SAP ditches customer shift to pricier support

The business software firm will give its customers a choice between standard and enterprise support, following complaints by user groups
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

SAP has backtracked on its plan to move all its customers to a more expensive level of support, following protracted negotiations with user groups.

In a move welcomed by the business software maker's UK customers, SAP announced a tiered support model on Thursday. Under that model, users will be able to choose between Standard Support and the pricier Enterprise Support. SAP also said it will freeze the 2010 fees for enterprise support at 2009 levels.

"SAP's new support model is a direct response to the many discussions we've had with our customer and user groups," SAP chief executive Léo Apotheker said in a statement.

"We have taken into consideration the feedback and suggestions from customers worldwide. As a result, we are now providing consistent, global support alternatives that address differentiated customer needs while continuing to bring the best value and full transparency to our customers with SAP Enterprise Support."

In 2008, SAP said it wanted to move all its customers to Enterprise Support. As a result, customers not on that support plan would have seen their fees rise from 17 percent of their total licence cost to a proposed 22 percent. User groups objected, and the company agreed in April 2009 to a key performance indicator (KPI) scheme. The benchmarking scheme is designed to let users see what value for money they are receiving.

Alan Bowling, chairman of the SAP UK & Ireland User Group, said in a statement on Thursday that his group is "delighted" at the choice now being offered by the software company.

"This move shows that SAP is listening to user groups, and therefore its customers, taking on board our feedback and making changes to meet the needs of all SAP users," Bowling said. He noted that Enterprise Support "could potentially offer a lot of value", but added that many of the group's members had not been happy about being forced to move to the pricier package.

SAP Standard Support includes features such as updates, problem resolution and quality management, with the option to add on supplemental products including MaxAttention support and Safeguarding services.

The company's Enterprise Support package includes the same features as Standard Support, plus an extra focus, in SAP's words, on "business continuity, business process improvement, protection of investment and reducing total cost of operations by helping customers to increase efficiencies and to decrease system downtime".

Bowling added that the user group would continue to work with SAP on the benchmarking scheme.

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