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Friday, July 11, 2008

SAP botching up support transition for Business Objects

SAP bought Business Objects last year and is now getting around to transitioning support to SAP's own website. But it looks like a case study in how to NOT please your customers.

First, this in the comments area on Bob Cringley's website tipped me off to the problem:
SAP bought out Business Objects last fall. This week, they switched the Business Objects Support site over to the SAP Support Portal. They also replaced the Business Objects Support telephone numbers with a recording directing users to the SAP Support Portal.

Now, did they notify all the users of Business Objects Support in advance of the change? Did they supply users of Business Object Support with the SAP Support Portal access codes needed to enter the site? Did they convert over the existing support incidents from the Business Objects Support site to the new SAP Support Portal?

No, no, and no.

The net result is that all the Business Objects Customers have been effectively cut off of all Support this week.

The problems are confirmed by postings on the Business Objects Board (not affiliated with Business Objects or SAP). As of this writing, there are seven pages of posts, showing a complete lack of coordination for the migration of support. It sounds like a deadline-date-driven migration for which SAP was not prepared.

This is not the first trouble SAP has had in its relationships with Business Objects customers. Things got so bad earlier this year that Business Objects emailed its customers to apologize for "issues related to poor service including delayed deliveries of the company’s technology."

If SAP is going to make major strategic acquisitions in the future, it is going to have to learn how to make them painless for customers.

Update, July 16:
PC World has picked up on my post and contacted SAP about the problems with Business Objects support. Their reporting confirms that SAP simply blew the migration. For example, SAP didn't have email addresses for all users, so they sent notification and new login credentials by snail mail.

Update, July 17: Be sure to read the comments section for a long note from an SAP/Business Objects support professional. In spite of his claims that some of my information is not accurate, he essentially confirms just about everything. This is a real mess.

Related posts
SAP encounters rough patch with Business Objects
SAP winning BI customers from Oracle
SAP to buy Business Objects

by Frank Scavo, 7/11/2008 03:44:00 PM | permalink | e-mail this!

 Reader Comments:

Your comments aren't 100% accurate. I am an employee in the BOBJ Classic / SAP Support organization, have a little insight (not much, but a little) into what happened.

Quite correctly, we blew the migration. There were definitely issues with data migration. It appears specifically with the association between customer accounts, the users underneath, and the associated cases. In many cases we got part of the information, but not all of it, or we missed email addresses in the user info, etc.. I think everyone is understanding of the migration problems, we can all attest to having something blow up in our face. The impression that I get from the BOB boards, and other forms is that everyone is upset with both the (a) preparation and (b) our response. So, in defense of everyone in the BOBJ support organization, let me just make a couple of points:

(*) For example, SAP didn't have email addresses for all users, so they sent notification and new login credentials by snail mail.
This is NOT correct. As we have been advised in support, hard copy, snail mail letters were sent to Super Administrators at a given company as a supplemental piece of documentation in addition to the email they should have received. The mistake here (IMHO) is that the letters were sent from Germany, and not from Philadelphia. When I asked why this was so, I was that "it's the way SAP does it".

(*) Did they convert over the existing support incidents from the Business Objects Support site to the new SAP Support Portal?....No
This is not accurate. All existing cases will be migrated from the old portal. Due to the data migration problems, the cases have not made it over yet. We have been advised now of THREE deadlines for completing this, the most recent being Monday, Jul 21st. We are all hopeful things will be complete then...only time will tell.

(*) Now, did they notify all the users of Business Objects Support in advance of the change? Did they supply users of Business Object Support with the SAP Support Portal access codes needed to enter the site?....no
Mostly incorrect. All BOBJ support users should have received email communication advising them of the upcoming changes, and it was (and still is) prominently advertised on the BOBJ support page (link: http://businessobjects.com/support/important_letter.asp). Additionally, most (but not all) TopTier customers received a personalized phone call form their SAM/TAM advising them of these changes. Premium accounts received a webex session with the TAM giving them a walkthrough of the new system.

Again, we totally, totally blew this migration...there is no denying that. However, keep in mind that everyone within the support organization is completely powerless to make any changes. We cannot add users, we cannot provide passwords (in most cases) we cannot promote anyone to super admin status. We can, however, still resolve issues. I urge all elite and premium companies to contact their SAM / TAM. This contact can get issues assigned / resolved for you. Standard support customers shoudl contact their salesperson, who can contact someone on the 'inside' and get you a callback.

you can't imagine the amount of frustration those of us on the inside are going through. Once you do speak with an engineer, please keep in mind that he/she has no control over the situation, and wants this to work as bad as you do (if not more).
Ah, so after reading another article there's a quite from Mr Cobbold which corrects my thoughts about the physical letter. So it would seem that even internally, some of our information it wrong. Perhaps this illustrates some of the problems we're having.
"All BOBJ support users should have received email communication advising them of the upcoming changes".

You must be living in Wonderland.

I am the only person who submits cases for our installation. We've been BusObj customers since about 1994, and neither I, my colleague, nor my non-techie boss received any notification.

