At first I thought about writing a huge rant, Kanye West style, along the lines of ‘SAP doesn’t care about their customers!’. But since that didn’t work out very well for Kanye (although he seems to do well now), I decided to take a bit different approach.

There is an old joke in Russian that I’ll make my best effort to translate to English. A guy is at a racing track, looking to place a bet. A very old horse, missing almost all her teeth, approaches him and says: ‘Shon, pleashe bet on me, I promishe I won’t let you down’. The guy thinks ‘well, OK’ and bets on that horse. The horse runs fast at first but then finishes last in the race. Angrily the guy tells her: ‘Hey, what the heck happened, you promised you wouldn’t let me down!’. The horse replies: ‘Well, shorry, I couldn’t make it…’.

For some reason I thought of this joke while reading the SAP note 754333. In a nutshell, the note informs us that out of the two available address fields only one is populated for the incoming EDI orders. What is the reason for that and what is the solution or workaround? Well, the note does not say. Under ‘Solution’ it just makes this sort of “shorry, couldn’t make it” statement. So I imagine this dialogue could have taken place many years ago at the SAP headquarters.

Some Top SAP Banana (STSB): – Mmm, lunch was good … Arrrhem… OK, back to business. Johnson! (* not his real name)
Johnson (J): – Yes, sir!
STSB: – How is that ee-dee, ee-dee, whasshisname, E-D-I project is coming along?
J: – Quite nicely, sir! I have excellent news – we found a way to reduce development effort by the whole hour by omitting some irrelevant fields. Really minor things, sir. For example, when receiving sales orders from the customers we will not accept the second address line.
STSB: – Good thinking, Johnson! Who needs that anyway? Surely we’re not going to sell to some riff-raff that can’t afford the whole building, er? Shouldn’t even need a street address at all! Just ‘SAP, Waldorf, Germany’ should be enough, er? Get yourself a city, losers! Bwa-ha-ha-ha!
J: – Ha-ha-ha, sir, indeed-indeed… We could save another hour by eliminating the field altogether, but our sources tell us that it would still be needed if we send a purchase order to some of those, you know, [looks around then whispers] minority vendors, to take advantage of some tax benefits, sir.
STSB: – Ah, yes, that thing… Yes…
The voice of reason: – Sir, but what if our customers do need to have two address lines in a sales order?
J: [beaming] – We thought about it! We will charge the customers for maintenance and then we’ll write an OSS note saying that it is our design and they need consulting. Then we will charge them for consulting.
STSB: – Good call, Johnson! I like this guy!

…And so the note 754333 was born.

Certainly just one little SAP note couldn’t have sparked this blog. Oh no, this was actually just the last straw. Before that there was also 635337 (missing net value segment in the IDoc – apparently someone didn’t get a memo that 0 and null are two different things) and 134019 (making phantom assemblies to explode in a planned order is “too difficult”) and everyone’s favorite 550726 (BAPIs don’t work the same way as transaction). And should I mention the country-specific notes, for example 896677 that delivers an official form for Mexico that can’t be uploaded without installing German language and has missing texts? “Shorry, couldn’t make it”…

I could go on with this list for long time and if you have worked with any module for over a year I’m pretty sure you also could name a few of such “solutions” in your area of expertise.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate SAP. Their software allows me to provide for my family and its shortcomings actually create more job security for me, as an ABAPer (although I would kind of prefer to work on something more creative than patching a result of someone’s bad decision in a user exit). I also understand very well that no software is perfect. But I’m very concerned that for the company that wants to remain a major player in the ERP market the “shorry, couldn’t make it” very soon is not going to be good enough. That’s why I’m offering some very specific suggestions to SAP below, completely free of charge (just like everything else on SCN).

Consult common sense

Case in point – note 754333 above. The field is there but no data goes in it. Seriously, does it make any sense to anyone?

And how would you like if, say, a Windows API for saving a file would’ve worked only 80% of the time? Then why it’s acceptable for a BAPI to do that?

And why can’t we do SELECT-OPTIONS … FOR MARA-MATNR? (Paul Hardy knows what I’m talking about.) Listen to that Voice of Reason person!

 

Stop playing The Design card

Communism was The Design for over 70 years, how did that work out? If it became necessary to issue a “shorry, couldn’t make it” note, I guess it’s safe to assume that quite a few customers contacted SAP about this. Didn’t it occur to someone at some point – “so many customers are upset about this, why don’t we just fix it?”.

 

Start listening to your customers. Yes, all of them

When we first ran into the issue with missing segment (note 635337), I’ve sent a message to SAP in naive hope to provide a business case and persuade to correct this instead of covering up with the note. The nice Global Support person replied (rather smugly if I may say) that I should submit an enhancement request through ASUG. OK, I can totally do that, I thought. So I went to the ASUG web site (it always pretends we have not been introduced and asks me to login again every visit, but that’s OK, no hard feelings) and it actually has ‘Influence SAP’ link right there on the home page. How thoughtful! And what do we have here? Executive Exchange? Oooh, I do wonder what is exchanged there for what but it’s obviously not what I need. Influence Councils? ‘Roadmap, blah-blah-blah’, not me either. SAP Customer Engagement Initiative? ‘SAP lead focus group’ – heck no. ‘Early adoption’ – again not me. SAP Customer Connection? ‘Smaller improvement requests’ – sounds like what I’d need. But dig this: one link leads to a YouTube video ‘How to Get Your Voice Heard by SAP’ (apparently first we need to listen to the SAP’s voice) and the other to ‘SAP Improvement Finder’. Key word being “finder”, not a “suggestor” as this is just some strange search site. Hmm… After clicking on the links for good 20 minutes I’m starting to suspect it was the Global Support’s polite way of showing me the middle finger. Is it just me or does this level of customer service seem to be more befitting a drug cartel or a cable company?

One might say ‘But Ms. Jelena, SAP has so many customers! If we just open the floodgates to all of their complaints then our support will be paralyzed!’. Well, dear SAP, allow me to present the exhibit A:

image.JPG
The SCN Idea Place. Ta-dah! There are likely almost as many SCN members as S-users out there, yet the SCN team with far fewer resources was not afraid of “opening the floodgates” for every SCN member regardless of their SAP user group affiliation. Why did they do that? Hmm, maybe because they give a damn?

Put it to use and allow all SAP customers submit ideas for any modules, not just some pet projects carefully pre-selected by SAP. At least that’s what I would do if I was truly interested in my customers’ opinion instead of just pretending. In this day and age do we really need a “customer engagement committee” just to be heard?

 

Focus!

SOAP! Enterprise Services! Interactive Forms! Squirrel! Enhancement Packs! Fiori! Lumira! Personas!

Hey, my eyes are up here. Maybe, just maybe can SAP stop trying to be everything to everyone and get at least one thing done perfectly right? Don’t even need to be a major one. For example, how about you deliver standard Smart Forms for every output document? Or Adobe Forms. Doesn’t really matter just as long as it’s consistently available in every module. Think about it.

On a related note – when Microsoft buys other software sometimes they add it for free to their standard Windows distribution package. How about SAP throws in a freebie once in a while, eh? Giving your customers a lousy standard GUI and then charging extra for Personas – nice touch!

* * *

I want to be excited about the new things SAP has to offer. But what I keep hearing from the business is that SAP solutions are bulky, expensive, not user-friendly, difficult to maintain. I keep hearing “we spent bazillion of dollars on this software, why can’t it do X?” (X being, for example, filling in the customer’s address correctly in an EDI order). And, quite frankly, sometimes I don’t know what to answer.

So, dear SAP, let me end with another joke. “What does SAP stand for? – Shut up And Pay”. Come to think of it, it’s not really funny. But, sadly, so far it’s kind of true.

