When Gali Kling Schneider unveiled the roadmap outlining our upcoming plans and priorities for feature development, she also promised monthly updates that would (and I quote) “let you know if we are on track to deliver everything that we announced.”

Well, if I’m to be completely honest, it’s been a little longer than a month. Nearly two, in fact.

While updates have been available (and a variation of this blog has been bouncing around for weeks), we delayed a bit as we fleshed out a slightly different approach to how we convey the roadmap.

As shown in Gali’s post, we were looking at the roadmap in terms of two huge categories: content discovery and community feel. Those categories, in turn, consisted of features (e.g., the development of new functionality) that supported the overarching goals.

This general philosophy and thinking have not changed. But we’ve gotten a bit more detailed in our explanations, to reflect better the overall agile principles driving improvements to the SAP Community platform and experience.

For starters, we’ve shifted toward categories called themes (a term familiar to anyone who has worked in an agile environment) — or, put another way, goals that should provide the most value to the community. A list of themes and their descriptions appeared on the wiki page dedicated to the SAP Community roadmap when Gali published her post, but we have since revised them. The themes now are:

  • Content discovery
  • Navigation
  • Content structure
  • Social and reputation
  • Profile
  • Search

Achieving a theme is contingent upon the delivery of certain functionality — including functional packages known as epics. Looking at the roadmap with fresh eyes, you’ll see that the three-month span of the roadmap now outlines the epics planned — with connections made back to the relevant themes. For example, as the wiki pages for the SAP Community roadmap illustrate, @Mentions — one of the most demanded features — is an epic tied to the “social and reputation” theme.

Speaking of @Mentions, as the roadmap’s update on the wiki shows, @Mentions and the bulk of other epics are moving forward as planned. The following four items have been pushed back, however, for the reasons indicated:

  • We had intended to enhance content information in April — meaning we would add content types to the profile (e.g., comments) and meta info about the content, including a content item’s primary tag and accepted answer status for questions. As part of the enhancement of content information, we also planned to allow the sorting and filtering of the content in the profile. We’ve had to move delivery of this epic into June, due to unexpected integration efforts with Blogs and Q&A — and also due to the fact that the assigned team was working on the new mega menu (which was also required before these enhancements could be delivered).
  • Also related to profile: We had planned to begin work on advanced features in June for logged-in users, so they could manage their profiles, social graph (i.e., your followers and the people following you), and settings better. But these features don’t fit within the current UI concept well — so they’ll need to be part of a larger profile redesign. As a result, we require additional time to think about the best approach before beginning work next quarter. Building and delivering the features themselves will require months of work.
  • The roadmap listed archive classification for April. Through this classification, we would tag the archived items, so that they would be shown with similarly tagged community content (i.e., blogs and questions). This initial tagging did happen in April, but we need some more time to review and fine-tune as necessary. We are still determining when we’ll be able to roll out this tagged archive content.
  • We have made changes to the Browse the Community page — as shown on the roadmap and described in the Re-paving the Roads: An SAP Community Navigation Update post from my colleague Jamie Cantrell. As a next step, we plan to enhance Browse the Community further with on-page search. We are targeting this month for delivery. We had hoped to deliver sooner, but work on the mega menu pushed development back slightly.

Meanwhile, as shown in recent release notes and on the roadmap wiki page, we have delivered several items as intended — such as the mega menu (i.e., the “header navigation). Other big updates include a new subheader with breadcrumbs and the epic of a consistent Actions menu across the community — with standard links for all users. These links are: Ask a Question, Write a Blog Post, Send a Message, Manage My Blog Posts, and Get Started.

Please note that users within the Coffee Corner will also see Start a Discussion as an Actions link — and this is the only area of the site where this choice will be available. Also, SAP Community moderators and administrators — once logged in — will see additional links in the Actions menu, based on where they are in the community (e.g. Questions & Answers, Blogs). Some moderation entries will come this month.