Email that I sent to the new support email account for SAP for U.S.A. 8 or 9 days ago hasn't even caused a courtesy-response to be returned to me.
I'm the only person who has opened cases for our company and I did not receive any login information either. The person they created a s-administrator account for left our company several months ago, she was not a technical contact, and the person who took over her responsibility stated she didn't receive a letter related to the migration addressed to the ex-coworker.

Business Objects and SAP have a bigger problem when it comes to Customer Data Integration (CDI). As an insider, the customer data quality problem has always existed. First example, if you ask Business Objects/SAP to provide your customer with a global view of all customer contacts, they can't because of poor data quality.

Another issue is that their maintenance renewal process is standalone, thus, the maintenance renewals department doesn't have a true view of support issues.

In terms of data quality, there is no standardization of company name such as IBM vs. International Business Machines; there is no ability to do householding between parent company and subsidaries such as the relationship between ABC and Walt Disney.

What is really interesting is that the transition from a Peoplesoft Customer Relationship Management system using SAP could have been improved by the Business Objects/SAP team by following principles of Enterprise Information Management. Moreover, Business Objects/SAP could have leveraged solutions such as Data Federator, Data Integrator, Data Quality XI2 and good Enterprise Architecture best practices to prevent the blotched support systems integration failure.

I would recommend asking your Account Manager for a refund....they should know the exposure Business Objects/SAP created to many businesses who rely on their services in the event they have production system down issues.
Most contracts should have a clause related to SLA's or SLT's that can be the grounds for asking for a refund of the maintenance fees paid for support services that were not rendered. It appears that this was completely date driven and not driven to ensure a proper migration.

If SAP was trying to prove how easy it is to migrate from Peoplesoft to SAP I would say that they failed miserably.

Andy Cobbold says that they will have a post mortem to review what happened. My question is...how many more post mortems will they continue to have on bad mergers/acquisitions before they start learning something? Maybe they should look at the team that is responsible for M&A in support and scrap them and start fresh...couldn't hurt....could help!

Also, I think that they are insane to force a higher maintenance level (aka higher fee) to their customer base when they cannot even support at a standard level.

Bottom line SAP & BusinessObjects has no defensible position. I have a business to run. All the excuses mean nothing. They should be focusing on providing interim support methods and they have chosen to turn away from their customers with blind eyes. Bottom line if we get support it takes days and some tickets have taken weeks and others remain untouched. Calling for help from either the old BusinessObjects contacts or new support numbers provide no support.

This is a serious blunder impacting businesses globally. As of today we will be taking action to discontinue all open BusinessObjects projects and focusing on another company who is prepared to provide support.
Very BAD form for SAP.

Data Management Specialist and Creators of Data Management blowing a migration.


If you guys can destroy your own stuff why are we buying your software?
It's now 8/13, over a month after the cutover and the situation described above hasn't changed a bit. I still can't get a login to the support site to submit our issues, let alone speak with someone (anyone). I spent over three hours on hold yesterday hoping for help and never got an answer or even an offer to leave a message.

We've been a Crystal Reports shop for many years now, but thats about to change.
This whole situation is a f***ing farce, apologies for the language but there's no other way to say it.

As a platinum partner in the UK we still are having massive problems with this damn portal.

1. We can't log cases in our own company name?
Well that's daft seeing as many issues are things we encounter inhouse.

2. Seemingly when we raise a case under the name of a customer that we provide 1st line support to...... the support team will contact our customer directly?

3. The knowledge base search is rubbish.

4. Aside from a letter with our login we've received no documentation / training on using the new portal.

I say this as someone who in the past worked for Business Obejects for over 5 years.

Utter utter farce.
If we didn't need access to the ESD site and product documentation we would be cancelling our maintenance immediately.
I have also had many issues with this support site. What other companies out there will provide tech support. I would like to cancel our maintenance contract.
I found this post as a result of hitting a brick wall getting support for Business Objects from SAP and wondering if I was the only person who thought this was a farce. The number of things they've screwed up is ridiculous.
They told me my B.O. customer number was completely different than the one stamped on the license I have. No on ehere can figure out where they got their number from.
They have yet to get me a login to the SAP portal for paid maintenance customers, saying that the info resides with our "Super Administrator" who hasn't worked here in almost a year. We get a real kick when his extension rings. It's invariably a SAP person trying to verify that this person is really gone. I'll bet it takes them a week to get the correct info to the administrator who has taken over. It's not that we haven't given them the necessary info, it's just that they can't put the pieces together.
And to think that the only support they provide is a forum?! For an enterprise product?! A forum where most queries are unanswered?
Where's the in-house expertise? Did they line up all the B.O. support people and gun them down before they realized they'd need them?
This is a first-class cluster-f*. I can't believe this has gone on this long.
Well, it's a year later (7/17/2009) and nothing has improved. I am new at trying to get a problem fixed with SAP and I was not able to get any help through the "SAP Support Portal". So I did a quick Google to look for other people with similar problems and WOW there are some upset customers out there.

I think that I will try to get our sales rep in here and ask _him_ to get some help for us.
I agree. We also have issues - are there any support alternatives as we are not getting close to value for money with SAP support?

Difficuly logging calls and failure to resolve issues are among the reasons we could do with a reasonably priced alternative.
In the UK Blueprint are very good for support.

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