P.S. Since I’ve already warmed up on this, one last request, dear SAP: stop renaming stuff! Try hearing “that BW or BI or whatever that thing is called now” every day. Word is still Word, Excel is still Excel. But SAP gets a renaming itch every other year. Even I have to go on Wikipedia to check what the heck the name de jour is. Just pick a name and stick to it for cripes sake.

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112 Comments

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  1. Nicolas Busson

    You nailed it. How many times did I began writing such a blog post. .. But refrain from doing so because I was afraid to be considered the “grumpy” one.

    THANK YOU Jelena. You made it really funny. And maybe it’s so funny because it’s so true.

    Nick.

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  2. Andy Silvey

    piggy backing this platform 😛   and not necessarily agreeing with Jelena,

    SAP, if you want to make the Customers happy, just get everything working on Smart Devices and get the users away from the addiction to pc’s anchored to desks.

    QED.

    Andy.

    p.s. Jelena, I’ve said it before, you’ve got to see the bigger picture (-:

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  3. Steffi Warnecke

    Rant time! You go, Jelena! 😎

    This was a great read this morning and not just because I like your style of writing and “tone”, but because it’s a piece I can relate to. I read it and nod my head feeling the frustration and anger with you and at the same time enjoy the heck out of it, because you made it hilarious, too.

    I love notes, where you can finally find your problem explained, but no solution for it. And I also had the support tell me “Oh, you want it NOT do this <enter problem>, then you need to ask for a new development to get this fixed.” What the hell?! So it’s not working right, you know it’s not working right, but instead of just fixing it, I hear, that it’s kind of supposted to not work right and if I want a change, I need to pay for development. Grrrrrrrrrrreat!

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  4. Jason Scott

    Fantastic blog Jelena. A very large amount of people have been thinking this for years so I’m glad you blogged about it. I too wish sap could just do one thing properly for once!!

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  5. Peter Langner

    Thank you Jelena for raising your voice. I made similar experiences… but I also met SAP developers which were willing and able to fix them.

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  6. Fabio Pagoti

    I am not aware of this MARA-MATNR problem.. I will try that out as I am also an ABAP developer. I was not aware of these SAP notes as well but is easy to detect the difference between BAPIs vs transactions… and it represents a very bad design.

    https://i.imgflip.com/7i532.jpg

    Maybe the missing part of the dialog is when STSB tells Johnson to reply Customer’s incident with any bul**** so its status become something like “Pending customer action”. As a consequence, STSB KPI’s results are not impacted because “there are no pending actions from SAP”. Had anyone gotten an useless reply from SAP recently? How many times in a week? The one with more SAP KPI savers might get a new field when doing an EDI.

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    1. Fabio Pagoti

      Hi Malcolm, that’s fortunate to be heard.

      IMHO, If this kind of topic is under thought or discussion it should be transformed to “under development asap” to grab customer feedback as much as possible and asap.

      I believe this is what Jelena said under “Focus” section. If you log into SCN or go to SAP homepage 95% of the topics are somehow related with HANA. Going to SAP events like SAP Forum or Inside Tracks, there is no change at all.

      The impression is that SAP is not interested about SAP ECC, SAP OSS Notes, Customer Support at all.

      Of course I’m not blaming nobody here and it feels good to see a reply around here. I’m just emphasizing what Jelena perfectly described.

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  7. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

    Thank you, everyone, for the feedback, likes, comments and kind words! It was totally worth it staying up past midnight last night. 🙂

    Fabio got it right – one of the concerns is that ECC and customer support are being just dropped to chase the shinier new toys. There are some hush-hush talks and rumours about developing the brand new ERP (allegedly!) but where is the guarantee that the same dialogue is not happening right now in Waldorf with the same end result? There needs to be a mentality change and part of it should be paying more attention to the customers and improving customer service.

    @Steffi – sounds very familiar. “This makes no sense at all, why does it work this way? – It’s The Design.”. Well, in this case your Design is stupid. Here, I said it.

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    1. Otto Gold

      Dear Jelena 😘 everything I could say here you already know 🙂 cheers Otto

      p.s.: I already started on the homework you gave me so it is definitely coming this year still 🙂

      p.p.s.: There is one aspect to this problem that makes me cry way too often. For every single blunder like this there is a line of customers that need it. Which means they pay someone to make that happen. Which means one problem is solved 10-100-1000 times by the customer (sometimes partners who can re-sell it multiple times), but not once at the source of the …thing. I am 1000% sure that if there was a way people (even customer that paid for that already) would send SAP their code to make those things work once and for all. Such a waste…

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

        Otto – my thoughts exactly. Actually there is another Russian anecdote I’d like to try translating.

        CIA stole from USSR the drawings of a jet fighter. American engineers assembled all the parts but what they got was… a train. They took everything apart and assembled again but again they got a train. So CIA had to kidnap a Soviet engineer to help with this. He looked at the drawings, then called the Americans and pointed to them: “Here, do you see this footnote? After the assembly shape with a file!”. (Here ‘file’ is the abrasive tool, not the computer file, of course.) 🙂

        (If searching for original – google ‘после сборки обработать напильником’.)

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  8. Gretchen Lindquist

    Jelena,

    My experience with GRC 10 corrections is not quite as bad as “You want it to WORK? Pay for custom development.” but it is close. We are on SP12 and have had to implement more than a few SP 10 manual corrections, which have taken quite a lot of our contract ABAP resource time, and let’s not even get started on the “corrections” that not only failed to fix the symptom but even made things worse and had to be reverted. I suspect that SAP would tell us that if we want the functionality to work correctly without customers having to fix the code themselves, we need to upgrade to their latest shiny GRC, 10.1. For the smaller customer who doesn’t have project funding for every shiny new thing every other year, it is difficult.

    Gretchen

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  9. Sven Ringling

    I absolutely love this article! 😎

    I know exactly what you mean with these notes. There are quite a few of them in HCM as well, like 888780 telling you that personnel cost planning can’t deal with org changes in certain circumstances or 1074740 telling you posting from payroll can’t post headcounts or hours, but actually suggests, how you as a customer have to modify the software to make it work. Isn’t that brilliant? After outsourcing, nearshoring, offshoring, smartsourcing we now have usersourcing 😛

    But their’s nothing like an ABAP hitting a hard coded “break-point” in production, with a comment in the coding saying “the programm should actually never get to this point”. Well, Mr. Developer, I can inform you that it did. Surprise!

    But to be fair, some elements we are complaining about are not actually claimed to be working by SAP. Unlike this one, where they seem to be very sure about what they did. The text underlined in red says “Note: this option does work”:

    Diese_Option_funktioniert.png

    I think we need to focus more on those bits in the System 😉

    For those, who don’t know me: don’t take me too seriously…

    Of course it’s not only SAP. I worked with certain cloud HCM solutions, which were just as bad – only that you couldn’t do custom changes to make it work, but had to hope for an insightful developer in future releases. But that’s not an excuse for SAP to be sloppy. They have a huge financial and human capital fire power compared to almost every other vendor and should be world leaders in quality

    And thanks a lot to Jelena for this excellent Blog. It’s as if someone was reading from the bottom of my heart, well the SAP part of my heart at least.

    cheers

    Sven

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    1. Otto Gold

      Hi Sven 🙂


      After outsourcing, nearshoring, offshoring, smartsourcing we now have usersourcing

      ==>> This got me rolling on the floor laughing 🙂 Get us more of these 🙂

      cheers Otto

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  10. Craig S

    Jelena,

    Thanks for the blog.  You are right on the money!  I’ve been told that someday the QM module can use Smart Forms for COA’s.  Then it become Adobe forms.. Now they have fields on the COA profile for smartforms but guess what.. they don’tactually really work yet!   And lets not get into printing inspection reports and sampling instructions.

