SAP's UK and Ireland managing director, Tim Noble, failed to dispel increasing unrest among the firm's UK user base at the SAP User Conference 2012 in Manchester this afternoon, as group leaders came away dissatisfied on licensing issues and pricing metrics.
When asked by vice chairman of the SAP User Group, Philip Adams, how SAP is responding to survey findings that 95 per cent of users think SAP's licensing is too complicated, Noble replied that while SAP is trying "very hard to improve the simplicity of licensing", SAP is, by its very nature, "quite complicated".
Noble went on to say that an intention now exists to price future SAP licences among a single metric, adding that in the past two years, existing metrics have become "20 per cent less complex".
Speaking to Computing after Noble's session, Alan Bowling, the chairman of the SAP User Group, questioned this "funny metric", commenting that "it sounded like [Noble] said two different things. And we don't know what that means".
But one of the key issues was Noble's words on unused SAP licences – so-called "shelfware". Not only are users told not to expect their licence fees back if licences remain unused, they are also forced to pay support and maintenance on these licences.
In a time of economic uncertainty, and with mergers and acquisitions also pushing corporate resources and assets together, the need to discontinue SAP licences is becoming a big issue for many users.
"I'm sure all your users would like me to say that in some way [SAP] could assist with support and maintenance, but the fact is they can't," said Noble. "What I would strongly suggest to everybody in this room is that when you have issues like that, do talk to your local account team," Noble continued, inferring that individual deals could be struck.
"There are different ways to tackle it, but let me be straight: we do not park maintenance. Maybe that's not the answer you want to hear, but I've slowly got a reputation in the last two or three years to be working with our customers and being certainly very straight. But what I would say is work with the account teams, because you may be able to achieve what you're trying to do by doing it a different way."
Speaking later with Computing, Noble said that in the case of returning payment for unused licences, "we don't do it, as a rule".
However, Noble built on his earlier suggestions that, while maintenance would also never be given back on licences ("that's our business", said Noble), local account teams could assist by drawing up personalised deals, in a 'store credit' manner of agreement.