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You Pay the Dues — Does ASUG Deliver?

by Rod Masney | SAPinsider

April 1, 2006

ASUG President-Elect Rod Masney explains the tangible benefits available to members and offers recommendations to better leverage ASUG assets at both a corporate and personal level.
 



Rod Masney,
Global Information and Technology Architect,
O-I

ASUG, Americas' SAP Users' Group, charges member companies annual dues of US$1,500.1 Any US- or Canadian-based SAP customer, be it a small, mid-tier, or Fortune 500 company, can join. Once an organization becomes a member, any number of employees can take advantage of ASUG services.

What tangible benefits do member companies derive from ASUG?

In May of this year, Rod Masney becomes president of this organization. In this article, he answers this question and offers recommendations to better leverage ASUG assets at both a corporate and personal level.

Q What benefits do ASUG member companies derive? Are they quantifiable?

ASUG arms its members with a number of helpful resources, each centered around enabling members to educate one another through the exchange of best practices and case studies, facilitating networking either in person or online, and creating opportunity to influence the future of SAP and its products and services. Through ASUG, there is unlimited intellectual capital, including valuable content on www.asug.com, such as white papers and presentations from both virtual and face-to-face events. There are discussion forums, where you can post a question and get answers back from your peers. (This site is often the first place I go when trying to find information about specific topics or a problem that I'm trying to solve. An unlimited number of employees can register for a password to the site.) There is also an annual conference, local Chapter meetings, vertical or hot-topic focused events, and live, interactive Webcasts.

Are the benefits you derive from these resources quantifiable? It's difficult to come up with a precise ROI calculation. But ask any active ASUG member, and they can tell you, anecdotally, how their involvement in ASUG saved them money, time, or resources. For example, at my previous job, I tapped into the ASUG community to learn about SAP upgrades and craft our company's upgrade strategy. We were then able to execute our upgrades entirely on our own. During my tenure at that company, we upgraded three different times, at high speed, and without the need for outside consultants. That's real dollar savings, particularly for a relatively small-sized company like the one I worked for.

How customers work through ASUG to influence SAP product development is another valuable benefit. It's a way for any member company to become visible to SAP, articulate requirements, and steer SAP product development to meet these needs out of the box. It's a win-win scenario. SAP emerges from the exchange with products that are wholly aligned with the market. Customers get the functionality they need without the cost and long-term consequences of customization. Granted, there is a lag between the time customers articulate their needs and the release of new features, but in the interim, you can tap into the collective wisdom of your peers in your ASUG network for workarounds.

Q What's in it for the individual? Are there tangible, personal benefits?

From a professional perspective, all of us want to succeed at delivering high-quality results at the lowest possible cost. Networking with your peers helps you do this. You can draw valuable insights from a large pool of talent. It has certainly helped me be more successful in the projects I've worked on and driven my growth as an SAP professional. At www.asug.com, you'll find a "Member Network" tool, which helps you find and network with other members with like interests. You will also find communities that focus on specific, technical topics.

Q Do you have advice for members to glean more value from the ASUG community?

Although ASUG inherently offers its member constituency a community that inspires education, networking, and the opportunity to influence SAP, how each company chooses to draw value is entirely up to that organization and its needs. It's clear to me that the value member companies and individuals derive from ASUG varies. Those that are the most active extract the most value. It's that simple.

ASUG Membership, By Size and Geographic Location

ASUG's membership contains companies of all sizes, located across the United States and Canada.

More than a third of the companies and organizations that join are under $200 million in revenue, while slightly less than a third are in the $200 million to $2.5 billion revenue range (see Figure 1).

ASUG offers tremendous opportunity for mid-market and smaller companies to become highly visible to SAP in a very meaningful way, and to help steer product direction — either at the tactical level through an Influence Council or at a strategic level through an Executive Exchange.

Geographically speaking, the membership is in keeping with the spread of industry across North America. A majority of member companies come from the US Northeast, with the US Midwest close behind. The US West and Southeast represent the next tier of regions, with Eastern and Western Canada making up the remainder (see Figure 2).

The geographic diversity of the membership is also one of the key benefits of the organization. Across North America there are 38 ASUG Chapters, which typically meet several times a year. These meetings usually feature one or two keynote speakers, as well as breakout sessions on focused topics. Membership in a Chapter is included with your national ASUG membership fee.

ASUG not only offers the opportunity to network geographically, but also by area of interest. There are 70 special interest group communities within ASUG. Many are built around different applications of SAP, such as a financials group and a human resources group. Other groups focus on components, such as a portals group and a business warehouse group. There are also topic-based groups that focus on areas such as project management, documentation, and change management.

Figure 1

Corporate Installation Members by Revenue Bracket

Figure 2

Corporate Installation Members by Region


1 Organizations with new SAP implementations get their first year's membership free.

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