    And what about the multiple spec functionality in QM results recrding.  The auto valuation only works for quantiative characteristics but not for qualitative characterisitics.  That’s like selling a car where the left turn blinker works but the right doesn’t.  (Note: I haven’t looked at this for a over a year.. maybe it’s fixed now.. point being..,it never should have been released like that to start with.  I know it wasn’t working for at least well over three years.)

    The problem with all this is that all the bells and whistles, and all the new toys, still require a sound, functional, well-run base under them.  If you don’t pay attention the base will be outdated and irrepairable and then none of the bells and whistles, mobile platforms, BI, BW or whateve is, will work either.

    It’s kind of like building a treehouse in a tree.  You can build the best treehouse in the world with TV, running water, internet, fridges, etc… but it will all come down if you allow the roots of the tree to rot out.

    Craig

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  11. Jon David

    I commend you for the courage. SCN does sound like a echo chamber singing hallelujah to SAP. This type of blog is a rarity.

    My pet peeve is the casual manner in which SAP employees recommend upgrades, patches or SP installations.

    A typical throwaway comment would be, “Why don’t you just go from SP2 to SP9 like in a week ?, Don’t worry nothing will happen !”. or “Implement this kernel upgrade, everything will be fine “. And ofcourse, it never works, everything that can go wrong, always goes wrong.

    Enhancement frameworks and switches are a complete failure. These did not help with smoother upgrades. I wish SAP wakes up and smells the coffee.

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  12. Nathan Genez

    Very well written.

    From time to time, I get discouraged that SAP is spending way too much time on some next gen innovation and failing to take care of their current customer base with the solutions they already run.  We all know the financial motivation to do the former, but I’ve gotten less tolerant of working around some of the same limitations that have been in ERP for 10+ years. 

    That said, I know of SAP Developers that would love to fix issues, but of course, they have to justify their time the same way customers have to calculate ROI for every new tech purchase… so no changes are made.  #bummer

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  13. Jarret Pazahanick

    Really great job with this Jelena as I not only love the tone of the blog but how you shined a bright light a real pain point many customers have had for years.

    I was at the SAP Insider HR Event this week and heard many concerns about Support with the newer SuccessFactors offering so this issue is broader than OnPremise and even the “shiny new toys” are having serious struggles on basic support and fixes (although the release cycle is every 3 month so stuff “can” come quicker). SAP needs to dedicate some investment and resources to get right if they want have a loyal customer base as they are not the “only game in town”.

    PS – Dont get me started on the idea place either 🙂

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  14. Gregory Misiorek

    Hi Jelena,

    thank you for spending your precious time writing an entertaining and a tongue-in-cheek blog post. it’s definitely above cut of most what is being posted here. rather than agreee with other commenters here, i may play a devil’s advocate and actually acknowledge SAP’s strategy with developing new and what’s more important maintaining the installed code that hums inside the corporate world. having seen really bad applications in some of the worldclass companies i have to give it to SAP that with almost 2,000,000 (a mark to be crossed any day now) OSS Notes SAP can’t stop but amaze me that the software is still running.

    it’s not all SAP’s accomplishement but also thousands of internal and external consultants’ that earn their keep, myself included, updating and monitoring the application and its numerous interfaces to other tools. it doesn’t always work and we all have our share of horror stories, but. but how would you recommend changing code that potentially affects all those installations? each OSS note has to work with the rest of the code that has been undergoing constant revisions from one version to another and another.

    imho, SAP is not that much different from other big software companies like IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft. all their code is also undergoing constant upgrading and patching. is there a software company that once their code is installed it is never looked at? if there’s one they may not have any software that is still running as competition will take care of coming up with new standards and trying to replace your code with theirs, it’s just common business practice.
    i think all of us have been around SAP for too long to expect instant gratification from overcoming whatever frustrations we encounter in our daily battles to extract value from an expensive and many times revised code. otherwise, we wouldn’t enjoy the translation contortions that come from IT legalese in Deutschglisch, would we?

    good luck with having your ideas heard and what’s more important implemented by SAP.

    fellow sapper,

    gm

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Gregory, thank you for the comment. I really appreciate it and it certainly takes some testicular audacity guts to stand up for SAP on a subject like this. Although I’m not sure “hey, it still runs!” makes a great defense argument. 🙂

      To clarify, the purpose of my blog was not to get instant gratification in form an immediate fix but to stop the trend of, uhm, not giving a tiny rats a$$ about their customers. Because this is why, in my opinion, some of the bugs (like the ones I’ve mentioned and many others) are still in the system after so many years. As Otto correctly pointed out, so many customers are fixing the same thing while SAP stubbornly refuses to correct the core issue. And if the customers can fix it in a user exit then I’d find it very hard to believe it’s impossible to fix for SAP.

      In fact, on several occasions I pointed the exact location and the exact change that needs to be made to resolve the issue but was simply ignored. Certainly I might not understand all the complexity of the system and my suggestion might be off. But in this case at least have a professional courtesy to say that instead of sending me to “submit an ehnancement request with ASUG”, which is not even an option in reality.

      Also, as you correctly noted, there are many dependencies and backwards compatibility issue. That’s why I’m certain at some point The Design will have to be started almost from scratch. And if SAP could not step on the same rake twice that would be terrific.

      Thank you!

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      1. Andy Silvey

        Gregory, thank you for the comment. I really appreciate it and it certainly takes some testicular audacity to stand up for SAP on a subject like this 🙂

        Hi Jelena,

        I have to put a complaint here:

        I find this whole reference to ‘testicular audacity’ used in the reply to Greg

        very sexist.

        In future would you please use the female anatomy in your analogies

        of people’s comments.

        Thanks and best regards,

        Andy.

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        1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

          Andy, thanks for pointing this out. I updated it with gender-neutral “guts” and removed smiley (which you chose to omit in the quote) because now it’s not funny anymore.

          I’ll gladly use female anatomy part when English language starts to associate one with courage. I’m not a native English speaker, but always wonder why this language tends to associate female with mostly negative qualities (“throw like a girl”, and Downer is always Debbie, not John)… Well, that’s the whole another story. 🙂

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          1. Andy Silvey

            Hi Jelena,

            apologies for not putting the smiley 🙂  that wasn’t intentional and I’ve put it back.

            Gender neutral – damn ! That wasn’t the goal.

            Your English is perfect, the most embarrassing for me is when non-native speakers

            correct my English 😳

            Nice weekend,

            Andy.

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    2. Fabio Pagoti

      Hi Gregory.

      First of all, I really like the idea and concept of OSS Notes. I give them such a great importance that I am actually writing a blog series about them:

      SAP OSS Notes Series – Part 1 – SAP Versioning and Five Ws about OSS Notes

      SAP OSS Notes Series – Part 2 – Discovering and reading notes

      (btw part 3 and 4 are under development)

      As a developer, I totally agree with you that things are not that simple and yes, the software is still running (with bugs and fixes) nowadays. It could potentially be way worse.

      Still as a developer, I have never tried to tell my customers/end-users that even though there are some issues, “something is still working“. Probably because it lacks me courage and because I have a strong feeling that soon they will become customers/end-users of a different ABAP developer. 😳

      Well…whenever I can I give suggestions in my comments. Technically speaking, eCATT is great tool which could help avoiding MANY issues in production systems. I have heard (by a SAP developer) that SAP developers must write integrated tests for their applications before releasing them (although I do not trust 100% this).

      Why on earth doesn’t SAP release eCATT test scripts to their customers as well? I know VA01, MM01 might be different depending on the implementation of some SAP notes but wait a minute! They are the same application everywhere. They could be tested using the same scripts for many releases.

