In the ecosystem & partner group, we constantly hear feedback from partners and prospective partners (and we’re glad we do!). One thing I’ve heard repeatedly is that SAP does an excellent job explaining how to use the capabilities provided in the SAP Business Suite, Technology Platform and our other solutions, but not such a good job advising partners what SAP technologies they should be paying attention to.
In fact, I’ve heard that it can be a challenge for a partner to figure out SAP’s technical directions. What should they build on? What’s really strategic and planned for expanded investment? And what is destined for reduced focus, so perhaps not the wisest technology to leverage?
Partners tell me they may get different guidance from different people at SAP. They may read announcements or blog posts and not be sure of the significance. And when they ask, they may be told that they can make any one of a wide variety of choices and none of them will be wrong. But still they wonder, what is the best choice? Which SAP technologies should we align with?
Part of the difficulty is that SAP is committed to supporting our products for longer than some other software companies have been in business. Our customers depend on our solutions to run their businesses, and they expect things to keep working the same way for a long time. So SAP maintains technical functionality in our product line longer than another software company might. The need to do this, while still adapting and adjusting to technological change, is part of what Vishal means by “timeless software”.
But at the same time, SAP is continually introducing innovations. As a result, the list of available and supported SAP technologies keeps growing. All of which creates the challenge – what SAP technologies should a partner leverage?
This was our motivation to launch a new initiative, called SAP guidelines for best-built applications that integrate with SAP Business Suite.
These guidelines are recommendations for partners, and particularly for ISVs, who build complementary solutions that extend the capabilities of SAP Business Suite. The guidelines answer the question of what to do, not how to do it – but then contain pointers to how-to documents for further information.
The guidelines for best-built applications are being launched at TechEd 2009. A copy of the document will be given to every attendee at Phoenix and Vienna on the same USB memory stick that contains all of the TechEd presentations. And on the outside of the stick we’re printing the URL of the Best-Built Apps web site where the living document will be updated regularly, where the community can join the conversation about the guidelines, and where people who don’t mind killing trees can order a bound copy, print-on-demand (or can download the PDF for free).
There are three important points to make about this new initiative.
First, it’s not a program or a brand. SAP is not authorizing anyone to say their application is a “best-built application”. These are voluntary recommendations that we hope partners will follow, but this is not a certification, a qualification, or a brand that partners may use.
Second, it’s not complete. The guidelines published in October 2009 are a beginning, not an end. The guidelines will be updated at least annually (the online version will always be current). This only makes sense – as new SAP technical capabilities move from roadmap to product availability, we want to recommend these new capabilities to our partners, so the guidelines will expand as SAP continues to deliver new functionality.
Third, it’s a conversation. We want to keep hearing feedback from our partners. Obviously, we want to help our partners adopt and align with SAP technology. What makes this easier? What makes this harder? How can the guidelines evolve to better help you answer the question, what SAP technologies should we leverage?
Come join the conversation, at SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications