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Author's profile photo Jon Reed

Podcast: Amit Bendov of Panaya on SAP User Attitudes Towards SAP Support

Regular readers know that I have been doing some projects with Panaya. It’s a great match because we both place a high value on sharing (hopefully) meaningful content with the SAP community. As I see it, this approach is much more than good business strategy.

Creating good content means going back to the burning questions: what do users really care about? What will help them get more value out of SAP, not in some hypothetical future, but right now? Sometimes the answers are not cool new tools, but something simple and basic like “I want a human to pick up the phone when I call support.” I’d like to see more third party SAP solution providers take this approach – ask questions, gather data, share data. Create solutions that solve the pain points in the data, sharing content all along the way.

Recently, Panaya conducted a survey which asked SAP customers exactly these kinds of questions – about issues with SAP support and SAP support packs. I thought this survey had some very interesting results – for example, the amount of users that did not have a problem with Enterprise Support increases were much higher than I expected.

To get a better feeling for the survey results and also for how Panaya’s content sharing approach works for them, I recently issued a twenty minute podcast on this topic with Panaya’s Chief Marketing Officer Amit Bendov. I’m now sharing that podcast with the SCN community. I’d like to note that I did not bill Panaya for this podcast – the goal was to explore themes of mutual interest and share the results.

The survey itself involved a process of interviewing 179 SAP customers and partners about their attitudes towards the cost of SAP support, the value of Enterprise Support, and their issues with support pack installations. If you haven’t seen the 18 page survey, it’s free with a short sign up – go to the SAP Support Costs Report 2009 page. During the podcast, I also asked Amit for some skills tips for SAP professionals based on his talks with SAP customers. His focus with Panaya on cloud-based SAP solutions and the skills needed to implement SaaS software in an SAP environment makes for a timely conversation topic.

I’ll share a bit more from the survey, but for those who want to dive right into the podcast, you can download it or play it in Quicktime here:

(If for any reason the player doesn’t work, you can download the podcast using the “download media” link on the right hand side).

(Trouble downloading? if for some reason it’s not playing in its entirety for you, check out the version on Panaya’s site in the meantime.)

Podcast Highlights:

1:45 Amit’s background as a twenty year veteran of the software industry.

3:21 Jon has noticed that many third party SAP firms are very good at marketing, but they don’t necessarily share a lot of information. Panaya has taken a different tack, openly sharing results such as their SAP Support Pack Survey and the Big Book of SAP Upgrades. What has inspired Panaya to undertake the hard work of compiling meaningful content?

5:25 In their recent SAP Support Survey, Panaya interviewed 179 customers and partners about their attitudes on a range of topics pertaining to Enterprise Support, SAP Support Pack installation, and related issues. Some of the findings were surprising.

8:25 SAP support packages are not necessarily as routine as we might think. The survey results identified many user challenges related to the time and expense of SAP support pack installation.

11:15 Two of the biggest buzzwords in the enterprise world right now are: Software as a Service (SaaS) and “the cloud.” Some see the cloud as a long way from impacting SAP users, others see it as revolutionizing the market right now. In Panaya’s own work with cloud-based solutions, what has Amit seen so far? Where is the use case and where is the hype? Does the learning curve of SaaS take away from the ROI potential for SAP customers?

13:45 Panaya also has a solution that addresses SAP upgrades – another aspect of SAP implementation that carries a major set of challenges and often goes overbudget. Panaya just released a “Big Book of SAP Upgrades” which shared upgrade lessons learned from many SAP partners and customers. What were some of those lessons?

16:30 As we taped the podcast, the economy is still challenging and the SAP job market is not an easy one. What are Amit’s skills tips for SAP professionals based on his talks with SAP users?

Be aware of the tools that are available with the latest releases (ERP 6.0 and BS 7.0). People think the new releases are mostly architectural changes but there are functionality changes also, including many new tools to familiarize yourself with.

Stay on top of the third party tools outside of SAP, including but not limited to cloud-based solutions, that support migration to ERP 6.0 as well as optimization of that environment.

Another key point: it’s not enough to be a “code monkey/jockey/fill in your favorite nickname here” anymore. Companies are looking for “technical advisors” who can not only code, but can help them better understand the pros and cons of different tools and approaches. Can you provide value beyond writing code? The move from pure developer to more of a developer/advisor is a savvy move these days.

18:12 Closing comments – Amit is looking forward to getting feedback on the Big Book of SAP Upgrades.

If this particular podcast whetted your appetite for how Panaya approaches issues pertaining to SAP support packages, I also did a second podcast on SAP support pack installation with Amit that specifically looked at the challenges of installing SAP support packs and the specifics of Panaya’s SAP support package automation solution.

This blog entry is already getting a bit long, but if you want a few highlights from the Panaya SAP support pack survey results, here’s some of the topics addressed in the survey:

What is the average SAP IT support cost per user?
How much of it is incurred as in-house costs and how much is outsourced?
What are the top SAP IT support-related challenges?
What are SAP customers’ opinions on SAP’s latest Enterprise Support program?

And some brief answers that are explored in more detail in the report:

– Panaya estimates the cost of SAP developed and support across the organizations surveyed at $5,670 per user, per year.  This kind of number gives a good idea why support costs, and more importantly the need to justify the value of the support investment, has become an issue for all ERP users (not just SAP users, who are in dialogue with SAP on this issue to monitor the Enterprise Support KPIs agreed upon between SAP and SUGEN).

– 70 percent of this per user cost still goes to on site users, with 30 percent going to outsourcing. Not surprisingly, overall cost of support was cited as the top support-related challenge by 70 percent of those surveyed.

– Another interesting issue is that of the “SAP support pack installation,” which is not necessarily a routine process for SAP users. Those surveyed cited on average 73 person days per support package, with 42 days of that associated with testing.

I’ll leave the rest of the interesting details for you to explore in the report itself, and also in the podcast.

One final important disclaimer: while reviewing these Panaya support survey results, we have to keep in mind that the issue of SAP support is a moving target, and customer attitudes towards Enterprise Support in particular may change again, based on how SAP follows through with its SUGEN/KPI collaboration. We would also need a larger survey sample size to make any definitive statements about Enterprise Support sentiment. Nevertheless, this survey does give us some useful clues into the support issues SAP users are dealing with and where SAP both excels – and can improve – when it comes to user support.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Jon,
      This is good information for all companies/mgt who do planning for their SAP upgrades and set to upgrade their systems. Every company required good planning and procedure to complete on time, on budget.
      Well known quote, 'Don't count your chickens before they are hatched'

      Amit Lal
      SAP Upgrade/Unicode Expert 

      Author's profile photo Jon Reed
      Jon Reed
      Blog Post Author
      Thanks Amit. One of the reasons I was motivated to start the upgrades group on LinkedIn is to further the networking/conversation with key SAP upgrade experts like yourself.

      Reason: from what I hear from my staffing contacts in the know, it looks like we will indeed see an uptick in SAP upgrade activity in 2010, however, those companies who do choose to upgrade are, no doubt about this, going to want to be very cost-conscious and focused on clearly-defined results. It won't be like an open checkbook situation in the least! The best tools and the best talent will be needed. And no excuses about over budget and lack of value from the upgrade will be accepted.

      So hopefully sharing information like this podcast and the Big Book of SAP Upgrades, etc, we can put our heads together and offer companies something better than if we all "go it alone."