SAP user groups around the world offer users vital connections to other SAP customers — opportunities to share best practices, discuss SAP ventures, and meet with those working on similar projects. To date, though, there have been few avenues to link these groups on a global scale and unite the voices of SAP customers across various user groups — until now.
To connect user groups on a more global level, the German-Speaking SAP User Group (DSAG) recently initiated the User Group Executive Network. This network is a forum that unites user groups, represented by their board directors and executives, from around the globe (see sidebar below).
In May 2007, DSAG brought together a select group of global user groups that showed interest in DSAG's international activities to found the User Group Executive Network. Meeting together in Vienna at SAPPHIRE 2007 were members of the Dutch, French, Swedish, and Spanish user groups, as well as those from Great Britain and Ireland. Members of the American, Australian, and Japanese user groups also participated by telephone to help kick off the User Group Executive Network.
SAP CEO Henning Kagermann, who met with participants in Vienna, says that he appreciates the initiative. It's crucial for SAP to be in close contact with board executives worldwide. Having this cross-section of their user base communicate its consolidated feedback is extremely helpful.
An SAP User Group Communication Forum
The User Group Executive Network's goal is twofold: to establish common areas of interest among worldwide user groups, and to transmit the consolidated feedback gleaned from the international customer base back to SAP. The group also provides a forum to share best practices across a global landscape.
And SAP is embracing the initiative. Stefan Kneis, Global Head of the SAP Customer Community program, will be the SAP representative in the community. SAP has even established a Global Customer Community Office to act as a central repository for the experiences and best practices of successful user groups.
"By working together globally, we will be able to view and discuss market changes from a worldwide point of view and continue to exchange best practices. Moreover, we will strengthen our position toward SAP through this union," said Alfons Wahlers, Chairman of the Board of DSAG and CIO of Celesio AG.
Benefits of a Global Connection
The User Group Executive Network allows even small user groups to expand their opportunities to interact with and provide feedback to SAP. And while this
initiative will provide a way for user groups to coordinate among themselves, it still allows them to maintain their independence. The network will not interfere with individual user group initiatives; it
simply provides another collaboration avenue.
This network also creates a communications channel for members and SAP to distribute information on topics such as strategic or product-specific innovations that affect the global SAP customer base.
Representatives involved in the User Group Executive Network plan to meet in person at least once a year and to hold phone meetings regularly, so the network will be ongoing. Some of the group's overall goals include standardized SAP support for user groups, increased opportunities for smaller user groups, and a cohesive information platform for SAP.
Together with representatives from ASUG, the Swedish User Group, and the Dutch User Group (VNSG), DSAG is also creating a working model to collectively represent and prioritize the goals of all user groups. To learn more, visit www.dsag.de.