Working groups play a principal role in DSAG's mission to give its members a voice in the future development of SAP products and services. By teaming up with SAP to strategize how SAP solutions for a specific functional area can be optimized for the needs of the user community, DSAG working groups have marked much success in influencing product development.
The DSAG working group Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Monitor (BI and CPM) is a prime example. Dedicated to providing SAP with constant feedback, the group has succeeded in working with SAP to modify and enhance SAP NetWeaver BI functionality.
Building Up BI
Within the BI and CPM working group are numerous subgroups — called topic groups — that aim to identify customers' strategic development requirements for the business intelligence capabilities of SAP NetWeaver and communicate these needs to SAP. Each group comprises five to six DSAG members and several representatives from the Development and Product Management team at SAP.
Topic groups have been extremely well received within the BI and CPM group. Consider the Business Reporting topic group's accomplishments in just two years. The group drew up a comprehensive list of enterprise reporting functionalities to enhance the BI capabilities of SAP NetWeaver, including formatted report creation, preparation, and printing options, as well as printing options for Web applications.
The Work Paid Off
After identifying these enhancement ideas, the Business Reporting topic group met in Walldorf four times in six months to strategize how to incorporate enterprise reporting in SAP NetWeaver. The result? Many of these ideas were implemented with the SAP Business Explorer (BEx) Report Designer, available with the SAP NetWeaver 2004s release. The BEx Report Designer allows users to create formatted reports — optimized for both presentation and printing — that contain BI data from both SAP NetWeaver and third-party BI systems. There is also new functionality for generating PDF documents and printing formatted reports, Web applications, and the results of ad hoc analyses created with the BEx Web Analyzer.
According to SAP, the enhancement suggestions have been helpful. "The constant feedback from topic group participants supported our development team in creating functions that are useful to all users," said Barbara Neumann, product manager for SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence at SAP AG.
Continuing the Vision
Other topic groups within the BI and CPM working group have also enjoyed success, with SAP investigating ways to incorporate their proposed enhancements into future SAP NetWeaver releases. "This way of working has proved how valuable it is for all those involved — it should be used in other development areas as well," said Hariolf Knecht, speaker of the BI and CPM working group. Taking these words to heart, the group recently formed three additional topic groups, which will carry DSAG's influence on logical partitioning, BI and Visual Composer, and SAP NetWeaver and BI into the next year.
For more information, on DSAG's BI and CPM working group, please visit www.dsag.de.