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The other day I saw that SAP is doing a small push around their new “Best Built Apps” program by releasing a document called “SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications”. Many of us have been waiting for such a document for years, so I was happy to see SAP finally release it.

So far the marketing of these guidelines has merely been two blog posts on SDN (here and here). The URL provided in these two posts (SAP Guidelines for Best-Built Applications), as well as the link to the wiki with the document itself, tells me that the marketing will probably stay on the internet and within the community network.

My first thought was even though the community is a great place to start not all partners are even involved in the community and therefore seems to me as a misplaced effort to reach the masses in terms of these new guidelines. Will these guidelines help me be a better SAP partner? Will they help me be a better customer with more knowledge of how best to build applications within the SAP technology base?

What is in it for the ISVs when they follow these guidelines? For now these are just developer-focused guidance offered to ISVs that want to technically align their solutions with SAP’s direction. The applications built with these guidelines may not be labeled as “best-built applications” or even “best-built” in any way.  Instead they may only refer to the use of the guidelines during the development effort (quote from the guidelines):

“We developed our application in accordance with SAP guidelines for best-built applications that integrate with SAP Business Suite.”

Really? So what exactly is the incentive here?
Wouldn’t it make more sense if the ISVs could market their applications as “best-built” apps as a reference to SAP’s “best run” marketing campaigns

As for the usual SME market neglect,  SAP once again fails to see the importance, not only of the SME market as a whole, but of it’s SME partners and customers as well in my opinion. The “Best-Built Applications 2009” document is apparently merely a starting point and these will be expanded to cover more territory in the future. But the guidelines as they are today could easily have been extended to cover All-in-One too for instance. I can see that the integration with Business byDesign or BusinessOne has to be different, but why does that have to mean they cannot be released at the same time?

With the onset of the upcoming SAP TechEd events I’d venture to say that this is just the start and we can probably expect to see a massive launch of this new program during the upcoming Phoenix, Vienna, Shanghai and Bangalore events.

As a SAP Mentor, and as Craig Cmehil likes to refer to me, a “Community Influencer” I’ve decided that this program is too important to be just something added to the community but rather something that needs true marketing efforts and a broad, and I mean very broad reach to ensure that the partners and I mean all partners are informed. I am hoping we will be given the opportunity at the event in Vienna to speak with the head of the SAP Ecosystem and partner groups, Zia Yusuf, about this program and their plans to bring it out to all partners around the world in a speedy and efficient manner as wells our ability as partners to influence the content and future paths of the program. 

Update: You can read the press release here.

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4 Comments

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  1. Benny Schaich-Lebek
    Yes, You’re right we should do all of this at once. Unfortunately big ships turn slow and though in many situations departments decide to go out with material before the whole company can join them as this usually means to line up with about 25 people you don’t even know where to find them….
    At the same time you need to make sure that there are not three other departments doing the same thing.
    This is not an excuse: You’re right and stepping on some toes may help.
    So go on!

    Regards,
    Benny

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  2. Richard Probst
    Anne, thanks for your comments. Yes, this is something that’s been needed for a while, and now it is rolling out! Hooray!

    We decided to start the roll-out of the Best-Built Apps guidelines by alerting the SDN community, because the community is truly influential. But that’s not where it stops. At TechEd Phoenix, Vienna and Bangalore we will do presentations on the guidelines (come to “SOA 206”), hold meet-the-experts sessions, and have informal discussions at the PartnerEdge pod. The PartnerEdge advisors have been briefed and are ready to help partners find needed resources. There will be articles in the partner newsletter. We want to get the word out every way we can.

    I really appreciate your comment that this initiative is so important that it needs the broadest possible reach. It’s a thrilling project to be working on.

    You raised a couple of points I’d like to respond to.

    > “What is in it for the ISVs when they follow these guidelines? … Wouldn’t it make more sense if the ISVs could market their applications as “best-built” apps…?”

    The benefit to ISVs is that (we believe) applications built according to these guidelines will give customers reduced cost of integration, support, and training. That should help ISVs close more deals.

    We have said very clearly that companies are not allowed to use “best-built” in their marketing, for a simple reason: SAP can only authorize companies to use an SAP brand if there are objective criteria for qualifying to use the brand, and at least some of the recommendations do not lend themselves to being certified or qualified against.

    But we have heard the feedback from you, Dennis and others, and will think hard about how to help partners make a valid claim. Until something changes, we are telling partners that they can say “This application was developed in accordance with the guidelines”, and if they want even more of a brand, they can get certified wherever the guidelines point to a certification.

    > “the guidelines as they are today could easily have been extended to cover All-in-One too …”

    Mostly true, technically. But it’s not just a technical issue. Before we could release these guidelines, we had to reach consensus within SAP. The effort to reach consensus grows by the square of the number of groups involved. For the 2009 edition, the SAP Business Suite and NetWeaver groups were primarily involved (along with the ecosystem group, the office of the CTO and Active Global Support). We look forward to working with additional groups in SAP, for future editions.

    This is only the beginning. There’s a lot more work to do before the SAP guidelines for best-built applications can be declared complete. And we do mean it when we say we want to do this work together with our partners and the community.

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    1. Anonymous
      Richard, thank you for your long answer.
      I will look for you at TechEd Vienna, I still have a couple of questions 😉
      /Anne
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      1. Richard Probst
        See you in Vienna!

        And to everyone coming to TechEd Vienna (or Phoenix or Bangalore), please come talk with the core team that published the Best-Built Apps guidelines, at the SOA 206 session, at the scheduled meet-the-experts sessions, or at the PartnerEdge pod in the Comunity Clubhouse. We look forward to hearing your views.

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