Michael Doane, the man who wrote the SAP Blue Book and knows more about what happens when SAP gets implemented than anyone outside of SAP (and many inside) has an intriguing idea. How about giving those SAP customers who are well-advanced in their ability to support themselves a break on their Enterprise Support costs? This isn’t a new idea — once upon a time SAP did this for customers running a center of excellence — but it’s a timely one considering the PR problems SAP has had since it launched its new 22% Enterprise Support concept last year.
You can read Micheal’s calculations here, and I leave you to figure out whether it makes sense or not. But fundamentally, addressing the notion that some customers need more support than others does make some sense. There may be more complex metrics involved in genuinely modeling the different combinations of what makes one SAP customer easier to support than another, but the basic idea isn’t exactly off base.
What’s perhaps more intriguing about this idea is that SAP would be helping customers benchmark and achieve one of the main goals of 21st century: lower TCO. This isn’t just in the customers’ interests, of course. Low TCO is a major competitive weapon for the vendor that can really sink their teeth into the concept, and — bonus! — customers with low overall TCO will have more money to spend on net new, innovative products, upping their value to their vendor in a more mutually beneficial way than maintenance revenue can provide.
Putting some rewards into the maintenance issue that in turn yield better TCO best practices ought to be a win/win for everyone. It has to be done carefully so that SAP doesn’t end up fighting with customers who think they should be in the low-maintenance category despite all evidence to the contrary. (And who hasn’t been in a relationship like that?) And it needs to be done within the context of the real increase in support requirements for SAP systems as the overall complexity and footprint grows. So, all this may be harder to do than Michael suggests, but the linkage to the Holy Grail of TCO makes this more than just an interesting idea.
This is hardly the last word on the subject, and I think before we’re done we’ll see a lot of other ways to make enterprise support make more sense to more customers. There’s still a month to go before Sapphire. So stay tuned…..