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The fable of the tortoise and the hare is widely known; despite its ambiguity, the moral of the story – slow and steady wins the race- is widely accepted, even though not applicable to all situations.

To me, ASUG Influence Councils are the tortoise in all its glory, which is why I am so excited about progress we are starting to see on the Security Influence Council. One of my SAP Mentor colleagues, Karin Tillotson, has posted several blogs about the value of ASUG Influence Councils, so I won’t rehash what she has already covered so well.

I introduced the Security Influence Council to SCN readers in aThe specified item was not found. published last summer.

Since then, there has been little news to share, as the council slowly and steadily worked to gather requirements, discuss use cases, and create documentation of the issues.  The Council did meet face to face at TechEd in Las Vegas, and several members took turns speaking about issues of particular interest in their organizations. This particular Council has bitten off – well, I won’t say more than we can chew, but we have taken on a larger-than-usual scope.  If you were to review the list of current ASUG Influence Councils, you would see that many of them are focused on a single SAP solution, a specific industry, or even a specific issue within a solution. Not us! No, indeed, we bravely took on security issues in a wide variety of SAP solutions:

• Solution Manager

• BusinessObjects Enterprise

• BusinessObjects Explorer

• SAP Enterprise Portal

• BusinessObjects Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) solutions

• General authorization functionality (NetWeaver-based)

• Identity Management

The Council divided into breakout groups and spent roughly six months holding conference calls and online discussions, reviewing the use cases and creating screen prints and other documents. Once all the issues were documented, Council members were surveyed to get the recommendations prioritized for criticality. The survey results were turned over to our SAP point of contact, who in turn started the process of reviewing our recommendations with the pertinent solution management.

This morning the Council leadership team had our first call to review SAP feedback, and it was very exciting. Several of the recommendations required very little discussion; the folks at SAP “got it” right on our first attempt to explain the issues. Some of the recommendations did need some clarification, and we were able to go to our use case documents that illustrated our issues.  Several issues require some additional documentation, and the leadership team will be following up.

So the process continues. Influence Councils are not a “quick fix”; those easily frustrated or of short attention spans would need to keep patience in mind. It is a long and winding road, and progress can be slow and arduous, especially for Councils with large scope such as ours. But the payoff, when the solution management and the users come together and see an issue in the same light, is incredibly exciting. The other key point is that all we can do as an Influence Council is make recommendations; SAP can reject those that do not fit their strategic direction, or do not deliver a benefit worth their development costs. So even if we all agree, SAP can come back and say no to any of our recommendations.

The Council leadership team plans to meet again in a few weeks to review more of the recommendations and feedback. All of this activity is leading up to our Influence Update session at the ASUG and SAPPHIRE Now Conferences in Orlando. It is session 3905, currently scheduled for May 17 at 8:00 AM, but dates and times are subject to change, so be sure to check the Agenda Builder before you go to Orlando. At the Influence Update session, the recommendations and feedback received to date will be discussed, and next steps will be reviewed.  I encourage all Conference attendees to consider attending Influence Update sessions; while Influence Councils are usually closed to SAP installation customers, Influence Update sessions are generally open to any conference attendee.  Influence Council members put in long months of work leading up to these sessions, in the hopes of improving SAP solutions for the use of all SAP customers, and we will be eager to share the results of our work. I especially want to thank the others on our leadership team: Kathleen Kochtan from Newell Rubbermaid, Greg Capps from The Coca-Cola Company, and Matthias Kaempfer from SAP. I am very hopeful for an exciting session in Orlando as our Council continues on its journey.

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  1. Tammy Powlas
    Thank you for the updates, Gretchen!

    We have several Influence Council sessions at ASUG Annual Conference, so thank you for mentioning yours.

    Tammy

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