      Spreading tests between customers could decrease significantly the complexity of maintaining the systems, with a great bonus of saving customers many work hours of people testing the stuff that the system should always do no matter what.

      If the idea is to have great software, I would stick comparing myself with IBM, 0r4C73 or Microsoft.

      If the idea is to have awesome software, I would change my mind and start comparing me with companies like Atlassian, HubSpot, Sony, Honda, Eletronic Arts, that colorful search engine and that purple gossip area created in Stanford. By the way, these last ones usually gives money (sometimes thousands of dollars) for users who find bugs of their software.

      Imagine SAP giving one dollar to a customer who finds a bug fixed by an OSS Note. I believe there would be way less than 2 millions by today.

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      1. Joao Sousa

        I have heard (by a SAP developer) that SAP developers must write integrated tests for their applications before releasing them (although I do not trust 100% this).

        Neither do I because these testes would catch some basic bugs that get into production. Last week I had a bug, and when I looked at the code i saw something like this:

        IF SY-SUBRC <> 0.

        “TODO: Maybe put some error handling here

        ENDIF.

        This is unacceptable from SAP….The class is CL_WFIL_CUSTOMIZING_TABLES and this code exists in the constructor in SAP_APPL SP03 for EhP7.

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        1. Bruno Esperança

          One would almost say that SAP developers are just normal developers like the rest of us who get dragged and pushed around into different projects without really being given the time to do things properly 🙂

          I certainly know the feeling.

          Cheers,

          Bruno

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          1. Joao Sousa

            Yes they are, that why I blame SAP not the developer. SAP should give you a discount on the licensing cost for each oss message that wastes consultants time…. Customers pay sap for support and then have to pay consultants to talk with sap about the bugs….

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  15. Kristen Scheffler

    Hi Jelena,

    I’m here!  Sorry, just responding to your title 🙂

    Thanks for writing this blog.  There’s a lot of passion (and wit!), and by reading through the comments, you are definitely not alone.

    We need to break down silos, and this post can only help us do just that.

    I come from SAP Support (be kind) and truly appreciate the time you took (hopefully you didn’t lose sleep) to provide us with specific suggestions for improvement.  I wish there was an easy button for all of this, but please know I will raise this within our org and follow up.

    Cheers, Kristen

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    1. Anthony Poltera

      My only concern is SAP have made their software very difficult to get “Joe Public” developing from his garage the next big thing. The size of SAP right now is counting against them as to get access to the full suite of software (ECC\CRM\CI\HANA\Cloud and Mobile) is virtually impossible unless you are a customer and have vast resources. This turns developers off and they seek out easier and free to use technologies (Android, cordova, salesforce.com; etc etc) that don’t require clunky on-boarding and loads of red tape.

      I have exploration licenses however no systems and just like Jelena I get pointed by Global support to SAP service market place and told to download the software and set up myself. Our company is SAP development focused and we want to develop using SAP latest and greatest however this is a cumbersome process and not the best use of our time. So guess what we sit without our own systems and been pushed from pillar to post.

      My idea to SAP is to make available (with a few clicks) trial IDES style images of all the backend systems and products with BC sets, perhaps on AWS, so that developers with the next big idea can use SAP tools and systems to prototype, publish and eventually monetize their specific SAP solutions.

      I do believe this is what Bill McDermot wants for SAP, however like Jelena, I don’t think SAP are there yet.

      Cheers,

      Anthony.

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  16. Martin English

    Jelena,

    I want to be excited about the new things SAP has to offer.

    Many people in this industry have a fixation on the bright-and-shiny new stuff. Our employers, though, geek out on other things, and bring a different perspective (I’ve had one employer say “we reline the furnace once every twenty years, and you want us to upgrade SAP again ??” – I think it was joke, but they’re still running R3 2.2 and 3.1 systems in some corners of their business).

    Having said that, the Netweaver systems that are still under SAP support (and for which the customers pay a hefty maintenance fee) are a cornerstone of the installed base. If SAP ignore these customers, then when they do transition to cloud based business systems, these customers may well ask why should I stay with SAP ?

    Looking forward to meeting you in Melbourne next month.

    hth

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  17. Jon Reed

    Jelena I want to issue a kudo to you from a different direction.

    The good feedback you have gotten from this post is definitely well deserved. Personally, I am a believer in SAP challenging itself and its customers to innovate around new technologies that result in better customer experiences etc. Especially when that new software/tech is easier to install, use, maintain, and enhance.

    But: too often there is a price tag attached to these changes/enhancements where IMO there shouldn’t be (see: the “should Fiori be free?” debate). Answer: yes. Another angle entirely. But to me that’s part of how you partner with customers also – they invested in you – be ready to partner with them, whatever that takes.

    Of course pursuing new innovations doesn’t mean action shouldn’t be taken on all your points – we can walk and chew gum at the same time last time I checked. 🙂

    Thanks for getting this across with some humor and especially for taking such a strong public voice. I’m sure that will encourage other community members to speak more openly and to me that is real leadership. I tip my virtual cap to you.

    p.s. spelling fixed! 🙂

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Jon, thank you for the comment. ‘Walking and chewing’ is a great summary.

      Frequently those raising concerns about the existing functionality, support and other “old business” are perceived as reactionary, unprogressive, almost luddite and obstructive to The Mighty Innovation. But this is not about dragging anyone back to the “dark ages”, it’s about the customer loyalty. When the customers witness poor support for the products they’ve already invested in, what is their motivation to invest in more products by the same company?

      As others correctly pointed out, SAP is not the only fish in the sea and with more cloud offerings it may become even easier to switch from one software provider to another. Per SAP’s own statistics, 79% of their customers are small- to medium-size companies. It’s probably not a stretch to imagine that those could be likely to jump ship because their smaller systems would be easier to migrate, they have more flexibility and less money to give to SAP.

      SAP might take comfort in thinking that such migration doesn’t hapen overnight and there will be years before the customers get fed up and start fleeing. And history might support that belief (remember the “browser wars”? as much as everyone hates IE it still holds big share of the market). But the times are changing rapidly and SAP’s Firefox may be coming for them faster than we can figure out what does the fox say. 🙂

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      1. Jon Reed

        Jelena well put.

        I forgot to mention thanks also for the Judy Blume reference…it’s been a while.  I may have to use “Then Again, Maybe I Won’t” at some point. 🙂

        I think you summed it up with: “When the customers witness poor support for the products they’ve already invested in, what is their motivation to invest in more products by the same company?

        The only motivations are things like integration with existing products but I think that kind of “lock in sale” is becoming increasingly difficult now. If you don’t have a great customer experience you’re not selling more stuff.

        Which makes your message not only on target but very, very timely.

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  18. Raoul Shiro

    Thank you so much Jelena.

    I have stopped to read the irritating SCN homepage some time ago …

    “How to earn more money with SAP Hana certification”, “How to become a sexy SAP Consultant with SAP YouNameIt 2.0”, “SAP Business Trends on Facebook/Youtube/Twitter, so hype” 🙁

    I was merely looking for some “Know How” document on SAP BPC 10.0 ( Is it just me or those extremely valuable documents have practically disappeared after NW 7.3 ?), when I inadvertently found your post …, bravo, you’re a sniper.

    We also have the strong feeling to be SAP’s cash cow

    I am forwarding your post to our SAP Enterprise Support Contact.

    As she seemed extremely surprised last week, when we told her that we were truly disappointed by the level of support globally provided.

