SAP Indirect Access Risk Mitigation – PT I

The Indirect Access conundrum has posed a new challenge to many SAP customers recently. It’s clear though that SAP is not going to dramatically change its stance anytime soon. As an SAP customer, there are many angles to approach SAP Indirect Access. But no matter what your view or opinion on the fairness of the situation, there’s a practical approach derived from best practice licensee optimization methods which will serve you well.

The Indirect Access conundrum has posed a new challenge to many SAP customers recently. It’s clear though that SAP is not going to dramatically change its stance anytime soon. As an SAP customer, there are many angles to approach SAP Indirect Access. But no matter what your view or opinion on the fairness of the situation, there’s a practical approach derived from best practice licensee optimization methods which will serve you well.

In the first of this two-part series, I will share how to develop a firm foundation to enable a solid understanding of your current Indirect Access financial risk and to estimate the costs of future initiatives, such as undertaking a new IoT project, or integrating a third-party system within the SAP system.

At Snow Software, we assist many clients in understanding and optimizing their SAP licenses, and the basic premise remains the same – if you can achieve a fully optimized licensing position for the direct licenses within your organization, you can then go on to make the best-informed decisions about how to configure connections from third-party systems to achieve the ideal option to license your indirect users.

You needn’t wait on a fully optimized direct estate before investigating Indirect Access but some of the key decisions and calculations are best made with the full picture in mind.

Review Contracts

Make a full review of your contracts, terms and conditions. The licensing conditions vary depending on the agreement made at the time of purchase. It’s advisable to bring in a licensing specialist if you are unclear. Build up a full picture of license entitlements to understand your effective licensing position. Before even thinking about making changes to the number of licenses you have, direct or otherwise, you need to have 100% clarity on how this will impact you from a contractual perspective. It’s all too easy to miss something and end up accidently “tripping up” over the small print.

Baseline Inventory

To start your optimization effort, the SAP team should consolidate a list of all direct users which are listed across all SAP systems along with their user types.

SAP has more than 140 named user license types in its standard definitions, ranging in price from $60 to $7,000 per license. These license types determine the actions that the user is permitted to perform in the SAP environment. Technically this maps to the transactions that can be performed on the SAP database

Typically, amongst the population of users, there are a proportion who are correctly licensed, a number of duplicate users – i.e. individuals who have more than one username assigned to them, inactive users, users who have left the organization, locked accounts and users who are assigned a less-than-optimal license type.

Now, your organization’s SAP team must go through steps to optimize.

Remove Inactive Users

The population of users requiring access to the SAP estate can fluctuate considerably over time. For example, contractors implementing a new SAP system only require a license to access the system for the time that they are working within the organization. Other instances where licenses become redundant are users leaving the organization and those who do not have a requirement to access SAP after a change in their position.

Although these examples may seem obvious, it is a laborious manual process to identify and deactivate these users, especially when the SAP user population is large and highly distributed. From my experience, when we help our customers optimize their SAP licenses, they have typically discovered around 20% of licensed users in an organization who have been inactive for more than 90 days.

Snow Optimizer for SAP® Software monitors usage of all SAP systems across the SAP estate to identify inactive users. Users who have been inactive for more than a set period can have their license returned to a pool (re-harvested) for reassignment as and when they are required. Snow Optimizer for SAP Software can also plug directly into HR information to deactivate users who have been flagged as having left the organization. Licenses can either be manually freed up or better still, automatically released/removed/returned to the license pool to reach a continuously optimized estate.

Consolidate Duplicates

An organization’s SAP environment typically comprises many systems; and the administrator of one system (or group of systems) may be different from another. This environment evolves over time as new systems are added. Users must be licensed to access these systems and so they are often provided with a new account, the username of which may be different from the username they have for other systems.

Your SAP team should ensure that duplicates are dealt with so that the organization does not double-pay (or worse) to license an individual user.

The result is that an individual consumes two or more named user licenses when they need only one. If this is not effectively managed, it can be very costly for the organization. Although it is possible to do this by manually cross-checking all systems in the environment, that process is prone to error and extremely time-consuming.

Snow Optimizer for SAP Software enables the administrator to automatically identify duplicates in the environment by displaying all users of each system and the attributes which are unique to the individual. Consolidating users and removing duplicates empowers administrators to revoke licenses which have been assigned more than once to an individual. This releases the licenses back to the license pool so that they are free to be reassigned.

Direct License Optimization

SAP puts the onus on its customers to assign the appropriate named user license type to each user account. Without the right usage information upfront, the only way to do this is to generalize and attempt a best-fit, ultimately leading to inaccuracies and overspend. A far more efficient and accurate method is to look at precise usage of existing users in the system and map them to their ideal license type.

Your SAP team should continuously evaluate individual needs and assign the optimal license for each user which is compliant and at the lowest cost.

Snow Optimizer for SAP® Software measures transaction activity for every user, aggregated across all systems over time to get an accurate view of real usage. This empowers the SAP team to custom fit the appropriate license type for each user. Assigning the “ideal” license for each user ensures the most efficient use of the enterprise investment to minimize incremental purchasing. It also means that new users can be assigned better fit licenses in the first place rather than generalizing.

The Foundation is Set

With your direct access licensing in order, you can establish a level playing field to then understand your Indirect Access risk and potential liability. Reducing your direct license cost by optimizing for what you actually need and automating optimization into a continual process can not only reduce cost, but this saving could be used to offset any Indirect Access liability discovered in your estate.

Indirect access can happen in several ways.  Third-party systems which are used by a proportion of direct employees, is just one example. By reconciling the third-party system users and direct SAP users, you can discover gaps. In many cases, the unlicensed users can be assigned licenses from the pool created by your optimization efforts. Alternatively, there may be a far greater proportion who are not direct SAP users. In this case, you can decide upon the most appropriate method to license said users.

What is certain about your direct licenses for SAP, is that they are a handful to manage and can consume time and effort to understand your position and optimize your licences for your business requirements. With an automated licensing solution in place though, it doesn’t have to be this difficult!

In part two of this series: understanding the indirect access licensing threats that are lurking in your license pool and how to mitigate them.

Identify and manage the financial risks associated with full access to the latest research from Gartner1

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1Gartner. Customers Must Resolve SAP Indirect Access Risk When Investing in SAP Functionality, April 2017 GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.