Mapping the Journey Ahead
On the day that SAP Community launched, I published a blog post welcoming you to our new home, reemphasizing the importance of the community to SAP, and promising continued support as we settled in.
That was roughly half a year ago, and during the past six months, your feedback has been clear and consistent:
The user experience for our new home is severely lacking.
We heard you and immediately pulled in experts to develop improvements, weighing short-term musts against long-term goals. We published release highlights to share our progress and to show the connection between your input and our deliverables.
But explaining the new releases wasn’t enough. Since you’ve been unhappy with the overall experience, you naturally wanted to know what we were going to deliver and when.
In short, you wanted a road map. And today, you get one — as I outline our plan for the coming months. (You can also find other details about of the road map in the SAP Community wiki.)
We didn’t unveil the map sooner because we had our hands full with fixes, not leaving us all the time necessary to strategize as quickly as we had wanted — and as you had expected. But even as we spent the last half year rolling out new features in iterations, we have also spent the last several months fine-tuning the road map by identifying your common complaints about the user experience and outlining our course of action accordingly.
During the next three months, we will focus on SAP Community features that fall under two important categories, to address the biggest concerns raised by the community vis-à-vis the user experience. One category is content discovery — meaning a collection of new functionality and enhancements that will help members find and share information more easily. The second category is community feel — referring to the features necessary to give members a sense of belonging and a connection with each other.
Some highly demanded features have been delivered already, such as the recent return of email notifications, an important component of community feel. Look for others soon in upcoming releases.
Even more features will be delivered by SAPPHIRE NOW. Some will take longer and our goal is to deliver those by SAP TechEd.
The aforementioned road map in the wiki shows the months in which specific features are expected — from this month through June — but that doesn’t mean we’re planning to stop after three months. Improvements to the user experience will come throughout 2017 — as will additional details.
In some cases, the road map may change. We must continuously keep the right balance between what’s wanted and what’s needed, what’s possible and what’s pragmatic. But as always, we will listen to you and do our best to develop with your requirements in mind. The map will provide evidence of how your input is influencing our priorities.
Here, then, are details about forthcoming changes:
- Overhaul to the “Browse Community” page: When users select Browse the Community from the Community dropdown menu, they arrive on a page that highlights popular community topic pages. Users have reported that this entry point is confusing, so we will give this page an overhaul to help people find the content that interests them — and connect with people who share the same interests. Improvements to this page should come very soon.
- Tag improvements and streamlining: Tags group content together by topic, but search and several pages within SAP Community aggregate this content in ways that cause confusion while navigating. To streamline the experience, we plan to consolidate the unique features of these different aggregator pages for filtering query results. And while we are on the subject of tags — let’s not overlook the fact that there are currently more than 2,000 tags available. Often, users post content with the incorrect tag (due to the sheer number of choices). The volume of tags also creates difficulties when users try to find information. Therefore, we are conducting an analysis of the list of tags, to make it more manageable and reduce the number of tags.
- The return of @mentions: The loss of @mentions in SAP Community is one of the primary culprits responsible for the loss of a sense of community. Without this functionality, members feel disconnected and they are unable to draw the attention of a member who might benefit from their content or who might want to join a conversation. The technical efforts for this functionality require longer development time, but we are working to deliver by SAP TechEd.
- Improved availability of +Actions button menu: We are extending the +Actions button menu to the top of every SAP Community page to improve the findability of common tasks and the consistency of the experience across the site. In addition, users who are not logged in will now see the +Actions button too, and they will be prompted to log in or register upon clicking one of the menu options. This process will help connect the dots to the registration and login process for new users. You can expect changes to this menu in the very near future.
- Profile options and additions: We gave members the ability to do more when handling their avatar images. We are also looking for ways to allow users to see more of their content and contributions in their profiles (such as discussions in the SAP Community archive and Coffee Corner). Profiles for moderators will show the tags that they handle. And for members with many followers, we’ll add new sorting so they can find people in their lists faster — an option that will allow members to send direct messages to their contacts more quickly.
