How SAP Undermines its Software Partners

What This Article Covers

  • Software Partners Versus Consulting Partners
  • What is Often a Forced Relationship
  • Why Software Partnerships with SAP Tend to Sour


SAP has the largest number of partners of any software vendor in the world. Consulting companies that are also SAP partners in most cases do very well. However, software partners usually do not. In this article, we will cover how SAP treats software partners.

Software Partners Versus Consulting Partners

The primary reason for SAP’s success has been that it combined having the most integrated (by most accounts) ERP system in the 1980s along with being willing to outsource it’s consulting to the large consulting companies. It was the consulting companies that contacted SAP in the 1980s and proposed doing consulting for them. They traded this item, which has considerable value, in return for the consulting companies recommending SAP to their clients. Therefore, the relationship between SAP and its consulting partners is quite symbiotic. But the relationship between SAP and its software partners is quite a bit different.

First, most software partners of SAP are in effect forced into being the relationship. This is because software vendors want to have their solution “certified” by SAP. This certification is mostly a sham where SAP goes through some very elementary testing of data sent by the software vendor. But the certification’s main purpose is to make the software vendor’s application seem compatible with SAP. Now there are any number of points along the continuum where an SAP software partner can sit. The less competitive a vendor is with SAP, the better the relationship is, but the closer the software vendor is to being competitive the worse SAP will treat that vendor. And because SAP is constantly growing its footprint, software vendors that at one time were treated as complementary, are often treated with great hostility.

Why Software Partnerships with SAP Tend to Sour

SAP will often use partnerships to gain entry into areas where it lacks an offering. It uses the partnership to co-opt the area and then set upon using the understanding of the area, often obtained from the unwitting software partner, to develop a solution that then completes with its software partner. SAP is complimentary and friendly with the software partner when they want to pull information from them, but then switch to a different mode when SAP feels as if they have gotten what they needed from the relationship.

SAP is very well known for doing their best to prevent customers from buying applications from software vendors that are SAP partners. Therefore, we describe the dynamic of being a software partner with SAP as a bit like that of an abusive relationship. SAP would not hit you so hard if they simply did not love you so much.


This is only a brief explanation of how the SAP ecosystem related to software partners works. However, what salespeople in vendors that compete with SAP should know, and often do know, is that even if your company is a partner with SAP, that only counts for something as long as SAP sees it in its best interests to keep a civil relationship. SAP does not like other software vendors and is normally looking for a way to compete in their area. That means that partnerships with SAP tend to be amicable only over short time spans. And our service is applicable to every software vendor that competes with SAP, whether they are a partner with SAP or not.

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