Category Archives for "ASUG"

The Danger in Underestimating SAP Indirect Access

 What This Article Covers

  • What SAP Would Like Customers to Believe
  • The Real Use of Indirect Access
  • Listening to ASUG on the Frequency of Indirect Access Frequency
  • The Frequency of Indirect Access
  • The Size of Indirect Access Claims


Indirect access tends to only be known companies that have not been subject to an indirect access claim when a major indirect access (IA) public event occurs, such as a court case documents being filed. Good examples of this are Diageo and InBev. However, what is the prevalence of indirect access?

In this article, we will discuss information that has been coming in from the field. But first, we will begin with what SAP would like their customers to believe about the prevalence of indirect access. 

What SAP and SAP Consulting Partners Would Like Customers to Believe

Generally, both SAP and the SAP consulting partners would prefer that their customers do not know anything about indirect access. It is amusing to see IBM, Deloitte or Accenture comment on how to manage indirect access, a consulting company that has a partner relationship with SAP may be able to run a SAM software project, but none can represent their client’s interests against SAP. Consulting companies to compete to see how to ingratiate themselves to SAP, they don’t dare risk offending them. As an example of a recent pursuit which the client was not told about indirect access and had to find out about it from a competing vendor. The customer asked the consulting company why they had not informed them of the indirect access liability.

How much does SAP want customers and prospects to lower their guard?

At SAPPHIRE SAP produced an announcement that was intended to assuage their customer’s concerns about indirect access.

How to Understand SAP’s Faux Policy

I analyzed this announcement in the article How to Best Understand SAP’s Faux Policy Change on Indirect Access and concluded that it was really no change in policy aside from more specific charging of customers when SAP brings and indirect access claim. DSAG, which is the German SAP user group, and UpperEdge, were two of the only other media entities willing to call out SAP when they are wrong on indirect access, came to the same conclusion that I did on the announcement.

Since that article, I have learned that SAP will not even publish what it intends to charge per purchase order or sales order for indirect access, which was a major part of the announcement. Instead, SAP has stated that customers would be charged “on a case by case basis.” Of course, they will be. This increases the secrecy of the cost of indirect access. The announcement made it seem like SAP is opening up, but then when asked questions, SAP goes back into secrecy mode.

Listening to ASUG on the Frequency of Indirect Access?

ASUG, which is supposed to be a user group, but is actually a marketing arm of SAP, has been telling members that indirect access is rare and that it is merely the high-profile cases (such as Diageo and InBev) that push it to the forefront. This is covered in more detail in the article Is ASUG Lying About the Frequency of SAP Indirect Access? 

As ASUG is really just SAP in “sheep’s clothing” what we can take from ASUG’s stance, is that this is in fact what SAP wants customers to think about IA. I have never been in an SAP-ASUG meeting, but by the looks of it, they get together and SAP basically tells ASUG exactly what messages they want to relay, and ASUG relays those messages no questions asked.

All of this is curious, because ASUG members pay membership fees, and fly to ASUG conferences to be told information that is inaccurate, is 100% beneficial to SAP and to the customer’s disadvantage and is what SAP wants them to believe. ASUG cannot both represent the interests of SAP and of their members.

  • As I stated in the “Faux Policy Change Article,” SAP’s overall intent is to get its customers to lower their guard.
  • The less that their customers are prepared, the more SAP is able to use indirect access as a hammer against them.
  • Time is of the essence. SAP uses restricted timelines to get customers to acquiesce to their demands. The less preparatory work they have done before SAP drops an indirect access claim upon them, the more likely they will end up doing what SAP wants, and this is covered in the article The Time Issue Faced with Indirect Access.

The Reality of Indirect Access Frequency 

SAP has been quite effective with indirect access to drive license revenues, so they don’t have a very good reason to stop doing it. They are catching customers off guard and there is a very poor defense normally available to customers. And vendors that are affected by indirect access are uncoordinated. Essentially the issue is dealt with by individual account teams, that are in most cases not coordinated even within a single software vendor with respect to indirect access.

There are several other reasons for the success SAP is having against customers in indirect access.

  1. Source Issues and Finding Unbiased Representation: Many of the sources relied upon for information on indirect access have already aligned with or are in some way remotely controlled by SAP. This is covered in the article Taking a Multidimensional Approach to Indirect Access.
  2. Confusion with the Roll of Attorneys: Few attorneys know anything about indirect access. Unless the issue is going to court, and this is unlikely and unknown by anyone early in the process, unless the attorney already has a strong familiarity with indirect access, hiring an attorney is not going to help very much. There are several steps that do help. And keeping good notes is important whether an attorney is eventually contacted or whether they are not engaged. Secondly, bringing up attorneys that are unfamiliar with the topic is a lengthy process. If an indirect access claim is brought, time is of the essence in getting control over the situation.
  3. The Lack of SAM Software: Surprising as it may seem, most SAP customers still don’t use SAM software. So when SAP drops an indirect access claim on them, they aren’t even in a position to know what their overall license usage is or to know their specific indirect access exposure. SAM covers all usage measurement, indirect access being just one. Customers really don’t want to not have SAM software installed and then have to deal with both going through a SAM project, negotiating with the SAM vendor, then learning how SAM software reports look, all with SAP and an indirect access claim and their short timelines for response putting extra pressure on the company. SAM software and projects are measured in the hundreds of thousands and are good for more than just indirect access. Indirect access claims are measured in the millions, and sometimes tens of millions.

Indirect Access Frequency

The information I am getting from the field is that indirect access is actually increasing.

