SAP Users' Group leader preaches collaboration

User groups speak out on SAP price hikes

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In mid-July, SAP announced that it would be increasing the fees on its software support program for existing customers, from 17 percent of contract value to 22 percent. On 1 Jan., 2009, all customers will begin to transition out of SAP's Standard and Premium Support options and move to Enterprise Support, paying for and receiving the new support options of the more expansive program.

The reaction from many users in the Great Britain SAP ecosystem was best summed up by the chairman of the US & Ireland User Group: "The mandatory nature of this change along with the increase in cost has received hugely negative feedback from our membership to date," stated Alan Bowling, the chairman of the SAP group on July 25th. "In real terms, this is a 29.4 percent increase in costs over the next four years for existing SAP customers, and is proving to be a particularly difficult area to accept." (For more on that, see "SAP maintenance backlash grows.")

Across the pond, Steve Strout, CEO of the Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG), released a statement on the 25th to CIO with his organisation's take on the changes to the support costs. And the tone was quite different than that of Bowling's remarks.

"We understand that market demands have influenced the SAP decision to expand their support strategy," Strout states. "We are also aware there have been some negative remarks made by industry analysts calling for user groups to rebel against SAP; however, we firmly believe that ASUG's relationship with SAP, and our members, must be collaborative-thus allowing us to influence SAP to make their decisions with our members-their customers-top of mind."

Strout acknowledged that, given the economy, no ASUG member is excited about the prospect of price increases. (ASUG is the world's largest SAP user group.) However, he says that it's ASUG's "responsibility to educate and influence SAP on what our members desire as well as educate our members on what Enterprise Support is and how best to take advantage of it."

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