SAP agenda dominated by licensing issues

Customers are still unsure about SAP licensing costs, despite a recent meeting to address their concerns

SAP customers are still concerned about the licensing costs of the migration from R/3 to mySAP Business Suite despite a recent meeting with the vendor to address their fears.

The ERP specialist devoted a session to its complex licensing arrangements at the recent Australian user group (SAUG) Summit conference in Sydney, yet a number of customers' issues remained unresolved, according to SAUG chairperson Carlo Terribile.

"There's been a lot of confusion around SAP licensing," Terribile said.

"A lot of people believed they needed new licensing if they were moving from R/3 to mySAP.

"They were saying: 'We have concerns because of the capital cost in [upgrading] and the recurrent maintenance fee'.

"So they're saying, 'We're already paying maintenance, why do we have to pay the capital costs too?'."

SAP has in the past admitted its licensing would become more complex. The R/3 product has been superseded in recent years and rebadged as enterprise core components in the wider mySAP ERP offering.

SAUG had collected its members' concerns and asked the vendor to address them at the annual summit.

"I wasn't sure how open and honest SAP would be about it, but the presentation went very well," said Terribile.

"It provided a lot more information than our members had been able to glean from other sources."

While the presentation "hit the mark", some customers were still concerned, said Terribile.

"Some members are even more concerned now they have more information... but they're saying 'now we need to have detailed discussions with SAP about this'."

SAP asked those customers to approach them individually.

Adopting the 'Influence' model
While happy the situation had improved, Terribile also said SAUG was looking at other ways in which the group could resolve issues such as licensing faster.

The group was investigating adopting something like "Influence" councils, used by the SAP user group in the US to great effect, he said.

Such is the power of the Influence model there, SAP US has two designated employees responsible for dealing directly with the group, according to Terribile.

"They've got a very well-organised model. Our lack of size has meant that it hasn't worked that well for us."

SAUG would look at a proposed Influence model in the next couple of years, he said, which could see the appointment of a SAUG advisory board to generate ideas for discussion.

"SAP has to be a part of it," Terribile said.

"We're going to have some discussions with SAP Australia about how they can be part of it. We do have a senior SAP Australia executive on our board and a liaison officer, but for Influence they'd need to commit to it more."

"I'm always encouraged by the support we get from people like [SAP Australia and New Zealand managing director] Geraldine McBride... but by the same token we're not going to just relay their marketing message for them", he added.

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