User groups are the best way to get value from enterprise software companies Alan Bowling, chairman of the SAP UK and Ireland User group told his organisations’s annual conference this week.

End users’ need to get value from their IT investments is the dominant theme at the event and Bowling said SAP was more responsive to its customers than many of other software firms.

The concessions made earlier this year by SAP around enterprise support were a good start, Bowling said in his conference keynote.

The agreement made between the global user group SUGEN and SAP earlier this year was ground breaking, “no other software vendor has ever linked price to value in this way. SAP should be applauded for this,” he said.

In April 2009 SUGEN brokered a deal with SAP that saw the vendor committing to measuring the value of its contentious enterprise support offering. It also made a commitment to delay the price rise scheduled for January 2010 unless KPIs on value are met. Bowling said an announcement on this is within weeks.

Bowling also highlighted the desire of many IT directors for more interaction with and access to senior executives and experts at vendor organisations. However he also noted, “With highly successful vendors that is unlikely to ever be achieved, except perhaps for the very biggest customers.”

He went on to describe how user groups offer a way around this by representing the views of their members to vendors such as SAP. He encouraged businesses that don’t feel their voice is being heard by SAP to come and talk to the User Group, as it can act as a collective voice and yield more influence than organisations can independently.