SAP has shed jobs more quickly than planned and is signing more, smaller deals, as it struggles in the tough economy.

Third quarter results from the ERP giant out today showed turnover fell while profits rose -- although neither figure was as high as analysts had hoped. The company said it expected the decline in software and software-related service revenue to continue.

Revenue totalled €2.51 billion (£2.3 billion) for the third quarter, down nine per cent on the year-earlier figure, the company reported Wednesday. Net profit rose 12 per cent, to €435 million (£394 million).

Software revenue saw the sharpest decline, slipping 31 per cent to €525 million, while support revenue rose 14 per cent to €1.33 billion. The company's increase in enterprise support charges has been a sore point with customers over the last year.

Overall, software and software-related service revenue fell three per cent to €1.94 billion. At constant currency rates, the fall would have been five per cent, SAP said.

The decline in revenue from software and software-related services will continue, and may accelerate, for the rest of the year, SAP said.

Consulting revenue fell 22 per cent to €484 million, and training revenue dropped 43 per cent to €60 million.

Software and software-related service revenue fell 13 per cent in Germany, but rose six per cent in the rest of SAP's Europe, Middle East and Africa region, the only area to see a growth in such revenue. Performance was particularly disappointing in emerging markets and Japan, SAP said.

The nature of deals is changing: SAP saw a trend towards more smaller deals, but is also signing longer-term contracts, it said.

The company's cost-cutting program is proceeding apace, and it has shed staff faster than planned. It originally announced its intention to reduce headcount to 48,500 by the end of 2009, a reduction of around 3,000 posts over the course of the year, but by the end of September the company had only 47,804 staff, it said Wednesday.

SAP has cut around 539 jobs in Germany since the start of the year, or 8.4 percent of its workforce there, and 3,732 jobs worldwide, or 7.2 per cent of the workforce. The company cut just over 4 percent of research and development staff, but slashed professional services and sales and marketing staff by around 11 per cent.