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I stopped opening OSS messages one or two years ago. The reason was that it is getting harder and harder to get in adequate response. If an error is drastic (think of as system crash with a dump) your error message will be solved. But what happens when there is “only” inconsistent data or a simulation that should detect errors will fail in 90% of all cases? The answer is simple: SAP Support will refer to OSS note 11 “Requested function is not in standard”. If you don’t this note – here is the content:

Dear customer,
We regret to inform you that the function you require is not included in
the SAP standard system.
If you want to work with SAP on future product functions, we recommend that
you do so by working in an SAP user group, or by working in one of the SAP
communities of innovation. You will find a list of all SAP user groups at
http://www.sapusergroups.org.
You can see a description of the SAP communities of innovation at
http://www.sap.com/ecosystem/communities/index.epx.
Alternatively, you can request the development of special functions by SAP
Custom Development (http://www.sap.com/services/portfolio/customdev/index.epx).
You will find more information at http://service.sap.com/rollin.
Yours sincerely,
SAP Active Global Support

What is your experience with development requests? My collegues started them but the correction was never rolled out. Only if the missing functionality has severe impact and you have a competent key account manager you’ll get help.  

Fortunately SAP development is interested in producing good software and therefore SAP’s Customer Engagement Initiative – It’s great to be part of it! has been started. And in fact every  product owner from SAP I got in contact with is interested in customers’ feedback. Unfortunately I never heard of an official process that informs product owners about OSS messages that are rejected as development request. I think such a process could help product owners to learn more about weaknesses of their products and which feature request should be added to the product backlog. In my opinion this is necessary because even if people from SAP support find solutions so that customers can live with a problem there is still place for improvement.

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12 Comments

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  1. Jarret Pazahanick
    In my experience the development request is a way to close the customer message even if in many cases the issue is a true defect. I have put in many development requests through the years and it is often a long time (if ever) that they actually get developed even if it is a known issue.

    I think the SAP Support process is especially frustrating for senior consultants especially ones that know for sure that their issue is a defect and are dealing with the 1st level of support who has limited knowledge and experience.

    I will say once I have gotten to the second level of support or an actual developer the experience has been very good as the issue is resolved quickly (or a development request is mentioned).  Getting to that point though can be very frustrating and time consuming.

    I have entered in about 80-100 OSS notes in my SAP career and dont remember 1 that was NOT a software defect. It seems like there is an opportunity for SAP to reward clients/consultants that consistently find defects by automatically moving them to tier 2 given their credibility.

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    1. Tom Cenens
      Hello Jarret

      It’s impossible to always directly hand an issue to the developer in question or to a topic expert. They would not know where to start and they would receive questions which are easily solved.

      A possibility can be to go for a MaxAttention conctract to be able to escalate more easily and get the proper developer or topic expert on the issue.

      That doesn’t mean it cannot be frustrating sometimes, it can but I also have a lot of respect for the support people. Troubleshooting isn’t always easy and they often receive questions which lack information. It can be very frustrating for them also.

      Kind regards

      Tom

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      1. Tobias Trapp Post author
        Of course support is frustrating and supporters have my respect.

        But before I’m opening OSS messages I’m doing some research and in most cases I can tell which code line must be changed. Some times ago I gave this information to support but in every case – whether the message was regarded as bug or dev request in the end – I got the immediate answer: “This is a development request: look at note 11”. This was different some years ago.

        As a consequence I don’t tell the solution of a problem any more.

        Best Regards
        Tobias

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        1. David Sanchez Isaac
          Hi Tobias,
          My experience with SAP Support is not that bad, they have helped us many times, even when the issue was not caused by a bug on SAP side.
          I know other collegues with the same experience.
          Regards,
          David
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        2. Tom Cenens
          Hello Tobias

          I got a nice story (at least I think so) in my upcoming blog about following instructions from SAP Notes and then opening a customer message) I don’t want to spoil the story so you will have to read it once it’s out if you are curious 😉

          Kind regards

          Tom

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    2. Carlos Martinez Escribano
      Hi Jarret,
      I addition to Tom’s comments, I would say:

      Firstly: Most of the times you receive a “11 note” reply from primary support (At least, this is my experience), the primary support consultants have previously verified along the product owners (Development, product Manager) the response. A primary support consultant is not the one to decide whether an application will be modified according to customer’s requirements and it’s also frustrating for us to reply in this way.

      Secondly: Nevertheless, I can tell you from my experience too, that what seems obvious to a customer, may not be so obvious when you have the whole picture.

      e.g.1. A changed requested by a customer may have negative side effects on other customers unknown to the one who requests the change.

      The changes requested may destabilish and harm other customers:

      e.g.2. Spanish Social security rejects monthly Social Security files to a customer. It had never happened before. It seems obvious that there is another bug on SAP side. Nobody else reports this error. In the end we discover that there was an error in social security’s application.

      But if you think there is a real bug, please report it to SAP and insist giving your arguments. amybe the arguments were not enough clear the firts time and SAP developers need a clear evidence that something is a bug to modify the application, otherwise the risk of destabilizing the application is high.

      Feel free to discuss it.

      Best Regards,
      Carlos.

