There are many (many!) benefits to an SAP support agreement.  In addition to access to support notes, patches, 24/7 support for your critical systems from the Mission Critical Support (MCS) team, Enterprise Support and Preferred Care give you access to enhanced SLA’s, enablement, proactive engagement and more.
But at the end of the day, there are those times that you just need support to help you overcome a technical issue.  After doing your due diligence by searching the usual places (SCN, Knowledge base articles, Google, and asking your peers), you open an incident with SAP Support…but what happens behind the scenes?
Aside from choosing the proper support component, documenting the notes you have reviewed and setting the proper severity level are the most important things you can do.  A complete overview of the problem you’re experiencing, and how to replicate it is obvious, as is attaching any relevant logs, screen shots, etc…  For on premise SAP customers, also make sure that your system is open for access by SAP, and confirm that credentials in the secure area are up to date.
For a great overview of what kind of information SAP is looking for in a message, Enterprise Support and Preferred Care customers should watch the 30 minute Meet The Expert (MTE) session entitled The Perfect Customer Message, which is available here.
As mentioned, assignment of the proper support level is equally important when contacting support.  Medium and Low priority assignment of messages are appropriate for ‘how to’, or general information issues.  For Enterprise Support, there is no Service Level Agreement (SLA) for message assignment or feedback.  Preferred Care customers can expect a response from SAP in accordance with their contractual SLA.
High and Very High message priority should be reserved for issues which have a significant impact on operations in your production environment, and/or a go live or upgrade that’s scheduled within the next 3-5 days.
Both Enterprise Support and Preferred Care customers can expect assignment of a High Priority incident within four hours.
In a critical, production down situation, a Very High incident will garner the highest response from the support team.  Since raising a Very High (VH) incident can engage dozens of people, it is reserved for only the most critical of support issues.
When a customer opens a VH incident, it is immediately intercepted by the MCS team which is staffed 24×7, in a follow-the-sun model.  This team will review the impact provided by the customer, and reach out to the incident’s author to discuss the issue.  The purpose of this initial contact is to verify the critical aspects of the issue, including it’s impact on the production environment.    If the impact of the business is not significant enough, or if we are unable to contact the incident’s author, the incident will be downgraded to a High priority, and then placed into the component’s assignment queue.
When an incident is deemed to be a properly classified Very High message, the issue will moved to the top of the line for assignment, and will be worked by the technical team located in the backoffice. It is very important to note that the intent of the backoffice team is to ‘stop the bleeding’ and get the customer back into production.  Long term fixes and/or Root Cause Analysis will happen after the critical nature of the incident has been resolved, and at an appropriate severity level.  It is also important to note that since Very High issues are, by definition, an organization-stopping situation, SAP expects that the customer will have necessary resources available to work an issue on a 24×7 basis.  Depending on the situation, incidents can be downgraded to High, and and then re-escalated if necessary.
Once an issue has been resolved, it is the responsibility of the customer to mark its status as ‘confirmed’, and end the engagement.  When an incident is closed, the customer is provided an opportunity to critique the performance of the support team on a variety of metrics, including: knowledge, processing time, and reaction time.  SAP takes these surveys quite seriously, which are available only when the customer manually selects to confirm an incident.
Similarly, the SAP support processor will judge the appropriateness of the incident, utilizing criteria such as the complexity of the issue, whether notes or knowledge base articles were researched and attached to the message, etc..  The results of these Message Quality Evaluations are taken into consideration when a customer applies for Customer Center of Excellence (CCoE) certification.  Customers may request a copy of their Incident Quality Report by going to this link.
It is very important to note that if an incident is left unattended in a customer-facing action, it will automatically close after a set number days (depending on the severity).  Closed incidents cannot be reopened.  Incidents that are in a ‘solution provided’ status for 14 days will also be closed automatically, regardless of severity.
I hope this helps provide some insight into what happens when an incident is opened, and helps to streamline your processes.
In coming weeks, I will post information covering how to escalate critical incidents, how to utilize your ESDM / CSM (for Enterprise Support and Preferred Care customers), and more.
Comments or questions?  Reach out to me on Twitter and LinkedIn:
@Mikovsky
/in/Mikovsky
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  1. Jelena Perfiljeva

    I’m rather confused by this statement: “For on premise SAP customers, also make sure that your system is open for access by SAP, and confirm that credentials in the secure area are up to date.”

    Why would the customers immediately open a connection when the issue is clearly not specific to their system? Besides, the connection is open only for N days and since SAP has no SLA for low/medium incidents the agents take their sweet time and reply after connection expired.

    This issue has been highlighted on SCN several times already. If the SAP support agents are told that the customers are expected to open a connection immediately this seems like a wrong procedure. Connection should be only needed when the issue cannot be recreated in another environment. (I’m talking low/medium incidents here, not high, of course.)

    And “how to” should not be an incident at all, that’s what SCN is for. I bet SAP Support gets their share of “let me google this for you” “incidents”, just like we get such questions on SCN. But then this is a problem that we need to solve, so that SAP Support could concentrate on something we can’t do without them, i.e. fixing SAP.

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