Softline Group // SAP license management in medium and large companies

SAP license management in medium and large companies

It is commonly known that unnecessary expenditures can be prevented with good Software Asset Management (SAM). Classifying and maintaining the ‘installed base’, as well as optimising the registered licenses is not an easy task. Particularly when SAP is involved and even more in a multinational environment. Especially complexity and dynamic play a role in ‘being in control’ when it comes to SAM for SAP.


The SAP license models are complex and difficult to understand. The need for licenses cannot always be deducted from the SAP systems. The so-called LAW files are complete enough for the user based license. But are the assigned user license types correct? The correct assignment of a user license type requires knowledge of SAP licenses and of how the user uses the referring system.

The real complexity is in the package based licenses. SAP manages about a hundred ‘business metrics’ (cost drivers). Well known examples are: the number of transactions, revenue, number of giga bytes, etc.

How can the contract provisions be translated into a company specific application?


By new SAP products that are used outside the company walls (mobile solutions, business partner roles), but also due to the SAM active acquisition strategy you can see that license agreements are changing. A good example of this is the usage of SAP user licenses in combination with Business Objects.
And then there is the dynamic of the business itself: acquisitions, SAP projects and organic growth of usage are all examples of the ongoing developments.

From my own experience I want to share 3 important components with you, which provide a better grip on SAP licensing within large organisations:


Who is able to judge what license type is needed? No need to explain that this is an important task to define within the organisation. But we have to realise ourselves that this ability to judge a SAP user license often lies with a different level in the organisation than most SAP package licenses. If the right people with the right knowledge are not involved there’s a potential risk of not being compliant.

Knowledge of SAP license models

Make sure there is enough SAP license knowledge. If not in your own organisation, contract an external party to take care of your interests. This party must have the knowledge and pass it on to those people in your organisation that carry responsibility -the owners- who in turn will become a qualified sparring partner for SAP. This person has to work out agreements regarding the differentiation of contract provisions in such a way that owners will be able to understand the definition and apply it. It is important to make clear agreements with SAP, in order to avoid legal problems afterwards.

Senior management attention

A classic we all know, but it all comes down to ‘good housekeeping’ when talking about actions to define the SAP usage. Policies can be valuable. And the next step is putting the rules into practice, because this policy does not directly influence Corporate License Management but it is a condition for a good measurement of usage.

So far I have been talking about usage versus licenses. The next step is to connect the licenses with the effective usage. That’s where the fun begins. And once you have control over ownership and knowledge, you will have your senior managements’ full attention......