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Digital Access Measurement

In our last article, we covered the main differences between Digital Access and the legacy model. If you haven’t read it yet, we encourage you to read through the article before continuing on.

SAP is already challenging enough, but when you throw in Digital Access it can become even more of a struggle, especially if you don’t have a plan. In this article, we will dig into the challenges of measuring Indirect Access using the Digital Access licensing model. But before we jump into the details, we want to provide some context around the measurement of SAP.

Measuring SAP

In order to collect measurement data from SAP systems, where a measurement is required, every SAP licensing administrator should be familiar with the License Administration Workbench (LAW) and the USMM transaction. The LAW consolidates and presents – to no surprise – named user-related information (number of users with allocated named user license types) and system supported engine measurement results for each USMM from each SAP system. This may sound like a simple process; SAP customers run the USMM annually, consolidate the USMM data using the LAW, transfer the LAW results to SAP for review, and receive confirmation from SAP on the license requirements. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.

We run into two main challenges when it comes to collecting measurement data this way:

The aggregation of named users may be incorrect due to the insufficient aggregation capabilities of the LAW.

  • For a small SAP environment with few SAP application servers, aggregation can be relatively easy. However, when dealing with a complex infrastructure, the LAW aggregation results may require manual adjustments in order to get the correct named user measurement data. And we have yet to even touch on the issue of counting users that have indirect access to SAP. In such cases, manually counting users on a 3rd party tool for user identification is inevitable.

The SAP engine measurement is far from perfect.

  • The available engine/package measurement capabilities are updated by SAP periodically with SAP notes to ensure that the USMM’s measurement is completed more accurately. Some package licenses simply do not have any system measurements. This applies, for instance, to all package licenses in which the license metric is related to data that is not managed in SAP, e.g. revenues, employees, customers, plants, etc. The license requirements for these packages must be manually documented and added to the SAP measurement results. SAP calls this the “Engine-/Self-Declaration Product Measurement” document.

To add to the difficulty, there can be a lot of manual work required in SAP measurement.

“SAP is permitted to audit the usage of the contractual SAP Software (ordinarily once a year) in accordance with SAP standard procedures by system measurement. Ordinarily, Licensee can conduct the measurement itself using the tools provided by SAP for that purpose.” (SAP General Terms and Conditions onPremise (Direct) enDE.v.5-2018).

As explained above, the system measurement (USMM) may be supplemented by manual data collection or may require manual correction of the measurement results. Most SAP customers, especially larger organizations with complex SAP environments, will agree that the amount of manual workload in the measuring process is not decreasing, but on the contrary, is increasing every year.

Measuring Digital Access

Adding Digital Access licensing to this already complex measurement situation is like handing weight to a swimmer who is already struggling to keep their head above water. When we look at it, two big questions immediately come up.

What needs to be measured for Digital Access licensing?

  • According to SAP, customers need to count the number of documents by type, and for some documents, the number of line items that have been generated annually through indirect (digital) access of users, 3rd party applications, or external systems. Keep in mind that customers are only obligated to count the line items created in the generation of a document. Any updates to line items in a document (i.e. changing, adding, and/or deleting line items) do not change the license count. What is not clear, however, is how much time must pass between the generation of the document and the first update of its line items. Seconds? Minutes? Hours? Days? We don’t know.

What we do know, is that documents and line items need to be measured. Which leads us our next question:

How should customers count the documents or line items for Digital Access licensing?

  • Licensees might have expected SAP to have had a full set of tools ready to aid with document/line item counting the moment SAP published the paper on “ERP Licensing for the Digital Age” in April 2018. Sadly, this is not the case; and to make matters worse, the very little that has been published by SAP on Digital Access does not provide enough substantive guidance to answer the question of how to count correctly. We believe there are two main reasons for this lack of information and tool support from SAP.

First, the SAP system logs that contain the information (e.g. number of created service orders) do not differentiate between the generation of the documents in the case of Digital Access or direct SAP access. By taking the existing SAP system logs or measurement data, SAP customers are at risk of over-purchasing document licenses. This is because the creation of the documents by licensed SAP users is already included in the named user license or the package licenses previously purchased.

Second, counting line items in a document can easily become a very difficult endeavor. The data is fragmented, interlinked, and spans over several different SAP tables. Since only the line items that were part of the initial document generation are relevant, the counting of documents and line items needs to be done together, all while checking the timestamps of each step in the document life cycle. Big data, here we come …

Find that unnecessarily complex? We do… and it turns out we’re not alone. It’s worth noting that even SAP is trying to get its head around this issue. On August 22nd, SAP released the Note 2644139:

“Digital Access: Tool for SAP ERP (ECC) to determine an approximate number of licenses required in the future”

SAP later released Note 2644172. Besides a bit of background information and high-level instructions on how to execute said tool, the note states (paraphrasing):

“For each document, the report determines the number of the current database entries. This number can only provide an indication of future database entries when the customer-specific situation is taken into account. The report does not differentiate between documents that were created by SAP applications and documents that were created by non-SAP applications. The number transferred for a document must be interpreted based on the current installation environment.”

We decided to take this report on a little test run and were able to verify the limitations as explained in SAP’s notes. In addition to those limitations, we can also say that the report does not differentiate between a new document (needs to be licensed) and a document line item in which a change has been added (no additional license needed). This hardly boosts confidence in any future SAP notes.

Summary and Recommendations

So after all of this, what do we think? Here it is in a nutshell:

Regardless of future SAP notes on Digital Access, the option that will remain valid is to consider Digital Access and the licensing of documents a self-declaration measurement. This does, however, imply that customers need to:

  • Know which data sources (SAP or other) are considered reliable with regard to the document types licensed under Digital Access.
  • Collect, review, and use available historical or extrapolated data to determine the annual number of documents and line items.
  • Calculate the demand, or number of documents and weighted line items, which would be licensed as Digital Access.

There it is. A bit of a doozy, but hopefully you’ve learned something new that can help you better tackle Digital Access measurement. If you want more information or have questions specific to your organization, you can schedule here to meet with one of our SAP experts or check out our SAP services page. These meetings are completely free and focus entirely on meeting your needs and answering questions.

The next article we plan to share before our big webinar will address the steps that SAP customers should consider, prioritize, and undertake in order to make the decision whether to switch to Digital Access licensing or not. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

Let’s start a conversation.