SAP user groups make "great progress" in working with SAP

SAP customers have made great progress over the past year in working with the software company to meet concerns over maintenance and pricing, says the SAP...

SAP customers have made great progress over the past year in working with the software company to meet concerns over maintenance and pricing, says the SAP UK and Ireland User Group.

Alan Bowling, chairman of the SAP UK and Ireland User Group, said that for the first time, user groups have been given easy access to senior executives and have been able to engage with them.

"We have made great progress in the way we work with SAP. Both sides are learning how to work together effectively," he told Computer Weekly.

The first results of SAP's collaboration with user groups, which aims to link maintenance costs to business value are due before the end of the year.

In a landmark agreement, SAP will implement the first of several planned price increases in 2010 only if SAP enterprise maintenance meets five of 11 KPIs agreed with users.

User groups raised concerns after SAP announced controversial plans to standardise on enterprise maintenance for all customers and begin a series of price increases.

The process has involved "frank and detailed discussions", which have been difficult at times, said Bowling.

"This is uncharted territory as no other enterprise software supplier has been brave enough to link price to value," he said.

But Bowling said SAP still needs to get more involved in discussions with end-users to help them get greater value out of their investments.

Those discussions are beginning to happen through collaboration between members of the user group, but SAP needs to join the debate as well, he said.

"SAP is sitting on a wealth of information about end-user organisations and how they use the software, and I want to share with members of the user group," said Bowling.

Greater collaboration with end-users will help make SAP a sustainable supplier that provides the systems that businesses really need, he added.

Tim Noble, recently appointed managing director for SAP UK and Ireland, said he had made it a priority to personally visit SAP customers, including Yorkshire Building Society, Marks & Spencer and Shoosmiths to strengthen SAPs relationships with end-users.

"We want to be transparent and responsive to end-users. Listen to their needs and find the best routes to meeting them," he told the SAP UK and Ireland User Group Conference 2009.

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