SAP user groups will see the vendor's product plans and have much more influence on future development, after a new working group was formed.
The SAP UK & Ireland User Group, a member of the SUGEN network of the vendor's user groups around the world, told Computerworld UK that this had been a "long standing wish" of many companies running SAP. Through the group, SAP customers would be able to help influence development from early stages onwards, and be informed of existing plans so they can create technology strategies more easily.
The formation of the group also demonstrated the "renewed focus the company has in listening to its customers", said George Mansfield, director of special interest groups at the UK & Ireland User Group. In January, following heavy pressure from users, SAP agreed to scrap new enterprise support packages and higher prices.
The move would also be beneficial to SAP in keeping close contact with customer ideas and plans, he said, and help reduce the number of change requests customers make once products come to market.
A number of meetings have already taken place between the UK & Ireland User Group, SUGEN and SAP, since the start of the year. In these meetings, information about the product roadmaps for a number of core SAP modules, including HR, Supply Chain Management (SCM), Finance and Manufacturing has been shared.
A "good dialogue" was being developed, Mansfield said, describing it as "very much a two-way relationship". He said that it would not produce "quick changes", because of SAP's size, but that it would deliver "real change".
"This is something for SAP users to be really excited about," he said. "I hope it will also show non-members another reason to be part of the user group, or they could miss out on this influence."
Over the coming months the SAP UK & Ireland User Group will be feeding product roadmap information back to its members through Special Interest Group meetings. It will be encouraging users to get involved in this ongoing dialogue with SAP.