sufficient knowledge to implement SAP and is has a multi-project strategy of configuring the implementation so that they are required to be at the client for as long as possible.

S Oliver’s Fault in the Failure

S Oliver’s first failure did not have advice that was independent of SAP. This meant they were told some fairy tales around S/4HANA and other SAP products and bought them.

How Prepared Was S Oliver to Even Engage in This Implementation?

There is also a question as to whether S Oliver was ready for such a comprehensive implementation as they simply did not have experience managing SAP implementations or anything like this scope before they embarked on this implementation.

How Incompetent is KPS?

After Lidl, the details of which read like they needed their laugh track, and S Oliver where they (along with SAP) jammed in a huge scope of work and then lacked any understanding of how to pull off such a project, KPS is now on our list of highly problematic SAP implementation companies.

This brings up the question of how many KPS projects have failed or are currently in the process of failing.

What is KPS Currently Doing at S Oliver?

The strategy used by KPS appears to be to come in an make a lot of promises, then get the project started, and then make it so they can’t be removed. KPS is very specific about not providing customers with documentation. This keeps the client from ever being able to replace KPS.

Information from the S Oliver project is that the account is being milked. KPS has to keep bringing in new consultants, which while the project is a mess, it allows people to get S/4HANA on their resumes. KPS intends to stick around as long as possible.

The long term cost of the implementation will significantly exceed what KPS fixed priced the project for, but that was never a realistic number. S Oliver is now afraid to fire KPS as they know how the systems are set up, and they are also scared to go public with the fact that they were tricked by KPS and SAP as to do so would signal that they don’t know how to manage their software implementations. Therefore, they are stuck — in their mind — having to continue to pay KPS under the hope that eventually they can get it right.

The consulting companies have some maturity issues they would like to hide from you. This is why they can’t be listened to — the only thing they look out for is their interests. They are happy to recommend inappropriate applications and to create miniature disasters within their clients, as long as they can get their financial needs met. 

SAP’s Inaccurate Messaging on S/4HANA as Communicated in SAP Videos

Fact-Checking SAP Information on S/4HANA

This video is filled with extensive falsehoods. We will address them in the sequence they are stated in this video.

SAP Video Accuracy Mesurement

Appleby's StatementAccuracy % of the CommentExplanationLink to Analysis Article
S/4HANA is what allows key processes to be digitized.
ECC was already fully digitized and digitized across key business functions.The Problem with Using the Term Digital Transformation on IT Projects
HANA is a Platform
HANA is not a platform, it is a database.How to Deflect You Were Wrong About HANA
Fiori is a major advantage for S/4HANA.
In S/4HANA implementations Fiori is infrequently used when S/4HANA. How Accurate Was SAP on the Number of Fiori Apps?
Fiori is far more efficient than what came before.
In testing Fiori and S/4HANA, Sven Deneken's statements did not hold up. There was a particular weakness in actually making changes after noticing something needed to be changed, and we found the efficiency below that of ECC with of course SAPGUI.
S/4HANA is innovative as it brings "real time inventory."
Sven Deneken brings up the topic of "real-time capabilities," however there is nothing particularly real-time or different in terms of a reaction than ECC. Whenever you make a change in ECC or any other ERP systems for that matter, the entry is real-time. Sven Deneken states that "the physical inventory is the same as the digital inventory." However, under what system would this not be true?What Happened to the Term Perpetual Inventory?
S/4HANA is innovative because it allows access to supplier information.
Sven Deneken states that information about the supplier is "just a fingertip away." Sven Deneken may be familiar with ECC, where supplier data is also a fingertip, or say mouse click away. It called the Vendor Master in ECC.
Sven Deneken says that the cycle could be changed to daily or sub-daily.
Why would that occur? This is a very strange scenario that is being laid out.
S/4HANA is innovative because it allows MRP to be rerun interactively for a product location.
Sven Deneken is extremely confused when he states that S/4HANA allows a fresh MRP run to be performed for a specific product location and that this is a differentiator for S/4HANA. For a single product location, there is no ERP system that cannot run MRP for a single location. Secondly re-running MRP does not remove uncertainties. MRP can be re-run when something changes. For example, when the forecast changes.Performance Problems with HANA and MRP
Sven Deneken states this demo shows SAP has reimagined inventory management.
However, all of this functionality, save for several of the graphics shown in the video have already been available in ECC for many years, in fact, decades.

Advice on Enjoying the S/4HANA Quiz

To see the full screen just select the lower right-hand corner and expand. Trust us, expanding makes the experience a whole lot more fun.



This project’s outcome has been effectively hidden from view. KPS still shows it as a success, but there is no publication on the part of SAP or S Oliver. As we have been saying, S/4HANA projects have a very high failure rate. And this is not being acknowledged by the industry, because the coverage on these topics is mostly controlled by SAP and the SAP consulting firms.

The Problem: A Lack of Fact-Checking of S/4HANA

There are two fundamental problems around S/4HANA. The first is the exaggeration of S/4HANA, which means that companies that purchased S/4HANA end up getting far less than they were promised. The second is that the SAP consulting companies simply repeat whatever SAP says. This means that on virtually all accounts, there is no independent entity that can contradict statements by SAP.

The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

S/4HANA Implementation Research

We offer the most accurate and detailed research into S/4HANA and its implementation history. It is information not available anywhere else and is critical correctly interpreting S/4HANA, as well as moderating against massive amounts of inaccurate information pushed by SAP and their financially biased consulting ecosystem.

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