Software is always evolving. One of the best ways to keep this evolution moving in the right direction is by engaging with users to better understand how it helps them achieve their daily work and where it falls short. Those subject matter experts and end users are a rich source of ideas to continuously improve these critical products.
ASUG-Led SAP Customer Influence Councils
In addition to the influence programs SAP runs, ASUG hosts Influence Councils. These specialized groups of members regularly meet to workshop potential solution improvements to submit to SAP, discuss their use of an SAP product, and bounce around ideas of how to leverage the software more effectively at their organizations.
“The point of the Influence Councils is to collect and amplify ASUG member feedback to SAP,” said Danny Pancratz, director of product development at ASUG. “ASUG Influence Councils help provide road map validation, discuss and define use-case scenarios, and articulate improvement requests for the next round of product enhancements.”
Providing Product Feedback to SAP
SAP remains involved with the ASUG Influence Councils. First, each Influence Council devotes time to discussing ways that SAP could improve its products. The councils then submit feedback and suggest improvements to SAP through the software company’s customer influence programs, such as SAP Customer Connect.
“We have a lot of sessions where we facilitate discussion on particular areas of SAP Global Trade Services that we want changed or improved and how we want to see those changes and improvements,” said Britany Christenson, project manager and SAP GTS supervisor at 3M and co-chair of the SAP Global Trade Services Influence Council. “Our first focus on the council is getting everybody engaged and collecting ideas for SAP Customer Connect.”
SAP GTS is focused on trade compliance, so the software helps manage imports, exports, licenses, and sanctioned business partners. Some of the improvements the Influence Council discussed and eventually submitted to SAP include a mass-classification functionality and improvements to the algorithm used in the sanction-party screening process.
“We were trying to make the software easier to use and give users more configuration and sensitivity options,” Christenson said.
Sharing SAP Product Implementation Stories
The Influence Councils not only focus on how they improve SAP products, they also are forums for members to discuss how their organizations are using the solutions. This helps members identify the best way to implement the solution within their operations, as well as optimize its use for their colleagues.
“What’s been helpful for all the members is the opportunity to network and benchmark, because there are a lot of people experiencing similar problems and issues throughout their deployment processes,” Christenson said. “It’s a good place for us to see what other people are doing.”
Ongoing Virtual SAP Customer Conversations
In addition to the SAP Global Trade Services Influence Council, ASUG hosts 19 other councils, focused on topics ranging from SAP Analysis for Microsoft Word to the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform. Each council has approximately 20 to 30 members and meets virtually either monthly or bimonthly.
“The councils are intended to be ongoing conversations over the course of the year,” Pancratz said. “In between meetings, the council might collect improvement request ideas or vote on those submitted so that they can discuss those ideas in detail or align on prioritization on their next call.”
Get Involved with SAP Influence Councils
As organizations rely on SAP solutions to conduct critical aspects of their businesses, the ASUG Influence Councils are a great outlet for users to connect with their colleagues and give SAP feedback on its products.
“The Influence Councils are a great way to influence the road map of the product and get your voice heard as a user,” Christenson said.
Get involved with an ASUG Influence Council by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.