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      1. Tobias Trapp Post author
        Hi Carlos,

        here I’m not sure. I’m spending lots of my time in Walldorf for Customer Engagement Initiative. And I learned the following:
        1.) There are product owners who don’t know those request that got answer “11”.
        2.) When I speak to them directly it is likely that they consider adding it to the product backlog.

        I’m not sure but I don’t believe that there is a process that informs those managers about the requests that are considered as development requests. I’m asking myself whether this could be an missing process. I’ll look at idea place try to propose it.

        Best Regards,
        Tobias

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        1. Carlos Martinez Escribano
          Hi Tobias,
          Answering to your questions:

          1.) There are product owners who don’t know those request that got answer “11”.

          Answer: If primary support or anyone else at SAP processing a SAP message replies to your request with answer “11” and you follow the steps indicated in note “11”, submitting a development request, this requests is supposed to be directed to the product owner.

          2.) When I speak to them directly it is likely that they consider adding it to the product backlog.

          Answer: It seems that contacting the product owner directly is more effective than submitting a development request?. But both ways, speaking directly to the product owner or submitting a development request should reach the product owner.
          Best Regards,
          Carlos.

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  2. Steve Bogner
    I’ve been working with the HR software for about 18 years now and have been consistently disappointed in how OSS messages are handled. I still urge my clients to report errors because they usually get resolved. Some of them do that, many others give up because the time and effort on their end just isn’t worth it.

    As for development requests, some of them take those through special interest groups at ASUG while others hire programmers and consultants to develop custom functionality to get what they want in a much shorter timescale than SAP delivers.

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    1. Tobias Trapp Post author
      My experience is not that bad. Let me give an example: When I found bugs in ABAP runtime the have been corrected within shortest time. But we both agree that there is lot of space for improvement. I suggested an idea in idea place to create a space for ideas improving AGS: https://ideas.sap.com/ideas/2686

      I would be nice if you could support this idea.

      Best Regards,
      Tobias

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  3. Luis Felipe Lanz
    Hi Tobias,

    After read your blog and the comments I couldn’t resist to make a comment that might clarify some misunderstanding.

    In SAP all of us are Message Solving     (former OSS) , for me was a surprise to read your comments here, because it refer to this task as the bottom of the food chain. 

    The Support process is the unexpected face of any company, some people assume that is the Sales or home page the place to look on it, but the true is that once you are customer, the AGS organization is the most common  human interaction that you have with SAP, so, do you really think that SAP is going to leave that responsibility just in a call center structure or to our least-qualified employees?

    The answer is simple, all employees at SAP are message solvers, from the newest colleague to the Board Members, all of us contribute to the stability and business continuity from our customers systems.

    From those messages we have Product Managers validating the usage of product and getting ideas for improvement, colleagues like Carlos who innovate with a new tool for our customers and partners and special task forces that goes to on-site escalations based on what we got via those messages.

    However, the messages are for bug or malfunctions only, in fact the area in the Service Marketplace say “Report a Problem or bug” and any other topic should be conducted by the right channel, but we also help with inconsistencies, we have a team formed by Product Managers, Developers, Project Managers and Consultants focus only to solve inconsistencies.

    Even, sometimes you got an answer in those messages directly from a Senior VP at SAP, he/she won’t add the signature as SVP, will only say their names.

    I’m also sure that you face sometimes the answer from note 11, the famous note 83020 or sometimes you got an unexpected answer from SAP Support, but those are exceptions, we cannot say that one of the best support system for the software industry is “annoying” based in exceptions, at this point I’m sorry i cannot share this opinion.

    As any process our support is subject to be improved, as SAP Mentor you have more direct access to us in order to submit your ideas and we for sure will evaluate them and why not if possible make them part of the process.

    The Development Request is one way, the CDP is other and some services that are already offered by SAP might suit your requirements, you only need to ask.

    At the end, I’m sad to know that you got a bad impression from us,  I’m sure that everyone in SAP knows the Support messages, work with them and will stay here when you (or any other reader) need us, no matter the department where we are, if our customers needs us we will be there for help.

    Thanks and Kind Regards,
    Luis

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    1. Tobias Trapp Post author
      Hi Luis,

      please don’t understand me wrong, I don’t have a bad impression of SAP. I’m currently in Walldorf at Customer Engagement Initiative and it’s fantastic: I’m trying to give best feedback I can, I ‘m trying to find pragmatic  solutions and there are challenging discussions with highly qualified people that are passionate about their work.

      I guess that supporters are passionate about their work, too, but perhaps there are hard management objectives to reduce the number of errors. This is only a guess, but I can remember times where the situation was better. And I think I’m not the only one having this impression. As SAP Mentor I have some privileges and so it’s easy for me to get in contact with SAP executives but I know many people who don’t have this possibility and are disappointed.
      But back to the problem: One aspect is communication. If the text of OSS 11 would have an additional sentence  that the content of this OSS message will be submitted to SAP product management in any case, the situation would be much better . Another suggestion was a process that informs product managers about those requests (in case such a process doesn’t exists) – I’ll check SAP Idea Place whether there’s a category for that. Another way is the development request and I’ll try this out although nobody I spoke with so far said that this was successful in the end.

      To come to a conclusion: I know that SAP does a great job to improve their products. CEI is one great example and I will blog about my time Walldorf this week, soon. But there are other things that can be improved.

      Best Regards,
      Tobias

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