I have been tracking indirect access for around a year and a half. This is the point when vendors first started communicating to me that SAP would bring up the topic of indirect access charges as soon as it looked like the other vendor was about to get a contract from SAP.

And what is also interesting is that the indirect access issues brought up to me have been all over the spectrum of the different software categories. Although CRM does seem to be one of SAP’s favorite areas to bring indirect access claims. SAP seems to have an anger management issue when losing to Salesforce.

However, the outcome of these indirect access claims is normally the same. The customer is forced to purchase software from SAP it never wanted to purchase. When SAP reports sales to Wall Street it implies that 100% of them are voluntary. However, with SAP’s use of indirect access, and increasing percentage are sales motivated by indirect access claims.

The Size of Indirect Access Claims

The size of indirect access claims is also increasing. I am now learning of tens of millions of dollars in indirect access claims. I have individual case studies, but I do not want to publish the specific multiple of tens of millions. SAP benefits if these case studies are kept as secret as possible.

The size of these claims is changing behavior and is allowing SAP to win license sales that they had lost prior to bringing the claim.

I am working on research into indirect access which I will publish, and the announcement is described in this article. Vendors and customers that are impacted by indirect access have to share their story. The more that it is kept secret, the more SAP wins. If vendors fear reprisal by SAP, that is what anonymous sourcing is all about. I have yet to expose any source that I kept anonymously.


SAP is ramping up, not ramping down its indirect access claims against its customers, and the claim sizes are growing. One should not be lulled into a false sense of security by Bill McDermott’s happy face at SAPPHIRE on this topic. As I said previously, Bill McDermott was specifically chosen by Hasso Plattner, because he had a “happy face.” But McDermott’s pleasant demeanor is stark contrast to the hard edge I witness in SAP’s use of indirect access for many SAP customers.

SAP customers are receiving a large amount of inaccurate information from sources ranging from ASUG to Deloitte, to Diginomica and this is because so many entities in IT are in some way dependent upon SAP for their revenues. The money is very clearly on the side of agreeing with SAP. I was told by one reader recently to switch sides and to begin writing in favor of SAP, as the pay is much better.

Companies that are dependent on SAP for their revenues cannot be expected to write objectively or to provide objective advice about SAP. Other entities like JNC Consulting do not even seem to question (in their articles) whether the Type 2 indirect access employed by SAP is actually valid or its historical context.

All of this combined with the timelines imposed by SAP on indirect access claims means that the deck is firmly stacked in their favor. And one of the ways of keeping it this way is to under report and de-emphasize what is really a widespread usage of indirect access.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

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How to Best Understand JNC Consulting on Indirect Access License Fees

 What This Article Covers

  • Indirect Access as Covered by JNC Consulting
  • Why is Indirect Access such a Hot Topic Right Row?
  • My Data Passes Through Multiple Connected Systems. Would this be classed as Indirect Access?
  • Is there a Certain License Type Applicable to a named-user who is given the required permissions to access the SAP system indirectly?
  • What about when SAP creates Indirect Access instances themselves when performing a systems integration or deployment
  • Are Indirect Access claims from SAP negotiable?
  • Map the Interface Environment
  • Carry out a Contract Review
  • Define Your Risk Response and/or Negotiation Strategy


JNC Consulting has written some of the most popular articles on SAP indirect access. In this article, we will evaluate their top article on this topic.

Quotes from the ASUG Article

SAP Indirect Access License Fees Can Be Significant and Unexpected.

Interfacing third-party applications to your SAP system could cost you dearly, due to what SAP refer to as Indirect Access usage. Indirect Access has been around for a long time, although in recent years it has emerged as a hot topic in the SAP licensing world. With claims for unlicensed Indirect Access usage by SAP reaching into the millions, even tens of millions, organizations can no longer afford to ignore the issue. This article addresses the key factors affecting Indirect Access licensing providing guidance on the best way to avoid significant and unexpected licensing fees. 

All of this is very true.

Indirect Use

Named users primarily use the SAP software. Users from upstream or interposed technical systems require licenses as named users if they exchange information with the software in dialog or prompt mode, regardless of whether the software is accessed directly or indirectly. If redundant functions that are also available in the software are used in upstream or interposed systems that access the software, the users of these redundant functions also count as named users, even if the data is transferred to the software in background processing (that is, not dialog related). Indirect access means that the user is communicating with a system upstream from the SAP software that transfers communication activities to the SAP software installation or otherwise accesses the SAP software or uses its functions. In particular, the following are examples of indirect use:

  • “Users in an upstream system enter or make data available that is transferred to, or interacts with, the SAP software – for example, order entry in a mobile system, or users of a portal to the extent that they use functions of the software.
  • Users operate non-SAP software to access data that is read, modified, or stored using SAP software and for which they use SAP programs such as the BAPI® programming interface, remote function calls (RFC), or transaction calls.”

Examples of Potential Indirect Access Usage

  • “Business customers using an eCommerce platform to place sales orders
  • Sales representatives capturing sales orders via mobile device to input into SAP ERP
  • A third-party CRM system accessing data in SAP ERP
  • Partners and suppliers accessing SAP to check inventory and stock levels
  • Partner or suppliers running and accessing reports on SAP system data via SAP BO
  • Engineers entering plant maintenance data into SAP via mobile devices
  • A third-party logistics provider using a handheld device in the warehouse and accessing SAP ERP to get data on materials or stock movements.
  • Using Salesforce to view customer master data that resides in SAP ERP”

To understand if any given interface or third-party system scenario constitutes Indirect Access you must first examine the nature of the usage, and how data is being exchanged to and from SAP. Primarily, the risk of indirect access resides in your contract, so your SAP contract will be the key in determining if that usage constitutes Indirect Access and if you could be liable to pay SAP additional licensing fees.

