Companies decide to choose solutions from SAP because of the optimization, standardization, and acceleration of business processes. A common reason to use the solutions offered by the German company is the perspective of savings through optimization of the processes related to the planning of production, level of inventory resources or control of liabilities and payments. However, when push comes to shove, it turns out that we also have to bind ourselves for many years with the developer’s support agreement, which rises the costs system maintenance.

Many SAP Customers ask every year why they need the SAP Maintenance contract and why it is so expensive. In this article, I would like to explain the advantages of the Maintenance agreement for Customers and why the answer the question about the benefits of that solution may be complicated.

SAP Maintenance contract – benefits:

In other words, Maintenance is the possibility to update the SAP products purchased by the Customer and to use the vast base of knowledge and solutions. This means that the developer makes available all the SAP Notes (i.e., for small and quick fixes), Support Packages (larger packages for individual components composed of several hundred or several thousand SAP Notes) and the whole Support Package Stacks (grouped sets of Support Packages for a specific level of update). Maintenance also provides the possibility to upgrade the main version of the SAP system.
Maintenance also allows the direct support of the SAP SE Consultants to be used. Using the SAP Solution Manager Partner platform, the Customer may ask for support in solving problems resulting from the incorrect operation of the SAP system standard. This happens extremely rarely. Most problems are solved at the level of configuration and consultation provided by the Partner. Such as us.

What is the difference between SAP Enterprise Support and Standard Support?

Let us start from what is in the SAP Standard Support package:

  • Support for fixing technical errors – 24/7 access to the known issues database SAP xSearch and SAP Notes,
  • Access to the SAP Service Marketplace platform and SAP Developer Network (SDN),
  • Access to the already mentioned possibility to update the SAP systems, both in terms of technical and functional matters,
  • The possibility to use standard support sessions from SAP:
    o SAP EarlyWatch Alert,
    o SAP GoingLive Check and SAP GoingLIve Functional Upgrade Check,
    o SAP OS/DB Migration Check.
  • Problem solving based on third line support provided by SAP SE, without the guaranteed SLA. What does it mean? SAP does not guarantee response times or solutions to the reported problems.

What are the features of the sessions available in SAP Standard Support?

  • SAP EarlyWatch Alert

The purpose of this service is to ensure the proper functioning of the business processes by monitoring significant administration areas of the SAP system and its performance.
The service includes a detailed report for the Customer which presents the technical condition of the system and indicates:

– errors in the configuration and functioning of the system,
– necessary changes in the security of the system,
– areas for improvement of performance,
– components which must be updated.

  • SAP GoingLive Check oraz SAP GoingLIve Functional Upgrade Check

The purpose of the service is to support the Customer in the critical phase of preparing to launch production in the course of the current implementing projects so as to ensure the smooth start of operational activities.

  • SAP OS/DB Migration Check

The purpose of the service is to minimize the risk associated with the project of migration of the SAP system. The service allows the Customer and his system to be prepared for a smooth and seamless migration ended with a high availability and efficiency of the production system in the new operating system and/or database environment.
The session includes two independent sessions: analysis and verification. The Customer receives the analysis of the target hardware configuration along with the information whether the planned configuration is sufficient for the migrated SAP system.
The service should be planned 4 to 6 weeks before the planned migration.

What is included in SAP Enterprise Support?