- Improvements to the SAP Community home page: Members have been critical of the SAP Community overview page — noting that it wasn’t clear how to navigate the community, perceiving the large hero image (top image) as an ad, and wondering how we chose which content to feature. With the launch of the next phase of the SAP Community home page, you’ll see an interim solution that addresses several items, including: a smaller hero image and surfacing current blogs and Q&A in feeds. We’ll also start by making it clearer that users are on the SAP Community landing page and by highlighting trending topics and integrating more closely with our social media channels. In addition, we will give Member of the Month winners the recognition they deserve by displaying them more prominently. You’ll see some of these initial changes very soon. For further down the road, we’re working to implement dynamic feeds to provide better entry points into the community and filter content that’s most recent and most liked, along with other features to create a more dynamic feel to the home page. We’ll also work to reduce white space in future phases of the home page.
- Improved universal navigation: SAP.com’s universal header will be more clear, and SAP Community benefits from this. A more informative “mega menu” is on the way to allow for easier navigation, along with methods for finding content within the community.
- Enhancements to the site search experience: As a part of a wider effort to improve and align the site search experience across SAP.com, members will see rolling improvements in the interface for SAP Community search results and list pages. As a result, members will find the same type of content in the same place, with the same formatting — whether it’s the size and location of the author’s avatar or simply finding the same filtering options in the same location across the site.
This overview of the road map is just the beginning, as we will work on even more improvements to the user experience in the second half of the year. In fact, we will invest in delivering elements throughout 2017 to give you the best user experience possible.
This post is also just the beginning of more frequent interaction between my SAP Community Experience team and you. In addition to the bi-weekly release highlights, we’ll also publish monthly updates, so we can let you know if we are on track to deliver everything that we announced. If we need to shift direction, we’ll let you know when (and why).
In October, I concluded my blog post with: “We look forward to working with you in the weeks, months, and years to come.” That statement is as true now as it was then. Please continue to partner with us, and we’ll make sure you see how this partnership translates into our plans. Together, we’ll work as one toward a better community — on a trip following a course we all plot and a map we all share in the coming months, the remaining year, and beyond.
good to read from you again!
It’s nice to have that roadmap now, to get an idea of where things are going.
One thing I didn’t spot on it ist gamification – that sure is a big part of “community feel”, isn’t it?
(I know, this is already developed, so I agree that it doesn’t have to be a part of the development roadmap (-> SAP internal view); but it’s not released yet, so I would like to see it in a release roadmap (-> external view, towards us, the customers))
Some notes on the topics you mention:
Very good, but you didn’t explicitly mention comments (to blogs and others), hope you have them on the radar, as there is lots of content hidden there.
Sounds like you are on the right track here! Dynamically featuring content (things that currently get lots of likes / attention) seems a important factor to make it attractive again.
What I’m missing: improvement in RSS support – is there anything planned in that regard?
As I think you probably know from this post I wrote a while back, we have been holding back our mission set on the advice of our Reputation Advisory Group and the moderators, to give the Community team time to roll out more functional improvements.
And as our team rolls out improvements, we continue to check in with these groups periodically to see whether they feel the community is ready for introduction of missions. We just did so recently again, as our hope had been to roll out missions "early in the new year." Their recommendation? Continue holding off for now.
This is one reason we cannot really add gamification to the roadmap; it's too difficult to pinpoint a time frame when these valued advisors will deem the community experience improved enough that we can agree it's time to introduce missions again. We have to play this one by ear.
I guess SAP only reacts because the use/utilization of SCN dropped drastically after the new platform launch. At least in my area almost nobody answers anymore - all the good guys are gone. It will be pretty tough or almost impossible to bring them back.
Would be interesting to see some use/utilization statistics / graphic before and after the new platform.
We've been closely monitoring trends in usage of the site and, while that feeling of "no one's here anymore..." was closer to reality in the beginning shortly after launch, as we've continued to roll out improvements to close the functional gaps, the usage stats have also drastically improved (March set records in raw traffic numbers in the recorded history of the community). We've seen a continual upward trend in all our traffic metrics since launch (with the exception of December's holiday season).
Don't worry, there's no gaslighting here. You didn't imagine that drop at the beginning, nor the gap between pre-launch (same month, previous year) and post-launch traffic in the subsequent months. The good news is that we're steadily climbing and this March finally brought us ahead of where we were in SCN in March last year. We expect this trend to continue and strengthen as we improve the UX of the site.
