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SAP postpones maintenance fee hike

SAP is postponing a scheduled increase in its maintenance and support fee structure as it continues to work with user groups to demonstrate the value of the service.

SAP said today it will postpone its decision on the pricing for Enterprise Support, a hike in its support and maintenance fees that caused an uproar among its customer base and user groups.

After SAP customers protested that they saw little value in the new support structure, which would effectively raise maintenance from 17% of license fees to 22% over a four-year period, SAP agreed to delay the price hikes until it had established a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that would demonstrate the value of the program. SAP has been working with 100 customers and representatives from the SAP User Group Network (SUGEN) to establish the benchmarks.

That partnership has "shown clear value to participating SAP customers," the company announced today in a release. A task force will now be formed to reach out to customers and user groups to "enhance the ongoing dialogue."

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"SAP plans to provide the outcomes of the task force [at] the beginning of 2010," the statement reads. "Until then, a decision on pricing for Enterprise Support has therefore been postponed."

SAP had agreed to stagger the increase in maintenance fees over four years and later extended the timeline through 2015. The next hike was scheduled to go into effect in 2010, at 18.9% of license fees, if the KPIs were met.

The news comes after reports last week that the project leader and project sponsor for SUGEN had resigned Nov. 18.

The initial decision to delay the program until KPIs were established and met was heralded as a "groundbreaking win for customers" and today's decision to postpone pricing was welcomed by one user group as well.

"We welcome this statement from SAP -- both in recognition of the hard work recognising value that has taken place on the benchmarking exercise, but also the consideration SAP is giving to its customers in these tough economic times," Alan Bowling, chairman, SAP U.K. & Ireland User Group, said in a statement. "We've always said the benchmarking program linking price to value, although groundbreaking, was going to be a difficult process, especially in the time frames involved this year."

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