This is all accurate in that it reflects SAP’s view on indirect access, but it does not question whether SAP’s definition of indirect access is correct. Therefore, it does not get into the topic of what I call Type 1 Versus Type 2 indirect access. It also does not get into why SAP’s definition of indirect access is so different from every other software vendor on the planet. These are important things to bring up.

Why is Indirect Access such a hot topic right now?

There is a notable correlation between the global financial crisis and the emergence of Indirect Access. Firms spending power shrunk, and growth shrinkage resulted in less re-occurring annual licensing demand. With spending power and growth slowing down SAP have had to resort to other revenue streams and where Indirect Access had historically been low on SAP’s radar it became a focus. This has also been supported by two key trends. Firstly, the move to interfacing best-of-breed non-SAP applications to SAP, and the emergence of cloud technology and web based platforms extending the use of SAP out beyond the usual boundaries.

Now, this is inaccurate. The global financial crisis was 10 years ago and indirect access did not start being applied in any meaningful way until around 2013. Therefore it is difficult to see where JNC Consulting is seeing this connection. SAP is having slowed growth in ECC which is related to several factors. A number of SAP’s non-ERP applications have had serious implementation issues on projects, a topic which I cover in How SAP is Now Strip Mining its Customers. With SAP consulting companies recommending SAP applications no matter what the fit with business requirements, SAP sold many applications that should have never been sold. And finally, SAP has been telling Wall Street a growth story that is not really capable of happening. I covered this topic in How SAP Mislead Analysts in Thier Q1 2017 Call. So SAP has created really their own long-term revenue problem, and it is a bit compliant of JNC Consulting to try to pin this on the overall economy, and it also brings up questions of JNC’s objectivity, as it seems like a made up story by JNC to shield SAP from their own dysfunctional decision making.

Secondly, SAP’s cloud offerings are not particularly competitive. So they are getting beaten out in that area. But those boundaries have not “been pushed out.” SAP is losing in important markets. It takes a propagandist who can’t write what is really happening to come up with what JNC Consulting is proposing. But then again JNC Consulting is not a research entity, they are a consulting company, and they have no organizational dedication to communicating truthful information. They exist to maximize profits.

According to a typical SAP contract, users who indirectly access SAP must have an SAP user license too. There are numerous contractual inclusions or exclusions that could give rise to indirect access risk or protect you from it, and yes, every customers contract is different and different clauses and wording can give rise to Indirect Access risk. Sophisticated organizations specifically define the correlation between indirect access usage and license types in their SAP contracts, either at the initial negotiation before purchase or during annual maintenance. For example, they might write something like, “All indirect access will be classified as user type ESS.” Typically, if a non-SAP system accesses SAP data, the user of that external data needs to be covered by an appropriate SAP license. If you don’t have a clause in your contract, you’d be wise to agree with SAP what constitutes Indirect Usage to avoid any nasty surprises.

“Every customers contract is different and different clauses and wording can give rise to Indirect Acccess risk”

And why is that? Why Isn’t JNC Consulting asking the question of why SAP does not offer a standard indirect access set of rules to customers? Also, why is SAP taking a secretive approach to how it enforces indirect access?

Indirect Access FAQ’s

From our experience these are the 5 most asked question about Indirect Access:

2. My data passes through multiple connected systems. Would this be classed as Indirect Access?

It depends on how those systems are connected to the SAP system and whether data is being created, manipulated, or viewed in the SAP system via the connected systems. It also depends on the activity of the users using the system. If they are operating in a way, in terms of their system usage activity that matches any contractual definition of a named-user then they will require the corresponding named-user license to cover that usage.

Why JNC is drawing a distinction here is unclear. Any non-SAP application being connected to any SAP application is considered indirect access.

3. Is there a certain license type applicable to a named-user who is given the required permissions to access the SAP system indirectly?

No, the normal rules behind the assignment of named-users apply. If it is small community of users are performing business critical activity they may all need a professional license. A large community of users viewing reports may need an ESS (Employee Self-service License), or indeed some form of specially negotiated blanket coverage usage license which provides a degree of flexibility across large external user populations or where user numbers frequently fluctuate.

5. What about when SAP creates Indirect Access instances themselves when performing a systems integration or deployment

SAP may well have been involved in or directly responsible for a third-party system and or performing the integration. Whilst contractually the usage can later be defined as indirect and therefor subject to indirect access licensing fees, any organisation would have a strong case in defending against having to pay these unexpected and un-illustrated fees at a later stage. If these costs had been explained at the time of purchase or implementation the customer may not have proceeded knowing the total licensing fees they would be faced with. JNC have successfully defended clients in this position on that basis.

Right, JNC to the rescue. But it brings up a question which is unanswered, which is how legitimate can SAP’s claim be when they knew the other system was being connected to SAP the entire time and never alerted their customer? SAP has proposed that their consultants are not aware of the rules of indirect access, which is clearly misleading, as the SAP account manager would also have been aware of the integration to a non-SAP system. But SAP overall does not like non-SAP systems to be connected to SAP, as is covered in the article SAP’s Position on Connection Non-SAP Systems to SAP. 

6. Are Indirect Access claims from SAP negotiable?

Yes they are! JNC offer a service called Indirect Access Defence, which supports customer facing a claim for Indirect Access from SAP.  We perform a detailed contract analysis and usage evaluation with a view to proving compliant usage. If there is a risk the usage in question could be non-compliant we help the customer by quantifying the risk, identifying target outcomes and developing a response and negotiation strategy.  Due to the complexities of the contract and differences in interpretations of usage SAP can sometimes get it wrong meaning their claim for Indiorect Access can either be proven to be excessive or completely unsubstanciable. So yes, its negotiable so give it a shot! If you need help, call JNC!