While we’re on the subject of moderation: Profiles for moderators will now show which tags they moderate. Note that some moderators — such as yours truly — aren’t assigned to any specific tags, and, instead, just try to help with the overall moderation queue. My colleague, Moshe Naveh, on the other hand…

That’s it for now. We’ll be back in a couple weeks with new release highlights and in a month with another roadmap report. You can catch up on previous highlights via the Community Updates page.

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20 Comments

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  1. Jelena Perfiljeva

    I does look like “mega menu” set back the work on several other items that would’ve had more positive impact IMHO. But I don’t recall anyone wondering “gee, if only we could have this huuuuuge menu that would jump at me every time I want to go to other tab…” Yes, there were numerous complaints about the navigation but I doubt that mega menu is what everyone had in mind as a possible solution. As a developer, I’m also a bit confused why it would be a precursor to the profile improvements.

    Maybe I’m missing something but strategy seems to be a bit off.

    P.S. Now just a quick Ctrl-A / Ctrl-C before I hit Submit…

    (6) 
    1. Jerry Janda Post author

      Hi, Jelena:

      I acknowledge that nobody was clamoring for the mega menu. But it was part of a larger site-wide update, and I hope that that came through in my announcement (https://blogs.sap.com/2017/05/11/get-ready-for-the-mega-menu/).

      I know that that announcement positioned the mega menu as a positive, as it could address navigation issues. I’d like to think it helped. But I’m well aware of the detractors (and the complaints…including yours, which I have documented and shared). Some people have spoken favorably about the menu, some think it’s OK…but that it still needs more work before they’ll be satisfied with it.

      In short, feedback has been varied.

      But that’s not really the point of your comment, so I’d like to address your concern specifically.

      You noted that work on the mega menu pulled resources away from development that SAP Community members would have preferred. And as I prepared this blog post, I fully expected this criticism. (Well, I always expect criticism, but I’ve gotten better at predicting what will particularly rub members the wrong way.)

      Knowing this, I could have avoided mentioning the mega menu altogether. But I didn’t want to do that, even though I cringed in preparation for the reactions that the update would trigger.

      As emphasized in communications from our team to the community, our goal remains to be more transparent. No spin. With that in mind, I hope that, at the very least, this post illustrates the ongoing efforts to keep everyone fully informed — even when the information will be received negatively.

      That doesn’t make the update any better. Bad news is bad news, period. Still, we recognize there is a serious trust issue, and we want to fix that (just as badly as we want to fix the overall community experience).

      Best regards,

      –Jerry

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      1. Jürgen L

        The mega menu itself is not bad (my personal opinion).  It is bad how it works. And it is different from most menus no matter if mega or just normal.

        This mega menu appears immediately when the mouse goes over it resulting in flashing and distraction. In other sites and earlier here too you had to click to open the menu, this could still be the case with a mega menu and would not have received this negative feedback.

        Also it is not possible to keep it open while you play with the mouse (for whatever reason, hell I am nervous). In “normal” menus you click a menu item which opens a sub menu and this click keeps the sub menu open – here it immediately results in going elsewhere.  People who work for several years in a SAP ERP system are used to a different reaction of a menu.

        There are too much things that come as twins and then the bad part takes the attraction: Mega menu and a new reaction of immediate flashing, the spinning wheel in the activities which looks nice but disabled the auto-refresh of the activities when switching from Notifications back to the Activities. Any release of new  features forces the active users to clear the cache to enjoy the site again, I am not sure what occasional users do, but I have a guess …

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      2. Jelena Perfiljeva

        Jerry, I appreciate the reply but I’m afraid “well, we wasted time on the feature of questionable value but hey, at least we confessed!” card is getting very close to the expiration date.

        As I noted, this update really raises questions about the overall SCN strategy. And that is not very transparent so far, I’m afraid. Or maybe I need stronger glasses…

        (5) 
  2. Veselina Peykova

    “This initial tagging did happen in April, but we need some more time to review and fine-tune as necessary.”

