The Surge in Third-Party SAP Service Providers


SAP support plays a crucial role in maintaining smooth operations within organizations that use SAP. It ensures uninterrupted access to critical functionalities, addresses technical issues promptly, provides updates to keep up with evolving industry standards, and offers guidance for optimizing system performance. Without proper support, organizations risk facing costly downtime or inefficient processes. However, as companies face budget constraints and seek more personalized service options, there has been an upsurge in the demand for third-party SAP support.

These specialized companies provide complete support packages at significantly lower costs than traditional vendor-provided contracts. Moreover, they offer flexibility and scalability tailored to individual business needs. In this blog post, we will dive into the significance of SAP support, and the emerging demand for third-party support services, and explore the benefits and considerations when opting for such assistance.

The Evolution of SAP Support

In the early days of SAP implementation, support was primarily provided by SAP. This meant that organizations would rely solely on SAP's own support team to troubleshoot issues and provide solutions for further implementations. While this approach had its benefits, it also had limitations. Not to mention the unique requirements needed by different industries when it comes to how they must approach SAP support.

For example, manufacturing companies require real-time monitoring and immediate issue resolution to prevent production downtime. Healthcare organizations need support that complies with strict regulatory standards such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Financial institutions demand strict security measures and compliance with financial regulations like SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act). The evolution of SAP support has allowed these industries to find tailored solutions that cater specifically to their needs.

As SAP became more prevalent across industries, businesses started seeking alternate support options beyond what was offered by the vendor. This led to the rise of third-party SAP support providers who specialized in providing dedicated assistance to organizations using SAP systems.

Recently, with SAP’s cloud strategy of ‘RISE with SAP' whereby SAP customers are told that future support for advanced features such as Generative AI (Joule) will only be possible with systems managed by SAP RISE on public cloud platforms, customers are faced with turning over all infrastructure and managed services to SAP for a subscription model bundled with support. Though it may sound simpler and more cost-effective, the feedback from early RISE customers says otherwise according to our TekiTok Podcast episodes 1-4. Customers who are happy with their implementation and support do not see the need to upgrade or migrate to RISE and are exploring third-party support companies for alternative support models that may fit them better technically and financially.

Companies Specializing in Third-Party Support

Several reputable companies now specialize in providing third-party SAP support services, including Rimini Street, Spinnaker Support, and N'ware Technologies. These companies have gained recognition for their expertise in navigating complex ERP ecosystems while offering cost-effective alternatives to traditional vendor-provided maintenance.

Companies heavily rely on robust ERP systems to streamline their operations. Hence, having a detailed support plan is a must and third-party support vendors can be part of that plan. However, there lies the question, why should your organization, as an existing SAP customer, consider the additional expense of third-party support when SAP provides in-house support options?

For some SAP customers, it might be the best and only choice after SAP announced that it would stop support and maintenance for all their versions previous to S/4HANA in 2027 if they don’t have a migration contemplated in the future. Third-party support providers consistently update their knowledge base to keep up with the latest SAP advancements. They offer timely patches, fixes, and upgrades without forcing organizations into costly migration projects.

Nevertheless, by choosing a third-party provider, organizations can achieve substantial savings compared to vendor-provided maintenance contracts while ensuring high-quality support tailored to their specific requirements. Another benefit is that third-party support providers offer adaptable service agreements that can be tailored to suit your specific business needs. Furthermore, they facilitate effortless scalability to accommodate growth or downsizing, ensuring efficient resource allocation.

While there are significant advantages to selecting third-party SAP support, organizations should also consider some legal challenges such as intellectual property rights and potential limitations on customization options that could end up tipping the scales against them.

Evaluating Your Support Needs

Ultimately, the decision should be based on a thorough assessment of your organization's specific requirements, budget constraints, long-term plans, and the capabilities of both SAP's support services and potential third-party providers available in the market. However, these are some basic things you can keep in mind if you’re considering making the switch.

  • It all starts with cost savings, so the first step is evaluating whether outsourcing SAP support vs in-house SAP support will result in cost savings in the long term. Investing in support will always be a priority opposite to starting new projects, such as a migration project for example, however, it’ll heavily depend on your organization’s budget and strategic planning priorities.

  • Consider if the existing SLAs with SAP are not meeting your organization's needs and if a third-party provider can offer better response times and resolution rates.

  • Determine if your organization has extensive customizations or unique requirements that may be better supported by a third-party provider who specializes in specific industries or modules. To this, we can add an understanding of the expertise and experience of a potential provider. We can tell this by ensuring that they have certified consultants, or by engaging in meetings where you can ask specific questions about how they’d approach your specific SAP environment.

  • Consider if a third-party provider can easily scale their support services as your organization grows or undergoes changes such as mergers, acquisitions, or system upgrades.

  • Third-party options for alternative support tools which can include SAP monitoring (Solution Manager), Transports Management (ChaRM), etc.

The world of SAP support is constantly evolving, driven by technological advancements and changing business needs. Among the emerging trends in SAP support are automation, AI, and cloud-based solutions. These trends have far-reaching implications for overall organizational SAP strategies. Automation allows IT teams to focus more on strategic initiatives rather than spending time on routine maintenance tasks. AI-driven insights enable proactive problem-solving approaches that prevent potential disruptions before they occur. Cloud-based solutions offer greater agility and scalability to accommodate changing business needs without heavy upfront investments.

In conclusion, the evolution of SAP support has seen a transition from traditional vendor-provided assistance to third-party alternatives. This shift has given organizations more choices and tailored solutions for their unique industry requirements. We live in an era where cost efficiency and tailored solutions have become paramount for sustainable growth, and exploring third-party support options has become essential for organizations using SAP systems.

As the demand for SAP support continues to rise, we can expect more innovative solutions and increased competition among third-party providers. By staying up-to-date with these evolving support practices, companies can ensure that their SAP systems continue to operate smoothly and contribute to overall business success.