8. It can pay to be an early adopter
SAP has been rolling out a slew of new products over the past year in areas such as mobility and its HANA in-memory computing engine, and sales representatives are no doubt pushing all of them hard, hoping to get customers with stable core ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems to open their wallets as well as show market observers that SAP's strategy is clicking.
Customers should gird themselves against such pressures, since even heavy discounts offered by an eager salesman on a new product won't make up for those hefty annual maintenance payments over time.
Still, "if you have money to buy new software it makes sense to jump in on the beta because you can shape the product, despite the headaches," Wang said.
In addition, SAP wants to showcase successful early customers of its new products and accordingly, it helps them out with services. Beta users can also gain favorable pricing terms, Wang said.
9. Have heart-to-heart talks with SAP
A strong relationship with SAP has to go beyond yearly contract talks. Customers would be wise to line up "strategic alignment" meetings between their own executives and their peers at SAP, Jones wrote. "Not only will this help clarify stakeholders' opinion of SAP, it will also enhance SAP's opinion of you as a potential enabler rather than merely a negotiation adversary."
10. Get ready for next year
It's important for customers to get a real handle on how important SAP is to the business overall, according to Jones. He cited the example of a consumer goods company that used SAP as its main set of back-office applications but hardly had any SAP running at all in remote offices. "Getting clear consensus on SAP's role enabled the commercial team to define appropriate negotiation strategies for the future," he said.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com