SAP does U-turn on Enterprise Support

Victory for user groups

SAP has done a U-turn and reintroduced its standard enterprise support package for customers.

The move follows significant user-group led resistance to changes in support packages, and accompanying price rises.

The German ERP giant said the move was "a demonstration of its commitment to customer satisfaction," but end-user anger has embittered SAP's relations with many customers for more than a year. Last December it delayed price rises in enterprise support while negotiations continued.

In an effort to placate users and demonstrate that planned price increases offered demonstrable good value for money to customers, SAP last year agreed a benchmarking programme with SUGEN, the global user group confederation.

Last December it delayed price rises in enterprise support while negotiations continued with its user community.

The decision to reinstate standard support - at 18 percent of annual license fees, "will enable all customers to choose the option that best meets their requirements," the company said.

SAP has also announced that it is freezing prices for existing SAP Enterprise Support contracts at 2009 levels.

"We welcome this news from SAP and are delighted that it is offering greater choice to its customers and our members. This move shows that SAP is listening to user groups, and therefore its customers," said Alan Bowling, Chairman of the SAP UK and Ireland User group.

"Back in 2008, we highlighted that the new Enterprise Support offering could potentially offer a lot of value and that it contained much more than standard support.

"However, we also noted that many of our members where not happy moving to the more expensive and feature-rich Enterprise Support offering. As a user group, and as part of SUGEN, we've been in dialogue with SAP about offering more choice in relation to support and demonstrating the increased value that Enterprise Support offers."

SAP and its user group community will continue their benchmarking programme to measure the value of Enterprise Support.

"The announcement today from SAP builds on this and demonstrates that it is sticking to its promise of listening to its customers more. We asked for choice between standard support and Enterprise Support and today SAP has given us just that," said Bowling.

"It is good news for SAP customers that there is choice," added Ray Wang of analyst Altimeter Group.

SAP has spent a lot of time dealing with its customers' reactions to support changes, said Wang. "The company found itself facing customers hit by the recession and responding through their user groups, social networks and social media."

As SAP responded, through negotiation with the user groups and an increasingly sharp focus on proving the ROI of the changes and upgrades it was encouraging it s customers to make, much valuable work and benchmarking data was produced, the analyst added.

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Mike Simons ComputerWorldUK.com

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