Customers are looking to connect. But are NDA breaking the connection?
As you may have seen in my previous blog the HR SAP Australian User Group (SAUG) recently participated in and contributed to the customer connection programs for eRecruitment and Learning Solution. We actively sort out subscribers and promoted the SAP customer connection as a valuable way customers can influence and provide direct input into SAP improvements to the product we use everyday. The fantastic news was that in eRecruitment five of the ideas from the SAUG made the cut.
As a result one of our user group members shared their engagement experience with me in relation to the customer connection and other SAP initiatives they participated in. I thought it was an interesting experience, so I wanted to share the details with you and gather some feedback.
The individual did not want their name directly attributed to the below so I have used the name Mr.HRM as the protagonist.
Mr.HRM was excited with their customer connection ideas and started to engage with SAP on their ideas and thoughts around the potential design solutions. He was then approached by SAP to do some User testing of their solution to see if it met their basic principles and whether they had any other ideas. As you would expect he was excited and contacted his business counterpart in Recruitment to pass on the good news. Mr.HRM agreed with SAP on some dates and times that he could participate and eagerly awaited his SAP token so he could securely dial into SAP for testing. Imagine his surprise then when he received an email later that day stating that before he could get the token activated he had to get a number of Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) documents approved.
Around the same time Mr.HRM received notification that he had been accepted into the customer initiative program for Fiori HCM. This is another SAP group looking to engage with customers to get product improvement ideas for the new Fiori apps. Imagine his surprise then when he received an email later that day stating that before he could be accepted he had to get another NDA document approved.
At the same time SAP approached Mr.HRM wanting to know if he wanted to participate in two new initiatives they were running. They were looking for customers to be early adopters and help shape the product direction. Both solutions were related to payroll with one specific to Australia. As part of the discussion he was informed that before he could confirm acceptance he had to get another two NDA documents approved, one for each initiative.
So in case I have lost you, four separate initiatives, four separate NDA’s to be signed.
In conclusion the company above signed none of the NDA’s thus SAP lost their valuable input and connection.
Now I am not sure about my fellow customers but getting an NDA document signed/approved is not necessarily an easy task. Your manager, CIO, Legal and maybe even procurement might need to be involved in the review/approval process.
So my question to you my fellow customers; Is the above a unique experience or have others experienced this?
If it is not unique, is there a better way we can work with SAP to improve this process. Can SAP say to us the customer, when you sign up with SAP, we will give you ONE document to sign as an NDA for your future participation in any of our fantastic customer engagement initiatives, etc.
In my mind this would simplify the process, getting more companies participating and allowing SAP a quicker turn around in getting valuable input from customers on change and development in our respective processes and modules.
Yes, one NDA/feedback agreement to "rule them all" would be great.
Fantastic post and thank you for sharing.
Thanks. I believe it would things a lot easier and provide greater value to customers and SAP. Quicker road to innovation.
Your description of the review/ approval process sounds right to me, and I agree that one NDA should suffice. It is unfortunate that SAP, and all of us, really, lost out on that person's input into the improvements of that solution, and it is unknowable how many other customer would-be participants have been in that same position. Thanks for raising awareness of this issue.
Thanks for taking the time to review and comment.
I know there are probably a million legal reasons why it is the way it is, but it doesn't mean it is effective or beneficial.
The feedback agreement we have signed makes no mention of a specific product. As I read it (I'm no lawyer) it looks to me like it should work as a generic agreement, reusable in the future. That said, I've only been involved in once such project so far so I don't know if it really is reusable...
Once you start to be involved in different initiatives they start to roll out more, varied documents for signatures based on my experience and the one described above.
The sad thing, as Gretchen says, is that all four parties - Mr HCM, his organisation, SAP and SAP's customers - missed out on some great opportunities. The most annoying thing is that it's not hard (admittedly, with hindsight) to see that all four NDA's were HCM related; couldn't some body, some process, within SAP have identified the common thread and suggested that one NDA was enough ?
Of course, there's two sides to the coin; I've signed an NDA with SAP in a similar situation. It was a no brainer for me; I'm a sole trader, so I'm the legal / procurement / CFO / CEO so there were no internal liaison issues, More importantly, it was not about business process, it was related to technical and performance improvements.
So, while the NDA process may have been just too 'different' for Mr HCM's organisation to easily deal with, regardless of what the decision could have been, the other issue for his organisation may have been that the NDA's were HCM related - I don't know what the situation is like elsewhere in Australia, but in the mining industry you consult with staff and unions about changes in the text on their payslips; his organisation may have considered the perception of sharing anything with SAP to be risky.
In summary, SAP (as a whole) need to think about all the stakeholders within the organisations they are seeking advice from, while the customer's need to be aware of the great opportunities they (let alone the ecosystem as a whole) are missing out on due to being over sensitive about what they are sharing with SAP, and being 'process bound' when dealing with NDA's
Firstly let me say great response. I think you have covered the main issues that I was trying to convey in the blog.
It is a difficult process for all 4 parties to manage, and some one ultimately has to give to receive. As SAP customers I would hope that SAP sometimes might be willing to give a little (make it easier) so they can receive more customers input.
Hi Martin , i m totally agree with you, the situation with Mr HCM is not clear, and we can't judge that it is a good practice, a formal procedure can not always be good practice.
Thanks Hamid for responding.