How to Understand the Honest Vendor Ratings – SAP

Executive Summary

  • This is the Honest Vendor Rating for SAP.
  • SAP ranks as one of our lowest rated vendors in topics ranging from SAP’s sales tactics to their value.


SAP is the world’s largest enterprise software company. However, as a company, like the largest consumer software company in the world, Microsoft, SAP lives in a bubble. In SAP’s world, they make the best software it contains all of the best practices. Best practices is a circular concept which is applied by many vendors, but which has become a marketing fixation on the part of SAP and SAP is adamant that if any business process is not covered by SAP it is not a best practice.

Those at SAP believe very strongly that they have earned their position as the world’s largest software vendor through hard work and great software. The truth is actually quite the opposite. In our rating SAP does not have the best application in a single category – and without an association with SAP’s flagship ERP system, many of SAP’s other products could not survive as independent products. If SAP’s applications were actually that good, they would not need to pay off the major consulting companies by giving them most of the SAP consulting business in order for their applications to be continually recommended.

In terms of its technology layers, SAP lags in terms of user interface design, their database and infrastructure and is only competitive not in the quality, but in the quantity of its business logic. SAP has the broadest business logic in most of the software categories in which it has a product.


SAP value argument is poor because our TCO Estimator shows that their TCO is always the highest in any software category that we cover. Interestingly SAP writes white papers on the importance of TCO, while consistently having the highest TCO of any vendor. The fact that many consulting companies have built their revenues around SAP software – which is the main reason why the story about SAP has not gotten out.

Quality of Information Provided

The Sales information that is received from SAP is of a very low quality. SAP salespeople say what they need to say in order to close deals. We have numerous first-hand experiences with SAP misrepresenting the capabilities of its software, and then continuing to mislead the client for months about “looking into” how to make a promised functionality work, that we have tested and shown did not work, that should never have been promised in the first place.

SAP consulting has a very limited ability to break the bad news to the client. This is that the information published by SAP, including in its release notes, is unreliable. Of all the software vendors we cover, SAP has the highest percentage of its functionality that simply does not work – and that never seems to get fixed. There are aspects of this that skirt with illegality, as the release notes are the statement to customers of what the product is capable of.  As SAP is knowing placing false information in release notes – saying it has functionality when it does not, it is engaging, if sold to consumers is the definition of consumer fraud. This is the same as if a bank stated that it had one interest rate on your account when in fact it had another. SAP is too powerful to be affected by US regulatory bodies (i.e. it can make political contributions that prevent regulatory inquiries from even beginning) So what this means that unless one has personal experience in implementing the functionality, for any functionality to be relied upon, it must be tested – because there is some good likelihood it will not work. This means companies cannot project what portion of the published functionality that they are targeting to activate will work properly. A perfect example of how SAP distributes false information can be found in HANA.

The major IT consulting companies have all built part of their practices around SAP software and it has been a major revenue generator for them for some time. SAP is also major funder of Gartner, and they are consistently overrated by Gartner both because of this funding, as well as the fact that most of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant methodology is directed toward vendor size. SAP applications that are clearly some of the worst in a software category, with the highest TCO of any application, routinely end up in Gartner’s Leader Quadrant.

Therefore when any a buyer attempts to triangulate and listen to the advice of either their consulting company or Gartner and other IT analysts, SAP has effectively manipulated these sources of information so that buyers do not receive objective information about SAP.

SAP can and does say pretty much anything it likes knowing that the vast majority of information outlets on the Internet will line up and support them and its vision. SAP can also bring out a limited-function solution and face no negative media attention. When we search for articles on the Internet about SAP, the only negative comments I can find are comments left on articles, not within the articles themselves. That is power.

Consulting and Support

SAP’s own consultants have a good talent level, although they are quite often pressured to not tell the client the truth by account management. However, the problem with evaluating SAP is that they staff only a small percentage of the overall number of consultants that implement their software. SAP has no interest in staffing most of its projects, or at least it has not historically. This is because they have outsourced their consulting to the major consulting companies in the “great compromise,” which was performed to get the major consulting companies to recommend their products. If SAP were to build up its consulting practice, it would be competing with the consulting companies who would cease to recommend them. This partnership is critical because, without continual recommendations from consulting companies, we predict SAP’s market share would swiftly decline, as SAP cannot compete on the basis of its product on a level playing field.

Implementations by major consulting companies are always longer and more expensive than if the software vendor’s own consultants are used. This is one of the major reasons for the overwhelmingly higher implementation costs to both SAP and Oracle. Implementation success also declines with the major consulting companies. Our estimates for the SAP and Oracle consulting capabilities – which are generally of good quality – which is at least partially due to the fact that SAP and Oracle consultants receive a premium in pay over other vendors. However, both companies have a hard time managing projects because they generally only provide technical consulting resources. However, this rating does not apply if the major consulting companies staff the project. Companies looking for a risk estimate when the software is implemented with a consulting company as the prime contractor should contact us, and this is a paid service.

SAP has poor quality support. All of its support is primarily outsourced it’s to low-cost regions and subject to the standard problems with Outsourced IT. English language skills are weak, and one must repeatedly go around with support personnel, and it seems to take ages until an appropriate skill level support resource is assigned to your problem. Much of SAP’s functionality is broken or does not work as advertised, so support has the unhappy role of slowly giving out this information. SAP support understands the political ramifications the information it gives out, and so it is given out quite slowly, and the intent is to make it appear that SAP’s functionality is not to blame but the client is to blame. SAP has a deceptive practice in that they will pretend the functionality should be working considering the configuration steps that have been taken, but they don’t take any responsibility to make it work. This is because SAP is hiding the fact that the functionality, in fact, does not work. Their strategy is to lengthen out the discovery process on non-functioning applications with the hope that the customer tires of following up.

Internal Efficiency

SAP’s internal efficiency is good for its size, but of course, because it is so big its comparative internal efficiency is lagging many of the companies it competes against which are smaller.


The only slight innovation that we can find to SAP thought its history has been when it effectively combined a wide variety of functionality into a single application. This was not a new idea at the time as all of the companies in the ERP space were doing it, however, because of SAP’s strong adherence to rules, they were able to build what was considered the most well-integrated ERP system. All subsequent developments have simply been copied from other vendors or from textbooks. Some of SAP’s software is taken and unaccredited to other software vendors such as APO which is partially based on their partnership with i2 Technologies. Their SPP application is essentially based upon their partnership with MCA Solutions.

The problem with this copy and paste approach to software development is it means that much of SAP’s software has been developed without any authentic knowledge or experience in subject matter or clients – which explains why so much of SAP’s overall functionality works in just a limited way or does not work at all. SAP is continually on the lookout for functionality they can copy from other vendors and incorporate into their own products because they are not able to innovate internally. They access this information by developing a “partnership” with the software vendor, and then cancel the partnership when they have the information that they need.

Other software vendors must be extremely careful in “partnering” with SAP as SAP has historically shown no respect for the intellectual property of others. This was we think well demonstrated in the Tomorrow Now court case where SAP was caught downloading very large quantities of Oracle’s intellectual property. However, that case is just the tip of the iceberg, we have multiple other examples that reinforce this as a normal operating procedure.

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