Mapping and Developing – the Bigger Picture
As I’ve shared before, our main goal for the second half of this year is improving the SAP Community user experience. A critical component of this improvement is rethinking and reworking the organization of community content.
In his recent blog post, Oliver Kohl tackled this very important subject, outlining how several teams (including mine) are working on a new SAP Community concept that moves away from tags and toward topics, to simplify how content is accessed and delivered.
This approach represents a shift in our strategic thinking — namely, recognizing the fundamental flaws in the current platform and making radical changes to the user interface and personalization, to deliver the best possible community experience. Instead of focusing almost entirely on features and fixes (as shown in release highlights and the roadmap), the new philosophy emphasizes a bigger picture — one that combines larger structural changes with shorter-term deliverables.
This is not to suggest that requests for features and reports of issues have become less significant. Quite the contrary. There’s a reason why we encourage members to make suggestions (and vote on them) in Idea Place. We are working to keep posters and voters up to date there, and we’re close to announcing a new section of SAP Community that consolidates information about features and issues. The release notes are not going anywhere, and recent releases include the ability to sort Followers/Following lists in your profile (as Audrey Stevenson announced in Coffee Corner) and auto login on SAP.com that has consistent login behavior across SAP Community as well.
In short, release notes remain important. And let’s not overlook the SAP Community roadmap. Per Oliver’s blog, the map can’t adequately convey the larger structural changes (such as the shift from tags to topics), but it’s the best tool for illustrating short-term enhancements. And a new roadmap is now available, unveiling priorities for the third quarter.
You’ll see that this quarter’s highlights include significant tagging improvements that allow synonyms and acronyms, @mention functionality and more profile enhancements.
You’ll also see that the new map once again includes epics (functional packages) that form themes (goals providing the most value to the community). For example: @mentions, one of most demanded features, combines with additional improvements to content notification to provide a much better navigation experience.
Beyond the epics and themes on the roadmap, a lot more development is happening behind the scenes that we will not be able to release in Q3. We’ll be working on enhancing the total experience. To illustrate a collective result from the roadmap: add @mentions and improved notifications to larger conceptual changes in personalization and the user interface, and you end up with the clearest possible paths to the content that you want.
That’s a lot of activity to achieve that bigger picture. The map can’t capture it all — ergo, the map can’t communicate it all. We’ll be stepping up our efforts again to share even more information here. The release highlights will be making a comeback so you’re aware of the latest and greatest developments, and we’re planning to publish regular progress updates about the map and the larger structural changes that Oliver described in his blog post. So you’ll know where we are and why.
I paraphrased Oliver quite a bit here — mainly because this post complements his (just as the enhancements on the roadmap complement the larger structural changes). Now I’d like to quote him directly: “this has been the most challenging time in my professional career.” As an SCN veteran, I connect to and share Oliver’s sentiment. I also share his confidence in our new direction. The roadmap is partially pointing the way, with foundational redesigns further fleshing out the bigger picture — to drive the SAP Community in the right direction.
To get us where we need to be.
And back on our feet.