    Is there a possibility for forum members to try out in the productive system whatever is available for now, even if it is not user-friendly and especially if there is a lot of fine-tuning (bug-fixing) to be done? I guess, the team could use a bit of help…

    I have one question, regarding the epics/topics/whatever name will be used in the future: where does performance optimization fit in: is it a separate topic, is it implied in each topic and when it will be done? The usual marketing-type of answer is ‘we always strive to deliver the best experience, this is a continuous process’, but we all know, that when adding features, there is a risk of performance degradation and inefficiency with each improvement or change. How exactly this important aspect of the project is going to be handled?

    (2) 
    1. Oliver Kohl

      Hi Veselina,

      regarding the performance optimisations, it would be important for me to understand where you currently see the site performance suffering. We do regular load testing of all applications to ensure we see no degradation of performance. We always strive for below 2 seconds page load performance, but unfortunately we don’t have the core applications like Blogs and Answers available outside of Walldorf datacenters. Especially US and Asia/Australia SAP Community users usually see slower page load performance.

      It would help me to better understand where you see currently the biggest performance problems.

      (0) 
      1. Jürgen L

        The CTPs (content topic pages)  are extremenly slow, about 10 seconds or more to get it loaded.

        E.g. when I am in my activities and click on a tag of a question that I see there, for example this http://go.sap.com/community/tag.html?id=477297786799213261950044802925335

        I also see that users struggle with the performance when upvoting answers, as the vote is not shown in an expected time frame, and the users redo the click as they think it was not taken, resulting in such activities for the very same content:

         

        (4) 
        1. Oliver Kohl

          Regarding http://www.sap.com, please check my comment to Veselina below. Interesting info on the Answers voting, which I wasn’t aware of. I’ll check with the team if this is a known problem, and what we can do here. Thanks!

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      2. Veselina Peykova

        Some of the problems recently (I was mainly thinking of these, when I wrote the post) are already fixed: https://answers.sap.com/questions/215320/index.html, which is great. To whoever solved the problem – thank you! It would be great if there are some internal controls to avoid similar issues in the future – this is why I asked how this would be handled with the new structure of organizing work.

        Please bear with me, the wiki information is high-level and I was unable to understand what the items really include. 🙂 Is my understanding correct – performance optimization and performance tests are a part of each separate change and not allocated to a specific topic/epic?

        Unfortunately, the tag pages, starting with https://go.sap.com/community/tag.html?id* are usually slower than their https://answers.sap.com/tags/* counterparts, which is one of the reasons why members avoid using them and prefer the second (answers.sap.com) option. After reading your explanation, now I understand the significant differences in load times, when I compare mine to gmetrix data (as a non-registered user I cannot select alternative locations for testing, I get a Canada test server).

        The other rather slow page is https://www.sap.com/community.html. I suppose, you cannot do much to make it faster, because you collect a lot of data to prepare it. I am actually in advantage here and get just 4.6s, because I am in Europe, I have ad+script blockers enabled and a good internet connection, but for other users this is probably worse.

        Are there future plans to improve the situation in general for users outside Europe? From Alexa reports it seems that most sap.com visitors are from North America and Asia…

         

        (2) 
        1. Oliver Kohl

          Hi Veselina,

          the issue described here was related to an overall infrastructure problem, which did not only affect SAP Community. But we always look into ways of mitigating possible infra shortcomings like data center distribution.

          The roadmap documentation is on purpose high level. I don’t think it would be feasible to provide in details on a task/user story level to a audience as large as our community because of various reasons. Please be sure that performance, stability and security is a core part of what we call “Definition of Done“. This way we try to ensure that these aspects are covered, but of course they might always be something that slips.

          There is definitely room for improvement for all SAP Community pages on http://www.sap.com. They are not implemented by any of my teams in IT, but I will forward this feedback to the respective team leads.

