Consolidation of SAP software systems can generate sizeable cost savings, but IT managers are slow to act, according to a study by consultants Accenture.

Companies often fail to take the necessary steps, the study says, because of the high costs involved, the absence of a budget and resistance from corporate divisions.

For Accenture’s study, called “Optimising SAP system landscapes,” the consultants interviewed IT heads at 101 companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Only companies with at least 2,000 employees were included.

The study found that many companies kept adding SAP systems and applications as they integrated offices, grew and developed new businesses and took over companies.Some now employ more than 50 central SAP systems.

Operating heterogeneous SAP systems is expensive, said Jan-Henning Krumme, head of Accenture’s SAP business in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. “It leads to higher-than-necessary costs for operations and services and makes a company less agile,” he said. “That means it will be slower to move into new business areas or markets.”

Krumme estimates SAP operating costs can be cut by 20 percent through the consolidation of systems.

Many of the IT managers polled acknowledged problems with their SAP systems. Of those interviewed, 62 percent cited the urgent need for SAP process harmonization; 51 percent saw the need to harmonize business data; and 44 percent said data centers needed to be combined.

But when asked whether they planned to take action in the next 24 months, only 31 percent said they wanted to unify processes; 29 pc intended to harmonize data; and 22 percent planned to consolidate servers and data centers.