Johnsonville's Journey: Assessing SAP Digital Access

Ron Gilson
Ron Gilson in Licensing August 04, 2019

Over the past two and a half years I have had the privilege of serving on the ASUG Board of Directors. As a member of the ASUG team, I’ve had the opportunity to work with SAP and other global user groups addressing the SAP indirect access issue. The SAP digital access license model and the recently announced Digital Access Adoption Program were the result of collaborative efforts between SAP and ASUG. 

My involvement in this work, in combination with my experience as Johnsonville’s CIO for more than 20 years, provides me the opportunity to  share our review of indirect access as a business case for other companies to learn from as we evaluate and potentially adopt the digital access model.

In a series of blogs starting with this one, I will document our journey as we analyze indirect access, the impact of digital access licensing, and the pros and cons of adopting the new licensing model. By the time I get through the third or fourth blog, it’s possible that we may decide that digital access is not in Johnsonville’s best interest. At this point, however, I simply don’t have the answers I need to make an informed decision either way.

I will use this first installment of the series to provide some background and lay out our high-level approach to the process. So, hang in there—this should be an interesting ride.

Johnsonville: The Foundation

Johnsonville has been an SAP customer since December of 2003. In 2004, we went live with SAP HCM (Payroll and Benefits) and followed that with an implementation of SCM-APO (DP, SNP, and a VMI Solution) in 2005. We started our core ECC implementation in mid-2006 and went live with a big bang deployment on January 2008. Today, we have a single global instance supporting more than 2,000 users on a 24x7 basis in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Japan, and (very soon) the Philippines. 

Over the past decade we have extended our SAP landscape with SAP Business Warehouse on HANA, SAP Business Objects, SAP Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), SAP Plant Maintenance (PM), SAP Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS), FAS, SAP Global Batch Traceability (GBT), SAP Global Trade Services (GTS), Trade Promotion Management (TPM), SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C), SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC), SAP MII, SAP PI, OpenText, Viziya, SAP Concur, SAP SuccessFactors, Benefitfocus, and a number of other small solutions.

An SAP-First Shop

In 2017 we successfully migrated our SAP ECC 6.0 landscape to SAP S/4HANA 1610. We are a “SAP first,” but not a “SAP only” environment. We also have a large number of third-party solutions and services that we have integrated into SAP using EDI, ABAP, and SAP integration technologies. EDI is heavily used to integrate our 3PL partners, transportation/logistics partners, customers, vendors, and other service providers.

Overall, Johnsonville is still a relatively “young” (15 years) and “simple” (single on-prem global instance) SAP implementation. With that being said, we have well over 30 SAP license related appendices that have added, modified, and removed licensing entitlements over the past 15 years. Fortunately, I was engaged with negotiation of the very first order form and am still at Johnsonville today, so I can provide a knowledge base for understanding our existing contracts and historical negotiations.

Thoughts and Theories

Let’s be clear about my primary assumptions underlying our analysis:

Assumption 1:  We have some level of unlicensed indirect access within our environment. I don’t know to what extent (I have some assumptions, but no proof). Nor do I necessarily believe I have a comprehensive understanding of where all the indirect access is occurring. 

Assumption 2:  There will be disagreement between SAP and Johnsonville on entitlements granted under some of our licenses. One good example is the Sales and Service Order Processing (SSOP) engine. There is no documentation I have in my possession that clearly delineates what transactions or use cases are covered by SSOP purchased in 2003. When Johnsonville purchased that license, it was purchased to cover the EDI transactions used to fulfill customer orders. That fulfillment requires a ton of EDI inventory transactions (material documents) to move and manage inventory within the 3PL companies that are fulfilling our customer orders.

Assumption 3:  Both SAP and Johnsonville will work toward a win/win resolution. As a customer there is a leap of faith to proactively engage an audit and sales organization and “bare your dirty laundry.” We will take that leap expecting SAP to show true customer empathy in resolution of any licensing compliance issues we uncover. I have the advantage of having worked directly with many of the folks in Walldorf over the past few years, so I believe that faith is well placed.

Assumption 4:  Both Johnsonville and SAP are going to learn some things along this journey. Hopefully our shared learnings will ease the pain for those following the same path in the near future.

Next Steps

Our next step will be to accomplish two things: First, we will attempt to identify all the interfaces and sources of indirect access within our existing ECC HCM and SAP S/4HANA landscape. Next, we will apply the SAP Estimation Tool Notes to both our HCM ECC and SAP S/4HANA environments to understand current document consumption. The estimation tool relies on Technical User IDs that are used in interfaces to count documents. As such, completing the first step is critical to getting accurate counts in the second step.

The next blog posts in the series may change given they will be as close to real-time as possible. They may include:

For the purposes of these blogs, I have assumed a base understanding of SAP indirect access, the SAP Digital Access License model, and the SAP Digital Access Adoption Program.

Visit our Licensing Resource Center for in-depth coverage of this topic. You can also send your questions to licensing@asug.com or register for one of our licensing webcasts for ASUG members.