Vendor traps: SAP’s threat of audits

Nobody likes being audited. It’s boring, labour intensive, and nothing good ever comes of it. When it’s an SAP audit, it only gets worse. Huge amounts of time and resources are required, and if it turns out you’re under-licensed, it’s going to get very expensive very quickly.

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

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the shocking tactics SAP uses to “persuade” customers to upgrade to its SaaS offering S/4HANA.

Upgrade or audit?

Like Oracle, the threat of audits has long been a trick SAP uses to influence customer behaviour. Even if customers are in full compliance, SAP audits are highly disruptive and an expensive process.

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

While SAP has taken steps to separate its sales and audit functions, many customers are nonetheless feeling the 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 threatens you with an audit unless you engage with sales, ask SAP to put it in writing. Doing so would put the vendor at serious risk of legal action. It’s likely this will be the last you hear of it.

Keep in mind, though, that SAP can audit your usage of its products at any time. 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 vendor traps

If you’ve had enough of the 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 commonly used traps and what customers can do to protect themselves.

In the report, we cover:

  • How SAP entices customers to pay a fortune for official support by dangling the carrot of regular new features (but wildly underdelivers on its promises).
  • How Oracle’s own investors sued the company for using “coercive sales tactics” to boost uptake of its Cloud platform. The vendor is also accused of making “false and misleading statements” about the company’s Cloud revenues.
  • What customers can do to protect their interests against the barrage of tricks employed by Oracle and SAP. This includes how to save at least 50% on annual support contracts while receiving a higher level of service.

And much more.

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