You probably know the story of “The Princess and the Pea,” a popular fairy tale in which a young woman must prove she is a princess by detecting the presence of a tiny pea under 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds. Of course, she can’t sleep under the wretched circumstances of the pea-laden mattresses, proves to be a princess, and lives happily ever after.
I, too, am able to live happily ever after in the business world, thanks to my ability to find the pea buried in SAP customer experiences.
I have been an active member of the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) since 2002. My favorite description of my experiences with ASUG is what I call “free consulting” — a statement that usually makes my consultant friends cringe. Yet even the consultants know that the knowledge shared among ASUG members is valuable to the entire SAP ecosystem. Our shared experiences help SAP customers make educated choices.
Connecting Questions to Answers
I like to think of ASUG as a connector. The associations I have gained through ASUG have connected me and my company to answers — real answers about how technology can meet my business needs in real time.
Recently, for example, a colleague at another company was looking to revamp an SAP payroll system. That company wanted to take advantage of new functionality — SAP Payroll Processing, control center add-on — that is part of SAP’s HR renewal program. One consultant told the company that it would need to have SAP HANA with enhancement package 7 on SAP ERP Central Component 6.0, and that the company would need to be Unicode compliant.
This communication caused a great deal of confusion for the organization. Does this mean that SAP HANA is required with enhancement package 7? Does the control center add-on itself require an SAP HANA implementation? Would the company need to upgrade to Unicode? After a few quick emails among peers in the ASUG Human Capital Management Community, which includes SAP employees with deep product expertise, a clarifying answer was provided within two hours. Enhancement package 7 doesn’t require SAP HANA (rather, SAP HANA requires a customer to have enhancement package 7). Additionally, if the company simply wants to use the new control center add-on, SAP HANA isn’t necessarily required at all. As for Unicode, the standard migration to SAP HANA includes an upgrade to Unicode — so, the company that does want to use SAP HANA will have a simpler migration path.
Members Helping Each Other
So, how do you gain the knowledge you need to ask the right questions and to help your consultant guide you to the correct answers? Members of user communities assist each other in ways just like this every day. In fact, as I was writing this, I used my ASUG contacts to get a reference on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). I have also exchanged knowledge and experiences with ASUG members on mobile middleware, IT service management, and SAP Fiori. By communicating with community members, people get accurate information, quick answers, and immediate value. This is the power of community.