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.

Introduction

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”

and

“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.

 
Company
Coverage that Reinforces SAP Marketing?
Financially Independent from SAP?
1ComputerWeekly
Yes
No
2Forrester
Yes
No
3Diginomica
Yes
No
4ASUG
Yes
No
5CIO
Yes
No
6Gartner
Yes
No
7TechTarget
Yes
No
8InfoWeek
Yes
No
9G2Crowd
Yes
No
10Forbes
Yes
No

Conclusion

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.

Search Our Other SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

Is It True That SAP Performs Tests Before Selling Software?

Executive Summary

  • SAP makes the claim that they support testing to prevent customers from buying software that is not a good fit.
  • We verify this claim for accuracy.

Introduction

SAP has a long history of forcing ill-fitting applications into their customers. This is enabled by SAP’s large compliant ecosystem that normally repeats whatever SAP says, and denigrates all other applications. However, Luca Massasso of BizBrain Technologies (and ex-SAP employee), a consulting firm focused on APO and IBP, states that this is not the case.

Setup

These comments we made on an article by Lora Cecere titled Where There is Smoke There is Fire. Luca stated that SAP was adopting Lora Cecere’s focus on testing before making purchases.

Luca’s Initial Comment on Lora’s article.

Hi Lora, I was part of the team that developed SAP Supply Network Collaboration and since 2013 I dedicate my time to the implementation of SAP IBP (before “S&OP on HANA”). One thing I can confirm to you: the vast majority of customers has changed habit and they are fully following your advice: “Test technology and ensure business results. And, in the process, trust but verify.” In these recent years we have been involved in more than 40 evaluations and sales cycles and pretty much all of them required a Proof-of-concept or a small pilot. This happened for customers of almost any size. Perhaps additionally, it would make sense to mention that in the test you recommend, not much emphasis goes into the aspect of modeling the integration of Supply Chain Planning and Supply Chain Execution. On this topic, I have seen but also heard (2nd hand) many horror stories of allegedly better solutions than SAP, where the integration of planning into SAP ECC was a failure. I think your point captures what we have so fare experienced in the IBP market, but I would additionally humbly recommend to look at the business process as a whole and understand that Operations team need a working end-to-end solution. Thanks for your articles, always a pleasure to read.

My Response

“This is an interesting attempt to embrace Lora’s message and perform damage control. Contrary to your statement, SAP entirely opposes Lora’s advice on testing. SAP habitually and as a strategy circumvents testing. If APO had ever been testing, almost no one would have purchased it. This is why SAP can’t really move to the cloud, the cloud is about testing, and SAP is about making based upon giving out goodies to executives, getting SAP consulting partners to lie about the SAP applications and false promises by SAP sales. It is the exact opposite of a testing approach. If you like testing, we have a large number of articles that test functionality at brightworkresearch.com/sapplanning/.

But you probably won’t want to read the test results. If the testing of APO were a movie, it would fall into the horror genre.  If SAP sees a deal moving away from them based upon testing, they will put pressure at the tippy top to get the executives to ignore the test results, to ignore the desire of the users. Unless you get to see how the sausage is made, it is difficult to appreciate how corrupt SAP is. SAP is all about the money, they will jam the least appropriate solutions into customers by any means necessary.”

Luca’s Response

“Your statements oversimplify the reality. I am in this business almost three decades and money is pervasive in so many dimensions including the ones that claim independence by statute. I respect different viewpoints but again reality had been and is that in my direct experience every company evaluating sap ibp has worked exercises to evaluate the software and put it to the test. For confidentiality reasons i cannot name them on a social platform, but they are among the largest sap customers and the most important companies in the world. The exercise led to conversation with SAP development on roadmaps where gaps were identified. In some cases IBP has been successfully deployed (microsoft is a public reference for example or Prestige Brands or Nature’s Way on smaller size organizations). Where i saw problems with the delivery was when the consulting force was not proficient on what the tool can’t or can do. There are plenty of examples where previous apo customers selected (or did not select) ibp based on poc/prototypes and pilots. We can look back at apo, but ignoring this and writing that sap sales cycles are not subject to testing is in my experience factually inaccurate and depending on statistics probably wrong.”

