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SAP KPI program works, but too much work for users

The SAP KPI program is working, but it's more work than participating customers anticipated, so SAP is holding off on its support and maintenance fee increase.

The SAP Enterprise Support KPI program is working, but it's a little too much work for the customers involved, necessitating a delay in the planned cost increase for 2010, according to interviews with SAP and the SAP User Group Network (SUGEN).

Customers have achieved a 4% improvement -- the stated goal for 2009 -- in the key performance indicators (KPIs) of business process improvement, innovation and protection of investment, total cost of operations, and business continuity. They're saving money on, for instance, utilization of CPUs, reduction of storage, and improved response time to end users, according to Mike Stoko, chairman of SUGEN, a collection of representatives from various SAP user groups.

That said, establishing a baseline by which to measure savings has been more work than customers thought it would be, SAP said. The SAP KPI program also needs more participating customers -- 56 are involved now, well below the original goal of 100 -- to gather more information. SAP and SUGEN have established a task force to figure out how to make the process easier for customers, and further cost increases will be on hold until their findings are known, probably in early 2010.

"It's more work than [customers] anticipated, but once they get through it, it's worth it," Stoko said. "The customers participating in it have seen value."

What are the SAP KPIs?
Business continuity: increase the number of days without an outage, reduce the mean time to resolve, reduce the overall incidents

Business process improvement: reduce the number of emergency changes, reduce the impact of change, reduce the number of failed changes

Innovation and protection of investment: protect investment on current technology stack, reduce the amount of redundant/custom code and functionality available on newer releases

Total cost of operations: optimize CPU utilization and overall power growth rate, reduce storage utilization and growth rate, reduce run and maintain work required for deploying support packages and enhancement packages

SAP Enterprise Support, the vendor's more costly but richer support and maintenance offering, was met with dissatisfaction from the vendor's famously loyal customer base when it was announced in the summer of 2007. They then pushed SAP to prove its value.

In response, SAP said it would work with SUGEN to establish benchmarks that would be tracked by a group of 100 customers. Staggered cost hikes, ultimately adding up to 22% of net licensing fees by 2015, would be imposed only if those benchmarks were met -- a 4% improvement in the overall SAP KPIs in 2009, 8% in 2010, 10% in 2011 and 8% in 2012.

Participating customers would need to achieve a 30% improvement in the benchmark KPIs over a four-year period for SAP to roll out the maintenance hikes.

SAP is using Solution Manager as the measuring platform, Stoko said, and once the company sets customers up with Solution Manager and the roadmap, they're seeing the value.

But deriving value from SAP Enterprise Support rests to a certain extent on how well customers document processes within SAP Solution Manager, SAP said at Sapphire. That's something not all companies currently do because of factors such as cost and time.

The task force will figure out how to make the benchmarking process easier on participating customers.

"We think there's a way to lighten up the workload on customers," said Janet Wood, executive vice president of SAP Maintenance Go-to-Market. She couldn't say how long the process was taking customers.

The news that SAP would not yet increase the cost of its support and maintenance program followed reports that the Enterprise Support KPI project leader and project sponsor had resigned. Stoko said SUGEN is in the process of looking for a new project leader and sponsor. But overall, working with SAP has been an agreeable experience.

For more on SAP Enterprise Support
Learn why the SAP KPIs are a win for customers and the vendor

Learn why SAP KPIs open the door to negotiating maintenance

"It's obvious that [SAP is] committed to the program, that they really want to work with the customers," Stoko said. "The response from the customers [involved] has been favorable. I don't think there's animosity or anything like that."

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