Working with SAP to influence product development has long been a mission of the German-Speaking SAP User Group (DSAG). Two key initiatives, developed by SAP and supported by DSAG, are taking that mission to heart. Both the Customer Connection/Continuous Improvement (CI) program and the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) program are aimed at identifying and developing solution improvements for SAP customers. Let’s further explore each initiative.
Program #1: Continuous Improvement
The CI program deals with incremental improvements to existing SAP product releases, which are delivered in the form of SAP Notes and support packages; this makes deployment and adoption simpler and faster for customers.
The CI program focuses on topics of interest identified by the DSAG community and selected by SAP. DSAG members submit improvement requests related to the defined topics and collect, review, and prioritize them, passing noteworthy ones on to SAP, which then chooses the requests it will execute on. With support and advice from DSAG members, SAP rapidly develops and delivers the chosen improvements with no structural changes to the product itself. The timeline is roughly six months until delivery.
A recent example of a CI program success is improvements that were made to the SAP Plant Maintenance solution, including a better overview of procurement procedures and automated scheduling processes. DSAG members were very pleased with these improvements, seeing that their needs were being taken seriously.
Program #2: Customer Engagement
The CEI deals with large-scale, functional enhancements, driving end-to-end process support and shaping innovations that can be delivered in enhancement packages or product releases. On DSAG’s side, the community participates in a proof of concept, influences requirement specifications, and is instrumental in development and testing. On the other side of the collaboration, SAP defines a set of enhancement areas that customers can engage in, drives the engagement process, develops the proposed software, and delivers it. The CEI goes through three of these cycles per year, the next one beginning in October 2011. Some popular topics that the CEI is focusing on include:
- Enabling customers to build flexible processes for business approvals across popular mobile devices and desktop browsers
- Organizing and transporting software changes through a central change and transport system
- Developing an electronic invoice presentment and payment solution
As a result of the CEI, SAP has already delivered new functionality, such as the guided structure synchronization functionality in SAP Product
Lifecycle Management and new electronic bank statement processing functionality for a future SAP ERP Financials enhancement package.
Going forward, the CI and CEI programs will become ongoing influence channels that will help SAP meet customer needs.
Anyone can get involved in these programs by becoming a DSAG member (or a member of a participating international SAP user group). Visit service.sap.com/influence to learn more.
DSAG Board Member,
Processes and Applications Department