My Response

I only want to address the last part of your answer. So I want to distinguish what you consider testing and what I consider testing. Earlier you commented about POCs. This gives me the impression that you think a POC is a test. POCs do not meet my definition of a test. The test must be performed by an entity that does not care what the results of the test are. That is, they are indifferent. I have worked on pre-sales engagements and received heavy pressure from sales to rig the results to make the SAP software look it was a perfect fit for the requirements when it wasn’t. When we would get a POC, it was good because the client would pay, but sales entirely controlled the process. The pressure is to make the sale, not to show anything realistic. I don’t think other vendors work much differently in this regard, but SAP, because of its enormous influence and partner network leads all other vendors in being able to push their applications and databases into situations for which they are a poor fit.

SAP nor can any SAP consulting partner perform any test or POC. The reason is apparent, a test must have no bias for the test to succeed or to fail. So, under your definition of a test, tests are sometimes performed during the sales process (although no often). SAP and most other vendors will oppose any independent party being included in the process. I can communicate that I have extensive experience in testing solutions, and I run a research entity and I am constantly evaluating software and recording accuracy of things like SAP’s statements to clients. I would provide an entirely unbiased test result. I can guarantee you; I will never receive a call from SAP (or from Oracle or from IBM) to ever perform tests where the client pays. SAP, Oracle or IBM would actively fight my entry or the entry of any testing entity that is not controlled by them. Also, I can promise, any test I perform will not match with the statements made about sales to the prospect.

Conclusion

The following comment is Luca’s strongest point.

“We can look back at apo, but ignoring this and writing that sap sales cycles are not subject to testing is in my experience factually inaccurate and depending on statistics probably wrong.”

However, again, a POC run by SAP is not a test. Secondly the fact that APO does not win every single competition is not evidence that testing is performed prior to APO being purchased. And this generalizes far beyond APO. SAP applications are routinely purchased without an independent entity performing the tests. Biased SAP consultants and SAP like to stated that a POC that they control is a test, when it isn’t.

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.

Search Our Other SAP Content

SAP Contact Form

  • Interested in Our SAP Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:article:8658798029287428681/?commentUrn=urn%3Ali%3Acomment%3A(article%3A8658798029287428681%2C6543793631919251456)&replyUrn=urn%3Ali%3Acomment%3A(article%3A8658798029287428681%2C6544519168807448577)

Why You Should Treat SAP Sales Reps As Passive Order Takers

Executive Summary

  • Customers frequently overestimate the helpfulness of SAP sales reps.
  • We propose treating SAP sales reps not as advisors or as a friendly entity, but as passive order takers.

Introduction

SAP sales reps are set up as the go-to source of information for information about SAP products, pricing and terms, and conditions. In this article, we will layout why frequent interactions with SAP sales reps is not only bad for your mental health but leads to inaccurate information.

What Do SAP Sales Reps Know?

SAP sales reps are hired for their ability to sell. Everything else is secondary.

SAP sales reps will normally have never used an SAP product and don’t spend much time learning about the experiences of their customers with different applications and databases that they purchased. I have worked with many SAP reps, as a solution consultant and I don’t ask SAP reps questions (except about pricing) they ask me questions. So its odd that the customer sees the reps as a source of information (outside of pricing). As soon as a question is asked of a sales rep, they turn around and find someone they can ask. In fact, even pricing is often performed by a specialized pricing resource.

