Expand +



Your IT Service Desk Costs and Strategy: Question the Status Quo

by Matthias Melich | SAPinsider

April 1, 2011

There has been a radical overhaul of SAP Solution Manager usage rights with regard to IT service desk capabilities. This article decodes those usage rights for readers, arming them with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their service desk strategy for both SAP and non-SAP assets, and also covers the financial and operational benefits customers can expect by exercising those rights.

Ask IT service organizations if they consider themselves to be cost-conscious and, without hesitation, they will respond in the affirmative. This is a core principle they hold inviolate. Then, ask if they are running multiple IT service desks. They may be running SAP Solution Manager, as it interlinks front-end systems with the SAP backbone for optimized ticket routing, for example, and at least one other service desk to support non-SAP assets. This question, too, will be affirmed. But the second response may be at odds with the first. Why? Because there has been a radical overhaul of SAP Solution Manager usage rights with regard to IT service desk capabilities, and the secondary service desk fees you now pay may be unnecessary.

My aim with this article is to arm you with a solid understanding of the new IT service desk usage rights to which SAP customers are now entitled, and the financial and operational benefits you can expect by exercising these rights. This understanding is critical to making informed decisions about your service desk strategy for both SAP and non-SAP assets.

Given the new usage rights, you could shave significant costs off your IT service desk operations. Understanding these rights is critical to making informed decisions about your service desk strategy for SAP and non-SAP assets.

Decoding the New Usage Rights

Starting in 2010, every SAP Enterprise Support customer could use the SAP Solution Manager service desk for both SAP and connected non-SAP components, including non-SAP business applications, management applications, middleware and databases, and hardware such as PCs and printers (see Figure 1). The actual legal language that conveys these expanded usage rights is as follows:

“… for Licensee Solutions and for any other software components and IT assets licensed or otherwise obtained by Licensee from third parties provided such third-party software, software components, and IT assets are operated in conjunction with Enterprise Support Solutions and are required to complete the Licensee’s business processes as documented in the solution documentation in SAP Solution Manager Enterprise Edition (‘Additional Supported Assets’).”


Figure 1 SAP Enterprise Support customers can now use the SAP Solution Manager service desk for both SAP and connected non-SAP components

Let’s translate this legal-speak into a practical example. It’s Monday morning and Joe Smith, the stalwart IT member who supports your company’s printers, discovers that the room where SAP shipment notes are printed has been flooded by last night’s torrential thunderstorms. From a licensing and usage rights perspective, the question that Joe’s cost-conscious IT organization asks is: Can Joe open a ticket in SAP Solution Manager and report this accident? The answer is yes. The support staff, under the new SAP Enterprise Support usage rights, is entitled to process the ticket for free — no fees apply.

There are no additional charges because the printers are part of your SAP solution. The printers fall into the category of “Additional Supported Assets” mentioned in the earlier legal language. In fact, if a problem had arisen with any of the elements referenced in the concentric circles shown in Figure 1, it would be covered under the new usage rights. Printers, PCs, middleware, databases, IT management software, and non-SAP business applications are covered because they are all part of your SAP solution.

What’s the catch? There isn’t one. If the non-SAP IT assets and software operate in conjunction with your SAP environment and are documented in SAP Solution Manager, they are covered by the expanded usage rights. This means that you can process tickets for PC users, the Siebel system that exchanges IDocs with your SAP system, any legacy or custom-coded application, and third-party managing systems.

Now let’s look at Figure 2, which shows the steps of a typical SAP customer’s end-to-end business process:

  1. Sales representatives capture sales opportunities via mobile devices.
  2. The sales data is transmitted to SAP ERP and SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM).
  3. The data is moved to a non-SAP database, which supports the SAP systems and will store the data.
  4. After the opportunities are converted to orders and shipments, the invoices and shipping notices are printed.
Figure 2 SAP Enterprise Support customers can use SAP Solution Manager to report problems with SAP and non-SAP IT assets across a business process, like the four-step order-to-invoice process shown here

For customers with SAP Enterprise Support, any incidents that happen across this end-to-end process, which is built with both SAP and non-SAP components, are covered. Your company can use the SAP Solution Manager service desk for incidents and problem management for both your SAP and non-SAP IT assets. It’s important to note that this is not the case for customers that have SAP Standard Support; the usage rights for SAP Solution Manager service desk capabilities for SAP Standard Support customers cover only SAP software (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 With SAP Standard Support, only SAP components are covered for SAP Solution Manager

Let’s return to the beleaguered Joe Smith, who has left the flood waters of the first printer room, where SAP-related documents are printed, to find problems in the second printer room, which is used for non-SAP-related documents. Under the expanded usage rights, is the company entitled to open tickets for the non-SAP-related printers, too? The answer is yes.

This seems counterintuitive, given that I just explained that there needs to be a link to SAP in order for the assets to be covered. However, we felt it right to include hardware, such as printers or mobile devices, in the expanded IT service desk rights, since it would be too onerous a task to determine, asset by asset, whether or not a component is used exclusively for SAP-related processes. We’ve therefore invoked a “one for all” principle: If even just one component is covered by the usage rights, they all are. In Joe’s case, since at least one printer is used for SAP-related documents, all printers in the company are covered.