They are negotiable because SAP actually wants to use the indirect access claim to simply get the customer to buy more SAP applications. And here we go with JNC pitching its services.

Map the interface environment

The first step is to get a clear picture of the interface environment by mapping all SAP systems, and mapping interfaces both to, from, and between SAP systems. From a technical point of view, you need to map your RFC connections to the organization’s systems. A good starting point would be to map all of the connections in T-Code SM59 (RFC Destinations) and review all incoming RFC connections through T-Code ST03N (Workload and Performance Statistics). Architects, technical managers, systems owners, and integration experts can all collaborate to build this picture. The task to identify Indirect Usage becomes all the more difficult if you have multiple servers and applications spanning different geographies, operation verticals and service lines.

This is all true.

Carry out a contract review

A thorough and detailed contract review needs to be carried out to understand the terms and conditions that impact indirect access usage obligations. As mentioned earlier in the article there are clauses or a lack thereof that can give rise to Indirect Access or protect you from it. With an understanding of these terms and conditions it is possible then to perform an enterprise wide assessment of all interfaces to determine if that usage gives rise to any Indirect Access liability as defined in the contract.

So this is leading to the reader contacting JNC consulting.

Perform an Indirect Access risk assessment

With a detailed understanding of indirect systems usage and contractual entitlement an assessment of licensing risk can then be made on a system-by-system basis. Risk indicators (high, medium, and low for example) can be assigned to all third-party systems. High risk usage can be pro-actively addressed by seeking to procure entitlement from SAP, which will most certainly involve negotiation. It is highly beneficial to approach SAP to discuss your needs rather than be discovered by them, and to come prepared with a clearly defined position and target outcome. For all levels of risk, the risk should be quantified by looking at the potential cost of licensing that usage correctly.

This is again leading to the reader contacting JNC consulting.

Define Your Risk Response and/or Negotiation Strategy

The low or no risk usage can be dealt with by writing a business case demonstrating compliant usage referring both to the detailed technical and functional evaluation of the usage and the contract analysis. If SAP were to come knocking on your door regarding indirect access you will be prepared to present your business cases to SAP defending your indirect usage as compliant. Demonstrating to SAP that you are knowledgeable and prepared goes a long way to dispelling any further advances and contributes to Vendor Audit Readiness. Where high risk usage is identified, which is most likely non-compliant and the risk response is to present this to SAP to buy entitlement, the act of having the usage under question clearly defined will help your organisation perform better in the negotiations and most likely result in a better licensing deal. Leaving indirect access to be discovered and pursued by SAP could result in significant and unexpected licensing fees.

This is all true, but it falls into the category of “be prepared,” rather than providing insights into indirect access.

Indirect Access Conclusion

With the continued global uptake in SAP the issue of Indirect Access has most certainly not peeked. As a result of some high-profile cases and an increase in awareness within the SAP eco-system, far more organisations are taking action to deal with Indirect Access risk. Some in response to a claim that has been presented by SAP and some with the foresight to address it pro-actively to identify any risk, quantify potential license fee exposure, take appropriate steps to mitigate the risk and minimise their potential exposure. The key to successfully dealing with Indirect Access risk is to get informed, put in place an Indirect Access action plan, and be prepared for a licensing audit.

“The key to successfully dealing with Indirect Access risk is to get informed, put in place an Indirect Access action plan, and be prepared for a licensing audit”

This is all true. However, this article seems to be mainly about getting people to contact JNC Consulting. That is the article is doing a good job of identifying the issue but is not providing much information outside of that.


This article is accurate, mostly. But it has several major problems:

  • But it is rather deliberately leaving out information that could help the reader.
  • It made up a fake narrative to explain why SAP has been increasing its enforcement of indirect access.
  • The article is entirely promotional on JNC and never once questions whether any of SAP’s claims are even legitimate.

Actually, the article could have been written by SAP rather than by an entity that is posing as independent of SAP. Will JNC Consulting behave as an independent entity that represents customers’ interests when they are hired, or will they show the same compliance to SAP that they have demonstrated in this article? No consulting company in IT is a fiduciary. This means that no consulting company in IT (that I have ever heard of) has signed a legal document which declares they have a duty to place their customer’s interests ahead of their own. Therefore, the independence or lack of independence of any advisory entity that is hired is of paramount importance.

Therefore while some of what is presented in the article is accurate, what it leaves out actually leaves the reader misinformed. For this reason, this article receives a Brightwork Accuracy Score of 6 out of 10. Overall, it seems strange that this would be the top article on the topic of indirect access on the web.


SAP Indirect Access Explained

ASUG’s Strange View of How SAP Support Fees Should Be Spent

 What This Article Covers

  • Should Support Fees Not be Used for Development?
  • Pre-Emptive Support Funding
  • SAP’s Support Margin
  • SAP Articles Published Through the SAP Surrogate ASUG, Under the Pretense of Being Independent Analysis


It is interesting to find what ASUG believes SAP support fees should be used for.

In this article, we will cover this topic as it is stated by ASUG in an article.

Support Should Not be Used for Development?

In its article, ASUG proposes something quite interesting about using support money.

“Those 22 percent maintenance fees that come with SAP licensing contracts are expected to pay for support and maintenance of currently licensed products, but SAP and other vendors also use that money to upgrade and innovate. In this case, it appears that mergers and acquisitions are also lumped into the innovation pile. That’s an interesting note for customers who are curious as to where those maintenance dollars end up.

