The Dirty Tricks They Play: Do as SAP Say or It’s Audit Time

Do as SAP Say or It’s Audit Time

Nobody likes being audited. It’s boring, labour intensive, and nothing good ever comes of it.

And when it’s an ERP supplier audit? Things only get worse.

Huge amounts of time and resources are required. And if it turns out you’re under-licensed? Things are going to get very expensive very quickly.

In this series, we’re taking a look at some of the most common dirty tricks used by Oracle and SAP, and explaining what (if anything) customers can do about them.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the tactics SAP have used to “persuade” customers to upgrade to their SaaS offering S/4HANA, and wondering…

Isn’t That a Shakedown?

Like Oracle, the threat of audits has long been a dirty trick SAP use to influence customer behaviour. Even if customers are ultimately found to be in full compliance, SAP audits can be a highly disruptive and expensive process.

In the past, many claimed the audit threat was being used primarily as a means of keeping customers locked into expensive support contracts. More recently, it has been suggested that customers are being threatened with audits to coerce them into upgrading to SAP HANA ahead of the 2025 deadline.

While SAP have taken steps to separate their sales and audit functions, many customers are nonetheless feeling pressure to upgrade.

Notably, even Gartner has publicly linked increased audit risk with continued pressure on SAP customers to upgrade to HANA. In Gartner’s own words, SAP customers should:

“Leverage Hana and S/4HANA Adoption to Resolve Compliance Exposure, but Only If a Thorough Assessment Results in a Strong Business Case”

Source: Gartner, Minimize These Top Three SAP Software Audit Risks: Indirect Access, User Profiling and S/4HANA Pressure

The subtext: If you think you could be found in breach of compliance, upgrading to avoid an audit may well be justified.

What Can You Do About It?

Unlike Gartner, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend upgrading to HANA just to avoid an audit. If SAP ever threaten your organisation with an audit unless you engage with their sales team, ask them to put it in writing. Doing so would put SAP at serious risk of legal action, so it’s likely this will be the last you hear of it.

Keep in mind, though, that SAP can audit your usage of their products at any time, so you should make absolutely sure your organisation is operating within the terms of its licensing agreement. Consider engaging an external consultancy that specialises in licensing to help you identify issues in this area.


Don’t Stand for Dirty Tricks

If you’ve had enough of the dirty tricks Oracle and SAP use to keep you paying over the odds for poor quality support, we can help. Recently, we published a report on their most common dirty tricks and what customers can do to protect themselves.

In the report, we cover:

  • How SAP entice customers to pay a fortune for their official support programme by dangling the carrot of regular new features—but wildly underdeliver on their “promises”.
  • How Oracle were sued by their own investors for (among other things) using “coercive sales tactics” to boost uptake of their cloud platform, and making “false and misleading statements” about the company’s cloud revenues.
  • What customers can do to protect their interests against the barrage of dirty tricks employed by Oracle and SAP—including how to save at least 50% on annual support contracts while receiving a higher level of service.

And much more.