Categories: Founder's Blog


Sam Bayer


[Updated 11/22/17 – We recently launched our ultimate guide on SAP Indirect Access which can be seen here]

Survivors of Indirect Access share their stories

Today I am going to review the preliminary results of a statistically problematic survey.

Problematic because the sample size is small (20) and is biased towards people who really want to have their voices heard on the SAP Indirect Access topic.

For the record, I offered to collaborate on the creation and administration of this survey with the American SAP User Group (ASUG) and the Denmark based ITAMorg (IT Asset Management Organization).  Both declined to participate because they felt it was not their place to take an “adversarial” role against SAP.

The truth is that I’m not looking to take on an adversarial role with SAP either.  The last thing I want to do is to pick a fight with the world’s third largest software company.  I’m just looking to get the facts out into the public domain and in so doing I believe that good things will eventually happen.  What I really want to do is convert that “eventually” into “as soon as possible”.

As I’ve said before, and I’ll say to anyone who cares to listen, while SAP has the legal right to charge for their IP, they have the responsibility to do so legally, if not ethically.  They can chose to value short term revenue over alienating their current and future customers if they so choose, that is their business prerogative. But they must do so legally.  This survey was conceived, and launched, with the hopes that aggregating the collective voice and opinions of SAP clients would help move this SAP Indirect Access debacle forward and in the right direction.

I’m open for suggestions and assistance in making a better survey.

In the interim, on to the survey results.

Survey Demographics

Fifty percent of the respondents were SAP Clients with the titles ranging from Solution Architect to Group Chief Information Officer.  They came from the USA, Australia, Croatia, Germany, Malaysia and South Africa.  The rest of the respondents were mostly SAP Service Providers or SAP Consultants.  There was a small representation from Industry Associations and Third Party Software Providers.

Survey Results highlights

SAP Indirect Access concerns go beyond Order to Cash and Procure to Pay.

The first surprising result came when we asked “Which business scenario is primarily driving your SAP Indirect Access conversation?”.  While Order to Cash and Procure to Pay did make up 54% of the selections, 39% was “Other” and 7% was Employee Self-Service.  In the “Other” category were concerns about SAP Indirect Access when using the Maintenance module, integrating the Factory and collaborating with 3rd parties.  Also included in “Other” was the fact that respondents really had simultaneous concerns across all of these scenarios, not just one at a time.  This underscores the fact that SAP is going to have their hands full when trying to bring clarity and specificity to this topic.  It’s very very complicated…and we haven’t even started to talk about Business Intelligence, the Internet of Things and lightbulbs.

SAP is punishing clients when/if they choose to go with third party products.

56% of the respondents said that SAP told them that if they went with an SAP product they wouldn’t have to pay Indirect Access license fees.  If they went with third party products they were threatened with intrusive audits and hefty fees.  See my Duke Memorandum blog post to learn about why this is illegal in the US.  I have first hand information that the illegality of this is also being pursued in the EU and Australia.

SAP is very willing to negotiate their SAP Indirect Access license fees.

The current status is that SAP Indirect Access fees have to be negotiated.  As distasteful as that prospect is for all of SAP’s clients, it is today’s fact of life.  The good news, is that there is evidence that SAP is offering “discounts” of upwards of 95% for these fees with most clients receiving in between 81%-90% discounts.  The moral of this story is prepare yourselves to negotiate. I wrote about negotiating SAP Indirect Access fees in this blog post.

SAP Clients feel that they are being severely bullied by SAP.

When asked “how bullied do you feel during your SAP Indirect Access negotiations with SAP on a scale of 1-10”, the average response was 8.5.  There were several 10’s registered. To put that into perspective, when you go to your doctor and he asks you to assess the pain you’re feeling on a scale of 1-10, a value of 8.5, according to the Pain Scale, puts you in the category of “Severe pain. Disabling. Unable to perform activities of daily living”.

When asked “On a scale of 1-10 (1=I don’t care, 10=My hair is on fire), how does indirect access make you feel?” the average response was a 9.2.  Ouch!

SAP clients are getting very little help from their User Groups.

When asked “How helpful was the SAP User Group that you’re affiliated with…on a scale of 1-10?”, the average response was a 2.7.  To be fair, I’ve spoken to several SAP User Group Executives and what they tell me is that “they are working behind the scenes with SAP to fix this issue”.  I certainly hope that that is true, but in the interim, the SAP User Groups clearly have a public relations challenge with this topic.  According to the survey respondents, they don’t hold much faith in their User Groups.

The existence of SAP Indirect Access is stifling SAP client’s ability to innovate.

63% of respondents said that the projects that they were considering became unjustifiable when SAP Indirect Access fees were factored in.  Furthermore, of those that could negotiate those Indirect Access fees lower and make their projects justifiable, 88% said that the negotiation process delayed their projects and/or added significant cost to their projects.  13% said that they were forced to buy an SAP product that they didn’t want.

SAP clients are looking for the exits.

68% of the respondents said that if they could magically get off the SAP platform tomorrow, with no impact to their career, they would do so.  I’m not sure how long a company can survive when 68% of their customers are so mad at them that they are looking for a way to fire them.  I guess working in SAP’s favor is that the switching costs to get off the SAP platform are very high and even if you could get off of SAP, there aren’t a lot of great alternatives for most customers.  But wait…that sounds like a monopoly.

One write-in comment by a respondent sums up the monopolistic perspective very nicely “We need Google or someone similar in the ERP market place”.  All I can say is be careful for what you ask…


Overall, version 1.0 of the survey proved to be an interesting exercise.  As one early reviewer of the survey suggested, you’re going to get the results that you expect.  Indeed I did.  The SAP Indirect Access issue is toxic, is causing SAP clients a lot of angst, is having a negative impact on their businesses and they don’t have any positive alternatives.

What I also got from this project was a reinforced belief that the voices of the SAP Indirect Access survivors need to be heard.  The extent and severity of the impact that SAP’s Indirect Access policies is having on the SAP ecosystem needs to be publicized.  SAP really needs to take this SAP Indirect Access debacle seriously and do something about it quickly.  In the interim, if you’re reading this post, and feel badly about the fact that your voice wasn’t heard, it’s not too late to take the survey yourself :-)




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