Now, I acknowledge that the traffic numbers alone don't directly address the issue of engagement, which is steadily improving but still needs our help. This is why, in Gali's post, she mentions that we have been working to roll out improvements that address 'content discovery' and 'community feel.' These two focus areas (and their respective "coming soon" improvements), we believe, will make it easier, more comfortable, and more intuitive to find and engage with each other and content across all tags and areas of the Community -- including findability of questions to answer (which is the common complaint from our "power users" who do a lot more answering than asking of questions).
So, in summary, it's not all doom and gloom, but it's also not all sunshine and rainbows. It's been a painful transition. We've made some progress, but as Gali outlines above, we acknowledge where the gaps are and we are working tirelessly to roll out improvements. I know that on the front end, it feels a lot like there isn't much going on "behind the scenes," but the reality is that we haven't stopped building since launch - and we don't plan to anytime soon. Expect to start seeing more of the results of all our behind-the-scenes work in the coming days.
Thanks for your reply. Well i do not doubt that you guys work "behind the scenes" all the time but the reality is that the UI or social media integration has not improved at all since the platform launch.
Just one example that is an absolut pain in the ass: https://answers.sap.com/questions/27817/rss-feed-items-parameters.html
I posted this 7 month ago (and stopped blogging at this point in time due to this issue) - it is just a tiny little setting (on wordpress site) to improve the overall blogging situation and nothing happened with the explanation "didn't like making too many ad hoc changes at the moment". Sorry guys!
You may be back at the initial traffic state but almost nobody engages anymore. Example? Just check out this area: https://www.sap.com/community/topic/oracle/all-content.html ... most questions with zero answers or just answers from the same SAP guy. Compare this with the old SCN and you will see this huge difference. I think you won't get back all of the lost content creators as they left and do not check out this platform anymore at all. I am one of those "leavers" and just discovered this blog post due to the Tweet of @SAPCommunity.
Stefan, thank you for taking the time to come back and discuss this with us. I can see that you care and you want the Community to be better - even if you've stepped away for now. My team's entire purpose in life right now is to win back the trust of those, like you, who we lost in this transition. I hope you will continue to hold our feet to the fire as we work to make this right - and that, eventually, we might just be able to earn back your support.
Sorry i may not get it right but do you push out all the needed RSS implementations (basically like on old Jive SCN) and fix the annoying double login stuff in the next 3 month? I can not see this on the roadmap at all.
No, the RSS feeds are not on the roadmap at this time. I hate to abuse the analogy, but we're in a "bigger fish to fry" situation right now and trying to prioritize the development that needs to happen that will have the biggest impact for the most users. I recognize that it's important to many users (probably more so than I personally had imagined), but there are other fixes and improvements that need to happen first.
Re: the 'double login stuff' -- can you clarify that one for me?
What can be bigger than keeping the platform users informed about updates in blogs, forums (tags) or threads? Nobody wants to logon to a lot of different platforms several times a day just to get these updates. You have a lot of “Content Discovery” in the road map but no “Content Delivery” which is much more important IMHO.
Well it starts with that i need to logon by clicking on the icon in the header (link https://www.sap.com/bin/ids/login.sapdx.html), afterwards i see my profile pic but if i click on some stream updates i need to logon again by clicking on the same icon again and so on. This is issue has been discussed / reported several times here on SCN but is not fixed until yet.
Re: the "bigger fish," you're absolutely right that content discovery isn't the only side of the story. As I mentioned in my other blog post last week, we're taking a comprehensive approach to improving how you interact with community content and with other members. Content delivery is a piece of it, hence the email notifications that were released recently, and ongoing improvements to the Activity Stream/Notifications, home page, and even, as Gali mentions above, @mentions. In the meantime, the 'bigger fish' are what you see above -- primarily fundamental improvements to how users navigate the site.
In the meantime, I'm digging into the history and logic behind the RSS feed issue. Honestly, it's an issue that predates me and I'd like to fully understand the decision so I can give you (and everyone else requesting it) more information. I'll come back on this once I learn more.
