Conflicting product information, confusing technology, and insufficient focus on the target group are what most customers complain of when asked about SAP. Karl Liebstückel, chairman of the German-speaking SAP user group DSAG, addressed the issues openly at the DSAG Annual Congress in the presence of the SAP Executive Board and around 3,500 participants.
SAP Steamship Back on the Right Course
According to Liebstückel, SAP shifted its focus in 2009 much more toward its customers by giving German and Austrian users the choice between the reasonably priced standard support and the more expensive and extensive SAP Enterprise Support. He sees this as a sign that SAP is starting to listen to its customers again. Since Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott took over the helm together, the lumbering SAP steamship appears to be back on course.
Nevertheless, users still have many questions that are yet to be answered: Why is the launch of enhancement package 5 being delayed? After the acquisition of Sybase and the presentation of the Sybase Unwired Platform, will SAP NetWeaver Mobile – read also: ERP Everywhere –become obsolete? What will happen to existing license agreements if SAP NetWeaver Mobile ceases to be maintained from 2014? In the name of all German-speaking SAP customers, DSAG places the following demands on SAP.
1. Reliable road maps for planning ahead
Despite cloud computing and virtualization, a recent DSAG survey of CIOs at the biggest German companies revealed that reliable product road maps are most important for organizations. Customers want to be informed every three to five years about the innovations SAP is planning to incorporate into its software, so that companies can make long-term investments and ensure their planning is future-proof.
Although the fifth enhancement package for SAP ERP 6.0 was slated to appear in mid-2010, its launch looks likely to be delayed by a further six months. This might annoy customers, although Waldemar Metz, head of DSAG’s “Processes” working group, and Karl Liebstückel admit that a delay is better than letting an immature product loose on customers. Quality has to take precedence here.
2. Technology: one server is enough
Customers want their SAP software to be simple, mobile, and collaborative. They believe the system landscape is too complex. Instead of a three-system landscape comprising test, quality assurance, and production system, users want a system that runs on one single server.
iPads, iPhones, and the like are becoming increasingly widespread in the business world – for further information: It’s All Going Mobile –. Because enterprise software is being used more and more on mobile devices, applications must not only be easy to use, but they must also meet the highest security standards.
Following in the footsteps of Facebook, communication models that work in the consumer sector are finding their way into industry. With SAP StreamWork, SAP already developed collaboration software that allows users to work together on one project and exchange files, in a similar way to social media communities. Customers would like SAP to provide more software with flexible collaboration options, tailored to the functions that they need on a day-to-day basis.
3. SAP Business Suite 7: inconsistent GUI
Error-free, stable, and fast. Users would like to see end-to-end processes with no product silos or integration gaps. They think that SAP Business Suite 7 is too complex. What’s more, there’s no standard interface for SAP NetWeaver Business Client and the SAP GUI. Customers want solutions that are easy to use and value for money.
4. Support and license models without confusing pricelists
Since last year, customers have been able to choose between standard support and SAP Enterprise Support again. However, Liebstückel believes SAP hasn’t gone far enough. Users want needs-based and flexible maintenance with appropriate pricing structures – in other words, a mix of different support offerings. They should not be penalized financially for switching between the individual support services. This means that contracts need to be more flexible and tailored to each company’s needs.
Even when SAP launches a new product, existing customer investments must still be protected. Liebstückel explained that no customer wants a repeat of the situation when SAP R/3 was replaced by mySAP ERP and then by SAP ERP. Such product switches should not involve purchasing new licenses.
License models must be transparent. Currently, customers have to find out the price changes for themselves using a collection of lists and a myriad of documents. This is hardly a user-friendly approach. Customers need to be given a better overview of the price models and only pay for the licenses that they actually use. Michael Kleinemeier, SAP’s managing director responsible for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, was reticent when it came to the question of deactivating individual licenses. He said it would be preferable to clarify such matter with customers directly.