  • Support for fixing technical errors – 24/7 access to the known issues database SAP xSearch and SAP Notes.
  • Access to the SAP Service Marketplace platform and SAP Developer Network (SDN).
  • Access to the already mentioned possibility to update the SAP systems, both in terms of technical and functional matters.
  • The possibility to use the functionalities delivered with SAP Solution Manager in the case of system installation at the Customer’s side.
  • The possibility to use standard support sessions from SAP::
    • SAP EarlyWatch Alert Service,
    • TQC for Implementation,
    • TQC SAP GoingLive for Upgrade,
    • TQC SAP OS/DB Migration Check,
    • TQC Planning,
    • TQC SAP EarlyWatch Check,
    • TQC SAP GoingLive Support,
    • TQC Business Process Performance Optimization,
    • TQC Integration Validation,
    • TQC Data Volume Management,
    • TQC Business Process Analysis and Monitoring,
    • TQC Security Optimization,
    • TQC Technical Perf. Optimization Database,
    • TQC Solution Transition Assessment,
    • TQC Transport Execution Analysis,
    • TQC Upgrade Assessment,
    • TQC EHP Installation Check,
    • TQC Downtime Assessment.
  • Problem solving based on third line support provided by SAP SE, with the guaranteed support times ensured in cooperation by SAP SE and the Partner. There are two important definitions:
    • IRT (Initial Response Time) which simply means the time of response from the moment the problem is reported to its active handling and taking action in order to solve the issue,
    • MPT (Maximum Processing Time) which indicates the maximum completion time on the part of SAP SE and the Partner to deliver the action plan or solution to the problem.

What are the features of the TQC sessions available in SAP Enterprise Support?

Below we present a short description of selected sessions.

  • TQC Integration Validation

The purpose of this session is an end-to-end analysis of the critical business process, interfaces included, set to analyse performance and stability of the solution.
As a result, the Customer obtains from SAP an action plan to implement in order to diagnose the problems identified during the session.

When is it advisable to order the service? After the ended integration tests for individual processes and at the implementation of new business processes.

Value for the Customer?
– minimize problems associated with production launch/use of the process,
– identify potential problems even before the process launch,
– optimize response times and process stability,
– reduce the risk of system downtime.

  • TQC Transport Execution Analysis

The purpose of this service is the analysis and optimization of the procedures related to change management in the Customer’s environment. As a result of the session, the Customer will obtain information about ABAP errors, transport system errors or cohesion of the transport queue between systems, and also recommendations and a proposed action plan.

When is it advisable to order the service?
When there is a large number of changes to be transferred to the production system, when several projects are conducted in parallel, when stability of the production system is vulnerable to uncontrolled changes.

Value for the Customer?
– recommendations and action plan as a result of the audit,
– increased efficiency of change management in the environment of SAP systems,
– transparency in the area of present and planned changes in the system.

  • TQC Business Process Performance Optimization

The purpose of the service is the analysis and optimization of response times and the degree of utilization of resources at individual stages of the business process.

The Customer obtains the analysis and proposed optimization of the business process in:
– the area of operational efficiency,
– identifying bottlenecks in the resources of the process.

When is it advisable to order the service? In the event of problems with long times of processing of steps and standard or non-standard SAP process. Low performance of transactions run in the process.

Value for the Customer?
– reduced average processing times for steps in the process,
– higher productivity and satisfaction for the system users,
– optimum use of hardware resources,
– lower risk of business process downtime,
– recommendations and a proposed action plan to achieve optimal performance.

Comparing the Standard and Enterprise services described above, we should concentrate primarily on the sessions available for the Customer as part of Enterprise Support. There is a good selection of them; it is worth finding out what they can contribute to our organization.
We could speculate that many SAP customers in Poland use the sessions available in the package very rarely or do not use them at all, whereas they are already covered the Maintenance charges paid to SAP anyway. One of the most important questions appears – how many of such sessions can be ordered?
SAP allows, free of charge, one TQC session per year to be used for each of the production systems.

How to use those benefits?

TQC sessions can be ordered through the SAP Partner via the SAP Solution Manager platform he provides.
A detailed description of all TQC sessions may be obtained directly from the Partner or in specific SAP Notes.

Is it worth it then?

It turns out that the SAP Maintenance contract is among the fundamental things related to safety and smooth operations, for organizations operating on SAP licenses. Possibilities connected with support provided by the Partner cannot be overestimated. Companies and organizations may still operate without loss of continuity of work, and stress and nerves associated with potential problems rest on the shoulders of experienced consultants who based on their knowledge and competencies will resolve any difficulties. The IDT Gartner report of 2015 shows that only 17% of companies employ people with the necessary skills related to the digital transformation of business. It is worth betting on the Partner who is confident of his people and their potential.

Author: Michał Sarna, SAP Support Manager w Hicron