SAP and the Trophy Wife

Trophy Wife ImageAs the consigliere, I am honored whenever people seek my advice as they are placing a great deal of trust in me. It is a level of trust that demands respect, and one that I take very seriously. Sometimes this creates an environment that makes it difficult to provide a candid recommendation because it could upset someone, but telling it like I see it is the only way to properly honor that trust.

Lately, with SAP’s continued claims regarding Indirect Access fees, it reminded me of some relationships I have seen. And as your pal the consigliere, I knew I had to share how I see SAP as the trophy wife. Let me tell you how this typically plays out.

The Single Scene

Hanging out with your pals is always fun and comforting, but as you grow and mature as a person you know living like this cannot last forever. Similarly, your legacy systems have served you well over the years, but you know a change is required. Watching others find new relationships, you start to pay more attention to the scenery around you. This is when you get serious about finding a new partner.


Just like the RFI process, everything is new and exciting and the possibilities seem endless. Everyone is dressed to the nines, has their best faces on, and vies for your attention. All the vendors seem genuinely interested in getting to know you and making you feel they care about your needs. This is fun!

The Courtship

The RFP process commences and unfolds. You know each other on the surface, and everyone wants to further explore a deeper relationship. Now is when the newness has worn off a bit, the guard has softened, and you start to get your first glimpse of the real person. The vendors are now being forced to unveil some meaningful facts on their capabilities, culture, and commercial practices. But someone catches your eye and clearly stands out from the rest, and you begin your pursuit.

Meet the Parents

Now that you have down selected and are serious about a long term commitment, it is time to meet the parents. You do this to learn more about your potential partner, meeting executives, and getting different inputs as to what life could be like. The product demonstrations and discussions of the possibilities are intriguing. You are exploring things in a new light, hoping to have everything explained and get the answers you have been hoping for.

Instead, more questions are raised than answered, and the complexity and depth of your potential partner is staring you in the face. You understand nobody is perfect, but the dawning of that realization is here. Life is still good and you leave more excited about the possibilities, thinking to yourself that everyone else goes through doubts too. You are infatuated with all of the glamour and blissfully choose to ignore the warning signs.

Getting Engaged

By now you and your partner have significantly invested in the relationship and neither of you want to stop now, despite seeing issues that should be addressed before proceeding. There is pressure from your partner and all of those around you to take the next step and make a formal commitment. So you go to your executive team to get the funds for a beautiful ring… I mean license agreement… and present it to your partner and set a date for contract execution.

Wedding Bells

Planning for the wedding happens fast and furious.  Here is where you get all of the agreements and appendices, only to learn that the prices and terms are a bit different and much more complex than what you had been led to believe. The date is fast approaching and family and friends’ expectations have been set. Caterers, flowers, photographers; the entire project team is set and ready to go. There is too much pressure to back out now, so you try to make some slight adjustments to feel like you have addressed some concerns and won concessions. The agreement gets signed and you can now show off your new trophy wife at the reception.

The Honeymoon

Everyone is happy and excited, celebrating and talking about all the great things to come. You are sitting on a romantic beach somewhere and work is the furthest thing from your mind. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

The Day After

Tactical work needs to be done to achieve the goals and dreams you have promised each other. But work is not easy, exposes some differences in goals and commitments, and leads to disagreements. You expect a certain level of support from your partner only to find out they are unwilling or unable to provide it. Or worse, it comes at an additional cost that is not competitive. Things slowly start to unravel and are not as they once appeared. This leads you to explore other options to meet those requirements.

Affairs and Entanglement

Since your partner cannot meet all of your needs or is unwilling to do so under the terms you had expected, you find other partners that are willing to help. Third party applications, additional user access through new interfaces, and an evolved and enriched ecosystem are pursued and implemented.

Since your partner isn’t willing or able to meet these needs, you figure it is none of their business how you address them.

Private Investigator – Audit Time

Your partner begins to suspect everything may not be quite as it seems on the surface, so they decide to investigate.  SAP’s audit uncovers all of these affairs you have had with third parties, including all of the interface extensions, and they are rather upset. Even relationships that were honest and true are deemed to be affairs because of the perception that now exists.

This leads to a very expensive true-up with fees and expenses you never foresaw, planned, or budgeted. You are staring at a huge license and back maintenance invoice for SAP’s Indirect Access fees and now realize the costs of having a trophy wife.

The Aftermath

Your relationship has been shattered or, at the very least, substantially strained. Can trust ever be restored? How can you achieve the promised goals you discussed during the courtship?

You have two choices: either end the relationship and shatter the lives of everyone around you and start anew; or stick it out as best you can, trying to bridge the differences, heal the wounds, and move forward. The result is an underlying strain in the relationship that never quite goes away, but you stay in the relationship because all other options are too costly.

The Lesson

SAP is the siren that many customers had to have and enjoyed showing off. But too many customers ignored the warning signs and succumbed to the intense pressure SAP applied during the sales process. The resulting agreement contained many risks and provided a framework that allowed SAP to charge additional fees.

So take it from the consigliere and don’t get blinded by the beauty at the expense of the underlying relationship foundation. I’ve seen it happen to too many good organizations as well as good guys. If you have doubts about your SAP relationship, or are considering an SAP relationship, give UpperEdge a call to understand the risks and how best to mitigate them or simply email me at [email protected].

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