SAP user groups are stepping up pressure on the vendor over the fees charged for its user-friendly Fiori applications, saying they should be included as part of the substantial annual maintenance costs customers already pay, particularly given SAP's dismal track record with interfaces for its Business Suite ERP software.
Fiori, which was launched last year, provides a set of lightweight, consumer-like applications that use Business Suite data and target various business user roles and processes. The software, which can be deployed across multiple device types, has received a generally warm welcome from SAP customers, save for the $150 per user price tag required for a perpetual license.
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"As a former CIO, one of the biggest and most consistent complaints I heard from my line of business partners was the complexity and difficulty of the SAP user experience," Americas' SAP Users' Group CEO Geoff Scott said in a recent blog post. "A great user interface is no longer a nice to have. It is an expectation. It must just be."
With Fiori as well as Screen Personas, which allows users to rejigger SAP screens to fit their preferences, SAP "recognizes that reality," Scott added. However, "in today's day and age, that user experience functionality and those enhancements should just be included as part of SAP's maintenance agreements."
Scott elaborated on his position in an interview. "The average user of SAP every day is not an IT person," he said. "It's an accounts receivable person. It's a person on a shop floor. My impassioned plea to SAP is, help your user community out. Help them run [SAP software] every day."
While Scott wants to keep the discussion going with SAP, he plans to do so with tact. "I don't think that ASUG benefits from being in SAP's face super-hard," he said.
ASUG wants to join forces with other SAP user groups worldwide, while pressing its case to the vendor. "A global, unified voice is critical on this," Scott said.
He'll be able to depend on support from DSAG (German-speaking SAP User Group), which has 49,000 members in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
"DSAG's position is clear. We say [Fiori] must be part of standard maintenance," said Andreas Oczko, DSAG vice chairman, in an interview.
SAP's contractual terms and conditions, as DSAG interprets them, dictate that technology such as Fiori should be supplied as part of maintenance payments, he added.
For example, PSLE (product support for large enterprises) customers commonly pay SAP several million euros a year in maintenance, and have for the past 30 years, he said. "And now they should pay again?"
In addition, SAP runs the risk of looking "old-fashioned" if it doesn't help customers widely adopt modern, mobile application interfaces like those provided by Fiori, he said.
Meanwhile, the terms and conditions don't clearly suggest that Screen Personas must be included in maintenance, although SAP should do so, Oczko said.