SAP user group CEO leaves organization

Steve Strout is out as president of the Americas SAP Users Group, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Steve Strout, CEO of the Americas SAP Users Group (ASUG), is no longer with the organization, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The spokeswoman declined to provide further comment, including whether Strout left voluntarily or was fired. She referred IDG News Service to another ASUG spokeswoman, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Strout, who could not immediately be reached Wednesday, was ASUG's first full-time CEO. The group claims to have more than 50,000 members.

He was also on the front lines of a debate this year over SAP's controversial decision to move all customers to the fuller-featured but more expensive Enterprise Support service. User groups in Europe were vocally critical of SAP's move, while Strout and ASUG sought in public comments to maintain a moderate tone.

SAP has maintained that the move was necessary due to increased complexity in customers' environments and that it will result in a lower total 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 now working with SAP to develop key performance indicators for Enterprise Support.

The two 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.

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 recognizing 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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