How we engage customers
With the current article, we would like to share what we in the SAP Environment Management team do to make sure the product we build is meeting the market expectations. Environment management functionality within the SAP Environment, Health, and Safety Management application, helps customers meet their statutory obligations for safeguarding the environment effectively. Integrated processes enable them to streamline compliance processes across the enterprise, improving operational efficiency and transparency. Meanwhile, this reduces the compliance risk by keeping customers up-to date with the latest legislation.
We achieve that by actively involving customers in structured collaboration during the whole product development lifecycle as this gives them the opportunity to influence the product from the very beginning, and to make it better fit the requirements. As of now, we are collaborating with some of the biggest enterprise companies in different industries as well as some of most knowledgeable consulting partners employing more than a hundred experts. All communication takes place under the umbrella of the SAP Customer Engagement Initiative, which offers budget, legal, and infrastructure support.
Some of our activities comprise of the following:
One-to-one interviews with customers is how we get informed about their business processes and expectations for the system. We conduct these interviews remotely and address different questions about planning, execution, monitoring, and reporting of a specific environmentally-related process. We are interested in where our customers are seeing pain points and what are the things and results that they want to keep or improve.
We engage in on-site visits with our customers. This enables us to engage in a more focused way for a few days with one customer while understanding their business and requirements better. We are able to give them more insights on our plans and we address any questions about the product they have. Being on-site also gives us a chance to conduct some focus group discussions over a topic with different expert roles from the customer side. Our UX colleagues use opportunity to conduct field research of their own as well. Such research gives us valuable information about user needs and business processes, which later is reflected into system and interface design.
Feedback on prototypes
Once we have devised prototypes of the solution that we intend to build, we invite users to a session of remote validation. We send them a short description of the business task and the interactive prototypes, thus receiving input for both. Users contribute their comments independently from each other. This way product team can see where the opinions fluctuate.
Once we have developed a particular piece of functionality, we invite our customers to a hands-on event where they can carry out functional testing of the product. The event itself, is performed online remotely, so they can join, practically from anywhere. We offer guidance scenarios and ensure daily calls to resolve any blocker and, to address questions about our product. Feedback allows us to get an overview of which aspects are appreciated, and what should be improved (which is reflected in our product backlog).
We strive to be very transparent about how we do progress with development. Every few months we hold an update call with the whole group of invitees to share some details on what we have done in the past few months. We conduct a live demo on the new functionality and answer questions about it. We present design prototypes we are working on and provide updates on different types of engagement options, such as topic discussions, focus groups, etc.
We believe that the success of our product development depends on early and frequent customer feedback, regarding functionality and usability. What matters is not just building things right, but also building the right things, and both are achieved only in close collaboration with customers and partners. Building long-term relationships with customers, help add value to our product, as they constantly provide feedback to us, they act as our references and share with us important market trends.