SAP SE – Annual report – 31 December 2020
Performance Management System
We use various performance measures to manage our performance with regard to our primary financial objectives, which are growth and profitability, and our primary non-financial objectives, which are customer loyalty and employee engagement. We view growth and profitability as indicators of our current performance, while we see customer loyalty and employee engagement as indicators of our future performance.
Measures to Manage Our Financial Performance
Measures to Manage Our Operating Financial Performance
In 2020, we used the following key measures to manage our operating financial performance:
Cloud revenue (non-IFRS): This revenue driver comprises the main revenues of our fast-growing cloud business. Revenue from cloud is derived from fees earned from providing customers with any of the following:
- Software as a service (SaaS)
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
- Premium cloud support beyond regular support embedded in cloud offerings
For more information regarding cloud revenue and a description of these services, see the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements, Note (A.1).
We use the cloud revenue (non-IFRS) measure at both actual currencies and constant currencies.
Cloud and software revenue (non-IFRS): We use cloud and software revenue (non-IFRS) expressed in both actual currencies and constant currencies to measure our revenue growth. Our cloud and software revenue includes cloud revenue plus software licenses and support revenue. Cloud revenue and software revenue are our key revenue drivers because they tend to affect our other revenue streams. Generally, customers that buy software licenses also enter into related support contracts, and these generate recurring support revenue after the software sale. Support contracts cover standardized support services and unspecified future software updates and enhancements. Cloud and software revenue also tends to stimulate services revenue, which is earned by providing customers with professional services, premium engagement services, training services, messaging services, and payment services.
Total revenue (non-IFRS): We use total revenue (non-IFRS) to measure our growth at both actual currencies and constant currencies. The total of cloud revenue and support revenue divided by total revenue is the share of more predictable revenue. This measure provides additional insight into our sustained business success.
Current cloud backlog (CCB): We use current cloud backlog, both in actual and at constant currencies, to manage our operating financial performance. The CCB measures our overall go-to-market success in the committed cloud business. The CCB is the contractually committed cloud revenue we expect to recognize over the upcoming 12 months as of a specific key date. Thus, it is a subcomponent of our overall remaining performance obligations following IFRS 15.120. For our committed cloud business, we believe the CCB is a valuable indicator of go-to-market success, as it reflects both new contracts closed as well as existing contracts renewed.
Operating profit (non-IFRS): We use operating profit (non-IFRS) expressed in both actual currencies and constant currencies to measure our overall operational process efficiency and overall business performance.
Cloud gross margin (non-IFRS): We use our cloud gross margin (non-IFRS) to measure our process efficiency in our cloud business. Cloud gross margin (non-IFRS) is the ratio of our cloud gross profit (non-IFRS) to cloud revenue (non-IFRS), expressed as a percentage.
Operating margin (non-IFRS): We use operating margin to measure our overall operational efficiency. Operating margin (non- IFRS) is the ratio of our operating profit (non-IFRS) to total revenue (non-IFRS), expressed as a percentage.
Measures to Manage Our Non-Operating Financial Performance
We use the following measures to manage our non-operating financial performance:
Financial income, net: This measure provides insight into the return on liquid assets and capital investments and the cost of borrowed funds. To manage our financial income, net, we focus on cash flow, the composition of our liquid assets and capital investment portfolio, and the average rate of interest at which assets are invested. We also monitor average outstanding borrowings and associated finance costs.
Days Sales Outstanding (DSO): We manage working capital by controlling the DSO of trade receivables. DSO measures the average number of days from the raised invoice to cash receipt from the customer. We calculate DSO by dividing the average invoiced trade receivables balance of the last 12 months by the average monthly cash receipt of the last 12 months.
Measures to Manage Overall Financial Performance
We use the following measures to manage our overall financial performance:
Earnings per share (EPS) (IFRS and non-IFRS): EPS measures our overall performance because it captures all operating and non-operating elements of profit as well as income tax expense. It represents the portion of profit after tax allocable to each SAP share outstanding. EPS is influenced not only by our operating and nonoperating business and income taxes but also by the number of shares outstanding.
Effective tax rate (IFRS and non-IFRS): We define our effective tax rate as the ratio of income tax expense to profit before tax, expressed as a percentage.
