How SAP Will Gaslight You When Their Software Does Not Work as Promised

Executive Summary

  • SAP and SAP consulting firms have a distinct way of blaming their clients when their oversold software fails to match promises.
  • We cover the specific arguments used by SAP.


SAP resources sometimes get quite incensed by the research we do here at Brightwork. We analyze the quotes from one such SAP resource.

Tell Customers They Are Not Following SAP “Best Practices”

One of the reasons that SAP comes up with is that the company is not following best practices, and all best practices are contained within their software. Any business process/standard functionality that is not leveraged within the application, is by definition not meeting SAP’s best practices, and therefore that must be the reasons for the project. SAP makes this conjecture without ever proving that SAP software does, in fact, contain best practices. We cover how SAP uses the argument around best practices, and how they are often confused by the definition of best practices in the article The Evidence for SAP Best Practices Claims, and how SAP uses the concept of best practices a type of mind control in the article How SAP Uses Best Practices to Control the Implementation.

Tell Customers That All of Their Problems are Unique

A second argument used by SAP and their consulting partners is by telling you that all other customers are happy with the software. I have often arrived on SAP projects trying to recover an SAP module and I am surprised to find that that client is never informed that all other clients that use the same functionality have similar problems. One example of this is how the SAP optimizer does not work, as I covered in the article The Problem with SNP Optimizer Flow Control, and in the article Experiences with Dynamic or Extended Safety Stock. I will have often written articles 6 or 7 years prior to arriving at a client that calls out the issue in SAP, and the client is still unaware of the issue because they are being consistently misinformed by SAP and their consulting partners. At Brightwork, we continue to receive problems that come in from S/4HANA and HANA implementations as well as others. These problems are never published, and we have to be careful in publishing them as they must be annonymized, or they would get the source in trouble. One example of this is described in the article A HANA Performance and HANA on Azure Case Study.

The big illusion that SAP proposes is that customers that use SAP are very content. As a person who has been on SAP projects since the late 1990s, I can say definitively this is not true. Executives, who don’t have to deal with SAP or work on SAP are happy to have SAP on their resumes, but SAP customers are by in large, not happy places. The best description of SAP clients is that they feel restricted by the system.

Tell the Customer That Their Business Users Do Not Understand the Solution

What is curious about this argument is that it is identical to the argument that VW used for over a year to dispute the emission test results from the University of West Virginia. VW continually told them..

“your measurements are wrong”


“you don’t understand our technology.”

The Centrality of Gaslighting to SAP’s Strategy in Customer Management

This is called gaslighting. You attempt to get the receiver of the message to think they are crazy. This is such an important part of SAP’s overall business strategy, it important to delve into the definition.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s belief.[1][2]

Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term originated from the 1938 Patrick Hamilton play Gaslight and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, in which the gas-fueled lights in a character’s home are dimmed when he turns the attic lights brighter while he searches the attic at night. He convinces his wife that she is imagining the change. The term has been used in clinical and research literature,[3][4] as well as in political commentary.” – Wikipedia

Psychology Today has the following quotes on how to identify a person who is gaslighting you.

“You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.” – Psychology Today

SAP constantly lies. In fact, we rate SAP as our least honest vendor as we cover in the article How to Understand the Honest Vendor Ratings – SAP.

“You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.” – Psychology Today

We constantly play back false statements made by SAP to SAP resources and they are very quick to non-observe the statement or change the subject. SAP resources will call out senior executives, particularly in public.

“Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter. ” – Psychology Today

SAP has been lying since its inception as a company, and we have tracked their accuracy over the past ten years in the article A Study into SAP’s Accuracy. However, this inaccuracy does not seem to be observed by customers to use in interpreting SAP’s proposals.

A perfect example of this was found in a recent comment from an SAP consultant, around something called the sap optimizer. SAP consultants, like this one, tell their clients that the problem lies not with the optimizer but lies with the business. This position is held even though I have yet come across an instance where the optimizer worked. I have troubleshot clients where the business was blamed for the optimizer issues, and years after I left the project (often with many of my recommendations ignored) the client was still trying to get the optimizer to work.

Here is a direct quotation.

I worked on using SNP optimizer, the main problem was not the tool or the maths within ILOG algorithms, the real problem was getting business to understand optimisation With optimization 2+ 2 can be 4 but also 3,8 or 4,2 . If you lucky you have business familiar with operational research concept most still in the MRP mindset. Business also have difficulty merging granularity: medium term planning to operational planning– Pino Villa

And this is the problem generally with SAP consultants is that they are not reliable as to the reasons of why SAP does not work as it should work. We covered in the article SAP Platinum Consultants and Objectivity on Difficult Issues with SAP, that the most experienced consultants that work for SAP. However, there they do not have the authority to actually tell the customer the truth.

In fact, it is exceedingly difficult to find SAP consultants that will tell you anything, but the standard SAP marketing and sales position.

Looking for Independent Views on SAP?

One may search, but SAP remotely controls nearly all of the information sources on SAP. Review the following providers of information to see their dependence or independence from SAP.

Coverage that Reinforces SAP Marketing?
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As the least honest vendor in our ratings, SAP has continual large discrepancies between what SAP is sold to do and what SAP can actually do. In order to bridge this gap, SAP uses a number of techniques and arguments that pivot the topic away from SAP’s misrepresentations of its software. It is 100% supported in this behavior through it compliant consulting ecosystem who have the same financial incentives to prevent the customer from using the evidence in front of them that they have been misled.

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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