Alan Bowling, chairman of the SAP UK & Ireland user group, has said the German software giant has improved relations with users on a number of heated issues, but more work remained to be done – especially on pricing clarity.

Speaking at today’s user group conference in Manchester, Bowling gave a largely positive view of SAP after it took steps to address major issues raised by users last year, most notably the rising cost of enterprise support. SAP has since backtracked on the price increases following meetings with user groups.

User groups this year secured another major agreement when SAP said it would provide them with product roadmaps. “Most chief information officers are looking for better roadmaps from their vendors, and I think SAP is one of the only vendors to properly address this,” he said.

But he raised some continued issues over SAP licensing complexity, particularly for users of Business Objects. In a recent survey, those users expressed frustration over relations with SAP, with only 12 percent currently also using a traditional SAP product.

“SAP licensing has always been a challenge,” he said. “We need simplicity not complexity.”

Bowling said SAP would deliver the most value when it fully integrates its major acquisitions, including Sybase, which offers mobile capability, to offer a clear and effective solution. “If SAP successfully integrates these acquisitions, which I believe it can, then it will be a truly great end-to-end provider.”

As SAP co-chief executive Jim Snabe appeared at the event to highlight the vendor’s plans, the user group said SAP needed to take other steps needed to improve what it offers users.

“We ask SAP today to deliver on its promise and show us its true value in business terms and on cost,” Bowling said, ahead of an increased cost advanced support option next year.

“We applaud SAP for the changes it has made, and now we ask for more clarity on pricing and licensing, easier integration between products, and to work more closely with user groups to engage your customers.”