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    1. Otto Gold

      Could it be that the support is motivated measured on wrong KPIs which means they are more interested in a ticket being abandoned by the requester (he/she gave up) or provide something that the requester can live with instead of preventing things from happening over and over again? Just a thought…

      cheers Otto

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      1. Craig S

        Not an unlikely possibility Otto.  I think most support desks are judged more on things like number of tickets cleared, average time ticket is open, time to answer phone, time customer spent on phone,  etc..

        I wonder if anyone is looking at “number of tickets opened per 100,000 licenses per month”.  This might indicate that the software quality is getting better and bug fixes are getting in if that number goes down.  If it stays the same or increases, it probably means we aren’t getting to the root causes of the complaints, or we are putting out lower quality software with new releases and patches.

        Craig

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        1. Bruce Hartman

          Craig: your measure might go up (bad) if the ease of complaining is improving and more people are getting help that way.

           

          When I was running development orgs we measured improvement by fixes completed to the customer’s satisfaction.  It couldn’t be verified by online means (we did not really have full time online internet then); you had to actually review the change with the customer and get her to sign off before it counted.  But when we got the signoff, we knew it was done to someone’s satisfaction.

          We teach in operations management that quality is determined by what the customer says is quality.  Clearly a lot of customers are questioning the quality.  SAP owes it to themselves to respond.

          It’s a two-edged sword, though– economics of operations tells us that if customers won’t pay for a quality-improved feature, it won’t appear.    From that standpoint the ‘benign neglect’ of large software systems fixes is problematic.  Lots of software firms face the situation that as users proliferate support eats a larger and larger piece of the revenue pie.  It can drive poorly capitalized or less innovative companies out of business; I saw it frequently doing turnarounds with smaller Silicon Valley software firms.

          SAP is not alone.  Oracle is at least as offensive.  Larry knows where his yachts come from.  That doesn’t make it right, though!   Cost and support issues are the two largest negatives for a prospective owner students report to me when doing SAP ERP software evaluation projects.   Seems like those are things to work on in Waldorf.

          Another thing that comes through is that SAP has not yet gotten the crowdsourcing message clearly.  Crowdsourcing leads to ideas and improvements in the product only  if someone closes the loop and actually acts as a result. It ain’t closed yet.  It’s unusual for an SAP site to let you find what you need easily or feel gratified by responses.

          All admirably documented by Jelena in a fantastically good read!

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      2. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

        We’ve practically stopped opening tickets with SAP because the result is always the same. We spend our time and resources on multiple system openings (because SAP support asks for it and then doesn’t bother logging in for 2 weeks), sending back irrelevant replies and then end up with making an enhancement anyway. So if you look at the statistics for our company it may appear that everything is just peachy while in reality we just gave up.

        By the way, just found this old discussion (which reminds me – where is our dear friend Olivier CHRETIEN ?) but wait, there is also one from back in 2008. Reads as if it could’ve been opened today, doesn’t it?

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        1. Matt Fraser

          Wow.  Yes, reading that old discussion feels very familiar.  The first tier of support frequently doesn’t actually read what you put in the problem description and has you do things you describe already having done.  But once you escalate up a ways, the support does get much better… usually.  That’s if you don’t quit in frustration from the first tier non-answer, though.

          One thing I’ve noticed… if you open an incident as Low Priority, it tends to get faster action!  Odd but true.  It’s the running joke on my team, but like all the best jokes, it’s based on our actual experience.

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          1. Steffi Warnecke

            Maybe that is what I should have done. I opened a ticket on Monday and got ZERO response till now. It was not even “taken” by somebody. -.- Just wrote a little “HELLO?!”-message to get some attention there, since it’s about an issue in our prod-system.

            So when I look at Jelena’s choice for this blog title… great fit.

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            1. Tobias Hofmann

              Low prio are like low hanging fruits: it’s easy to solve and as the customer stated that there is no business impact at all, why not take them? Problem is that once taken … someone is assigned and altering the prio is always possible 🙂

              In case of an issue in PROD: very high is the way to go, just ask your SAP representative to help you open it. Think about it: you are in support, a client opens a ticket in PRD that is not very high. That PRD issue for sure isn’t hindering them doing their work, right? Let’s wait until it’s very high, in the mean time: where are those low issues again … And in case you open it as very high: talk to your SAP representative, looks like his/hers connections to SAP support are not the best

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              1. Matt Fraser

                I can’t swear to this, but I have always suspected that individuals, or customers, who frequently open High and especially Very High priority tickets that end up being downgraded or don’t really meet the established criteria get flagged in some way, like the boy who cried wolf too many times.  Do this too often and perhaps you’ll find that your tickets don’t get picked up as much, or aren’t picked up with much enthusiasm.

                I have always told people on my team that they shouldn’t rush to Very High unless they’re prepared to work with the support engineer around the clock to solve it, and they must be prepared for a call to their cellphone at any hour of day or night.

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                1. Michelle Crapo

                  Have you ever gotten a quick response with a medium or low?  Or better yet a quality response that didn’t require you to talk with 10 different people?

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                  1. Matt Fraser

                    Absolutely. But, it depends on the application area. Some support areas simply aren’t as busy as others, would be my guess. In other cases, messages have languished for long periods of time, regardless of priority, and have only seen action when I’ve pinged folks on SCN who had some influence there. That harkens to the discussion going on in Jelena’s other (newer) thread about leveraging relationships to get support, which shouldn’t have to be the case.

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              2. Steffi Warnecke

                Since I personally hate nothing more than a minor problem that comes to me as a high prio ticket, I try not to do the same to other supporters. 😀

                I have indeed opened at least one high priority ticket with SAP and I will again in the future, when the problem calls for it. But I won’t use it all the time.

                IMO just the fact, that’s a problem in our prod-system and it’s on high should trigger some faster response, but right now I would be really happy about a response whatsoever. If I’d neglect my users like this, without even signaling that I’ve at least SEEN their ticket… well, there would be some questions for sure.

                I think, nobody expects a solution with the first answer (though one can hope for it), but IMO a fast reaction to show that someone has seen it and us maybe already on the task (or will be as fast as time allows) is not too much to ask for. 🙁 I know from a lot of my users that a short info is something they really appreciate. Just as I like those myself.

                Hmmm, even though you were asked politely, Jelena, I don’t think this blog is SCN specific, but SAP specific. What is the customer edge for if not for communication like this? oO

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                1. Matt Fraser

                  I totally agree.  SAP support used to be quite good at updating statuses on their tickets, i.e moving it from Sent to SAP to In Processing, so you at least knew someone had seen it.  I haven’t seen a ticket In Processing in a few years now — they all seem to go straight from Sent to SAP to Customer Action (which I’m sure you’d be happy even with that, if it occurs fast enough), and if it takes a while for that to happen, it would at least be reassuring to know it was being looked at, even if there’s no answer yet.  I suspect help desk KPIs may be a source for this behavioral change.

                  After all, there’s the famous story about the help desk team that is measured on how quickly they clear their tickets out of their queue.  Well, the fastest way to do that is immediately escalate everything to the next tier of support, even if it’s a simple password reset.  Now the help desk looks awesome, but meanwhile the much more expensive people who should be spending their time configuring systems and improving processes are instead resetting passwords and solving general logon questions.  The help desk improved, but the overall organization just got more expensive, and less high-value-add stuff is getting done.

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                2. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

                  Yep, customer satisfaction is just not part of the SAP support’s KPI. There is actually no SLA whatsoever for Medium and lower priority messages (the fact that they’ve been renamed “Incidents” will change very little, I believe).

                  So Tier 1 support can take their sweet time and when they get to our tickets eventually they will try to push it off their hands as soon as possible. I wish they would be pushing them to the next level of support but instead they usually play “check note <insert random number here>” game. This effectively resets the counter for them, so when STSBs are looking at the response time KPIs they think “wow, we’re providing awesome support!” without even understanding or being aware what is actually behind those numbers.

