LAS VEGAS – SAP’s cloud-based human resources software suite SuccessFactors plans to do away with its oft-complained about Platinum Support plan, replacing it with a different care plan that costs the same but has a different name.

The program will be transitioned to SAP’s Preferred Care support offering, the same program that is used for its other cloud solutions. Pricing will remain unchanged, explains Mike Ettling, president of HR at SAP, but the way the service is delivered and what it will include will be entirely different. The change comes after SAP heard from many customers unhappy with the Platinum Support service.

“Platinum support was an issue. It was probably one of the noisiest issues when I talked to customers,” Ettling says. “We had a lot of focus groups about what they really want.”

Another symptom of the pain felt around the support offering was that SuccessFactors partners were adding their own subscription services on top of that level of care – creating a quasi-level of Platinum Plus.

For Calgary-based airline Westjet, a SuccessFactors user for the past six years, hearing that others were unhappy with Platinum Support wasn’t news. Dean Selby, head of organizational development at WestJet, says his team solved most of their problems on their own despite paying for the support.

“It was a bit of a black hole. The more problems we threw at SuccessFactors, the worse it got,” he said. “The biggest challenge was knowledge.”

Instead, WestJet found itself tapping into user group communities to solve problems together – with other users facing the same sort of issues. Platinum support would include a weekly call with a care support manager, Selby says, and the ability for systems managers to work directly with SuccessFactors on solving specific problems. There were also special privileges about getting support tickets upgraded for more attention.

At the root of the problem is the way support was handled at SuccessFactors after it was acquired by SAP in 2012, says Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc. SuccessFactors was built on an Oracle technology stack, a totally different approach to building software than other SAP products.

“It was was supposed to be the showcase for how to do it in the cloud. Now there’s more SAP DNA in the support services,” he says. “It’s more of a standardization, bringing things together issues.”

Over the past 18 months, the support situation has been improving, Selby says. It feels as if the person on the other end of the phone is able to answer questions more reliably, or at least find the person that can.

“I think one of the improvements they’ve made is in the prioritization system,” he says. “When it’s priority one for us, there’s nothing worse than someone telling you ‘it’s priority three for us and it’s going to sit on the back burner.'”

No one at SuccessFactors has approached WestJet with a notice about how its support will change, he says, and he’s working with the same consultant as before.

More details about the transition in support offerings is expected later this week.

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