How to Best Deal with SAP Audits

Executive Summary

  • SAP has been ramping up audits in order to shore up its flagging application license sales.
  • We cover who can provide unbiased information on SAP audits.


SAP audits are when the SAP comes to a customer and determines if the customer is out of compliance on SAP licensing.

In recent years, SAP has increasingly come to rely upon software audits to drive revenue. Secondly, SAP’s licensing rules are some of the most complex in software (along with Oracle, another company that is known to heavily audit its customers). Generally, the largest software vendors (which includes SAP, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft) tend to perform the most software audits and tend to have the stiffest penalties for being out of compliance.

What this means is that software purchased from the largest vendors tends to have the greatest liability associated with them.

SAP Audit Management

SAP audit management is actually the name of a SAP product that speeds the non-software internal audit process (according to SAP). This product runs on SAP HANA, which is a fast database. There is actually a free trial of SAP Audit Management available. SAP Audit Management is an app offered by SAP. But it has nothing at all to do with software audits.

The term “SAP audit management” generally refers to the activities necessary to prepare for and manage a SAP audit.

One of the approaches to a software audit is for the customer to purchase audit software and perform the audit themselves.

  • Making Changes: Doing so can mean adjusting behavior which moves away from violating SAP licensing, as well as changing the roles within SAP so that the company is not out of compliance.
  • Simulation: It allows what-if scenarios to be tested in terms of changing the usage of SAP. Some of the software vendors propose being able to determine the scenarios both the SAP licensing and support costs, however, that is not entirely knowable because of things like the discounts that are offered by SAP.
  • Purchase Proactively: It also allows the customer to approach SAP to purchase licenses before the fact. For example, users may have SAP user licenses assigned to them that they no longer use because of a job change or some other reason.

Another major liability that can be caught during an SAP audit is indirect access. Indirect access is covered in this article. But indirect access is a complicated topic which SAP is increasingly the enforcement of, and which increased the complexity of dealing with an SAP audit.

Audit Software Vendors that are Also SAP Partners?

Unfortunately, in order for a software company to build audit software for SAP, it must be an SAP partner. This means that it has restrictions by SAP on what it can say and what it can publish. I am in constant contact with many software vendors, and the complaints about SAP interference in what they can say and what the can do are unremitting. In fact, I am surprised that SAP would allow software vendors to offer an audit product as it states clearly, for instance in the promotional video from one of the software vendors that their product.

It ensures that you know more about your SAP system than anyone else, giving you the upper hand in any negotiation or audit.

Why would SAP want that? SAP wants the upper hand clearly. Snow software states that they can 20 to 30% savings on their SAP costs typically within weeks alone.

But again, this is money coming out of SAP’s pockets, and they have the right to decertify Snow or any other software vendor at anytime. So if the audit vendors statements are true, how are they still certified partners of SAP. What this means is that SAP has a say as to how the software vendor’s software actually works. SAP can and will threaten the software vendor with a removal of their SAP Certification, which would impact that software vendor’s ability to exist.

If I compare how the SAP partnership agreement is used with other vendors, SAP will use it to neuter the marketing of the vendor so that everything the third party vendor releases is consistent with the needs of SAP.


There is something fishing going on with the market for SAP audit software.

One cannot both be an SAP-certified partner and have free reign to provide whatever information you want to, to your customer. And unfortunately, audit software companies have to be SAP certified partners to have their software connect properly to SAP. This brings up questions regarding how much any audit software company can actually work for customer’s interests, which means working against SAP’s interests, without compromising their SAP certified partnership arrangement with SAP.

If you have questions or comments about our coverage of SAP audits and SAP audit software, reach out to us.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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Protected: The HANA Police and SAP Indirect Access Charges