Let Me Be (IN)Direct

by Michael Pearson

In April 2018 SAP announced a new pricing model directly aimed at providing a framework for licensing Indirect Access. See our article from May 2019 for a definition of Indirect Access.

This only applies to the ERP core systems of ECC of S/4HANA. This licensing model cannot be applied to other SAP products such as BusinessObjects or any of the cloud-based solutions like SuccessFactors.

SAP defines access in 3 categories.

- Direct Human Access: A person directly logging on via SAPGUI/Fiori or some other UI
- SAP Application Access: Other SAP applications accessing the Digital Core, such as SuccessFactors, Ariba, Cloud4Customer, BW, etc.
- Indirect Access: External non-SAP systems accessing SAP applications or data contained in SAP applications

Licensing is based on an annual document count, so you apply the above calculation to how many documents per year. There is also a tiered pricing structure, so the more documents per year you need, the lower the price per document.

The interesting thing to note is that this document/year is a one-time cost, not a pay-as-you-go model. SAP Enterprise Support is, of course, charged annually, based on the original purchase cost.

Customers who already own (or are purchasing SAP for the first time) can now purchase document-based licenses called SAP Digital Access. Licenses can be purchased in blocks of 1,000 documents. Therefore, 100 licenses would allow 100,000 documents per year.

To understand the document-based licensing model, it is important to understand what SAP considers to be a document.

There are nine defined document types that SAP uses to calculate licensing:

- Sales Order
- Invoice
- Purchase Order
- Service & Maintenance Document
- Manufacturing Document
- Quality Management Document
- Time Management Document
- Financial Document
- Material Document

These nine document types, according to SAP, represent most outcomes from SAP ERP.

It is important to note that some document types are counted at the line-item level. For example, on a Sales Order if there are 10 line-items, this counts as 10 documents. But a Manufacturing Document only counts as 1 document in this calculation regardless of the item detail. This is done to account for how different businesses operate. Some may have one blanket order with 1000s of line items on it, and another business may create a single Sales Order for every line item.

Secondly, because not all documents are created equal, or rather SAP understands that certain documents are created with much greater frequency there is some distinction in how certain document types applied towards this document calculation.

SAP only counts the document creation, so no matter how many times a document is viewed, accessed, or modified; it still only counts as one document.

SAP also states that only the originating document is counted, and follow-on documents are not. For example, if a sales order is entered, which is then used to create an outbound delivery, which is used to create an invoice, which is then used to post a payment and FI document; then only the originating sales order document is counted. This seems a little unclear to us as to how this calculation would work, but presumably SAP has a way of measuring this.

For more information about document-based licensing, or other SAP licensing questions, please contact, or call us at +1 312-475-9706.

Ed Note: This article was updated in November, 2019 to reflect currently available information.

About the author: Michael Pearson

Michael is President of CONTAX and claims to be one of the few people in the western world who understands SAP licensing.