                  There is a Latin saying “piscis primum a capite foetet”, I dare SAP management to look it up.

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        2. Olivier CHRETIEN

          Hello Jelena,

          Congratulations for your excellent blog !

          Seeing all the feedback you got, it is obvious that you have hit the nail spot on !

          I am still there but am now mostly a silent reader because I dislike the way SCN has turned out. I was not on SCN to play “games” or to get points or silly badges but to share knowledge among fellow BC admins.

          I still think that 85 % of forum questions should be refused as “Do my job because I am lazzy and I faked my CV to get the job”.

          I may be very politically uncorrect but I think that offshoring has created this situation and, as we say in French, I don’t want to saw off the tree branch  where I am sitting…

          Luckily, there is some times an excellent blog which is like a gem in the darkness.

          I am still encouraging SAP when they listen to customers : I was part in a CEI project on abap spnego/kerberos and just signed for a new one this year.

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        3. Michelle Crapo

          Going to get in trouble here too.  We outsourced our notes to a 3rd party.   So much easier than sorting through the good and bad ones.

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          1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

            Michelle, I’m guessing that having a third party to communicate to SAP on your behalf would alleviate some of the issues, but it was not the main point of the blog.

            For example, this would not change anything for the stuff that exists in SAP even though it doesn’t make any sense (some examples were mentioned in the blog and there are a few more here). When someone makes a decision to issue a note and pretend everything is peachy instead of just accepting it’s a bad idea and fixing it – this is messed up. And then AGS is short on resources because – guess what – they are too busy replying to the incidents about the same stuff.

            I don’t know if all of this would work much better in S/4HANA, Cloud or whatever. I would like to hope so, but, as saying goes – fool me once…

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            1. Joao Sousa

              My most frustrating one, was using one API for PO change, where the first call left the PO in an inconsistent state (no error) and then the second call would throw a dump.

              I asked that they handled the error gracefully, since the inconsistency was fixable (therefore it was possible to handle the error).

              No no, I had to show an example of the first API call corrupting the database, which I wasn’t able to, it only happened ocasionaly. I could replicate the dump on the second call, but no dice.

              SAP explicitly refused to include error handling in the code, it’s that bad. I argued it was a best pratice to handle errors, but that didn’t seem to move them.

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  19. Matt Fraser

    Like so many others, I have definitely experienced much of what Jelena (and others in the comments) describe here.  I have 12 pages of past customer messages (excuse me, incidents now) that I have submitted over the years, and the responses have been mixed.  Some have definitely given me some of the runarounds described above.

    But not all.  I think it only fair to point out that quite of a few of the SAP support folks who have taken up my incidents have done an outstanding job of trying to help.  Sometimes that doesn’t happen until you get escalated past the first tier of support, true enough.  I find that once we get to the developer level (which we have done in the PY-US-CE space quite a bit), folks are really motivated to help, because after all, developers want people to think their stuff works well.

    I want to specifically call out Thomas Schlink (no SCN profile I could find), who works in the HR development space in Walldorf, who on several occasions has gone above and beyond, and who has actually changed the SAP standard code based on our situation or suggestions on how a process should work (Concurrent Employment is a tricky beast).  Notes 1260915 and 1605387 were created or modified by Thomas as a result of the work he did with us on a couple of incidents a few years ago.

    I also want to mention Clas Hortien, who works for Microsoft on perma-loan to SAP, and who responds to incidents in the SQL Server area.  When I pointed out a suggestion to improve Note 1558087 in a customer incident message, Clas jumped right on it and incorporated my suggestion in the next version of the Note.

    So, while at times all may appear dark and forbidding, there are some bright sparks out there in SAP Support.

    I do agree that all the literature and marketing from SAP today seems to indicate that HANA and BusinessObjects and such are the only things that matter anymore, and this is dispiriting to those of us tasked with maintaining and improving more traditional ERP systems, with no prospects of playing with those shiny toys any time soon.  One recent account rep we had came from the BusinessObjects organization and clearly had no clue what we were talking about when we described our initiatives with core SAP applications.  He kept trying to sell us a dashboard.

    –Matt

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  20. Marilyn Pratt

    Your voice Jelena, like Judy Blume’s heroine Margaret’s, is a voice the vendor gods need to hear. I would like to believe that like Margaret, our customers do have opportunity (dare I say a rather unique one here?) for a very personal relationship with those “in charge”.


    I’m grateful that you’ve found your voice blogging and commenting on SCN and while we focus on a better and more uniformed digital experience (a mandate), we learn to deliver a better customer/user experience.  I am grateful to Kristen Scheffler for being equally courageous as the first SAP responder and hope that others follow suit.


    Your skills and wit in making points salient and clear both to other customers and to your vendor are deeply appreciated —-despite the fact that such critique might not always be pleasant to hear.   And as Kayne West, part of the credibility SAP mentors have is that they do go off script….

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  21. Martin Maruskin

    Hi Jelena,

    Great blog! I love Russian jokes 🙂

    Some time ago I posted blog about how to influence on SAP. The blog is just lists  possibilities of what to do in case we have a problem with SAP software – how to let SAP know about it.

    Although there are some channels of how to do it (also you named them in your blog) they are not really working in my opinion.

    I remember my ideas at idea place none of them really got through. So I fully stand here by your message to SAP:

    “Start listening to your customers. Yes, all of them”

    cheers,

    m./

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  22. Carsten Nitschke

    Jelena,

    Wonderful way of writing. There is always a lot of fuss when people voice their frustration / anger. I think it is a great opportunity for everybody to make a small stop, listen and hopefully learn. You have just given the opportunity to look into something which is actually crucial for the long term success of any company, Support ! I hope that you will get a real response and that somebody will look into the the root causes, since it is obvious that you are not alone.!

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  23. Thomas Zloch

    Hmm, didn’t your blog start out in The Customer Edge ? Somebody obviously thought it’s not the right place.

    Thanks for the great effort, I can relate to quite a lot of this, depending on application area.

    Cheers

    Thomas

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thomas – yes, I was asked (politely) if it could be moved and a decision was made that Support space would be suitable. On the Old SDN I would’ve posted this in Coffee Corner, but no more blogs are allowed there, alas.

      We could probably use some kind of ‘SAP General’ space on SCN, although it’d likely be very quickly polluted by the “dear gurus” questions and “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m legally obligated to like SAP and so should you” kinds of content. 🙂

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  24. Stephen Johannes

    I only wish that your blog was made required reading by SAP for all of its employees.  I wouldn’t want them to provide a response but to acquire some empathy and understanding of how many of their customers feel right now and to think about what could be done differently to change those feelings of the customers.

    For me this blog was a great pause relief when I was fighting through getting something to work that was supposed to solve all our problems, but yet introduced more 😉 .

    Take care,

    Stephen

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  25. Nigel James

    Thank you Jelana for such an insightful blog. It goes to the core that we can’t let SAP do a HANA misdirection while the core is slipping.

    I hope like Stephen this blog gets a good viewing in the core of SAP Labs worldwide.

    Cheers,

    Nigel

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  26. John Moy

    Hi Jelena,

    What a fabulously entertaining blog.  And yet it is such an important issue.  When you see how much customers pay in maintenance fees, and the service returned for that sum, you have to wonder whether a proportion of those funds are being redirected by SAP to develop new products in which to charge customers more license fees and more maintenance fees!

    Anyway, I think this blog is an excellent link that I will attach to any OSS messages in future where I feel I’m not getting an appropriate response.  In fact, maybe we all should be doing that!

