If you spend any time around ASUG members, you might have heard one of them talking up the virtues of “ASUG influence.” The concept has been a pillar of the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group since its founding nearly 25 years ago. So what does that mean philosophically, and how do we put ASUG influence into practice in 2015?
A Network of People
At the ASUG keynote address at the ASUG Annual Conference and SAPPHIRE NOW in May 2015, I talked about our network. At the base level, ASUG is a network of people — as a group, we share a common belief in our power to make something better, to effect change, and to move our businesses forward.
Influence is a critical component of our network’s capabilities. By tapping into the collective voice and experiences of the membership, the network effect of our influence has a material impact on the SAP development cycle. Here are four influence programs in practice:
- Influence Councils: These councils consist of ASUG member-driven task forces that make the business case for change. Councils forge use case scenarios, discuss future SAP product enhancements, and provide customer validation of roadmaps.
- Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI): The CEI program, which is driven by SAP, consists of focus groups that provide insight into today’s business challenges, and enables SAP to develop more relevant products.
- Early Adopter Programs: Our members can join in on SAP Ramp-Up or customer validation programs, which allow customers to implement and test SAP products before they become generally available.
- Customer Connection: Sometimes changing one small task on an SAP screen can make a monumental difference in productivity. The customer connection program enables members to come together to prioritize smaller requests that, in turn, offer big improvements to all SAP customers.
ASUG can point to real results in how SAP takes our input and feedback and actually makes positive changes for the customer base. In 2014, for example, the ASUG community encouraged SAP to include SAP Fiori as part of its existing software licensing contracts.
We also share with SAP our ASUG-member research — such as the results from last year’s SAP HANA adoption survey, which found that SAP customers needed help building their SAP HANA business cases.
ASUG also works with SAP behind the scenes to effect change. Conversations between our volunteer ranks and their SAP point-of-contact counterparts, among ASUG board members and SAP’s top leadership during regular meetings in North America and Germany, during the thousands of phone calls that happen throughout the year between the two organizations, and at our Executive Exchange meetings in which SAP executives hear from C-level members on critical business and IT challenges, all play a role.
There’s much more than that, of course, but everything I’ve mentioned should give you an idea of what types of influencing interactions occur between ASUG and SAP. And I can promise you that we will continue to rely on the power of the ASUG network as we chart the organization’s path for the next 25 years.