Brexit: SAP User Group calls for clarity over software vendors’ Brexit plans | Computing

The User Group has called on the software giant to reveal details of its for covering , the UK's exit from the European Union, which is expected at the end of March.

Brexit will coincide with the end of the tax year, and could be accompanied by an impromptu ‘emergency' budget that would necessitate changes to ERP systems. Furthermore, businesses in Ireland may need updates to their software to handle changes in regulations over goods, particularly part-manufactured goods, crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Speaking to today, Paul Cooper, chairman of the SAP User Group UK & Ireland and head of information systems at Burton's Biscuits, said that ERP software users need insight into the kind of planning companies like SAP are doing in order to support their customers through the Brexit process – and they need to know that support will extend to all users, not just those on particular versions or releases.

“It's an ‘unknown'. People don't [yet] know what they are going to have to do in SAP in order to comply with whatever might happen in March,” Cooper told Computing. “In payroll, when there's a budget, SAP puts some updates out to ensure that your tax and National Insurance is going to be correct. So we want to know if SAP has got people ready.”

Hence, should Prime Minister Theresa May announce a deal in the next few days or weeks, users need to know that ERP software vendors will be ready to spring into action with the updates they need to keep organisations running smoothly, regardless of what happens.

“It's not just an issue for our UK members,” Cooper added. “Lots or our Irish member are operating across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. They have products being produced in the north, going south for a process to be added, then returning back north again for sale.

“What paperwork will we need to push out of SAP and what reporting will we be expected to do on what EU nationals we have working for us? We need to be prepared for those sorts of things.

“Once that's clear, we need SAP to be helping us, not for them to turn around and say ‘Ah, you need to be on that version at this level to do do that',” Cooper warned.

Cooper was speaking as the annual SAP User Group UK & Ireland user survey revealed rising concern over the potential impact that Brexit could have on businesses.

SAP User Group UK & Ireland survey results 2018 on Brexit

It showed that 44 per cent of SAP users were either ‘worried' or ‘very worried' over the potential impact that Brexit could have on SAP business processes, up from 39 per cent last year.

While the ‘worried' are still outweighed by the ‘unworried', Brexit could still mean plenty of extra work for IT teams in the new year, especially in the run-up to the UK's expected exit from the European Union at the end of March 2019.

And, furthermore, an increasing majority of SAP users want more guidance from SAP on how they ought to navigate the potential business process challenges presented by Brexit.

“This isn't surprising,” Cooper said during his keynote speech at the SAP User Group conference yesterday. “It's quite close – March 2019 isn't far away – and I think that all of us would love the government to tell us what is going to happen come the end of March.”

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