ASUG Maintains Moderate Tone on SAP Maintenance Hike

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SAP should be given the opportunity to convince users that its richer-featured but pricier Enterprise Support service is worth the extra expense, a board member of the Americas SAP Users Group said Tuesday.

In July, SAP announced plans to move all customers to Enterprise Support. The news prompted significant outcry from user groups in Europe, while ASUG, which claims to have more than 50,000 members, has maintained a more moderate tone.

Maintenance pricing is an important issue, and "nobody likes a price increase," but ASUG's mission also includes tracking where SAP is "headed with the product," said board member Anthony Bosco, who is also CIO of Day & Zimmerman, a services provider with US$2.2 billion in annual revenue.

Still, SAP must deliver on the promises it is making about Enterprise Support, Bosco said.

The SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN), consisting of user group representatives from around the world, is working with SAP to develop key performance indicators for Enterprise Support. SAP has said the parties will "jointly evaluate the progress of these KPIs against customer expectations on a regular basis and adjust the continued rollout of SAP Enterprise Support until the quality measures are achieved."

A more recent development seemed to raise a potential hindrance to that plan.

Earlier this month, SAP said that due to legal regulations specific to Germany and Austria, customers in those countries would be allowed to maintain their previous maintenance contracts if they choose, temporarily holding off the switch. The news prompted speculation that users in other countries would demand a similar option.

But Bosco said the KPI process should be allowed to play out: "I think there's a commitment from SAP to work with real KPIs and report back, to show there's real value. Ultimately these KPIs have to be developed. We have to see how it goes."

SAP has said the support change was necessary because customer environments have become more complex in recent years, and the new level of support would help lower customers' total cost of ownership.

"I understand it," Bosco said of the vendor's position. "Ten years ago, you put SAP in and you used it to run your back office."

That has since changed dramatically, with innovations such as mobile integration, he said.

ASUG is also looking for a new CEO, having ousted Steve Strout last month. The organization said at the time that previously said Strout's departure was not related to the Enterprise Support issue, a position Bosco reiterated Tuesday.

"Anytime you have groups of people, you have different perspectives and methods on how to get to a place," he said. Strout could not be reached for comment.

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