SAP users win bigger say in software development

SAP users have kicked up a fuss over difficulties in influencing the company's software development — to good effect.
Written by Toby Wolpe, Contributor

SAP has made it easier for users to raise issues about its software and shape product development, following pressure from users groups in the UK and the Netherlands.

Until two years ago, SAP users had to direct their software issues through special interest groups and a development request system that left much to be desired, according to Craig Dale, chief executive of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group.

"There was no real transparency. We didn't know what would happen — whether that development request would get accepted or would even get viewed," Dale said.

"Then some way down the line, hopefully, we would get some feedback from SAP as to whether something was being developed. It wasn't always the case and sometimes these things dropped into a black hole."

The shortcomings of that system were apparent to software customers and SAP itself. The result was the creation in 2011 of the present global Customer Connection Program.

However, although the new system offered improved transparency, users in the UK and the Netherlands expressed their unhappiness at how hard it was to access, Dale said.

"Because of what was an overly complex registration system, we felt it was more of a barrier for entry for our members rather than a welcome with open arms," he said.

SAP has acted on those user concerns and has now simplified registration to the system, according to Dale.

"We now have a single influencing platform that our members can get involved in. Items will get viewed by SAP developers and will get taken into account. It makes it much easier for our members to get involved and influence SAP and their products," he said.

The simplified system enables users to contribute improvement requests to focus topics, which currently include the HCM recruitment module, Global Trade Services and BusinessObjects Web Intelligence.

According to Dale, the Customer Connection Program has led to the creation of more than 300 improvements and resulted in some 15,000 downloads of updates.

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