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Couldn’t the existing SAP customer say: what do I care? SAP is about to come and measure our licences and then we’ll know what’s what – right?
Florian Ascherl, KPMG: Of course existing SAP customers can wait until the annual SAP measurement is just around the corner. But this primarily represents self-disclosure concerning the use of software. SAP offers tools for creating transparency about a company’s own use that are indisputably extremely helpful – on condition that the relevant knowledge is available –. But in my opinion, launching the USMM or the LAW/LAW2 once a year is not in the best interests of sustainable licence management. Rather, these functions, or at least the underlying information on use, should form a basic, integral part of the necessary transparency, compliance and optimisation checks of the licence management organisation, while taking into consideration the knowledge of the company’s own use rights.
So waiting is counterproductive?
Ascherl: If customers wait and are satisfied with the measurement results, then important findings can’t be gained and interpreted from the licence management perspective. Both over-licensing and under-licensing are generally the logical consequence – both can be avoided. Whether it’s IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP or any other software vendor, provisions for anticipated losses and unplanned expenses for software based on a lack of transparency and governance processes are at any rate an unattractive consequence and, based on today’s options, an unnecessary one also. It is thus always recommended that an overview be maintained of the use rights that have been acquired, of changes to these in the case of delayed licence purchases and of usage volumes.
What pitfalls can be found for existing SAP customers in the LAW, Licence Administration Workbench?
Ascherl: From experience we have learned that many SAP customers have difficulties with the measurement results. In many cases, the customers can’t find their way around the figures and don’t understand how they are supposed to read the documented use, which SAP uses as a basis for issuing an invoice or for drawing up a list of potential mislicensing and under-licensing.
Who needs to take action here?
Ascherl: I actually don’t assign the responsibility to SAP here; it is one of the few well-known licensors that plays a proactive role in providing measurement tools. If customers are not able to collect this or similar information during the year for planning, reporting and budgeting purposes, this does not come under SAP’s scope of responsibility. If you are ready to invest in the required knowledge and the appropriate resources, then, in my view today, the task of creating sustainable transparency, which should also be present in the sense of a good B2B or B2C connection between SAP and its customers, is a solvable one.
Who is and could be responsible for USMM and LAW?
Ascherl: Every person who is responsible for measuring the system should know about the particular features and the mode of operation of User System Measurement Management (USMM) and Licence Administration Workbench (LAW/LAW2.) After all, SAP provides sufficient information for this. These tools are not impenetrable; they make the task easier exactly the way the relevant documentation describes. The most frequent sources of error for an incorrect measurement (from the customer’s viewpoint) can generally be found in the absence of processes concerning licence assignment, the correct deactivation of accounts, clear identifying features for determining general user groups etc. In the engine area, the source of error frequently lies in correction notes, which SAP is also proactive about providing, that are not implemented or not implemented correctly.
So are there risks?
Ascherl: In the worst case scenario, there is the risk that the same engine will be measured but based on an incorrect price list. The consequence of this could be that the existing licences can’t be used to cover the use. This leads to unnecessary potential for discussion in any case. Rest assured, I’m not talking on behalf of SAP, but can you name one licensor off the top of your head – apart from SAP and some IBM products – that on its own initiative offers you an option to measure and check the licences you use?
There are numerous tools on the market for licence measurement and their results often differ from the results of the SAP licence management. Why?
Ascherl: The aim of the annual SAP measurement is to determine usage in the SAP systems. The example of the SAP users helps to explain this clearly: the SAP measurement tools, USMM and LAW, access the user information from the systems and consolidate these using a defined and unambiguous unique identifier, which can be chosen by the customer. Each user that is set up as active in the system from the perspective of the licence terms is measured.
That sounds very pragmatic – doesn’t it?
Ascherl: Whether user accounts are actually used and the time when they were first regarded as active in the system doesn’t play any role for USMM and LAW here. The allocation of suitable licence types and the correct adjustment of accounts that are not in use are the responsibility of the customer and should be carried out appropriately within the framework of interfaces with HR processes and events such as employees joining and leaving, long-term sick leave or parental leave. It is also incumbent on every customer to select the suitable type of licence based on the role assigned to an employee and also to review this licence type later in the course of the actual use to ensure licence plausibility compliance. Optimisation tools are being used with increasing frequency for this review, alongside expert knowledge and standard SAP information.
What do you understand by that?
Ascherl: It has to be said – and I mean this in a totally neutral way – that a tool, however good it may be technically and whichever experts it has been set up by, always only reflects the opinion of the consultant or the customer. The information available in the context of the descriptions of a licence is not sufficient to gain a 100 per cent accurate picture in order to reflect the interpretation by SAP with exact probability. You can at best approximate this interpretation, ultimately it is the professionalism and skill of the licence expert that defines how close this approximation will be. What’s more, there are a lot of tools that are unable to cope with the mess within complex customer environments.
Ascherl: Typical examples are where no consideration is given to the fact that, where several price lists have been set up in these tools, a licence type’s use rights potentially not required are regarded as if they were included in another licence type that is of a “higher value” according to the tool logic. This has not been the case for a long time, however, and so the results between tool and SAP measurement can also easily drift apart. The most recent example that I have been confronted with was a tool that classified all types of professional users as a single “professional user”. Even CRM and ERP professional users were all classified in this one category, and a significantly lower licence requirement resulted according to the customer construct in comparison with the SAP measurement.
So I can only recommend, based on my experience in identifying deviations, to look first for the reason in the tool’s mode of operation, and less in the measurement by SAP. I recommend keeping a distance from licence assignment mechanisms and (re)allocation methods preconfigured and offered in an untrustworthy way by vendors. Regardless of how well the standard of these may have been developed, they generally do not match the established contract and licence models of each end customer.
Thank you for talking to us.