Re: the login issue -- I, too, occasionally have intermittent issues with staying logged in across the different applications and pages. I know the SSO function is constantly being worked on and improved, but let me tap one of my IT colleagues who might be able to share more on the current status or upcoming improvements.
This 'frequent' login issue has more or less remained unchanged since TechEd. I actually showed this to Oliver during my Friday afternoon dueling laptop session with him, and really highlights a difference between something working, and something working well. The UX of the login inconsistencies and frequent hiccups has been discussed several times in coffee corner and other discussions, both before launch and after. It may have been Simone, but I think I remember someone equating the one clipart image with the people sitting around the table laughing at the user because they needed to login.
I will be happy to show and explain this dilemma to your IT colleague if necessary.
I've just updated my unanswered question here with new information. After a recent update I have to click Login button every time. Launchpad somehow finds my certificate and logs me in automatically without asking. It worked the same way before October on SCN.
I saw your update to that page a little earlier. I've reached out to someone in IT for guidance.
Much like me needing to go to the top, click login before liking your comment. I arrived here from a link in one of the new email notifications because you replied to my comment.
And like I open a blog from RSS, read it, then scroll all the way up to click Like just to find I'm not even logged in. Fuhgeddaboudit!
Hi Gali, Audrey and the rest of the team,
Thank you for updating us on this important topic. Next to all the critic here and all the other places I want to also say thank you to the huge steps forward with our new community.
I feel a lot familiar today with my community than some month before. So I want also to say thank you to keep on working hard on the community and being so open to share a lot of details with us.
Building our new community is a process and everybody knew before that it will be not an easy task. Changing nearly everything around take time and I (and I think a lot of us) stay here to keep our community buzzing.
At last Teched I build our new community with lego. A little house with an not finished roof and a not finished living room inside. That's exactly what I still feel today.
We are not finished, but you can see that it will be an awesome house to live in the end.
Thank you for the encouraging comment Florian. We´ll continue to work very hard to make this the perfect home for the most amazing community. (And your Lego house is beautiful! :-))
This comment made my day. Thanks, Florian!
Any news about status updates? Not listed at "profile options and additions"...
Hi Martin, I'm not sure if I understand what you mean by status updates.
In your profile, you can add a profile statement, which other members can see, when they look at your profile. The activity stream also shows you updates from your followed tags for example, if a member has published a post.
Also, stated in Gali's blog above you can see under the bulletpoint "Improvements to the SAP Community homepage" --> "including: a smaller hero image and surfacing current blogs and Q&A in feeds."
I only see a field that is called "short bio". Status updates are something different. You might check coffee corner for details...e.g. https://answers.sap.com/articles/52758/status-update-im-back.html
I actually like Steffi's interesting workaround to bring status updates back.
Let me link to my "love letter to status updates" I created on the old platform when it was announced this feature would not be available on the new platform. 😉
i can reply at your blog only after 20 days because i was unaware of it and just because Jeremy linked it to me: even when he talked about it in a message, i wasn't able to find it!
The Tag concept is still too much messy, spreading infos in so many little rivers that's almost impossible to find things.
Jerry is hating me, i know, because i keep beating the dead commun...errr! horse, but you (Mommy SAP) set up a messy tag system that needs to be reduced... and pretty bad!
The navigation is almost impossible and, when i try, i give up soon.
That should be your focus 🙂
I hope things will follow that path, otherwise every other action will be useless for the community, i fear.
As long as you beat the dead horse and not me, I have no reason to hate you. 🙂
Meanwhile, we're working on getting that dead horse up and running again. (I guess that kinda makes me like Frankenstein and the horse like a lumbering monster, so maybe my analogies need some work. But I think you get the idea...)
As Gali noted above, improving the tag structure is a top priority. That includes the reduction of tags. Since you didn't see this blog post, you may have not seen this one from Jamie either: https://blogs.sap.com/2017/04/13/re-paving-the-roads-an-sap-community-navigation-update/. That post also outlines tag prioritization -- particularly in Jamie's closing remarks, where she reiterates that trimming back the list and improving the search are on the road map.
So I think we're in agreement about where our focus should be.
P.S. I suppose I don't like being called "Mommy SAP," but truthfully...I've been called far worse. 🙂
Do you prefer Doc?
