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5 Things to Do Before Making a Decision on Digital Access

This is the final article in our SAP Digital Access Series. We suggest reading those as it will give insight to the article you are about to read.

Before we begin, let’s briefly recap the three main takeaways from the previous Digital Access licensing articles we have published.

– Digital Access can be considered a solution for licensing Indirect Access to SAP that is not available through legacy license agreements.
– Digital Access licensing does not cover all forms of Indirect Access. It only covers Indirect Access resulting in the creation of the 9 document types listed in SAP publications.
– Digital Access is complex, and due to the outcome-based pricing, the cost to license SAP could increase.

But as usual, it’s not all black and white. Notwithstanding the position of SAP on license requirements for Indirect Access – with the known limitations, related claims during audits, and the resistance demonstrated by SAP customers, lawyers, industry networks, etc … one could argue that in this swamp of different opinions “squatteth a toad of truth”. So, before you start “Yaying” or “Naying” Digital Access, here are a few things you should consider first.

From our perspective, we believe customers have two main options when dealing with Digital Access:

First, everyone should understand that it is SAP’s given right as the copyright owner to define the use rights of the software it develops. Those who don’t want to play by SAP’s rules should look for a different solution. Although changing the technological backbone of business processes at scale is a lengthy and costly ordeal, there are still plenty of alternative solutions out there – OracleMicrosoft, and Intuit, just to name a few. We are certainly not encouraging anyone to move away from SAP, but selecting a different solution may be something to seriously consider if you don’t like the direction SAP is moving.

The second option is for customers to simply accept and meet the requirements for SAP Digital Access licensing. It may be a hard pill to swallow for some, but we believe the majority of SAP customers will most likely choose this option. Regardless of what the final decision is, customers should carefully weigh all the advantages, disadvantages, costs, and benefits.

For those who decide to stick with SAP, here are 5 steps to follow when planning for Digital Access.

Step 1: Research Digital Access licensing

There are several ways to acquire a basic understanding of Digital Access: Read available publications, get opinions from experts, ask peer groups, attend educational events (webinars, conferences, etc), and more. Regardless of how you plan to educate yourself, you must take action and you shouldn’t expect SAP to provide information to you without a formal request. To that point, asking your SAP account manager or the SAP License Audit Service team for guidance is also a solid option if need.

Step 2: Understand your existing license agreements

Review your SAP license agreements and determine where your organization stands regarding licensing of Indirect Access. Some customers may have agreed upon special terms and conditions for named user licenses that deal with customer-specific solutions where Indirect Access rights are included in the licenses purchased. Other customers may have only purchased standard licenses or are missing license types that can be applied to Indirect Access Scenarios. For example, SAP NetWeaver OpenHub is one of these licenses, where you can share SAP BW data with an unlimited number of non-SAP users, as long as the data extraction, is done asynchronously and not in real time.

Step 3: Assess the risk of Indirect Access

For some customers, Indirect Access may not be an issue at all. For others, it could be a major risk. This is why every SAP user needs to asses their risk.

To do this, we suggest analyzing your SAP landscape and identifying all technical interfaces where data is either transferred from SAP to a non-SAP environment or where data is generated outside of SAP and later pushed to SAP for further processing. As already mentioned, SAP does not request that customers pay for SAP outbound data transfers (according to the “Static Read” conditions), however, there aren’t many scenarios where a license is not needed when data is being uploaded to SAP. Take note that customers who release data transfers to or from SAP with the click of a button may still require named user licenses, even if they have a so-called “aggregator” or gatekeeper.

When completed correctly, the risk assessment should provide the following results:

– Number of required named user licenses for Indirect Access
– When determining the number of required users you should:

  • Aggregate users over all 3rd party applications or interfaces
  • Differentiate users in accordance with user authorizations in your existing license agreement or available as a standard named user license type from SAP purchase options.
  • Consider future changes to the setup of Indirect Access (interfaces, 3rd party applications, number of users)

– Number of required package licenses for Indirect Access

– Cost per license

  • Can be calculated either by applying agreed-upon discounts for license purchases or by approximation of the average discounts received so far

– The total cost of licensing for Indirect Access

Step 4: Calculate the total cost of Digital Access

After calculating the costs of Indirect Access, now you need to calculate the total costs of Digital Access as a whole.

To start, you will need to apply the new Digital Access measurements to translate data exchange into “documents”. This is best done while reviewing Indirect Access to SAP. If this is a problem (due to the lack of measurement functionalities in SAP or if you do not have a sophisticated SAP license management tool in place), customers should interview business owners or other stakeholders to collect the required information. Questions that could be asked include, but are not limited to:

– How many sales, purchase or service orders do we receive per year?
– How many line items are in each order on average?
– What changes do we expect over the next 2 to 3 years?

Once you know the number of documents and line items, you should be able to estimate the number of required document licenses, check the applicable volume tier for Digital Access, and calculate the license cost for Digital Access. You will also know which cases of Indirect Access will fall under Digital Access and which remain unresolved based on Legacy licensing.

Step 5: Make a decision

To determine which license model is the most cost-effective for your organization, you should compare the current and future cost for both Legacy licensing and Digital Access licensing.

To do this accurately, you will need to factor in the cost of control. Staying compliant requires continuously monitoring your SAP landscape, which – as we have pointed out – is much more time consuming and risk-prone under the Legacy license model.

Knowing your risks, costs, and future changes to IT and business processes will help you negotiate with SAP on Digital Access licensing with a price-per-document that will fit your budget. The key is being prepared. Don’t engage with SAP for a Digital Access discussion until you are ready to commit, otherwise, it may open the door for an audit.

Hopefully, this information help guide your decisions regarding Digital Access. In our Digital Access webinar, we will be diving even deeper into how to understand and successfully navigate the world of Digital Access. 

Let’s start a conversation.