Operating, investing, and financing cash flows and free cash flow: Our consolidated statement of cash flows provides insight into how we generate and use cash and cash equivalents. When applied in conjunction with the other primary financial statements, it provides information that helps us evaluate the changes in our net assets, our financial structure (including our liquidity and solvency),
and our ability to affect the amounts and timing of cash flows to adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities. We use our free cash flow measure to determine the cash flow remaining after all expenditures required to maintain or expand our organic business have been paid off. This measure provides management with supplemental information to assess our liquidity needs. We calculate free cash flow as net cash from operating activities minus purchases (other than purchases made in connection with business combinations) of intangible assets and property, plant, and equipment, as well as payments for lease liabilities.
Measures to Manage Our Non-Financial Performance
In 2020, we used the following key measures to manage our non-financial performance in the areas of customer loyalty, employee engagement, leadership trust, and carbon emissions:
Customer Net Promoter Score (Customer NPS): The annual assessment of customer loyalty is based on a survey that includes the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric. The Customer NPS score is calculated based on the NPS Likelihood to Recommend question with its proprietary scoring, identified on a scale of 0–10. We introduced this measure in 2012, as we are convinced that we can achieve our financial goals only when our customers are loyal to, and satisfied with, SAP and our solutions. To derive the Customer NPS, we start with the percentage of “promoters” of SAP, that is, those giving us a score of 9 or 10 on a scale of 0–10. We then subtract the percentage of “detractors,” that is, those giving us a score of 0–6. The method ignores “passives,” that is, those giving us a score of 7 or 8. Consequently, the range of achievable scores is –100 to +100, with the latter being the best achievable score for customer loyalty as measured by the Customer NPS methodology.
Employee Engagement Index: We use this index to measure the motivation and loyalty of our employees, how proud they are of our company, and how strongly they identify with SAP. The index is derived from our global employee survey program. Applying this measure is recognition that our growth strategy depends on engaged employees.
Leadership Trust Score: We use this score to further enhance accountability and to measure our collective effort to foster a work environment based on trust. It is derived from a question in our global employee survey program that gauges employees’ trust in our leaders. We measure leadership trust by using the same NPS methodology that we use to compute the Customer NPS.
Starting in 2021, we will determine the Employee Engagement Index and the Leadership Trust Score as the average of the scores retrieved in each of the surveys we run within a fiscal year. Adopting the Experience Management (XM) philosophy of Qualtrics, we changed our engagement survey concept to a continuous listening approach that includes multiple data collections throughout the year. This new average score will provide a more valid evaluation of the full-year engagement level of our employees.
Carbon emissions: We use carbon emissions to manage our non-financial performance. It is used as a metric to strengthen our ambitious short-term and long-term carbon reduction targets. We measure our net carbon emissions according to the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. The net carbon emissions are calculated by deducting emission savings such as self-produced renewable energy, renewable energy certificates, and carbon offsets from our gross carbon emissions.
Our holistic view of the performance measures described above, together with our associated analyses, comprises the information we use for value-based management. We use planning and control processes to manage the compilation of these key measures and their availability to our decision-makers across various management levels.
SAP’s long-term strategic plans are the point of reference for our short-term and mid-term planning and controlling processes. We initially identify future growth and profitability drivers at a highly aggregated level. In a first step, the resulting financial plan is broken down into (i) our deployment models “On Premise,” “Software as a Service/Platform as a Service,” “Infrastructure as a Service,” and “Intelligent Spend Management”; and (ii) functions such as development, sales, and administration. In a second step, the planned total revenues and total expenses are generally allocated to the areas of functional responsibility of the individual members of the Executive Board (“Board area”). If a Board area represents not only a functional department but also has a responsibility for operating segments within this Board area, the allocation is done at the lower segment level. Budget adjustments may be applied during the year to reflect changes in priorities, to achieve efficiency targets, and to reflect endogenous and exogenous factors. Such budget adjustments, as well as the assessment of the Executive Board’s performance, are handled at the Board area level if the Board area is part of a segment, or at the segment level if the Board area comprises several segments. It is then the individual Executive Board member’s responsibility to break down the allocated budget adjustments within the segment budget boundary. Based on an integrated portfolio process running in parallel to the budgeting process, we ensure aligned investment behavior across Board areas with regards to specific solutions or solution areas. In a final step, customer-facing revenue targets and cost-of-sales and marketing targets are broken down into sales regions.
Based on our detailed annual plans, we determine the budget for the respective year. We also have processes in place to forecast revenue and profit on a quarterly basis, to quantify whether we expect to realize our financial goals, and to identify any deviations from plan. We continuously monitor the affected units in the Group to analyze these developments and define any appropriate actions. Our entire network of planning, control, and reporting processes is implemented in integrated planning and information systems, based on SAP software, across all organizational units so that we can conduct the evaluations and analyses needed to make informed decisions.
