update 03/20/2014 – as per comments from Cueneyt.


Over the years SAP developed a few channels of how outside world can reach out to SAP. Through these channels we can potentially influence the SAP world. Here’s one example. Imagine that you have a great idea of how to improve particular functionality in SAP’s software. You’d like to let the SAP know about it. And surprisingly there are chances how to do it – how to pass the message. Below I list and briefly describe those channels. The motivation for this blog is to basically gather basic information on those channels into one place.

1. IdeaPlace ideas.sap.com introduced in 2010 enables you to post idea for new feature or product enhancement of SAP software, solution etc. You can also browser already posted ideas by others, vote for ideas which promote them and subscribe to the ideas to be updated about its further developments. See ideaplace site and following SAP Note for more details. To use the site you need you Service Marketplace (SMP) account although you can browse ideas without login.


For more information follow this SAP Note:

1515837 – How To: Enhancement Request Process – “Idea Place” – BI solutions


Also notice that while posting new ideas you need to assign it to existing directory. The directory represents area of SAP software/product. At the moment all Business Analytics (BA) – covering BI as well, Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Data Warehousing, Human Capital Management (HCM), Mobility, on-demand, NetWeaver solutions are now available in Idea Place.

2. SAP Influence Program service.sap.com/influence and influence.sap.com (public access). Apart of IdeaPlace there is a program called Customer Influence. In general you need to be really SAP customer to participate in SAP influence. This means you need to have either license or support contract from SAP. Generally speaking via SAP Influence you can participate with SAP on development of products. There are two flavors of this program:

– Customer Connection

– Customer Engagement Initiative and get involved

Below I describe those two plus the others.

3. Customer Connection service.sap.com/customer-connection (SMP account required) or sap.com/cc (public access) – SAP customer with maintenance contracts and SAP User Groups can suggest improvement of SAP software. These so called Improvement Requests are gathered into so called Focus Topic cycles. Once particular request scores by significant customers it is being review by SAP development teams. Once developed by them customer can implement it in form of either SAP Notes or SAP Support Packages (SP).

There is actually more within Customer Connection initiative. All improvements which were delivered can be found on dedicated sites:


  1. sapimprovementfinder.com – public access
  2. service.sap.com/findinnovation – SMP login required


You can search for improvements and get to know how to implement them.

As my background is mostly Data Warehousing I’m very glad to see improvements from this area like:

BI Content Migration of BW 3.x based data flows – SAP Note 1601140

Customer Connection: (NW 730SP11): Complete deletion of data – SAP Note 1864773

To learn more details of Customer Connection following links:

Customer Connection – FAQs

Customer Connection – Standard Presentation

For both above links SMP login required.

4. Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) – Within this initiative again you as SAP customer or partner can get hands on early development and by this to influence innovations in SAP planned products releases.


To learn more about CEI go to following link:

cw.sdn.sap.com/cw/community/influence/cei – SMP login required

5. SAP Mentors group – Mentors are selected individuals from community of the SAP Ecosystem. To become member of mentors you need to be nominated by community like SCN. Basically it is extra league of experts into variety of SAP topics.


For more info on Mentors follow links:

1559276 – What are the SAP Mentors, what is Mentoring?

sapmentors.sap.com

6. SAP customer/user groups – SAP is exchanging knowledge in technical and functional areas within its user groups. Also within this channel user can share experience of SAP products, knowledge and ideas. There are regional SAP user groups across all continents. Just to name few biggest: ASUG — Americas’ SAP Users’ Group – www.asug.com, DSAG — German-Speaking SAP User Group – Germany www.dsag.de. There are several types of membership available. You can basically join as individual or as a company. Check particular user group sire for details. Above regional groups there is also SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN). The SUGEN consists of leaders from multiple regional groups. By this all regional groups are united within dialog with SAP.


To learn more about customer/user group use following link:

service.sap.com/usergroups (SMP login required)

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13 Comments

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  1. John Appleby

    Hey Martin,

    I never knew there was a SAP Note for SAP Mentors! Here’s what I would do as a customer, if I wanted to influence SAP.

    1) Buy Software

    If there’s one thing that talks, it’s money, in software. If you buy a shedload of SAP software then you can expect to get influence. This can certainly be a double-edge sword because a lot of bad software decisions are made for commercial reasons, but it works. If you want to do this… make sure you align business, IT, and commerce.

    2) Offer to be a reference customer

    Software vendors love reference customers and they are very difficult to get in the real world. If you offer to be a reference customer as part of your license sale, you can negotiate influence.

    3) Be an early adopter

    SAP loves early adopters, since many enterprise software customers are risk-averse. If you are willing to implement beta or early-release software then you get access to developers and great attention.

    4) Build personal relationships

    When I was early in my SAP career, I’d escalate and escalate and I once ended up on a call with a developer on a Saturday, whilst I was skiing. He said “you know, I think there are sometimes more escalation managers than developers”. If you really want to get changes made then build personal relationships with the people who prioritize changes.

    Hope this helps 🙂

    John

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    1. Martin Maruskin Post author

      Hi John,

      thanks for weighing in and sharing your insight. I like your points especially one about building relationships. I also remember many calls with escalation managers before finally I got developer on the line 🙂 and who finally solved issue by providing correction via SAP Note.

