SAP User Groups have effected a change to the SAP Customer Connection process, making it simpler to register to make suggestions for product development.
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Craig Dale, chief executive of the SAP UK and Ireland User Group, said users wanting to suggest product improvements had been giving up, so complicated was the registration process. The UK and Ireland User Group joined with the Dutch User Group (VNSG) to lobby SAP for a simpler way to register.
The connection programme was created at the beginning of 2011. It has generated 93 different focus topics, which users define. These include customer relationship management (CRM), product lifecycle management (PLM) and healthcare.
SAP has delivered 314 product improvements so far. Dale confirmed there have been 15,000 downloads of those improvements.
The roster of focus topics gathering improvement requests include Human Capital Management (HCM) E-Recruiting, Global Trade Services and BusinessObjects Web Intelligence. Upcoming topics include Retail, HCM Compensation and CRM.
Once registered, SAP customers can see what others have inputted as areas for product improvement, said Dale. If your improvement request is not already there, you can upload it to be voted on. An improvement needs a minimum of five votes to be acted on.
“We collaborate with SAP on the topics, and we find any issues around priorities get ironed out in the call with the supplier,” he said.
The programme is “all about the here and now”, according to Dale. Improvements that are more medium to long term go to the supplier’s customer engagement initiative.
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Dale’s message to user group members is to get more involved in the product improvement request process now that it is simpler.
“This is the most direct way to make improvement requests to SAP, and as a result, we have seen the time taken between collecting requests to implementing them shorten considerably. With SAP’s product portfolio constantly evolving, it is important that users continue to have a say to ensure that their business requirements are being met,” he added.
“Five years ago, the development request process was not at all transparent,” said Dale. The user group would upload to SAP’s system, but there was no way of following through. It was not working from anyone’s perspective, he said, and there was a tendency for SAP to make improvements for one global customer.
The new programme is driven by a much wider base of customers, he added: “The improvement we’ve driven here is a virtue of belonging to the user group. At the risk of sounding cheesy, we’re making the world a better place for SAP customers.”