See? It's true i'm not so active lately, but i missed both of the blogs (despite i subscribed a bunch of newsletter) 🙂
I really should watch that this weekend…
Back on point: You’re certainly not the first member to talk about missing posts. This is particularly depressing for me, since I write a lot of things that people may not see.
I’m curious to know how you (or anyone reading this, for that matter) think the content might catch your attention? If people follow the using SAP.com tag, then our posts should show up in their activities (and they can sort by blogs for that tag). We put things on the home page (which not everybody visits). We announce via social media (which doesn’t help if you aren’t following SAP Community on twitter). And we have a bi-weekly newsletter that promotes the posts as well. (For my part, I also update this page https://www.sap.com/community/about/community-updates.html with links to all new posts about platform-related news. But there’s no way to follow these static pages yet.)
From my perspective, we’re trying to cover as many potential entry points as possible — with word of mouth often playing a part as well (as was the case with you). But I’m always looking for channels I may have overlooked. I'm happy for suggestions!
A couple of notes for you Jerry.
i follow Using SAP.com and i checked before asking Jerry the direct link.
But i couldn’t find it.
And here i show you why
And i stopped after 2 pages.
The link you posted, how can i reach it?
i mean, if i don't know it, which steps have i to follow?
Those are all fair points, but if you’re interested in blog posts about this topic specifically (i.e., developments with the new community platform), there is a way to simplify.
From what I can tell with your screen shot, I’m looking at your entire activity stream. If you filter by “using SAP.com” and “blogs,” you’ll see these posts exclusively:
The "using SAP.com" tag is used primarily with questions about platform performance issues. These type of blog posts (development updates) come out every week or two. So the list of blog posts tagged "using SAP.com" is much shorter.
Hardly ideal, I’ll be the first to admit. And I’m talking about one very specific scenario. But I hope it will help you find this content much more easily.
Thanks for the feedback!
Hi Jerry 🙂
my screenshots are filtered by Using SAP.com and blogs 🙂
The screenshots are a bit small, but i'm filtering that, just the activity stream, even if i filter by blog, i see also the comment for them and we fall back into the "noise" issue in the activity stream 🙂
Thanks for clarifying, Simone. My eyes ain't what they used to be.
At any rate, I did make another note of these issues with the activity stream. It's not the only one I received recently, so I'll make sure I can loop in the right people from my team.
Gali, I thought long and hard whether I should even comment here because it's getting hard to be excited or even optimistic about this subject. And it must be taking toll on both sides.
First of all, I'd like to thank you and your team for posting this update and for keeping the conversation open.
Having checked "say something positive" checkbox, I must admit that reading this blog and the referenced wiki left me feeling mostly disappointed. Maybe I'm missing something but what should have been a road map to the new and exciting community features (considering we're already 6 months into "post go-live" stage) seems more like following the breadcrumbs carefully left by Hansel and Gretel.
Just like anyone else I'm glad to see the emails (not as good as we had before but hey, better than nothing) or the eventual return of @-mentions or the home page that finally has something to look at. But we already had all that, remember?
Judging by the road map, by TechEd 2017 we might have something that resembles the SCN as it was before TechEd 2016. Looks like someone took this community on a major detour...
Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts and also for appreciating the team’s work (and to Florian above too!). The Community Experience team champions the community every day, as do you and many others, and as you noted, it’s not always an easy role.
You are right that our roadmap puts us on track to deliver many features and functionality which we had in the past. Yes, unfortunately, the community took a ‘detour’ of sorts and for that we are sorry. It is not where we want it to be. I too would love to be further down the road and working only on “new and exciting community features”. However it’s important to remember, in our previous home we were unable to make improvements. Today that is not the case. To continue with our house building analogy, yes we are still building our foundations but once we do, we’ll have a solid base and the continuous ability to renovate which should make you feel good about our new home. That is our intention and direction.
Let me reply late but better than never.
It's simple for me:
"It's a journey"
There will never be a finish line. All programs are like that. They will never be "done". As long as we have customers, we will have changes.
It's hard to decide what to fix on our own systems. One of the four quadrants is low hanging fruit or the quick win.
The platform isn't the only issue. Thank you for an encouraging blog.