License Negotiations

Don’t let an upcoming license audit decide your agenda. Let lean management principles guide you.


Lean management seeks to add value and eliminate waste. A rudimentary idea that needs to be reflected in the way your company assigns licenses. Organize your assignment process and ensure that licenses are calculated and assigned according to real user needs.

To do so, implement one of the fundamental tools of efficient and effective action used in lean management, the 5S methodology. The five steps, normally applied to workplace organization, include: sort (Seiri), straighten (Seiton), shine (Seiso), standardize (Seiketsu) and sustain (Shitsuke).

When applied to the assessment of license needs, the method can be used as follows:


1.Seiri – Sort out the licenses no longer required: A precondition for all further steps is the identification and elimination of irrelevant elements. Keeping in mind that licenses to active users / engines and/or interfaces need to be limited, this is the range for relative elements. Elements not belonging here should be scrutinized and eliminated.


2. Seiton – (straighten) Assign licenses as required by users: This includes the assignment of relevant license types that correspond to user responsibilities, i. e. tasks included in the user’s specific job description.


It then becomes necessary to compare assigned licenses with each user’s activity profile (which can be assessed by looking at transaction calls, for instance).


3. Seiso – Identify and eliminate exceptions: Sustaining an achieved condition (attaining “shine”) requires real-time information concerning deviations from and exceptions to this condition.


In the interest of keeping up with the most recent trends, an organization’s system data (user behavior, license assignments) provides the basis for a key-figure-driven “cleansing”. Manual activities offer no viable alternative. The only feasible solution is an automated analysis that proactively alerts you to “impurities” (e. g. exceptions).


4. Seiketsu – Standardize assignment rules and -process: To ensure that the current condition is future-proof and will continue to be upheld, it is wise to establish rules and standards. These must be defined and implemented – from the process (e. g. how, and at what intervals key-figure-driven reports will be furnished) down to the detailed assignment rules and regulations (whether assignment is direct or indirect, i. e. via reference users and/or authorization roles).


5. Shitsuke: Achieve sustainability through ongoing correction. Sustainability and continuity don’t just consist in attaining the current condition – but in improving on that condition, when necessary. Because one thing is clear: When changes are overlooked or disregarded, the disparity between licenses assigned and actual license needs becomes more pronounced over time. This means license assignment must be continually re-aligned with internal changes (such as employee turnover and job transitions within an organization) and external changes (such as legal norms).


The advantage to using the 5S methodology to prepare for an SAP license audit is that individual steps are not done manually; most can be largely automated. Incorporating real-time, automated usage analysis as a permanent feature in these individual steps forms the foundation for true need-based license management. For organizations in particular, it not only provides a reliable information base, but also a decisive edge in license negotiations. In addition to an organized foundation, company-wide standards – thanks to regular, automated analyses – ultimately result in sustainable license management. Intensive ad hoc activities before an audit that have only short-term effects, while tying up resources and messing up the “normal” agenda are now a thing of the past.

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