SAP’s Unanswered Questions About its Digital Access Model (Part Two)


business man holding up direction signs

Same old story, same old song and dance

In September of last year, I wrote a blog that called out the top three questions SAP hasn’t answered about its new Digital Access model.  At its 2019 SAPPHIRE NOW conference, SAP provided additional insight into its new Digital Access Model to help customers better understand what Digital Access means, how it’s measured, and what their options are going forward.

In this blog, I will discuss the progress SAP has (or hasn’t) made in providing their customers with greater transparency and predictability around the Digital Access Model.  Specifically, I want to revisit and focus on the answers we now have for one of the biggest questions around Digital Access:

How Can Existing Customers Easily Determine Their Licensing Demand Under the Digital Access Model?

Previously, SAP stated that customers would need to count the number of documents generated annually, by type, created by third-party applications.  Customers would then use that historical or extrapolated data to determine their demand which would then be licensed as Digital Access.

SAP’s Digital Access Model is based on licensing measured by the nine document types defined in the SAP ERP Pricing for the Digital Age. Note that some documents (e.g., purchase documents) are counted at the line item level.  Many businesses can count the number of purchase orders or invoices created in SAP but counting line items in those documents can be a significant challenge.

In August, SAP released a user note, however, the accuracy of this tool is questionable:

2644139 – Digital Access: Tool for SAP ERP (ECC) to determine an approximate number of licenses required in the future” (this tool can be downloaded from the SAP marketplace as Note 2644139 (for ECC) and Note 2644172 (for S/4HANA)).

The note provided high-level instructions on how to execute the tool but cautions, “The report does not differentiate between documents that were created by SAP applications and documents that were created by non-SAP applications.  The number transferred for a document must be interpreted based on the current installation environment.”

In addition, it is not clear that the tool can differentiate between a new document (which must be licensed) and a document that has been modified (which does not require a license).

So, What Progress Has SAP Made Since Then to Better Address the Issue Around Measurability?

Unfortunately, the answer is not much.

Earlier this month, SAP announced the Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP) which offers two approaches for measuring how many documents your organization generates annually to help you determine your licensing requirements.

1. Customer implements Support Packages containing the SAP Passport tool to estimate number of documents created by current use.

This seems to be a logical process and use of SAP technology.  But there is a catch.  Some customers will need to implement Support Packages to activate this functionality and SAP will only provide limited assistance to implement them.  SAP also clearly states that the results of this approach will be an estimate only for the number of documents a customer will need to license.

2. Customer works with SAP’s Global License and Audit Compliance (GLAC) to estimate the number of documents created by current use.

This sounds relatively straightforward but there can be significant issues with this option.  First, SAP again clearly states that this option results in an estimate or an approximate number of documents that need to be licensed.  Second, and make no mistake about it, engaging GLAC is essentially a soft-audit which brings all the potential issues and financial exposure associated with an audit.

Finally, the biggest (and still unaddressed) issue around the question of measuring use or demand is buried in SAP’s disclaimer at the footer of the DAAP presentation:

“Customer is advised that any measurement…are estimates only and the number of documents customer licenses is in their sole decision (sic) and customer will be required to remain compliant with their license level pursuant to its agreement with SAP.”

This disclaimer should raise concern among customers for two very critical reasons:

1. SAP continues to refuse to take ownership of the lack of accuracy in document measurement in the tools/processes they provide.

2. Even more troubling for customers is that SAP is placing the accountability of this lack of measurement accuracy (along with the compliance implications that come with it) ON THE CUSTOMER.

Put simply, if a customer doesn’t license enough documents because they relied on the results of a potentially inaccurate tool or process SAP provided, tough luck customer.  This clearly doesn’t square with SAP’s stated intent of being more transparent and predictable.

This continued uncertainty and the lack of resources available to customers for accurately measuring documents, and therefore their level of use under the Digital Access Model, has material implications on another important question regarding the model: Cost.  We will address the two options for calculating Digital Access cost that SAP has offered so far in a future blog.

In the meantime, you can still take steps to independently and proactively address this matter while SAP continues to (hopefully) refine, update, or otherwise improve their approach to measuring use in the Digital Access Model:

Continue to Educate Yourself

SAP’s own documentation continues to evolve but start with SAP ERP Pricing for the Digital Age  as a foundation for SAP’s practices for both new and existing customers. Indirect Access Guide for SAP Installed Base Customers is also helpful for those who are looking to understand more about how existing licensing maps to their current license structure.  Finally, the DAAP presentation is a must read for customers looking to better understand their options as currently proposed by SAP.

Leverage an Industry Expert in SAP Licensing Practices

SAP’s options under the DAAP are focused on creating opportunity for SAP.  A better approach is to seek out a third-party with deep knowledge and expertise on the subject who has no vested interest in the outcome of your organization’s use of SAP and can provide guidance and information that allows you to make informed decisions on your Digital Access strategy with SAP.

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Chip Hanna

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