Non-IFRS Financial Measures Cited in This Report
Explanation of Non-IFRS Measures
We disclose certain financial measures such as revenue (non-IFRS), expense (non-IFRS), and profit measures (non-IFRS) that are not prepared in accordance with IFRS and are therefore considered non-IFRS financial measures. Our non-IFRS financial measures may not correspond to non-IFRS financial measures that other companies report. The non-IFRS financial measures that we report should only be considered in addition to, and not as substitutes for, or superior to, our IFRS financial measures.
We believe that the disclosed supplemental historical and prospective non-IFRS financial information provides useful information to investors because management uses this information, in addition to financial data prepared in accordance with IFRS, to attain a more transparent understanding of our past performance and our anticipated future results. We use non-IFRS revenue and profit measures consistently in our internal planning and forecasting, reporting, and compensation, as well as in our external communications, as follows:
- Our management primarily uses these non-IFRS measures rather than IFRS measures as the basis for making financial, strategic, and operating decisions.
- The variable components of our Executive Board members’ and employees’ remuneration are based on revenue (non-IFRS), operating profit (non-IFRS), operating margin (non-IFRS), as well as current cloud backlog (CCB) measures rather than the respective IFRS measures.
- The annual budgeting process for all management units is based on revenue (non-IFRS) and operating profit (non-IFRS) numbers rather than the respective IFRS financial measures.
- All forecast and performance reviews with all senior managers globally are based on these non-IFRS measures, rather than the respective IFRS financial measures.
- Both our internal performance targets and the guidance we provide to the capital markets are based on non-IFRS revenue and profit measures rather than the respective IFRS financial measures.
Our non-IFRS financial measures reflect adjustments based on the items below, as well as adjustments for the related income tax effects.
Non-IFRS revenue measures have been adjusted from the respective IFRS financial measures by including the full amount of software support revenue, cloud revenue, and other similarly recurring revenue that we are not permitted to record as revenue under IFRS due to fair value accounting for the contracts in effect at the time of the respective acquisitions.
Under IFRS, we record at fair value the contracts in effect at the time entities were acquired. Consequently, our IFRS software support revenue, IFRS cloud revenue, IFRS cloud and software revenue, and IFRS total revenue for periods subsequent to acquisitions do not reflect the full amount of revenue that would have been recorded by entities acquired by SAP had they remained stand-alone entities. Adjusting revenue numbers for this revenue impact provides additional insight into the comparability of our ongoing performance across periods.
Operating Expense (Non-IFRS)
Operating expense numbers that are identified as operating expenses (non-IFRS) have been adjusted by excluding the following expenses:
- Acquisition-related charges
- Amortization expense/impairment charges for intangibles acquired in business combinations and certain stand-alone acquisitions of intellectual property (including purchased in-process research and development) as well as sale/disposal gains and losses for these intangibles
- Settlements of preexisting business relationships in connection with a business combination
- Acquisition-related third-party expenses
- Share-based payment expenses
- Restructuring expenses, that is, expenses resulting from measures which comply with the definition of restructuring according to IFRS.
We exclude certain acquisition-related expenses for the purpose of calculating operating profit (non-IFRS), operating margin (non-IFRS), and earnings per share (non-IFRS) when evaluating SAP’s continuing operational performance because these expenses generally cannot be changed or influenced by management after the relevant acquisition other than by disposing of the acquired assets. Since management at levels below the Executive Board does not influence these expenses, we generally do not consider these expenses for the purpose of evaluating the performance of management units. For similar reasons, we eliminate share-based payment expenses as these costs are impacted by share price developments and other factors outside our control. We also eliminate restructuring expenses because they are volatile and mostly cannot be influenced by management at levels below the Executive Board.
Operating Profit (Non-IFRS), Cloud Gross Margin (Non-IFRS), Operating Margin (Non-IFRS), Effective Tax Rate (Non-IFRS), and Earnings per Share (Non-IFRS)
Operating profit, cloud gross margin, operating margin, effective tax rate, and earnings per share identified as operating profit (non-IFRS), cloud gross margin (non-IFRS), operating margin (non-IFRS), effective tax rate (non-IFRS), and earnings per share (non-IFRS) have been adjusted from the respective IFRS measures by adjusting for the aforementioned revenue (non-IFRS) and operating expenses (non-IFRS) and the income tax effects thereon.