  • SAP Sales Reps and Technology: SAP sales reps generally know little about technology. If you spend time interacting with SAP sales reps (as I have), you soon realize that most of them are challenged by personal computing. SAP sales reps are significantly powered up by their solution consultants. Oftentimes when working with a sales rep I was told at a demo “At that point, you need to jump in because I don’t know that area.” 
  • The Tenure at SAP: Many SAP sales reps have short tenures at SAP. In another year or so, they may jump to Oracle. SAP has 309 products as we covered in the article How Many Products Does SAP Have? Most sales come from a much smaller sample of products, but the scope of SAP is overwhelming. I have been working in the SAP space since 1997, and the number of SAP products that have come and gone in that period is astounding. Products are constantly being renamed, even repositioned (Leonardo started off as IoT, but then morphed into predictive analytics and finally into AI). There is no possible way to understand the overall mix if one has worked in the space for a short period of time.
  • SAP’s Unicorn Based Sales Training: SAP sales training is ridiculously inaccurate. The tests cannot be passed by anyone who answers the questions with what actually happens on SAP projects. Passing the tests means agreeing with the test prep, which is a fantasyland creation of what SAP sales and marketing would like to be true.

What Do SAP Sales Reps Know About Your Business?

One of the ideas of a sales rep is that they will know your business and therefore be able to recommend the right thing to you. However, SAP is far too quota oriented for sales reps to fulfill this role even if they wanted to in other respects. With our clients, SAP reps make repeated mistakes around the environments of their customers where they have already had operating SAP systems for 10 or 15 years!

How can this be? It sounds impossible, doesn’t it?

Well, SAP reps frequently turn over, and the knowledge of the customer’s environment dissipates. Everything the SAP rep provides regarding the environment must be checked. It cannot be assumed that they have made the right estimations.

What is the Accuracy of Information from SAP Sales Reps?

Low. SAP is the lowest rated vendor in our Honest Vendor Ratings, tied with Oracle.

This is for several reasons.

  • SAP hires its reps without consideration for information quality.
  • SAP sales reps are themselves provided with heaps of inaccurate information by SAP.
  • SAP’s marketing literature is quite inaccurate. For example, we can find large inaccuracies in any SAP marketing document that is put in front of us.

SAP customers and prospects constantly complain about “inconsistencies” from SAP sales reps. We work for clients going through the procurement process and these “inconsistencies” consistently allow the sales rep to make more money. These inconsistencies can be users reclassified as a license they do not need, verbal assurances regarding indirect access that have no legal weight, exaggerations (pick your adjective) regarding product capabilities, overly optimistic roadmaps. The list goes on and on.

Every SAP roadmap makes it appear as if the product will take over the world soon. However, they are not reliable as a guide to what the product will be. They are in a true sense marketing and sales tools. Product managers at SAP know that the roadmaps are highly political documents. SAP also make a habit of stating the milestones on the roadmap as sufficiently vague, that it can be difficult to say for certain if the item was actually added in that release. This can be seen just from reading through this slide on S/4HANA’s roadmap. 

Treating SAP Sales Reps as They Should be Treated: As Passive Order Takers

SAP sales reps lack the technical expertise or the objectivity to be used to tell you what applications or databases you should purchase from SAP. As an example, S/4HANA still has significant maturity issues, but you won’t hear anything about this from an SAP sales rep. SAP sales reps too consistently mislead clients that we have had to be trusted to provide insight to the prospect.

The SAP sales organization is hierarchical and pushes sales reps to be a certain way, which is reactive rather than thoughtful. SAP is far too responsive to Wall Street and to the quarterly earnings hamster wheel to place their customer’s interests ahead of their own.

All of this adds up why in the vast majority of situations we advise companies to treat SAP and Oracle sales reps as passive order takers. Treating them this way is how they should be treated, and is what will allow the prospect to receive the best outcomes from the process. Ironically, the less that customers listen to SAP sales reps, the better they tend to do with their SAP investments.