          I would definitely like to have better data center distribution to also have fast response times in the US and Asia. The complexity here is that we deal with collaborative applications, so a simple CDN for content caching simply doesn’t work. We would have to setup shadow, read only replicas of the app data bases, which is something we can hopefully tackle sometime in the future.

          (0) 
          1. Veselina Peykova

            Are there any possible workarounds, which you could recommend to users from US/Asia – like using mainly RSS for blogs, selective image blocking, preventing some scripts from running, or maintaining certain browser settings, which could improve the situation at least a little bit – until a better solution is available?

            A ‘lite’ version by blocking parts of the content is still better than a full version, which is difficult to use…

            (0) 
          2. Michael Appleby

            Oliver,

            By the link you provided, the Definition of Done appears to be part of the problem. “The definition of done is orthogonal to user acceptance criteria (functional acceptance) for a feature. It is a comprehensive checklist of necessary, value-added activities that assert the quality of a feature and not the functionality of that feature.”

            From https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/orthogonal

            “Orthogonal (software engineering) Of two or more aspects of a problem, able to be treated separately.
            The content of the message should be orthogonal to the means of its delivery.”

            So basically it is stated and then restated that Done does not consider the “functionality of that feature”.

            So when is the functionality actually tested?

            (2) 
            1. Oliver Kohl

              Hi Mike,

              Each functional delivery is implemented with functional integration tests, performance tests, and static code analysis. This is defined in the DoD of our agile teams, beside many other aspects of the completion of the technical delivery of any requested feature. All automated tests, that have been implemented at any point in time during the implementation of the respective application are run with each single change to the application. The role of QA on the team then is to test edge cases and verify the implemented automated tests, and report any findings back to the developers. There is a good article in Wikipedia on this topic.

              (0) 
              1. Michael Appleby

                Read the article, but still unclear on when the actual functional testing takes place.  Also want to know what criteria gets established prior to development being “Done”.  User Acceptance Tests do not appear to be referenced anywhere in DoD or in the Wikipedia article.

                I just want to know when the technical delivery is shown to actually have delivered the desired functionality.  Performance, security, and other automated tests don’t make any reference to the feature actually doing what it is supposed to do.

                UAT criteria should be established prior to development starting.  Are they?  Where is it documented?

                (0) 
                1. Oliver Kohl

                  Ah, didn’t realise that you switched topic. I thought we were still on performance testing and DoD. UAT is of course not done by the technical implementation team, and therefore not part of DoD. They only test what has been specified by the business and product owner. UAT happens after delivery by the technical team, based on the requirements specified.

                  (0) 
                  1. Michael Appleby

                    This is what I asked in response to the Definition of Done link.  My concern is that there seems to be a significant disconnect between what gets delivered and what is desired.

                    So who is responsible for UAT, Functional Test, and the specfication of the success criteria of the developed feature?

                    And when is it done?

                    Really wish we had some transparency in this process (and others).  The Themes and Epics bland descriptions don’t tell us hardly anything about what is going on.  Stories would help, but for some reason there is a lot of resistance to posting those.  At least at the Story level, we could, maybe, correlate the Stories to the list of things noted as problems at the end of the Open Beta testing.  Right now, that is pretty much impossible.  And most of those items have not seen any improvement in the 8 plus months since Go-Live.

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                    1. Oliver Kohl

                      Mike, it is really hard to discuss a certain topic without staying on it. I hope the aspects of performance and functional tests from a delivery team perspective did help.

                      User Stories in our world are small packages of a single functionality, that can be implemented in a couple of days (including technical documentation, automated integration test, performance test etc.). If we would discuss on such a fine granular level, we wouldn’t do a anything else but that.

                      You already have exclusive access and channels internally. We already tried to explain to you the larger foundational changes required in the SOC sessions. Please consider continue using these channels, while we work defining, implementing and communicating the needed larger changes to the whole community.

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