  • Firstly, Twenty-two percent is actually the lowest level that an SAP customer can pay in support. Most customers pay more than this because a number of areas of support are taken out of the base support level. SAP even has much more expensive support levels above this, like MaxAttention that are normally used for problematic products, and are truly exorbitant. 
  • Secondly, the statement ASUG makes regarding how the support funds are to be used is simply incorrect. Support money is, in fact, to be used to continue to develop the application. But the way that ASUG states it, makes it appear as if SAP is being magnanimous by using some of the support money in this way.
  • Thirdly, why are maintenance dollars being used to make acquisitions? Newsflash, an acquired application will be “sold” to an existing customer of SAP. The customer will not get it for free. So in that case, why are support revenues used for acquisitions? ASUG (although in actually SAP) makes the case so nonchalantly. However, think through the implications. Customer’s support fees on products they currently own should be used for acquisitions, which customers will then have to buy if they want to use? Is this pre-emptive support funding?”

SAP’s Declining Support

As covered in the article, What to do About SAP’s Declining Support, in part because SAP employs many support personnel in countries where SAP pays between $25 and $35 per day per resource, SAP receives a 85% margin on its support. (And SAP’s support has been steadily growing as a percentage of its overall revenues.) SAP’s support has greatly degraded over the past 15 years, in part because the people offering support barely speak and write the language of the customers that use SAP (most of SAP’s customers are in the US and Europe).

So yes, it would be expected that SAP would use the support money to not only provide far better support than it does (and not gold plated support cost and third world nation capabilities) but also to fund its development organizations. Bill McDermott’s personal compensation, which is over $50 million per year, and the compensation of other top SAP executives is a major part of the problem. Bill McDermott’s yearly compensation alone would pay for 6,392 support personnel where SAP employs the bulk of its support employees. But does Bill McDermott do as much work as 6,392 people? If so, Bill McDermott must be a very productive fellow.


ASUS has a strange and SAP-centric perspective on what SAP support fees should be used for, which actually contradicts what SAP has been telling customers for many years.

This article appears to be communicating to customers that they are lucky if SAP takes any of the support money that it receives to continue to develop its applications. This is yet again evidence of how much ASUG is in SAP’s pocket.

SAP Articles Published Through the SAP Surrogate ASUG, Under the Pretense of Being Independent Analysis

SAP publishes such articles, using ASUG as a faux independent entity in order to lower the expectations of customers, hopefully without customers realizing it.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

SAP Licensing Contact Form

  • Have Questions About SAP Indirect Access and Licensing?

    Our independent experts get no compensation from SAP, so we can deliver you honest answers about indirect access and licensing.

    Just fill out the form below and we'll be in touch asap.


How to Understand The Misdirection on SAP Change Management

Executive Summary

  • SAP uses change management to pivot away from the customization required for their system. They do this to keep customers from learning.
  • SAP provides a false construct regarding change management which is directly connected to customization, best practices, process rearrangement to whatever SAP’s functionality does.

Introduction to SAP Change Management

SAP frequently uses the topic of change management to control perceptions on projects. In this article, you will learn how SAP uses the concept or accusation of the resistance to change as a cover for lack of functionality to meet customer requirements.

SAP and Customization

SAP has had a long-standing policy of trying to get customers to change their business processes to match SAP’s functionality. SAP exaggerates how much their software does and presents a false construct called best practices, which states, somewhat absurdly, that all best practices reside within SAP’s software. This absurdity is covered in the article The Basis for SAP’s Best Practice Claims.

After an SAP sales cycle completes, it is always found that SAP cannot do as much as it was proposed that it could do to meet the business requirements. In most cases, the requirements have been rigged by the consulting company supporting the software selection to select SAP no matter the requirements. As users begin to push back on having to change their business processes, SAP, along with the consulting company will trot out the argument that the company is simply being resistant to change.

Change Management + Little Customization + Best Practices + Process Rearrangement to Whatever SAP’s Functionality Does

SAP is interested in fitting whatever their customer’s business process is into their software. SAP consulting companies want to maximize their billing hours, so in fact, they are pro customization, while SAP is anti-customization.

But overall, SAP has developed a very effective strategy where they use these various concepts to cut off a customer’s options and to brand anyone who does not agree with SAP as fundamentally a problem. The options of a customer narrow even more after the software is implemented. At that point, a series of new restrictions are put into place.

The Challenge of IT Change Management

In the article by ASUG which provided false information regarding a S/4HANA implementation for S/4HANA, some germane statements are made regarding how change management is most often explained and commingled with other topics to control the behavior of SAP implementations.

“The key challenge in any “vanilla” implementation is acclimating people to an environment where they are adapting their work processes to a system, rather than adapting a system to their work processes. That means a change management strategy is as important as a technology strategy.”

This has been the boilerplate statement of SAP and SAP consulting companies for decades. It is extremely difficult to find SAP implementations that don’t have moderate to extreme customization. And it is not like these previous projects did not have change management as a concept. Secondly, the issue of entirely relying upon change management does not solve the issue.

There are often processes that it does not make sense to change to SAP’s way of doing things. These may be key business requirements for the company that they can’t change. For example, ECC has always been weak in process industry manufacturing.

Adopting ECC Functionality for Process Industry?

Companies cannot simply adopt ECC’s functionality for process industry manufacturing because they simply don’t make any sense for the company. Doing so would be a force fit, that would leave the company unable to function properly. SAP is often confused, thinking that everything that the company does must be sacrificed at the altar of how SAP works. However, there is a different idea, which the software should support what the company wants to do.