Note: SAP Enterprise Support customers can easily extend SAP Solution Manager 7.1 into a full-blown IT service management solution on top of SAP Enterprise Support.

The New Usage Rights Have Immediate Consequences for You

The financial implications for SAP Enterprise Support customers are significant. For the overwhelming majority, the new usage rights cover nearly all non-SAP IT assets, and the IT department can leverage the SAP Solution Manager service desk to support them for free.

The new rights may immediately affect your organization if:

  • You are retiring an aging third-party service desk and deciding how to replace it. Factor the new SAP Solution Manager IT service desk usage rights into your decision, and then decide if you need a replacement IT service desk. SAP Enterprise Support customers may find that the incident and problem management targeted for the replacement system is now covered by SAP Solution Manager. SAP Standard Support customers should ask if the relatively small up-charge to SAP Enterprise Support buys them the target incident and problem management at a much lower cost than a replacement system. If you need assistance with the cost/benefit analysis, your SAP representative can help you.
  • You have SAP Enterprise Support and are paying multiple IT service desk maintenance fees to cover the IT assets depicted back in Figure 1. Cost-conscious IT organizations should determine which pieces of functionality are rendered unnecessary in the wake of the new usage rights, compute their costs, and ask whether this money — being spent on capabilities to which you are entitled at no cost under SAP Enterprise Support — could be better spent.
  • You want your IT service management to run on a common platform. I’ve heard this request from countless IT organizations. The new usage rights afford you the opportunity to do this on SAP Solution Manager.
  • You have never viewed SAP or SAP Solution Manager as a serious contender for your IT service desk. Prior to the 7.1 release of SAP Solution Manager, I know that many IT organizations took issue with the SAP Solution Manager interface. I’m pleased to tell you that it’s time to take another look; the interface has been overhauled to enable a better user experience (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 An example of a newly improved dashboard interface available with SAP Solution Manager 7.1

Operating Efficiencies

Consolidating redundant IT service desk functions isn’t merely about cost savings. You can also gain SAP operating efficiencies. Consider the following:

  • Using fewer IT service desks doesn’t simply mean less maintenance fees; it also means less staffing and training.
  • Meeting more than just SAP service requirements means you get greater returns on your investment in SAP Solution Manager.
  • Those who work in the IT service desk area are generally concerned about the quality of diagnostic data that users have to enter manually. This can be a belabored, error-prone process that impedes incident resolution. With SAP Solution Manager, problem resolution is based on permanently collected, aggregated data for exceptions, changes, and workload, as well as unified and standardized problem resolution processes with an identical look and feel covering SAP-based and non-SAP technologies. SAP Solution Manager also provides root cause analysis tools and content.
  • By having IT asset management in one place and less IT staff involved in problem remediation, IT organizations have a better handle on issues and can resolve problems faster because they’re able to collect and interpret diagnostic data from a variety of end-user devices without having to contend with custom interfaces and integration issues.1
  • Continuity of service, rather than disjointed IT service desks, reduces the time and cost of incident management.
  • You can accelerate the time it takes to enable users to return to productive work, and improve user satisfaction by resolving problems quickly.  
  • IT service management of an entire solution (rather than just a portion) fortifies an IT organization’s offensive and defensive posture. Up until now, I’ve talked about better, faster management of incidents and problems as a benefit of aligned IT service desk management. But consider the potential for proactive support: Your ability to see and manage a solution, end to end, significantly bolsters your ability to avoid interruptions in productivity. This is a key difference between SAP Standard Support and SAP Enterprise Support.

5 Service Desk Questions Every SAP Customer Now Needs to Ponder

As a next step, think about how you would answer these questions about your organization:

  1. Are we well-versed in the newly expanded IT service desk usage rights now granted to SAP Enterprise Support customers, at no additional fee? (Note: SAP Standard Support customers should also ask if the new usage rights warrant the move to SAP Enterprise Support.)
  2. Given the expanded usage rights, are we overspending on our IT service desk(s)? (Don’t take for granted that multiple IT service desk fees are the cost of doing business.)
  3. Have we set aside time to talk to our SAP representative about what we currently pay for services and how we can improve upon our approach to costs and benefits?
  4. Is now a good time to move from disjointed to more coordinated IT service desks?
  5. Do we want to advance our IT service desk further into the IT service management realm (see sidebar)?

These questions will help IT organizations hone a strategy that improves quality of service and customer satisfaction, while lowering costs at the same time.

For more information, I encourage you to visit

Dr. Matthias Melich ( studied English literature at the University of Rochester (New York), and mathematics and English philology at the University of Cologne. He also received his Ph.D. in computer-based language learning from the University of Cologne in 1993. Since joining SAP in 1995, he has held various positions in product management for archiving, customizing, and implementation tools. In January 2005, Matthias took over responsibility for the SAP Solution Manager Global Product Management team. Today, he is Vice President of ALM Solution Management.


1 This will be possible with SAP Infrastructure Management, a new product that will be available on the SAP price list this year. [back]

An email has been sent to:

More from SAPinsider


Please log in to post a comment.

No comments have been submitted on this article. Be the first to comment!