    We should all begin with your title … Are you there SAP? <insert link>

    Cheers

    John

    PS.  On a side note, I recently was given the usual run around by first level support on an OSS message.  I was so frustrated it ruined my morning.  But when it finally was directed to the development team, I received an excellent response.  If only first level support was more adept at screening messages and knowing how to respond appropriately or when to direct them to the development team.  To me, a large part of the problem is in that layer.

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      John – very true, support quality varies greatly. There is a saying (now an American one 🙂 ) that the buffalo heard moves with the speed of the slowest buffalo. The same is probably true for the support and customer service – it’s only as good as the “slowest buffalo” is.

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  27. Wilbert Sison

    Hi Jelena,

    That was wonderful! Great blog and awesome comment trail. The sentiment rings loudly for me.

    When companies have heavily invested in the platform, they should expect good engagement from the vendor in providing solutions. 

    “Keep up the fight”.

    Cheers,
    Wilbert

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thanks for the link, Jarret! Now I have fully arrived. 🙂

      Great question to ask (and Dennis is asking it in his article) – will SAP act? I understand that for the public company employees it can be difficult to make any comments (and hope that courageous Kristen Scheffler doesn’t get in any trouble), but hope that at least someone at SAP understands that the clock started ticking long time ago, this is not the first alarm and hitting the snooze button won’t work forever. Wake up and smell the coffee! Or whatever it is they’ve been brewing…

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      1. Mark Finnern

        Hi Jelena,

        Rest assured that there are many conversations going on within SAP about your blog post and I am scheduling a webinar with the people responsible for SAP Support as well as continues product improvement with you and the SAP Mentors as the community representatives to discuss status and best way forward.

        It looks like you are addressing a couple of issues:

        – First level support needs improvement. May be adjustment of their KPIs to focus on customer success instead of time to close a ticket would help.

        – Known issues like the EDI address field, that don’t get closed although every customer using it needs to custom develop the solution. It looks like there are some that never get the attention of the User Group feedback cycle.

        – In the comments it also comes across that people feel not enough attention is put on SAP’s core applications.

        As I said webinars are in the works.

        I always thought working with the SAP Mentors gives me a front row seat to everything that is happening around SAP, but talking to my colleagues about your post someone pointed me to the SAP Improvement Finder.

        It is the place where you can find all the improvements that were developed by SAP on the request by our customers. There is a process in place via SAP’s User Groups to come up with the most relevant items to tackle. At least 5 customers have to commit to use it once it is done. Wherever possible these are down-ported to make them available to older releases too, which made me really happy. 

        I didn’t know about this, should listen more to Gregor Wolf as he is one of the champions in the CRM space via DSAG and now I remember him talking about it 😉

        Hope some of you find some solutions that you were not aware off and improve your systems too.

        We will keep you all posted, Mark.

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        1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

          Mark, thank you for the comment. Of all people I wouldn’t want to mess with Don Finleone and The Mentor Hearder 🙂 but since you’re representing SAP by proxy, sadly, I must.

          I have actually mentioned Improvement Finder in the blog (oh boy, looks like tier 1 support is not the only one at SAP with “selective vision syndrom” 😉 ). Personally I found that site of little value, but it could be just me. Besides, my blog wasn’t really about “improvements”, so it doesn’t even matter. (Although it does highlight the fact that SAP apparently loooves to give themselves a pat on the back. 🙂 )

          We’re picking a lot on the first level support just because those are the SAP people we communicate with most frequently. But there really needs to be top-to-bottom (or vice versa, doesn’t matter) change of mentality.

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        2. Craig S

          Mark,

          Why does it take 5 customers to have to use a feature?  If the item is a best business practice that should be in the base package, it should be added. That’s what SAP provides to customers.. a suite of products based on best business practices. I feel they’ve gotten away from this to pursue too many new bells and whistles and the next greatest technology.

          I can give you a perfect example in QM.   Many companies have a requirement, regardless of purchasing agreements to fully inspect at least one shipment a year from each vendor for each material supplied.  The current skip lot logic however only allows a reset of the quality level back to the initial stage from the skip lot stage, not from a reduced level testing stage.  I personally know of half a dozen companies that had to customize SAP for this process or track it manually outside of SAP.  I am currently in the process of doing it for my current client right now, one of the major pharmaceutical firms. The coding is extremely minimal for this.  For a global approach, (as opposed to a specific client),  I’d add some extra coding but it would still be minimal.

          This is a recognized, global, best business practice and is a basic requirement in pharmaceutical firms, as well as many chemical firms and defense contractors.   This shouldn’t need five customers to promise to use it.  Most have programmed it already so why would they “buy” it now?

          The point being, is the basic modules need constant updating and conformance to best practices to stay relevant.  Buying and incorporating solutions developed by customers into packages doesn’t really count.  Some of those add ons haven’t been revamped to make them more globally useful and if you ask me, actually detract from the modules in certain ways.

          As a functional consultant, I feel SAP is losing that edge of bringing best practices to the table.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s still great software, but I think some of the competitive advantage gained from functional analysis, built in best practices and the re-engineering process have been lost.  You’re becoming more plug n play every day and not in a good way.

          Craig

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          1. Mark Finnern

            Hi Craig,


            You write:

            “This is a recognized, global, best business practice and is a basic requirement in pharmaceutical firms, as well as many chemical firms and defense contractors.   This shouldn’t need five customers to promise to use it.  Most have programmed it already so why would they “buy” it now?”


            I think there is a little misconception about the process. As every organization, SAP has limited resources and wants to put these limited resources where it helps the most customers. To request that an improvement idea has to have customers putting their hands up to want that improvement is a reasonable request in my eyes.


            I am all ears if you have a better and more transparent way to decide where to put our resources. If as you write it is a global recognized practice and a basic requirement, you should have no problem to get many companies to sign up for that improvement.


            Why do companies want that improvement, even though they have it programmed already? Because from then on it is in the standard and one less item to check/check off when upgrading.


            so why would they “buy” it now?” Please check SAP Improvement Finder this is where this improvement would end up for you to implement, or it would come with the next support pack. There is no price tag on these improvements, they are free.


            Hope that helps, Mark.

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            1. Craig S

              I understand limited resources and all.  I think regardless of the exact issue or example provided, the sentiment is, as you said, the perception, (maybe not reality, but still perception), is that apparently, some folks, feel that maybe SAP needs to invest some more back into the original core modules and concepts that got them here.

              Being an functional consultant for me has been an amazing opportunity.  To see and learn the inner workings of many different clients over the past 30 years and to watch the change in the business climate as well has been one of the major blessings in my life.

              One constant I have seen in almost all areas, is that companies that fail to invest in whatever their core competency is, and continue to apply significant research to those areas, eventually fail, get taken over, or are forced to merge.  The powerhouse research companies that scaled back their research approaches are gone or are a shadow of what they once were, (Kodak, Xerox, DuPont, IBM, DEC, HP, Bell Labs, Merck) to name just a few. 

              The companies still considered powerhouses and that continue to grow still have significant R&D and are well focused on their basics.  Companies like Apple, GE, J&J, P&G.

              I’m not sure what direction SAP is going yet.  It’s still a relatively young company.  But I for one, and I think many others from the tone of this blog, may feel that SAP needs to invest more in those core modules and basic best practices that got them here in the first place.  Maybe you are.  Maybe Version 10 will be a full rewrite and incorporate all the new best practices of the new century. 

              I’m really hoping so!!

              Craig

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        3. Nicolas Busson

          Hi Mark,

          IMHO Jelena is right: it’s great that SAP is delivering some improvements now and then, but this is really not the point here. We are talking about buying a Rolls-Royce and be provided the customer service of some low-cost retailer.

