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Outstanding customer service is important across enterprise IT, but it’s particularly crucial in SAP. Many managed services providers with the technical knowhow to operate an SAP landscape still fail as business partners. Here’s how poor customer support, monitoring and communication lets clients down.

1. Insufficient Support. The performance and flexibility of SAP comes at the cost of extraordinary complexity and daily maintenance behind the scenes. A minor issue can become a system wide outage in a manner of hours without adequate support.

Unfortunately, many SAP managed services providers still use call center customer service, where untrained operators escalate problems to an overburdened skeleton crew of SAP experts. Low wages and poor employee satisfaction tend to lead to high turnover among technicians, as well as customer service reps.

This is nerve-racking enough on a bank or PC support line, but it’s completely unacceptable for SAP support. SAP is highly customized from system to system. Even without complicating factors like legacy silos, multi-tier hybrids, custom-built apps or complex BPI, it can take the brightest SAP consultants hours to become familiar enough with your system to solve your problem — and often all you get is a “Band-Aid” fix that doesn’t address the root cause, leading to future issues.

Organizations need to utilize ERP providers who treat customer service with the same care as hardware sizing, SAP Basis support and other core tasks. At minimum, providers should provide direct, 24/7/365 access to two or more highly trained SAP consultants who know your system inside and out, along with a client manager.

2. Reactive Monitoring. If your SAP managed services provider waits for you to put in a ticket, then scrambles to meet the service-level agreement (SLA), they’re stuck in reactive monitoring. This wears out staff, it frustrates customers and creates a growing backlog. Sooner or later, this leads to slowdowns or even outages. If the customer even needs to alert us of an issue, we’ve completely failed — scratch fumbling to meet an SLA.

More advanced managed service providers train staff on alerting solutions, but few go beyond that; they don’t see the need, since alerts inform admins of errors and performance deviations and even prioritizes tasks for them.

That’s not good enough.

Alerting is vital for emergencies, but it is even more vital that consultants are in the systems daily, reviewing trends and capacity reports. This lets SAP managed services providers make recommendations before alerts are triggered, and spot things alerts won’t show, such as demand surges that indicate the need for more capacity, or performance deviations that indicate incipient hardware failure.

3. Poor communication. SAP ERP decisions are strategic business decisions; they affect customer satisfaction, productivity, BI, liability and every other measure of performance. Yet many stakeholders think of them as just routine infrastructure upgrades — like buying new fleet vehicles or replacing the HVAC.

SAP managed services providers often make the problem worse, with sales teams who tell clients anything they want to hear, techs who don’t understand the business side of IT, and poorly trained client management.

Providers need to communicate effectively to every level of the organization, from executives to entry-level workers. Particularly in SAP Basis managed services, client managers and techs need to understand how business processes interact, and configure an ERP landscape that provides a competitive advantage.

Your SAP managed services provider isn’t just there to runs ERP; it’s also a helpline, an incident response squad, a consultant and a strategic partner to help you get the most out of your IT infrastructure. Before you trust an outside partner to run your SAP landscape, make sure they can function as a true extension of your internal IT team.

Curtis Gaska - Solution Architect

Curtis Gaska is a solution architect on Symmetry's expert SA team, delivering complete SAP® technical solutions from upgrades to complex landscape implementations. Curtis pairs his sound SAP technical expertise with sales skills to knowledgably advise clients, and prospective clients of Symmetry’s services and product offerings throughout each stage of the sales cycle.

Curtis has a unique ability to deliver technical knowledge to create customs solutions per the client requirements, by not only taking the technical specifications into consideration but also the business drivers particular to that organization in turn creating an optimal SAP environment. This skilled approached includes scoping, planning, and execution of various projects including Migrations/Upgrades/Installs, Hosting and ongoing Managed Services. He also stays abreast of the latest technologies such as road mapping solutions for client’s to leverage SAP HANA® in their current environment to then be hosted in Symmetry’s state-of- the -art Datacenter.