Has SAP hog tied itself on maintenance?

I've spent the last hour discussing SAP Solution Manager and Run SAP with Jon Reed. Jon's a fellow SAP Mentor and expert on the skill sets needed to make SAP implementations successful.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

I've spent the last hour discussing SAP Solution Manager and Run SAP with Jon Reed. Jon's a fellow SAP Mentor and expert on the skill sets needed to make SAP implementations successful. We were discussing this post where he says:

Taken together, Run SAP and Solution Manager are the keys to SAP’s vision of deriving value from an SAP implementation after go-live.

However, these new tools are not without their controversy. SAP’s “Enterprise Support” offering, announced last July with a 17% to 22% maintenance fee price hike, is in large part justified by SAP due to the increased value these new tools (Solution Manager) and methodologies (Run SAP) are supposed to provide.

In other words, Run SAP and Solution Manager are the twin pillars upon which SAP is hoping to persuade its customers to pony up a 29% cost increase in maintenance support costs. Jon explained that while SAP is bundling these with some 16 best practices they require customers to incur further costs in implementation and learning. In his view, this hog ties SAP because:

To some degree, it’s unfortunate that these tools have been drawn into the debate about Enterprise Support. Now it’s difficult to evaluate them for their own merits, outside of cost. The pressure is on for SAP to justify that Run SAP and Solution Manager are worth a five percent increase in maintenance. Regardless of the merits of these new tools, that’s a big challenge. KPIs may help to quantify this debate, but the marketplace will have the final say.

If SAP had simply offered these into the market place without tying them to the cost increase, Jon thinks SAP would stand a better chance of having the tools assessed independently. Right now, these tools have to deliver value or customers will see the price rise as unjustified. The word I hear is: "They'd better deliver or there will hard questions," says Jon.

As it is, SAP has had to concede ground in different territories, the most interesting development being the much vaunted tie between results as measured by KPIs and the amount SAP will be able to charge in increased costs. Since it was first mooted, there has been almost no detail coming out of SUGEN, the elite group of SAP customers charged with working through the detail or from SAP itself.

This is a recurrent theme with people like Jon, myself and analysts asking: 'What's going on?' We should know by now, or at the very latest the end of March. Oh that life would be so simple.

During our conversation, Jon echoed what I have been hearing for some time: baseline support needs to be improved with sensible dashboards for trouble tickets: "Customers are helping each other to solve problems via the SAP Community. To that extent those customers would have a legitimate case for arguing a reduction in cost rather than an increase," says Jon.

And if that wasn't enough, another fellow Mentor, Michael Koch is currently running a survey on what the independent freelance contractor community thinks about the current call for improved certification:

Ever since the big response on Dennis Howlett’s “Should You Be Certified?” SDN blog post I felt that the implications of SAP’s certification push had not been identified well enough for contract and freelance consultants. The main reason for this is probably because there is not enough data to establish what this particular group thinks about the old or the new 3-tier SAP accreditation.

This is a hot topic among Mentors who variously see certification as a waste of time, a great thing, something that is poorly understood or yet another way for SAP to extract money from its customers.

I understand Michael plans to present results at an upcoming SAP Inside Track event in London which will be attended by a number of Mentors. My seat is booked.

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