In my role as CIO of Johnsonville, I am analyzing indirect access, the impact of digital access licensing, and the pros and cons of adopting SAP’s new licensing model. I have committed to documenting that process and sharing insights with you in a series of blog posts.

In my first post, I provided some background and laid out Johnsonville’s high-level approach to the process. In my second post, I walked through the actual steps Johnsonville took to get a first-pass estimate of our document counts. In my third post, I recapped insights and additional questions that resulted from my meeting with the SAP Global License, Audit, and Compliance (GLAC) and Pricing teams. In my fourth post, I brought closure to a number of open questions and issues outlined in my previous posts.

An Update on Johnsonville’s Digital Access Journey

It has been quite a few months since my last blog post chronicling Johnsonville’s journey to evaluate the new SAP Digital Access model. In early October, Johnsonville converted to the Digital Access model to support the integration of our expanding portfolio of best-of-breed solutions and extensions.

At the conclusion of the last blog, I left you with three key issues that, from a Johnsonville perspective, were critical to resolving prior to moving forward with SAP Digital Access. Those issues were:

  • A resolution to our HCM and time and attendance interface
  • License swap value for sales and service order processing license
  • A definitive answer on robotic process automation (RPA)

Let me briefly cover each of these issues.

HCM and Time and Attendance (T&A) Interface

As I had indicated in prior blog posts, Johnsonville engaged the SAP GLAC team to assist in the review of our estimator results and integrations. One of the key areas we focused on was the functional use case (versus the technical implementation) of our time and attendance interface to HCM. After reviewing our use case and discussing the value of rewriting 15-year-old interfaces simply to avoid Digital Access issues, SAP agreed to a waiver for our current technical implementation. Given this waiver, the documents being created in HCM that would normally consume Digital Access documents will be excluded from our document counts. This issue has been resolved with contractual language in our SAP Digital Access appendix.

License Swap Value for Sales and Service Order Processing

Everything is negotiable. In my prior post, I provided context on my perspective on what an equitable swap meant for our sales and service order processing (SSOP). In my mind, the true value of the SSOP license was the entitlements it provided Johnsonville—NOT the licensing fees we had negotiated/paid. This one took some time to negotiate, but at the end of the day I believe we achieved what we set out to accomplish—protecting the entitlements we had previously negotiated for. This issue has been resolved through commercial terms of our contract.

A Definitive Answer on RPA

Unfortunately, SAP has still not publicly delivered guidance on how documents created through RPA tools will be counted under Digital Access. The entire RPA topic probably deserves another blog and a deep dive into all the variations of RPA and automation. As we worked with the various SAP organizations (GLAC, Pricing, and Sales) we were able to draft and agree upon contract language that addressed our immediate concerns as we continue our automation journey.

This issue has been resolved with Johnsonville-specific language in our SAP Digital Access appendix. I challenge SAP to be more forthcoming and proactive in providing customers guidance on the RPA issue—providing clarity on what is and what is not considered indirect use. Customers that are evaluating the Digital Access model need to be prepared to address current and future use cases involving process automation tools and technology.

Moving Forward with Digital Access

Given what we know today, we believe the Digital Access model provides the most transparent and manageable solution to support the integration of non-SAP solutions within our SAP S/4HANA and SAP ECC environments. There is always risk and it is hard to account for all possible future scenarios; I am confident that over the course of the next three or four years, we will regret not being forward thinking enough to incorporate a specific use case or implementation of a new technology.

What I am more comfortable with now is that we have a better way of estimating costs and the tools (as the SAP Passport technology is deployed across our landscape) to monitor usage, maintain legal compliance with licensing terms, and forecast future costs of deploying new technology.

Visit our Licensing section for in-depth coverage of this topic. You can also send your questions to or register for one of our licensing webcasts for ASUG members. Additionally, we welcome all ASUG members to submit their ideas for blog posts they want to write.