Conclusion

This article is counter-intuitive. Customers are directed to “talk to their SAP rep” but what do you find out when you do? Deloitte has to direct them because they are just a consulting arm of SAP. Deloitte has a partnership agreement with SAP, as we covered in the article How to Understand the Pitfalls of a Vendor Partnership with SAP, and they value their relationship with SAP far more than with any one client. For this reason, the SAP consulting companies stay away from offering any advice that might contradict SAP or be seen as opposing their interests during the negotiation. The SAP consulting companies are financially motivated to push their client to get all the information from SAP. But we can say “wait, maybe you shouldn’t just “talk to your rep.” You need to go through the rep eventually, but you tell them what you need, they don’t tell you.

When we provide software selection support, we don’t spend much time talking to SAP sales reps. We did not ask them questions when we supported them in pre-sales engagements, and we still don’t. We already have access to the SAP information that we need, and our approach is to push interactions with SAP to later in the process. And we don’t care what the customer buys, and make no more money if they buy A or B, or 2 of A vs. 3 of A. By telling SAP what the customer wants to buy, it takes the inertia away from the SAP sales rep. At that point, it simply becomes a question about price, timing and terms and conditions.

Post Article

SAP sales reps and consulting companies will hate this article. They might point out that taking such an approach is not partnering with SAP, and will not result in getting what you need. Our experience says otherwise. Both SAP sales reps and consulting companies will dislike this article because it reduces their ability to control the account.

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.

Search Our Other SAP Content

SAP Licensing Research Contact

  • Interested in Our SAP Licensing Research?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, contact us and we will be in touch.

References

Software Selection Book

SELECTION

Enterprise Software Selection: How to Pinpoint the Perfect Software Solution Using Multiple Information Sources

Mastering Software Selection

Software selection is a form of forecasting, just as any another purchase decision is a forecast of how successfully the purchased item will meet expectations. Forecasting is necessary because it is not feasible to implement each application under consideration before it is purchased to see how it works in the business.

The Importance of Software Selection

Software selection is the most important part of any software implementation because it is the best opportunity to match the software with the business requirements, which is the most important factor in determining the success of the project. This book explains how to get the right information from the right sources to perform software selection correctly.

What You Can Expect from the Book

Essential reading for success in your next software selection and implementation. Software selection is the most important tasks in a software implementation project, as it is your best (if not only) opportunity to make sure that the right software the software that matches the business requirements is being implemented. Choosing the software that is the best fit clears the way for a successful implementation, yet software selection is often fraught with issues, and many companies do not end up with the best software for their needs. However, the process can be greatly simplified by addressing the information sources that influence software selection.

This book is a how-to guide for improving the software selection process and is formulated around the idea that much like purchasing decisions for consumer products the end user and those with the domain expertise must be included. In addition to providing hints for refining the software selection process, this book delves into the often-overlooked topic of how consulting and IT analyst firms influence the purchasing decision and gives the reader an insider’s understanding of the enterprise software market. By reading this book you will:

  • Learn how to apply a scientific approach to the software selection process.
  • Interpret vendor-supplied information to your best advantage.
  • Understand what motivates a software vendor.
  • Learn how the institutional structure and biases of consulting firms affect the advice they give you, and understand how to interpret information from consulting companies correctly.
  • Make vendor demos work to your benefit.
  • Know the right questions to ask on topics such as integration with existing software, cloud versus on-premise vendors, and client references.
  • Differentiate what is important to know about software for improved “implement-ability” versus what the vendor thinks is important for improved “sell-ability.”
  • Better manage your software selection projects to ensure smoother implementations.

Chapters

  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Software Selection
  • Chapter 2: Understanding the Enterprise Software Market
  • Chapter 3: Software Sell-ability versus Implement-ability
  • Chapter 4: How to Use Consulting Advice on Software Selection
  • Chapter 5: How to Use the Reports of Analyst Firms Like Gartner
  • Chapter 6: How to Use Information Provided by Vendors
  • Chapter 7: How to Manage the Software Selection Process
  • Chapter 8: Conclusion
  • Appendix a: How to Use Independent Consultants for Software Selection