      My list of “influence” possibilities is to get an overview of those channels to basically everyone. And that everyone can differ from SAP power user as an employee in company which is SAP’s customer, independent consultant working on SPA implementation, SAP developer working with different technologies or student trying to explore SAP via test version of its software.

      cheers

      m./

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  2. Anthony Poltera

    Great to see SAP reaching out and enabling the people whom make the SAP software work to have a say. Bill McDermot certainly is making SAP a more enjoyable to product to work with!

    My only concern is SAP have made their software very difficult to get Joe Public developing from his garage the next big thing. The size of SAP right now is counting against them as to get access to the full suite of software is virtually impossible unless you are a customer and have vast resources. This turns developers off and they seek out easier and free to use technologies that don’t require clunky on boarding and loads of red tape.

    My idea to SAP is to make available (with a few clicks) trial IDES style images of all the backends and products with BC sets, perhaps on AWS, so that developers with the next big idea can use SAP tools and systems to prototype and eventually publish their solutions.

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    1. Martin Maruskin Post author

      hi Anthony,

      Exactly as you said “to have an IDES system” either publicly downloadable or in the cloud. I ran my miniSAP (which is SAP ABAP basis w/o any module specific objects) for years. I’m sure miniSAP helped students like me that time to get into the SAP world. Once I grow up a bit I wanted to have also modules available in miniSAP to practice more. But this is not easily possible. For that I would need to have IDES. But how to get it legally? You need to work for SAP partner or customer company. There used to be also IDES notebook (1314166 – IDES notebook) but seems it vanished long time ago.

      Hope our discussion contributes to have SAP thinking about possibility of IDES for broader audience.

      cheers

      m./

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  3. Cueneyt Cam

    Hi Martin,

    great article on Influencing SAP – thanks for!

    I would just like to clarify some facts described above regarding the SAP Customer Connection Program – where I am responsible for communications at.

    Important: Nobody is necessarily required to go over SMP which is mentioned in your text above. Instead just use the direct links.

    In particluar there are currently 3 official Influencing channels available at SAP:

    1. SAP Customer Connection Program for improvements and smaller enhancements on SAP products/solutions in productive use by customers
    2. Customer Engagement Initiative for innovations regarding future products.
    3. Customer Advisory Councils for visionary direction. 

    For directly participating in one of our offered projects in Customer Connection, everybody can go to the Customer Influence platform which is available under influence.sap.com. After a really simple registration you will able to contribute in our projects. We closely cooperate with SAP user groups and customer communities worldwide, which also would be from your benefit because they have the privilege to request projects, so-called Focus Topics. By the way, this roll-in tool is in parallel used by the Customer Engagement Initiative, to provide you a simplified and ONE single environment for both influencing programs.

    Today more than 4,200 customers around the globe actively use the Customer Influence Platform to channelize potential improvement requests and so to influence SAPs development portfolio. So, step in and be also an active contributor for us!

    In addition, all necessary information about the program is available there as well as on our official public website easily available under http://www.sap.com/cc. Or read our FAQs and/or the standard presentation for details – both are linked in the main blog text above.

    Currently, there are more than 570 improvements available across a variety of SAP products – channelized via the Customer Connection Program. All our improvements are available within the SAP Improvement Finder, which is also linked in the main text above.

     

    Attention should be paid for the adoption numbers which overstepped the 100,000 line recently: 102,248 improvement note downloads worldwide by more than 12,000
    customers
    (measured by installation). These clear facts show that thousands
    of customers already benefit from our enhancements and requesting more of it.

    I hope this information helps to understand and come closer to the Customer Connection Program from knwoledge point of view.

    Best regards,

    Cüneyt Cam

    SAP AG – Customer Connection Program

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    1. Martin Maruskin Post author

      Hi Cueneyt,

      thanks for your input. I corrected the facts you pointed out by I adding note that sap.com/cc and influence.sap.com sites is freely available for public access.

      I might be automatically logged in while I was trying those sites and it made me think that it is not free site.

      It impressive to see how many downloads of improvement are there already. it is definitely way to go for SAP.

      cheers,

      m./

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  4. Otto Gold

    Hi Martin.

    Good to see you around 😉

    I am interested to know if this list has been put together so that you know where to go to talk to SAP to get things fixed/ improved/ built or maybe you can tell us your experience with these channels? I haven’t found many SAP people that listen to “normal mortals” (without going to *SAG and getting ten customers to sign a document that they will implement the feature if SAP provides it…).

    Just curious,

    cheers Otto

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    1. Martin Maruskin Post author

      Hi Otto,

      well, I just put together few things that I was aware of. I did brief research on those also before collecting the list.

      From real experience point of view I have only experience with IdeaPlace. Ideas to me seems working although it takes very long time till particular idea is delivered e.g. via SAP Note.

      Regarding Customer Connection. None of SAP customer I worked for over the years took part in the program. So I really can’t say.

      What’s you experience. I;m curious especially about user groups. I think you mean those while referring to *SAG.

      cheers

      m./

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