ASUG Member: Influence Helps Secure Product Improvements, Direct Access to SAP

October 28, 2016 by China Martens

For ASUG member Kevin Riddell, his involvement in an ASUG Influence Council has already resulted in the delivery of a long-desired product improvement as well as the opening-up of a direct dialog with SAP. Additional benefits include focused networking with peers and the sharing of best practices.

 

As international logistics manager at construction and waterproofing products manufacturer Tremco, Riddell is the business process owner for SAP Global Trade Services and he helped to select and implement the GTS software in 2011. SAP GTS enables organizations to automate and manage their global trade processes and thereby help to ensure compliance with worldwide regulations.

 

Proposing Improvements

 

Riddell was asked to join the ASUG SAP GTS User Influence Council by an existing member in 2014. Not long after joining, Riddell agreed to fill the vacant role of council customer chair.

 

“The main reason I wanted to join the council in the first place was to see if I could get some desired improvements delivered, one of which already has,” Riddell says in interviews with ASUGNews. “Also, I wanted the chance to network with other members and share best practices.”

 

In business since 1928, Tremco, which employs more than 2,000 staff, distributes its products worldwide and has operations in the U.S., Canada and in Australia. As a global distributor, Tremco had been seeking an improvement in SAP GTS relating to the handling of multiple preference agreements for some time.

 

In a proposal to SAP, Riddell put forward an idea to add an option previously lacking in GTS. The option would allow a user to specify one or more agreements within the GTS perform determination screen. SAP then made the change, through a Customer Connection program, which makes life easier for GTS users dealing with preference processing—the ability for an exporter to document they’ve met all the legal requirements for customs and to identify the eligibility of their products for preferential treatment.

 

Sharing Best Practices

 

The delivered improvement is a key benefit for Tremco and Riddell looks forward to having other ideas accepted. “Also, I have spent time with other council members sharing best practices, and have learned practical tips and tricks from them,” he adds. “It’s difficult to quantify as savings or a hard dollar value, but I am confident we have been able to avoid the need for chargeable partner services, thanks to the sharing of ideas and experiences among other customers.”

 

One specific example of a best practice Tremco has adopted from its ASUG council peers is how the organization now manages the updates to subscriptions data content in GTS. “Based on our talks with other council members, we have made changes to our scripts that ensure timely updates and improved compliance,” Riddell says. During the council’s monthly conference call, there’s a chance for members to freely exchange experiences. “We can each say, ‘We’re struggling with this, have you ever dealt with that?’” he adds.

 

Influencing and Working with SAP

 

Direct access to SAP is another benefit involvement with the ASUG Influence Council brings, thanks to the SAP point of contact assigned to the council. In the case of the GTS Influence Council, the SAP contact is responsible for solution management.

 

“We have a great opportunity to talk to her one-on-one,” Riddell says. “Sometimes, we believe we need an improvement in the product and she’ll explain we can do what we want within the existing product.” This knowledge is extremely valuable. “Without direct access [to SAP], you might be paying a partner to tell you the same thing,” Riddell adds. “We have a real chance to find solutions without having to pay for them.”

 

The council has also demonstrated it has direct input into and influence over SAP’s product direction.

 

“One thing I am particularly proud of was the council’s ability to push back on SAP about improvements, and what versions of the software they will apply to,” Riddell says. “Originally, SAP had proposed the latest version only, but we were able to argue to get those improvements for the last two versions as well.”

 

Why and How to Get Involved

 

Riddell’s enthusiasm about the positive role Influence Councils can play for SAP customers and the accrued benefits of membership led him to give a presentation titled ‘SAP and ASUG Influence: Making the Most of Your Investment’ at a recent ASUG Chapter Meeting in Dublin, Ohio. His speech drew a very positive response, he says, particularly as many of his audience were previously unaware of the work of the councils.

 

“My advice is to get involved, period!” Riddell says. “The more you invest in time and energy into Influence, the more benefit you will gain from personal networking as well as professional growth, and direct benefit to your employer.”


To learn more about ASUG Influence programs, check out asug.com/influence. Those interested can reach out to influence@asug.com to get connected to a program in their desired product area. ASUG members can also propose new Influence Councils by filling out this form.