SAP delays launch of new community - provides no insights

SAP delays launch of new community - provides no insights

Summary: SAP delays launch of new community network at the last minute. What happened is not clear but this is a major embarrassment


Unlike the LZ129 Hindeburg which flew before flaming out, SAP's much vaunted new community network isn't flying any time soon. With less than 48 hours before the planned launch, Mark Yolton, SVP of the SAP Community Network released a statement effectively postponing the launch indefinitely:

I have decided to postpone the launch to early 2012.

It's an understatement to say that the decision to delay the launch was not taken lightly... it was really difficult, nearly excruciating after so much time and work has gone into design, build, migration, testing.  But, despite extraordinary efforts by our core SCN team, our partners in SAP IT, vendors/consultants, and key stakeholders, we don't feel that the new platform is of high enough overall quality to launch to our community members.

In the run up to the launch I heard a number of grumbles from senior people involved with SCN. Quality wasn't the only issue. I was hearing horror stories around lack of critical functionality compounded by a lack of gut checking with those who administer the system on a day to day basis. It was clear the strain was showing as Yolton became increasingly tetchy in Twitter posts, at one point implying that some community members should quit whining. That was never going to be the case.

SAP has not gone beyond what Yolton has outlined. While I have some information on this topic I will reserve getting into the detail until SAP steps up to the plate and explains what went wrong such that Yolton felt he had to pull the plug.

Early Twitter comment suggests bugs in the commenting system are to blame and in typical fashion, SAP is waving the 'quality' flag. That won't cut it. As SAP already knows, in the 21st century, quality isn't Job 1, being totally freaking amazing is Job 1.

As a company that has been praised for its social media/community efforts, (and milking it for all its worth) SAP is at risk of permanently blowing up its socmed cred. How SAP responds at this moment in time will tell us a great deal about the true character of the company. Any attempts at glossing over this major embarrassment, or for that matter blaming the Jive platform upon which SCN is built, will almost certainly lead to public ridicule.

This is social media 101 and the clock is ticking...

PS - on a personal note, I know several of the SCN development team. They must be feeling gutted.

Topic: SAP

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • Here's What I Think

    Why don't you stop writing in code? For example: SAP, SVN, SCN. If your spell checker has no idea what they mean in contemporary techdorkese, then possibly some of your readers don't either.
    • Agreed


      Never use an acronym without defining it first. One of the first rules of clear communication.
      • RE: SAP delays launch of new community - provides no insights

        @jorwell - this is not written for you.
      • RE: SAP delays launch of new community - provides no insights

        @dahowlett <br><br>I thought you had me personally in mind when you wrote it. When is the promised follow up piece on Tibco coming by the way?
  • A bit unfair

    Dennis<br><br>I admire much of your writing, but I think this blog entry is unfair. The SAP community (SCN) is huge with millions of users and content items and the current functionality while a little creaking still works. And one of the things SAP are doing (all credit to them) is migrating all their existing content into the new platform. The platform was originally going to go live Dec 5th, now it's going to go live in early 2012, presumably things are pretty quiet over the Xmas period - this doesn't seem too big a deal to me.<br><br>Also in comparison to many other companies, SAP are open and honest. Indeed they've just responded to your blog with a complete and detailed list of reasons at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>. I don't think most other tech companies would be so open and honest.<br><br>Comparing this to an airship in flames may fire up readership, but seems distinctly unfair. More like a jumbo jet with a slight technical hitch before take off ..<br><br>John Kleeman, Questionmark
    • RE: SAP delays launch of new community - provides no insights

      @johnkleeman - Before this was launched I Tweeted that I hoped this didn't go the same way as the Hindenburg - a member of the team said he hoped not either as he has skin in the game. Seems neither of us was right. <br><br>You say: 'Slight technical hitch?' Have you read the list of critical issues? Did you know I suggested to Yolton that he might wish to do something about this in a private message? Did you know that Yolton told me personally this was slated for 5th December with a week's wiggle room back in the fall? Did you know that back in June SAP said they were 'weeks away' on this project? Did you see my Tweeted message that showed the update link and praised Yolton for the explanation?<br><br>It doesn't matter whether SAP is 'open and honest' - what matters is that they have demonstrated an apparent lack of project management skills in relation to one of its most important programs and one designbed to take the community forward at a critical time in the company's history. By any standards this a a major #fail.<br><br>Unfair? If you read my piece carefully I chose not to speculate on what might have gone wrong though Yolton's follow up confirms much of what I already knew from reports given to me by others engaged in the project. So unfair? Not when you know all the facts.<br><br>Just to be clear - I take strong positions that people sometimes find hard to accept. That's OK. I'm not in this to be a fanboy of any tech company but to position for buyers. So let me turn this the other way - if you were a buyer would you find this acceptable?
  • RE: SAP delays launch of new community - provides no insights

    Hi Dennis,
    You're probably aware by now, but for others following this story, the comment bug that you linked to (the Tom Cenens tweet) is on the current release of the SAP Community Network (for the pedants, above). I'd imagine that this and other minor biugs are creeping into a creaky old system because developers have been concentrating on the new version.

    Back to the point.... I don't like what has happened with the SCN upgrade, but I feel you are arguing at cross purposes with many others, myself included (the fault, if any, lies on both sides). I think you are saying that things must have gotten out of hand much earlier than Friday, we should not have got to the point where a major upgrade to a major community resource was called off at the last minute, especially given what you had heard through the back channels. Others are more forgiving of the project management failures, perhaps because they feel the need to support 'their' community, perhaps because they've been in similar situations themselves. I'll admit I fall into both those categories, but the main reason I'm not being as harsh as you is that the reason I go to the community is not for the bells and whistles, but for the underlying information, and that is still there.

    HOWEVER .... Until Friday, SAP and the Community managers had presented the upgrade as a given. There is a credibility gap, and they will be given much less wriggle room by even me (one of their more ardent supporters) next time.


    PS, I may be reading too much into one of the previous comments, bu I can't recall anything you (or anyone else) has written that shows any kind of delight or schadenfrude (sp ?) in the cancellation of the upgrade.