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SAP User Group vows its independence

At the SAP User Group Summit 2010 yesterday, user group chair Grahame Reynolds outlined why he thinks SAP users need to be part of the group and addressed perceptions that the organisation was too chummy with SAP.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

At the SAP Australian User Group Summit 2010 yesterday, user group chair Grahame Reynolds outlined why he thinks SAP users need to be part of the group and addressed perceptions that the organisation was too chummy with SAP.

There have been questions asked in the past about the very close relationship between SAP and its user group, with SAP contributing funds and sharing resources with the user conglomerate. Reynolds, who is also a senior business analyst with Qenos, stressed that despite being close, the group is independent, has been independent in the past and will always be independent.

"I want to reassure you all that while SAP does provide us with some financial support, we will not shy away from expressing the views of our members to SAP in a frank and open way, and sometimes these views will be against SAP's desires," he said.

"However, I make no apology for fostering a good relationship with SAP. Members will benefit from SAP's success. And we should be happy to acknowledge good work, supporting SAP where it benefits our members."

One of the cases in which the user group had spoken out against SAP, Reynolds said, had been when the company decided to change the support arrangements for most of its customers by axing its standard support, moving customers onto the more comprehensive but also more expensive enterprise support.

There had been no increase in the price of standard support for 12 years. The change would have raised support costs from 17 per cent of total licensing costs to 22 per cent by 2012.

"This resulted in a significant increase in cost at a time of global crisis for unclear benefits," Reynolds said.

After rounds of negotiations with user groups, SAP agreed to keep standard support available for those customers who wanted it. Standard support costs sit at 18 per cent of licensing costs this year, with future increases to be based on CPI. The period over which enterprise support costs will be increased has also been lengthened. The 22 per cent price will come into effect in 2016 instead of 2012.

"Many people's credibility has been on the line, not to mention significant amounts of real money," Reynolds said.

"We are your voice back to SAP," he said.

Other reasons that Reynolds outlined for why users should join the user group included networking, and gaining the knowledge to make the most out of SAP software and avoid pitfalls.

"Sometimes I've described SAP as being a bit like Frankenstein's monster. Dr Frankenstein created life, but it turned around and strangled him," he said. "Millions of lines of code, hundreds of thousands of screens, tens of thousands of transactions. It's brilliant, but if you don't have the right knowledge, it can all come crashing down on you."

The speech opened the SAP Australian User Group Summit after a colourful introduction by a dancer who made good use of light (see video below).

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