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Digital Access: How to make the most of the new model and master indirect use


In Episode 1 of our on-demand SAP video series, we discuss Digital Access and how SAP customers can best manage the challenges of Indirect Use.

But first of all, what is Digital Access?

Indirect Use vs. Digital Access

Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, at Livingstone we differentiate between Digital Access and indirect use to provide greater clarity. In short, indirect use is when an SAP system is interfaced with a non-SAP system, and there is a data flow between the two systems. This is the opposite of direct use, which refers to activity exclusively in one SAP system.

Meanwhile, Digital Access refers to the new licensing model, introduced in April 2018, for indirect use of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. The basis of this model is a new metric called ‘Documents’, consisting of 30 document types within SAP – all of which are bundled into one perpetual license for indirect use. There are also two new tools associated with Digital Access: the Estimation tool and the Passport tool.

It's worth noting that there are some aspects, such as follow-up documents, that are free of charge. It's also important to note that the scope of Digital Access only covers ERP systems, such as S4 Hana, ECC, and R3.

Challenges and Opportunities

One of the top trends organizations should be aware of is SAP’s increased focus on auditing in 2022. In the past, indirect use was not part of SAP’s standard audits. Now, along with Digital Access, SAP has developed an audit tool, ‘Passport’, specifically for indirect use. To avoid risk, organizations will need to take extra care to ensure their estate is compliant well ahead of any potential audit.

There are several other potential challenges to be aware of:

  • The Estimation tool can provide measurements for millions of documents, spread over many data points – so it can be difficult to know where to start and how best to interpret the data. Organizations will need to make sure they don’t get lost before they even begin.
  • Organizations may come across very old interfaces, perhaps implemented by personnel who have since left – meaning this knowledge has been lost. This will require time and resources to recover.
  • Some integration scenarios can be very complex. Architecture is forever changing, making it more likely that at least part of your documentation is out of date, or even lacking altogether.
  • For old systems like R3, the Estimation tool is not available. Meanwhile, the Passport tool is very difficult to implement.
  • Digital Access requires a focus on deep dives into very selective interfaces and processes. It’s therefore important to recognize complex scenarios. For example, when there are multiple processes all channeled through one interface, these need to be separated and reviewed independently.

The best way to tackle any and all of these challenges is to conduct a thorough internal review of your entire SAP estate, and use this to create a plan of action. Moreover, the Digital Access Adoption Program (DAAP) gives organizations the opportunity to fully assess Digital Access, with the help of SAP, at a generous 90% discount. The DAAP has now been extended until December 31st 2022, so organizations should make the most of this offer while it lasts.

Some organizations may prefer to stay on SAP’s Legacy model, but this could prove more complex in the long-term – as this model is no longer fit for purpose, which will consequentially make compliance and audits more challenging.

Moreover, one of the main draws of Digital Access is that the new model is much easier to use. For example, it requires a review of activity in a few SAP ERP systems, whilst the old model required a review of user actions across all non-SAP satellite systems, so was far more distributed and complex. Also, because Digital Access requires fewer interfaces to consider, there is less work overall.

How to Tackle an Indirect Use Review

First and foremost, organizations need to get the right people together: usually, a licensing expert, architect, and functional experts. It’s crucial to gather as much information as possible so everyone is fully informed. Once this has been achieved, organizations should conduct an internal review before any upcoming audit. For organizations still on the old user model, this will involve focusing on user actions and all those satellite systems around the SAP systems, as well as looking at change and read cases.

This is naturally a large and complex process, so it may be worth starting instead with a Digital Access review, to assess the pros and cons of switching to this new model for your organization.

For those organizations that already use Digital Access, the first task is to choose which tool to use. The Estimation tool is far easier to implement, so will likely be most organizations’ first choice. However, those that opt for the Passport tool will still need to validate their analysis with the Estimation tool at least once before first use.

Organizations on the Digital Access model likely already run the Estimation tool, but it is still worth double checking that all ERP systems and interfaces are being measured.

With such a large volume of data, it is vital to maximize efficiency, for example by checking for high volume background processes – which is where organizations may need to dive deeper. Conducting and documenting a thorough internal review in this way will ensure your organization is ready for any SAP audit – whichever model you’re on.

Key Takeaways

To summarize, here are our top takeaways for organizations looking to master SAP Digital Access in 2022 and beyond:

  • First, the basics: the new metric is Documents that are created in the Core ERP. It’s vital to understand the different tables and data types.
  • There are two main tools for Digital Access: The Estimation tool and the Passport tool. We recommend using the Estimation tool for projects, as well as for validating the Passport tool. The latter will be the main audit tool.
  • Audits are likely to become more frequent in 2022. Make sure to conduct an internal review first.
  • Although the switch to Digital Access is not compulsory, it is an easier model to use, so make sure to thoroughly assess whether the move may be beneficial to your organization.
  • Focus your analyses on the few complex scenarios within your organization – namely multiple background processes that occur through one technical user.
  • Consider separating your interfaces on a technical level, in order to simplify the analysis process.


Livingstone Group can meet all your SAP needs

If you’d like to learn more about upcoming SAP trends and how to prepare, make sure to tune in to our new SAP Briefing webinar series.

Our independent consultants already work with many of the world’s largest and most complex organizations, using their specialist expertise to advise on all things SAP: whether that be contract renewals, negotiations, audits, compliance, and much more.

For more information, please email us on or fill out this form and one of our experts will be in touch.


About the Authors


Marco Claassen, Senior Licence Consultant

Marco has extensive experience in the field of SAP Software Licensing and Contract Management:

  • 16+ Years of SAP experience whereof 9 years in management roles
  • Commercial Support Director at SAP for 6 years
  • Fulfilled various roles within SAP related to Contracting, Management, Licensing, Order Management, Deal Structuring and after sales
  • Broad international management experience Leading SAP Contracting teams in Netherlands, Belux and Czech Republic
  • Experienced Change Management agent


Alex Meijer, Senior Consultant SAP Licensing

Alex has extensive experience in the field of SAP Software Licensing, Software Asset Management and Compliance:

  • §12 years SAP experience of which 7 years working as a license auditor at SAP
  • Technical head and delivery responsible at JNC Consultancy for 4 years
  • Successfully lead and supported 55 consultancy projects world-wide across various industries; includes several very large multi-nationals
  • Broad expertise including SAP Indirect Access, S/4HANA Conversions, Contract Benchmarking, Commercial Engagement Strategy, Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures, Audit Preparation and Defense

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