Constant Currencies Information
We believe it is important for investors to have information that provides insight into the development of our sales. Revenue measures determined under IFRS provide information that is useful in this regard. However, both sales volume and currency effects impact period-over-period changes in sales revenue. We do not sell standardized units of products and services, so we cannot provide relevant information on sales volume by providing data on the changes in product and service units sold. To provide additional information that may be useful to investors in breaking down and evaluating changes in sales volume, we present information about our revenue and various values and components relating to operating profit that are adjusted for foreign currency effects. We calculate constant currencies measures by translating foreign currencies using the average exchange rates from the comparative period instead of the current period. Constant currency measures on revenue backlog use the closing exchange rate from the previous year’s corresponding key date instead of the average exchange rate.
Free Cash Flow
Among other measures, we use free cash flow to manage our overall financial performance.
Usefulness of Non-IFRS Measures
We believe that our non-IFRS measures are useful to investors for the following reasons:
- Our revenue (non-IFRS), expense (non-IFRS), and profit (non-IFRS) measures, along with the “current cloud backlog (CCB)” measure (see above), provide investors with insight into management’s decision-making because management uses these measures to run our business and make financial, strategic, and operating decisions. We include the revenue adjustments outlined above and exclude the expense adjustments outlined above when making decisions to allocate resources. In addition, we use these non-IFRS measures to facilitate comparisons of SAP’s operating performance from period to period.
- The non-IFRS measures provide investors with additional information that enables a comparison of year-over-year operating performance by eliminating certain direct effects of acquisitions, share-based compensation plans, and restructuring plans.
- Non-IFRS and non-GAAP measures are widely used in the software industry. In many cases, inclusion of our non-IFRS measures may facilitate comparison with our competitors’ corresponding non-IFRS and non-GAAP measures.
Limitations of Non-IFRS Measures
Without being analyzed in conjunction with the corresponding IFRS measures, the non-IFRS measures are not indicative of our present and future performance, foremost, but not limited, for the following reasons:
- While our profit (non-IFRS) numbers reflect the elimination of certain acquisition-related expenses, no eliminations are made for the additional revenue or other income that results from the acquisitions.
- While we adjust for the fair value accounting of the acquired entities’ recurring revenue contracts, we do not adjust for the fair value accounting of deferred compensation items that result from commissions paid to the acquired company’s sales force and third parties for closing the respective customer contracts.
- The acquisition-related amortization expense that we eliminate in deriving our profit (non-IFRS) numbers is a recurring expense that will impact our financial performance in future years.
- The remaining acquisition-related charges that we eliminate in deriving our profit (non-IFRS) numbers are likely to recur should SAP enter into material business combinations in the future. Similarly, the restructuring expenses that we eliminate in deriving our profit (non-IFRS) numbers are likely to recur should SAP perform restructurings in the future.
- The revenue adjustment for the fair value accounting of the acquired entities’ contracts and the expense adjustment for acquisition-related charges do not arise from a common conceptual basis. This is because the revenue adjustment aims to improve the comparability of the initial post-acquisition period with future post-acquisition periods, while the expense adjustment aims to improve the comparability between post-acquisition periods and pre-acquisition periods. This should particularly be considered when evaluating our operating profit (non-IFRS) and operating margin (non-IFRS) numbers, as these combine our revenue (non-IFRS) and expenses (non-IFRS) despite the absence of a common conceptual basis.
- Our restructuring charges resulted in significant cash outflows in the past and could do so in the future. The same applies to our share-based payment expense because most of our share-based payments are settled in cash rather than shares.
- The valuation of our cash-settled share-based payments could vary significantly from period to period due to the fluctuation of our share price and other parameters used in the valuation of these plans.
- In the past, we have issued share-based payment awards to our employees every year and we intend to continue doing so in the future. Thus, our share-based payment expenses are recurring, although the amounts usually change from period to period.
We believe that constant currencies measures have limitations, particularly as the currency effects that are eliminated constitute a significant element of our revenue and expenses and could materially impact our performance. Therefore, we limit our use of constant currencies measures to the analysis of changes in volume as one element of the full change in a financial measure. We do not evaluate our results and performance without considering both constant currencies and nominal measures of revenue (non-IFRS) and operating profit (non-IFRS) measures on the one hand, and changes in revenue, operating expenses, operating profit, or other measures of financial performance prepared in accordance with IFRS on the other. We caution the readers of our financial reports to follow a similar approach by considering nominal and constant currencies non-IFRS measures only in addition to, and not as a substitute for or superior to, changes in revenue, operating expenses, operating profit, or other measures of financial performance prepared in accordance with IFRS.
Despite these limitations, we believe that the presentation of our non-IFRS measures and the corresponding IFRS measures, together with the relevant reconciliations, provide useful information to management and investors regarding present and future business trends relating to our financial condition and results of operations.