The SAP User Group Executive Network (Sugen) has announced a joint initiative with SAP to help shape the enterprise software supplier's future product plans.
Sugen represents all SAP user groups around the world and is made up of 12 regional groups, including the SAP UK & Ireland User Group.
The formation of a working group is aimed at making it easier for customers to get involved and influence SAP at a much earlier stage in the product development process and plan future implementations more effectively, the group said.
"It will be of great benefit to be able to feed into the process and have insight into what other groups around the world are raising with SAP," said George Mansfield, director with responsibility for Special Interest Group (SIG) development, SAP UK & Ireland User Group.
"This will enable the user groups to act as a first quality gate because the emphasis will be on quality, usability and getting value out of SAP investments," he told Computer Weekly.
The joint working group is an important milestone in the relationship of user groups with SAP and shows increased willingness of the software firm to listen to its customers, said Mansfield.
In the coming months the user groups will be feeding product roadmap information back to members through the SIG meetings and will be encouraging users to get involved in the dialogue with SAP, he said.
It is likely that user groups will be able to exert the most influence on younger products such as Business One and other emerging lines, said Mansfield.
Sugen negotiated with SAP for more than a year after user groups protested against a controversial plan to move all customers to enterprise support contracts priced at 22% of software cost by 2015.
In January 2010, SAP announced that it had decided to scrap the plan and would return to a two-tiered system that reintroduces a standard support option priced at 18% a year, 1% higher than 2008 rates.