“The only way you can crack that nut is by not only having change champions within the organization but by also simplifying the solution as much as possible,” says Sharma. “People will accept change only when they know that their job is going to be easier.”

Here Sharma is commingling two issues into “change management.” One is the issue of simplification and change resistance, and the other is the requirements of the company.

Process Industry Example

In the example of the process industry, it is not a question of simplification of the process. The issue is that process industry companies perform manufacturing in a way that SAP does not effectively model. Any process industry manufacturing company that uses vanilla ECC or vanilla S/4HANA will lose money if they don’t either customize ECC or S/4HANA or use other applications to perform some of the functions and then integrate back to ECC or S/4HANA. This example does not have anything to do with people resisting change simply to resist change. SAP and their consulting partners enjoy placing any resistance to SAP into the category of “resisting change,” but this is inaccurate.

Resisting change due to being set in one’s ways can occur, but it is not the majority of the resistance to SAP generally. The main reason for resisting SAP is that SAP cannot meet certain business requirements.


Change management is a euphemism that is used by SAP and SAP consulting companies to make customers feel bad for the fact that SAP’s applications can cover far less of the functionality than was expected during the sales process. I have personally been in multiple scenarios where SAP mislead the customer as to what certain functionality could do, and I have never seen SAP own up to this with a customer. Instead, SAP will blame some “miscommunication” that may have occurred.

In this way, the terms that SAP uses, such as “change management,” serve as terms of propaganda which allow SAP to remove itself from criticism. The problem, according to SAP, is never that they mislead the customer as to what requirements could be covered by SAP functionality.

Secondly, SAP consulting companies support this perspective of SAP change management philosophy, because they normally rig the requirements so that SAP will win the software selection. Which is why companies cannot trust consulting companies to create RFPs for them, the RFPs will invariably lead to buying maximum services from the consulting company, through the software that is selected.

Therefore, they provide the same false messaging as SAP regarding SAP change management. From this, the customer often believes they are receiving objective advice.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

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Enterprise Software Risk Book

Software RiskRethinking Enterprise Software Risk: Controlling the Main Risk Factors on IT Projects

Rethinking Enterprise Software Risk: Controlling the Main Risk Factors on IT Projects

Better Managing Software Risk

The software implementation is risky business and success is not a certainty. But you can reduce risk with the strategies in this book. Undertaking software selection and implementation without approximating the project’s risk is a poor way to make decisions about either projects or software. But that’s the way many companies do business, even though 50 percent of IT implementations are deemed failures.

Finding What Works and What Doesn’t

In this book, you will review the strategies commonly used by most companies for mitigating software project risk–and learn why these plans don’t work–and then acquire practical and realistic strategies that will help you to maximize success on your software implementation.


Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Enterprise Software Risk Management
Chapter 3: The Basics of Enterprise Software Risk Management
Chapter 4: Understanding the Enterprise Software Market
Chapter 5: Software Sell-ability versus Implementability
Chapter 6: Selecting the Right IT Consultant
Chapter 7: How to Use the Reports of Analysts Like Gartner
Chapter 8: How to Interpret Vendor-Provided Information to Reduce Project Risk
Chapter 9: Evaluating Implementation Preparedness
Chapter 10: Using TCO for Decision Making
Chapter 11: The Software Decisions’ Risk Component Model

Is ASUG Lying About the Frequency of SAP Indirect Access?

What This Article Covers

  • What SAP Would Like Customers to Think About AI
  • What is Indirect Access Frequency?
  • What are ASUG’s Incentives?


I have critiqued ASUG in several previous articles such as ASUG’s Biased and Inaccurate Coverage of SAP Indirect Access. My observation of ASUG’s media output is that ASUG is uniformly repeating SAP’s marketing messaging, that it appears to have no independence from SAP whatsoever, and that it writes false information about SAP. This article will explain what has happened to ASUG. This article will cover what ASUG says about how frequently customers actually face an indirect access claim by SAP. But first, we need to get into what SAP would like customers to think about indirect access.

What SAP Would Like Customers to Think About IA

We don’t have to search very far to determine what SAP would like customers to think about indirect access. In the article How to Best Understand Faux Change on Indirect Access, I covered that SAP created their announcement as a way to make customers minimize their preparation regarding indirect access. I won’t go over the entire article, but in the conclusion, I stated the following:

SAP intends to mislead the SAP customer base into lowering their guard by making a few slight modifications to indirect access that may end up amounting to as close as possible to zero change in SAP’s enforcement of indirect access.

Therefore, it is clear that SAP does not want customers to worry their “pretty little head” about indirect access. And the reason for this is very simple. If customers do not prepare for indirect access, SAP can spring indirect access on their customers and receive less prepared pushback from customers. In fact, I concluded that the entire reason for the announcement on indirect access that occurred at SAPPHIRE was to make many customers that were concerned about it, become less concerned. The entire announcement did not do anything to reduce the concern that customers should have regarding indirect access but instead was worded in a way that it seemed like it did.

The Frequency of Indirect Access Claims

Apparently, when asked directly about indirect access, ASUG seems to have several answers.

  1. One is to state that few customers actually receive an indirect access claim, and the reason that customers have been hearing so much about it is that those scenarios tend to be “noisy.”
  2. Secondly, ASUG will offer their services as mediators if a customer faces an indirect access claim from SAP.

As for the second response, I cover that in the article on the “faux change to indirect access,” so I won’t repeat it here. But for the former answer, it is interesting how well this dovetails with what SAP would like customers to believe. This is a constant issue with ASUG that they state exactly what SAP wants to be stated. However, an independent entity would not perfectly match up with another entity on every single issue like this by chance. And it is well known that SAP uses ASUG as an outlet for publishing SAP marketing material. For example, if Brightwork were to suddenly begin to have talking points that are copied from the press releases of a software vendor on the website one would be right to question our independence. For this reason, we have ceased to see ASUG as having any independent voice from SAP.

