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SAP User Group: 95 percent find licencing ‘overly complicated’

Customers want software to be limited by one licence or usage metric

Some 95 percent of SAP users believe that the company's software licencing is 'overly complicated', according to research carried out by the UK & Ireland User Group.

This is because SAP software packages come with multiple licences with different limits in usage rights, and 89 percent of users would like to see SAP offer software that is only limited by one licence or usage metric.

The survey questioned 336 SAP users across 150 SAP user organisations in the UK & Ireland.

Furthermore, 67 percent of users stated that as SAP's product catalogue has expanded, they have found it increasingly difficult to keep track of licence usage, especially as some modules can be installed automatically. This has resulted in users paying for modules they aren't using.

Computerworld UK spoke to Philip Adams, vice chairman of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group, who said that licencing complexity is high on SAP users' agenda.

"I would say licencing is a top five priority for our users at the moment. I am hearing lots of noises [from SAP], but am seeing very little action," said Adams.

"They are starting, through the User Group, to say that they are willing to tackle this problem. However, what I don't see is anything being said in the public domain."

He added: "They are telling us one thing, but if I wasn't involved in the User Group, and I was just a customer, I'm not sure I would know anything about it. They aren't communicating any work directly to customers."

The research also revealed that customers want greater flexibility in their licencing. Given the economic environment, many organisations are reducing the size of their employee base and usage patterns are changing. However, these changes aren't necessarily being reflected in licencing and users would like to only pay for what they are using.

Over three quarters of respondents, some 77 percent, said that they found the entry point too high when they were looking to deploy extra modules or functionality to their core SAP systems, such as if they only wanted specific functionality for a small group of employees.

SAP customers, 88 percent of those surveyed, would also like to see the software giant make its price list public. According to Adams, some customers feel like other companies are getting preferential pricing and they believe that a public price list and more transparent SAP may help their bargaining position.

Finally, a staggering 97 percent of users don't believe that SAP has effectively explained the migration path of moving from on-premise to its mobile or cloud offerings and how this impacts on their existing licencing agreements. This is particularly surprising given SAP's push in recent years to drive mobile and cloud into organisations.

Adams said: "If you move from a complete on-premise to cloud solution, what do you do with the old on-premise stuff?

"Users want to consume SAP technology in a faster, better, slicker way, but they don't want to be paying double for it. This is a concern and may actually be inhibiting companies from moving from on-premise to cloud or mobile."

Tim Noble, managing director SAP UK and Ireland, responded to the User Group by saying that SAP is working hard to simplify licencing for customers.

He said: "We acknowledge the results of this survey and are continuing to address some of the perceived complexities around SAP's software licensing through a number of measures.

"These include standardising our terms and conditions globally so that the same licensing terms apply, no matter which country our customers reside, as well as publishing our software rights online for all SAP products and services - including the full Sybase suite. We've also spent a significant amount of time on simplifying the buying process so that it's easy to understand, as well as ensuring implementation of SAP's products and services are tailored to meet our customers' individual and specific needs."

He added: "Our ultimate goal is to make our user's experiences of software licensing as efficient as possible and we will continue to focus on this."

The SAP User Group Conference is taking place in Manchester on 18-20 November, where there will be a workshop on managing SAP licencing. For more information click here.

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