          As I didn’t want to go too public I personally tried to alert every people I knew within SAP organization by making phone calls or sending emails (product managers, SAPSupport employees, even SAP Communication managers). Here is an extract of one of my conversations:

          As a consultant what is not good for SAP, is definitely not good for me. And bad news go a thousand time faster than good ones… So when I see that even when users cannot close a simple popup on SAP Gui you deliver an oss note stating “sorry, cannot do anything about it”, I wish SAP employees had to explain it to end users themselves. Note that I’m just using this as an example and could provide many more! Also it should be clear for the support team that when we open a message, we are not judging SAP’s work. A bug is not a “fault” so people should stop trying to do everything they can to explain that it is the normal behavior, or something that cannot be changed for whatever reason, etc. Especially when most of the time I don’t care if it takes 2 months for the issue to be solved (this is quite fast actually). But maybe you have some KPIs that incline people answering messages to think otherwise. On the contrary I do care when it takes 8 weeks to argue why it cannot be considered “work as design” or “technical constraint” to have values that are dropped from a customizing table when clicking save. And what would you say if you had your car repaired by a technician asking you how to start the engine as soon as you give him your keys? Because that’s exactly what happens sometimes when your incidents come back to “customer action” (and I’m not talking about questions on how to reproduce an issue, I’m talking about how to start SAP CRM application and get to the WebUI login page — Seriously).

          Last but not least: AFAIC I do not understand why the highest level of support is “development”. Sometimes we should be able to discuss issues from a functional stand point with some smart guy that knows how things are supposed to work in real life. Because, kindly believe me, there are cases where the developer simply didn’t understand the specification he was given. So he will always answer “work as design” because he misunderstood what the expected behavior should be.

          On a side note: as already said in one of the comments here, I have worked on SAP CRM implementations for many customers. Some of them had “Max attention” contracts, others were “Gold Partners”, and some had the cheapest maintenance contract SAP is offering: I didn’t see any difference between the level of support I was given no matter what. So now every time a new customer is asking me what he should choose, my advice is to go for the cheapest.

          That being said, webinar is a great idea to discuss this further. Count me in 🙂

          Cheers!

          Nick.

          8)

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  28. Wilbert Sison

    Just a tiny tiny voice here… SAP has a unique opportunity to harness IP from its customers. We  wouldn’t mind putting up a blog and we certainly wouldn’t mind putting up code.

    A lot of the problems we complain about, we’ve already solved unsupported. I wouldn’t mind a capability to “publish” them and allow other customers to deploy it through mechanisms similar to SAPNotes.  It would be a HUGE bonus if SAP can give important ones a review on limitations and a release status.

    Imagine receiving a SAP message “Please see community supported solution 99999”  instead of a SAPNote 48204.

    That SAP Improvement Finder portal sounds like a good place to house a capability like that.

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      1. Wilbert Sison

        Thanks for taking it up Mark. I hope it happens.

        Someday the world will be a better place and SAP will give away its software for free. 🙂

        Cheers, Wilbert

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  29. Bruno Esperança

    As many others have said, awesome blog post Jelena Perfiljeva. And like you said, not many people around with the “testicular audacity”, so many kudos to you for this. (LOL @ testicular audacity… that’s just great).

    I’d like to add a small contribution to this “rant”.

    Last year I had the privilege to provide technical support to the employee support platform of one of the biggest aerospace and defense companies in the world. This platform was implemented using the incident tracking capabilities of SAP CRM. An unusual choice, but it was working.

    I received a ticket asking me to try and find out two things. Why they couldn’t attach files with long names to the tickets, and why they couldn’t attach .docx and other 4 char length extension files to the tickets. After all, these files have been around for a few years already…

    After debugging long and deep enough, I found out where the problems were. Somewhere deep in the standard code, there were a couple of variables declared that simply “truncated” the files’ names and extensions, and when the files were reopened, it failed miserably.

    I communicated to the customer my findings, and I asked them if they would like me to open an OSS message for them. The reply surprised me in a way… but in another way, I completely understood the reason for this reply. I was told that they would rather have me modify the standard code, as long as it was properly documented, instead of waiting for months for a reply from SAP, which would probably not fix the problem anyways.

    So I did exactly that! And I hope and believe that these attachments are still working perfectly today.

    I can get you where this problem is and how to fix it, if anyone is interested.

    Best,

    Bruno

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    1. John Appleby

      Hey Bruno,

      I have a similar story from a few years ago. I was called in to troubleshoot SAP CRM, where there was a situation where the notification system for call center handlers wouldn’t work in certain browsers.

      The customer would have been fine with a fix from SAP, but they refused to fix the problem, citing that we had to upgrade to a newer version. I fixed the problem in the standard code, which was buried in a JAR file which I had to decompile, correct, recompile and re-upload into the ABAP repository.

      There were a few bugs in the code, but the most notable one was that they hard-coded HTTP in the URL. We were using HTTPS.

      I sent my fixes in but I don’t know if they ever made it to the standard code base – I checked the latest version at that time and the bug was still in there.

      John

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  30. Shincy Thomas

    Hi Jelena,

    Couldn’t help liking this. I agree to what you said. Sometimes customers are just taken for granted and the true meaning of customer service goes down the drain. Also, I wish SAP would keep certain things simple instead of making it awfully complicated!!

    Regards

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    1. Peter Spielvogel

      Would you rather I left the comments off and did not say why?

      The target audience of the blog (SAP Screen Personas customers, partners, and those considering purchase) know where to reach me if they have any questions or comments. My email and phone number are on SCN.

      I have received innocent questions about the product roadmap via email that would cause all kinds of problems if aired on SCN. I don’t want to go there.

      Should I have posted the information (for which I receive daily requests via email or phone) behind a wall where people might not be able to access it? Nope.

      Should I have posted in a document rather than a blog? Maybe.

      Regards,

      Peter

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  31. Muniyappan Marasamy

    Hi jelena,

    nice blog.

    P.S. Since I’ve already warmed up on this, one last request, dear SAP: stop renaming stuff! Try hearing “that BW or BI or whatever that thing is called now” every day. Word is still Word, Excel is still Excel. But SAP gets a renaming itch every other year. Even I have to go on Wikipedia to check what the heck the name de jour is. Just pick a name and stick to it for cripes sake.

    i am from SAP PI background.

    initially name was xi. then changed to XI–>PI–>PO. not sure in future what the name will be.

    Regards,

    Muni

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  32. Gek-hui Yeo

    Dear Jelena, even though I don’t support the SAP products you use, I support SAP ASE, firstly thank you for letting us know and all the others’ comments on how outsiders view SAP support. Kristen is very brave for being the first in SAP Support to reply. We do listen and please be assure customer satisfaction is one of our key pillars in support. I will discuss this too with my peers who support you and see how we can improve to provide better support for you folks out there.

    Br,

    Gek

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  33. Kristen Scheffler

    Hi again to all,

    First, let me thank all of you have spent time commenting, reading, and engaging on this post.  We appreciate your candor, passion, and enthusiasm, and have carefully reviewed all of your comments.

    As a next step, a meeting will be set up between the SAP Mentors and members of our SAP Support Customer Experience team to listen, engage, and discuss this feedback.  Your experience and input matter to us, and we are again thankful that we have so many customers that are engaged and looking for ways to improve the support experience.

    Thank you,

    Kristen

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      SAP employees have the same rights as other SCN members, so I believe it’s OK as long as there is no conflict of interest. E.g. for someone working in SAP development it would seem rather unethical to demote ideas (without a valid reason) that could potentially mean more work for them. Although even heavily promoted ideas don’t get implemented (still waiting for that Dislike button 🙂 ), so not sure it actually matters.

      If you have any specific concerns I think they should be brought up with SCN support (or whoever has jurisdiction there).

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