Therefore, ASUG’s statements on any topic, can simply by seen as SAP’s statements on any topic, and there is no reason to assume that ASUG is filtering this message in any way.


We don’t know exactly how prevalent indirect access is. However, entities like ASUG and Deloitte or Accenture want indirect access to be as silent as possible. When Deloitte or Accenture are helping a company with a software selection, they do not inform their client of indirect access liabilities that come along with SAP. Why would they? It reduces the likelihood of the customer choosing SAP. And this is the problem with entities like ASUG and like Deloitte or Accenture. They pretend to represent the interests of their members or clients, but ultimately they are all simply tools of SAP.


The statements by ASUG on indirect access were brought by several anonymous sources that attended ASUG meetings on indirect access and that corroborate the statements made by ASUG.

How ASUG Lost its Way and Sold Out to SAP

What This Article Covers

  • ASUG’s Low-Quality Articles
  • The Origins of ASUG
  • How ASUG Changed Over the Years
  • How ASUG Poses as a User/Customer and SAP Mediator
  • ASUG’s Conference Take Over by Consultants


Problems with ASUG have come to my attention which is the combination of articles I have reviewed from ASUG along with the feedback I have received from many people that are ASUG members, speak with ASUG employees and attended ASUG conferences. I have critiqued ASUG in several previous articles such as ASUG’s Biased and Inaccurate Coverage of SAP Indirect Access. However, ASUG’s articles now always must be read with a grain of salt due to ASUG’s pro-SAP bias.

I spend a lot of time analyzing the media output of entities in the IT space. My observation of ASUG’s media output is the following:

  • ASUG’s material seems quite familiar, that is quite traceable to SAP’s marketing message. ASUG essentially uniformly repeats SAP’s marketing messaging.
  • ASUG appears to have no independence from SAP whatsoever.
  • ASUG writes false information about SAP.
  • ASUG does not provide authentic information to its users. The material is highly sterile and with a consistent positive slant.

All of this is strange for what is ostensibly a user group. This article will explain what has happened to ASUG.

The Origins of ASUG

ASUG was founded in 1991 as a user group. At that time SAP customers were in need of a forum to share their stories, concerns, feedback to SAP, etc… One should also remember that this was still relatively early in the development of the Internet, and nothing like the ability to share and consume information existed at that time. For many users, ASUG was the primary avenue for obtaining information about the reality of SAP implementations, and it actually added quite a lot of value.

I have not performed a detailed review of people that attended ASUG events or consumed its media at that time, and this time also preceded by involvement in SAP by about 6 years. Yet, what I can ascertain from interviewing various people who have participated with ASUG for some time is that ASUG actually did a good job of meeting the needs of its user community and that it also did serve as a mechanism to provide feedback to SAP.

How ASUG Changed Over the Years

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact time when it happened, but ASUG over time in some shape or form became captured by SAP. SAP has powerful ways of corrupting any entity if it wants to, and ASUG has been no exception. Changes at ASUG have demonstrated a nearly continuous encroachment into ASUG’s agenda to meet with SAP’s needs. Examples include the following:

Changes at ASUG have demonstrated a nearly continuous encroachment into ASUG’s agenda to meet with SAP’s needs. Examples include the following:

  • SAP Sales Influence on Presentations: Frequent presentations that are ostensibly designed to keep customers up to date on what is new and coming down the pike from SAP have turned into sales presentations. However, ASUG events did not start out that way, but as time passed, sales presentations have become much more prominent. SAP always had SAPPHIRE and other events to present their new products, or to promote current products, but now SAP performs what are clearly product pitches disguised as “updates” at all the events, with ASUG being no exception. Consulting companies are also thick on the presentation docket at ASUG events.
  • False Testimonials: It is interesting to see users/customers at ASUG events presenting things they accomplished that are not possible to accomplish. This includes SAP applications being implemented that could not support the workflow that the user states it supported or entirely unrealistic implementation timelines. This is something I faced in particular while performing research into S/4HANA implementations. ASUG has several false testimonials about S/4HANA at their website. However, the false testimonials have become so extreme that I have developed a term that I hope catches on called conference monkeys. Conference monkeys will say anything at conferences and mislead other users in order to improve their career or their relationship to SAP. SAP has a way of making it “worth their while” to exaggerate or otherwise mislead on what was actually accomplished.
  • Censored Presentations: In addition to the presentations being strangely positive in their outcomes, cost, and timelines, ASUG is now actively censoring presentations that are given by users that did not get the memo that they are only supposed to present positive information. All issues with SAP software must be framed as “challenges” rather than problems or things that simply did not work. For example, apparently, Johnsonville Sausage broke the rules and presented on their S/4HANA implementation experience, which turned out to be quite problematic. ASUG did not put this particular presentation on their website. (Surprise surprise.) However, if ASUG is truly a user group, why would it censor negative information about SAP? Wouldn’t it want its user community to know about problems so that other users could learn from them? And this is the problem ASUG faces. If they are responsive to users, then they upset SAP. And SAP can apply pressure on ASUG behind closed doors to keep the ASUG events “upbeat.”
  • Infested with Consultants and Sales People: The ASUG events were originally for users/customers. And in the early years, they tended to be limited to those people. But today, ASUG events have become infested with consultants and sales people. As an SAP consultant, I have frequently been told to attend ASUG events and even try to present at ASUG events. One sales person I know was frequently made to go to ASUG events by their boss. The idea being that ASUG events are a good place to get business. Yet, again, that is not what ASUG was originally intended to be. This means that users that are interested in getting information from other users will spend more time in the company of consultants and salespeople than other users. All while these salespeople and consultants are trying to fill their quota at a “user conference.” At a recent event that was attended by a contact of mine, they estimated that 90% of the attendees were either salespeople or consultants.

