How to Avoid a Pricey SAP Digital Access Surprise

If you’re an SAP customer, you’re probably all too familiar with SAP’s encouragement to move companies from the

Overview of Digital Access

After SAP presented its “outcome based” licensing model to the world, many SAP customers stayed where they were. They decided to follow SAP´s option to “DO NOTHING” the ambiguity of Indirect Access was preferable to the uncertainty around document licensing – the devil they knew seemed better than the devil they didn’t know.

That’s changed a bit. Since May 2019, SAP customers are now seriously considering making the switch to document licensing, despite the risks of double-licensing users and over-licensing for document creation. In other words, SAP has sweetened the deal enough that customers are ignoring the risk of higher than expected costs.

What changed? After SAP introduced the new Digital Access pricing in 2018 approximately 800 customers have switched to the Digital Access model, which is less than 1% of the customer base. In an effort to accelerate adoption Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP) provides a financial incentive if customers opt for SAP’s Digital Access model within a year (at the moment DAAP lasts until end of May 2020) With this juicy incentive and usual encouragement following a software license audit, more SAP customers are willing to switch to document licensing.

The DAAP which is due to run until May 2020*, guarantees that customers do not have to pay retrospective maintenance costs or penalties.

*In February SAP announced that they will provide mainstream maintenance for core applications of SAP Business Suite 7 software until the end of 2027, followed by optional extended maintenance until the end of 2030, so we expect an extension of the DAAP, but nothing official yet.

Just a small re-cap: For those considering the DAAP, SAP proposes a two-stage approach:

1: Measure the current consumption of your documents

There are two ways of measuring your document consumption.

You can either work with SAP’s Global License Audit and Compliance Team (GLAC) to identify the estimated number of documents created by current use via the SAP Digital Access Service, but customers should be careful as this is still an estimate made by SAP.

This Estimation Note provides an estimate of your document license costs. The Note takes a lot of effort to install and you’ll need to analyze your technical users, which also takes some effort.

It also ignores deleted or cancelled documents, so its estimate can be higher than it should be. But it also measures earlier Digital Access activity, so you can implement and use it sooner, rather than later.


Customers may implement support packages containing the SAP Passport tool then, with help from SAP´s GLAC Team, to flag the directly created documents from day of installation onwards as directly created. If the tool counts a system access that doesn’t have a passport, then it counts as Digital Access. This makes it more precise than the Estimation Note, and it includes some more details.

But to use the Passport Tool, you must update your SAP systems to the most recent SAP release, which takes some effort, and it doesn’t include any data before that update. So, you’ll have to wait 12 months to get a yearly overview, before you run a measurement with the Passport Tool.

The Passport Tool is more accurate and helpful, but it isn’t perfect. It’s difficult to implement, ignores deleted documents (which also means higher document counts), and doesn’t include detailed user information in its analysis.

It’s important to keep in mind that neither tool will give you a complete view of your Digital Access licensing demand, which is how you would know what you would pay under Digital Access.


financial-options_graphic_enFigure 1: Your two options under the Digital Access Adoption Program

2. Choose one of the two financial incentive options (A or B)

A) “The 15% growth method” — Under this method:

  • The customer licenses at least 115% of current estimated document count.
  • SAP charges a Digital Access license fee based only on the 15% growth portion.

B) “The 90% discount method” — Under this method:

  • The customer licenses at least 100% of the current estimated document count.
  • SAP charges a license fee based on the entire document count.

What’s your best strategy for Digital Access?

True, there are advantages to moving, but those advantages are not universal. They might not apply to your SAP estate or any special contracts or conditions you’ve negotiated. In which case, moving to Digital Access could turn out to be a disadvantage.

The only way to find out is to properly and accurately measure your document creation under your current indirect access circumstances and forecast your costs with Digital Access.


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How to deliver a precise forecast of Digital Access costs

There’s a third alternative: An SAP license management tool that accounts for document deletions and dives deeper into user activity can deliver more precise forecasts of your Digital Access costs.

Yes, you’ll still need to install the required support package for the SAP Passport Tool and use it to submit your Digital Access data to SAP. So Optimization for SAP offers a precise view of your current document license demand (without an auditor onsite).

It gives you a preview of what document licensing might look like before you sign a contract for Digital Access, saving you from getting a document license headache later down the road.

SAP Digital Access: is it right for you?

An accurate forecast is crucial for paying a fair price for your SAP licenses. How else would you know that the DAAP and document licensing is to your advantage?

Usually, when an SAP customer is covering their indirect Access with user licenses, we advise that customer analyze their technical interfaces before they make a decision on dealing with indirect access. Every SAP customers’ software estate is unique, so sticking with the legacy licensing model for indirect Access might be cheaper that document licenses.

At USU we recommend the following scenario:

  1. Analyze your actual use of 3rd party access and choose the license model that is right for your organization. You should carefully examine which model is the most favorable for your business, while ensuring that you are compliant.
  2. Determine with our SAP license management tool your actual volume of digital evidence based on objective data and forecasts that reflect historical and current developments without the GLAC Team onsite. With this foundation, you can begin to negotiate the exact number of required digital documents with SAP.
  3. If you decide to switch to the document-based model, you should first determine your shelfware (licenses that are no longer used) that is eligible for exchange. This allows you to achieve a lower cost.

Although the DAAP program makes it clear there are no other discounts apart from the two financial incentives, you should still negotiate with SAP to reduce future risks:

  • You should prevent SAP from adding new document categories in the future.
  • You should ensure that all Digital Access licenses are reimbursed if SAP is forced to completely abandon the Digital Access model as part of the anti-trust proceedings brought by Voice and others.
  • If you determine you are under-licensed, you need to act quickly as the incentives offer is set to expire this May.

You won’t know until you find out. So, take the time for an accurate analysis. It could save your organization millions.

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