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Incoming SAP User Group chair sees tenure shaped by Brexit

New SAP UK & Ireland User Group chairman Paul Cooper’s tenure will run to the end of Brexit. This and continued digitisation will shape his term in office

Paul Cooper, head of information systems at Burton’s Biscuit Company, has taken the chairman’s reins at the UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG), succeeding outgoing chairman, Philip Adams. Cooper’s two-year stint is more or less coterminous with the Brexit process, and, therefore, uncertainty among SAP customers.

Before his current role, Cooper spent 10 years in SAP-related roles at Northern Foods and Bluefin Solutions. At the user group, he was chair of the application lifecycle management Special Interest Group (SIG) for 10 years. He was appointed to its board in 2011, and became vice-chair in 2013, before becoming chairman.

Cooper said the user group board sees the business process effects of Brexit as a likely area of concern for many of its members, so it will be important for the group to work closely with SAP to ensure users have the advice they need to navigate this period of uncertainty.

“Chances are there will be taxation and legislative implication, so we need SAP to be timely in supporting our users on what needs to happen from a systems perspective. It is all likely to be last minute. Hopefully, things will be clearer by the autumn,” he said.

The user group will be raising the Brexit question with SAP through a global charter group, within the SAP User Group Network (SUGEN) that covers localisation more broadly.

“We’ll also push the discussion with SAP in the UK and Ireland,” Cooper added. “They’ll have to do something as well. It’s difficult at the moment since it is all speculation.”

Indirect licensing: an ‘emotional’ issue

The thorny topic of indirect licensing of SAP software, a feature of the SAP v Diageo high court case adjudicated on this year, is “still a focus for SUGEN”, confirmed Cooper.

Bill McDermott mentioned the indirect access issue in his keynote at this year’s Sapphire conference, announcing simplification in “procure to pay” and “order to cash” scenarios, and in refraining from charging for static read access in third-party sytems.

Since then, SAP has published a whitepaper on indirect access, conveying the pricing policy changes it made in the second quarter of this year.

“SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors, Concur and Ariba has meant more line-of-business people are using the company’s product than ever before. Expanding our membership to include more line-of-business users is an area we plan to focus on”

Paul Cooper, UK & Ireland SAP User Group

“There are some FAQs in that paper that came from our consultation with our members. It is an emotional space. It is a difficult one for us since it is a commercial area for our members so they can’t talk about their licensing,” said Cooper.

“But we are taking feedback. We ran a well-attended event on this in early June. It will be interesting to see what the next processes are. The devil will be in the detail. Account managers at SAP need to understand how licensing works, too.”

Expanding member numbers

The group has also recently merged with the SuccessFactors User Group in the UK, consisting of HR professionals. Cooper said: “SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors, Concur and Ariba has meant more line-of-business people are using the company’s product than ever before. Expanding our membership to include more line-of-business users is definitely an area we plan to focus on.”

The SuccessFactors User Group will operate as a standalone group within the user group as a whole, with its former chair Kara Nixon being SuccessFactors Special Interest Group (SIG) chair. It brings 80 member organistions to the UKISUG, though some of those will be user group members already, said Cooper.

“The SuccessFactors User Group will continue to provide a forum for like-minded SuccessFactors users to connect and share their experiences and knowledge,” said Nixon. “Being part of the wider SAP User Group community will enable us to run more events and provide existing members with greater access to, and influence over, SAP.”

The next SuccessFactors SIG meeting will take place on 21 September 2017 in Uxbridge. There will also be a dedicated HR stream, showcasing SuccessFactors customer stories at this year’s UKISUG Connect, which will take place on 26-28 November 2017 in Birmingham.

Read more about the SAP UK and Ireland User Group

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