Many of the How ASUG Poses as a User/Customer and SAP Mediator

ASUG does not criticize SAP, or state things that SAP should change, but when topics, such as indirect access arise, ASUG promptly papers over any conflict by discussing coming to amicable resolutions, but invariably these resolutions are on SAP’s terms. ASUG also understates the frequency with which problematic issues actually arise on SAP implementations.

In this way, ASUG is actually working against the interests of its users because it is posing as something it is not, which is either an independent entity (which it is not) or an advocate for the user/customer (which it is certainly not!). What this means is that ASUG is lying to its members, and strangely, the members actually have to pay to be an ASUG member. So how strange that even if you pay ASUG, you can’t rely upon ASUG taking your side.

For example, on the topic of indirect access ASUG has published articles that promote users to reach out to ASUG to gain access to their indirect access “expertise.” However, by doing so, the customer may be exposing themselves to SAP. ASUG is not under any obligation to not simply share the information that is shared with ASUG with SAP and given where ASUG’s loyalties lie, that seems actually like a likely scenario. If I were a customer, I would be concerned about sharing any type of information with ASUG. ASUG can’t help users with something like indirect access because it is opposed to the interests of SAP. And ASUG’s first loyalty is to SAP.

If I were a customer, I would be concerned about sharing any type of information with ASUG.


What began as a user group, isn’t really a user group anymore. Sure, ASUG user members do meet at ASUG events, but the entire focus of the event has shifted away from users and their concerns and onto how to help SAP meet its sales objectives. ASUG members pay for membership, but ASUG no longer represents their interests versus SAP.

SAP has capture ASUG to the degree that ASUG is primarily about “making SAP” look good. This is pure and simple corruption. ASUG is misleading its members by presenting itself as a user group. And that is the reality of what ASUG has become.


The Issue with Time When Faced with Indirect Access

What This Article Covers

  • ASUG Biase and Indirect Access
  • Tactics Used by SAP to Maximize The Payment
  • The Time Given by SAP to Respond to an Indirect Access Claim


One is the interesting features of indirect access is that SAP does not actually want its customers to know about. And which of course all of the consulting companies help SAP hide from their clients. This is the feature of the time constraints that an indirect access claim by SAP will place on the customer.

Tactics Used by SAP to Maximize The Payment

SAP will analyze a company’s indirect access “liability” and will use several tactics in order to extract the most from the account. It uses several techniques. The first is a miscalculation of the indirect access “liability.” Whatever SAP estimates, one should be confident that the amount calculated by SAP is not actually the correct amount if the liability is calculated by an independent entity.

The Time Given by SAP to Respond to an Indirect Access Claim

The second tactic after lying to the customer about their liability, even under SAP’s extreme views of indirect access, is to put the customer under a time constraint. They give their customer a 2 to 3 weeks deadlines to respond. This, of course, puts the customer on the backfoot and really what is the relevance of this deadline. Clearly, this deadline is designed to pressure the customer. Customers that receive an indirect access claim will normally not be accustomed to dealing with such a claim. They will need to perform their own investigation and become educated on the indirect access issues in a very short time if they have not educated themselves on indirect access up to that point. And here is the point.

I often have companies reach out to me and ask if this or that is indirect access. Connecting any SAP system to any non-SAP system is indirect access. This means that every single SAP customer has indirect access liability. SAP does not bring indirect access claims against all of its customers. But the potential is always there. And what this means is that companies need to investigate the indirect access claim before they receive a claim, not afterward.

This is an issue that can cost a company millions, but if they are properly prepared for an indirect access claim, they can always reduce the claim. Remember the claim is designed to shock the customer into acquiescing as soon as possible. If possible, SAP would like to limit the client’s options to search for outside advice and will have a series of false assumptions that they would like the customer to accept regarding the validity of what I call Type 2 indirect access. Companies that they either control like ASUG or Diginomica have written articles that reinforce SAP’s proposals about indirect access. A previous article, ASUG’s Biased and Inaccurate Coverage on SAP Indirect Access covers one example of this. will then offer a menu of choices to their customer and an incentive to purchase quickly. In particular, they are interested in the customer purchasing either S/4HANA or HANA.


Actual implementation differs by account executive that the SAP customer has. However, SAP typically leverages of any knowledge gap in their customers in order to get the most money out of them. How SAP does this is substantially different from any other software vendor, because SAP has a vise like control over both the IT media entities as well as the large SAP consulting companies. This allows SAP to create a fictional reality that seems all encompassing. And SAP marketing is highly skilled in the distribution of misinformation in order to then later take advantage of that misinformation at great cost to its customers. In fact, SAP has the most sophisticated marketing department that we have ever analyzed in enterprise software. There is simply no other marketing department that is able to actually get customers to buy into its messaging, which is particularly impressive (or depressing depending upon whether you work for or compete against SAP) when one considers how poor in quality the information that SAP marketing provides, and how it can be discredited through historical research.

For example, in a recent announcement SAP specifically designed a release to make companies lower their guard. In the announcement, SAP gave nothing of substance to customers. But it was designed to appear as if they had. This is covered in the article the How to Best Understand SAP’s Faux Change on Indirect Access.

If you can convince people that something which is specifically designed to obscure a topic is actually designed to clarify it, that is message control of the highest order.