Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Have a say at SAP: Customer Connect

It was only recently that I heard of SAP's Customer Connect platform.

SAP's Customer Connect program focusses on collaboration with and between customers of their product in order to enable SAP users to inspire SAP in their developments.

If you have not done so yet, feel free to sign in and join the discussion today.

Basically if you work with SAP as an end-user, key-user, application manager or a consultant, sooner or later you might run in to the limitations of the product. It is actually very likely that you ran into this blog looking for a solution to your problem.

Some of your system requirements may be solved with customization, some by implementing SAP Notes or creating an OSS message. If all else fails, you can also try implementing small pieces of custom coding, preferably in User-exits or Badi's.

Sometimes though, your requirement calls for more than just the implementation of a note, a piece of custom coding etc. Sometimes, your requirement may require a big shift in the design of processes in SAP or maybe for instance a big improvement in performance.

This is where the Customer Connect Program comes in.
All you need is a user on service.sap.com and a link to the Customer Influence platform.

Once registered, you will have access to both the Customer Connection platform as well as the Customer Engagement Enitiative. Both platforms actually focussing on the same goal, improving SAP products by involving customers.

Customer Connect (CC) vs Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI)

As both platforms share the goal of improving the product by listening to customers, what is the difference?
The difference is actually easy:

Customer Connect focusses on improvements that can be implemented on currently available versions of the product. This will most likely be improvements that can be developed in a relatively short period of time.

The Customer Engagement Initiative focusses on the discussion of which improvements or additional functionality should be developed in future releases.
In some cases, ideas may be moved from the CEI to the CC and vice versa.

How does it work?

Once registered as a user, you will have access the all topics where a CC is currently deployed for. For instance (in my case) an interesting one would be CRM User Experience Webclient UI & BCM

The cycle consist of 4 stages:
- Collect: Creation and discussion on improvement requests by customers
- Selection: SAP development looks into feasibility and popularity of the requests
- Development: SAP implements the improvement
- Use: Once deployed, the improvement gets special attention after deployment.
Also check the presentation here.

In the collection phase as a contributor, you have two roles. You can both submit new improvement requests, or give support to an improvement created by someone else by subscribing to the topic.

If you decide to submit or subscribe, you also agree with the fact that you might be requested to join in to support in the development phase to translate the improvement request (a statement of a few lines) to a proper development design.

The platform consists of a forum-like website where you can submit new improvement requests. As I am writing this, there are over 50 improvements from 22 different contributors waiting to be judged and possibly implemented.

An improvement request will only be considered for development when the number of subscribers is > 5, and the more subscribers, the bigger the chance it will actually be developed.

My personal favourites

Default values for search criteria in UI configuration

This improvement describes the ability to customize predefined default values in webclient search screens, so the ability to for instance by default apply the 'do not search for archived customers' parameter to the search screen.

Automatic refresh of the agent inbox

This improvement describes the need for an automatic refresh in the agent inbox. In the current situation, when working in the agent inbox with multiple users, a refresh has to be done manually to get an up to date list of the open workitems.

Add the status of an activity to the calendar

This improvement describes the addition of the activity status to the SAP calendar. This can be very useful when working on planned activities from the calendar.

What can you do?

If you have an opinion on improvement possibilities in for instance SAP CRM or SAP BCM, click on the link, register and create your improvement request or subscribe to existing ones.
Also, feel free to subscribe to the ones mentioned above to make sure they are actually developed :-).

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