The Americas SAP User Group is looking for new leadership after removing its CEO.

Steve Strout was made the ASUG's first full-time CEO in August last year. The group has more than 50,000 members.

In a statement yesterday (26 November), the ASUG board said Strout had been "instrumental in moving ASUG forward in multiple areas. However, the board does feel that it is necessary to pursue new executive leadership."

Strout was on the front lines of a debate this year over SAP's controversial decision to move its customers to a more expensive Enterprise Support service. User groups in the UK, Germany and elsewhere in Europe were highly critical of SAP's move, while Strout and the ASUG maintained a more conciliatory tone.

The ASUG board did not say why it decided to remove Strout, saying only that it was "an internal decision" and not related to the Enterprise Support issue.

"The speculation ... that this decision is somehow related to Enterprise Support is incorrect," the board said in the statement.

Strout could not be reached for comment.

SAP has said the new support terms are necessary because its customers' environments have become more complex, and it said they would result in a lower cost of ownership.

But so far, customers aren't wholly convinced. The SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN), a group made up of representatives from SAP user groups around the world, is working with SAP to develop key performance indicators for Enterprise Support.

The parties will "jointly evaluate the progress of these KPIs against customer expectations on a regular basis and adjust the continued rollout of SAP Enterprise Support until the quality measures are achieved," SAP said this month.

ASUG said it will continue working on the KPI effort along with SUGEN.

In an interview earlier this month, Strout took a measured view of SAP's position on support pricing. "I don't know that we're accepting that as much as we're recognising that we're not here to tell SAP how to structure its business. Customers will vote with their money," he said.

Strout also said the KPIs should help settle the debate: "Let the actual data talk for itself. To date, the predominant conversation has been emotional."

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