It is a well-known fact that the German SAP user group DSAG e.V. and SAP have been collaborating successfully for years. The Solution Manager working group is a flagship for effective teamwork.
SAP Solution Manager software was created in 2001. It is one of SAP’s central tools and can shape, control, and manage landscapes. Since the tool is essential for application lifecycle management, DSAG founded its own working group for it in 2006. Today, the group baosts 2,200 members who meet three times every year, and is always part of DSAG’s most important events. It sometimes even holds its own events about specific topics.
The Solution Manager working group is one of DSAG’s biggest and most successful working groups. The reason for this success is the close collaboration between DSAG and SAP.
“Our collaboration has grown closer over the years,” says Johannes Hurst, spokesperson of the Solution Manager working group at DSAG. “Today, many things are solved with quick phone calls. We communicate quite frequently and openly. This makes our collaboration uncomplicated and very effective.”
That wasn’t always the case. Many customers were unsatisfied with version 4.0 of SAP Solution Manager when it was launched. SAP Executive Board Member Gerhard Oswald quickly realized this and stepped in as a liaison between SAP and the users. Since then, DSAG and SAP have been discussing this product regularly. And when the new release was launched in 2015, for example, more than 80% of the customer demands were met.
Much has changed since then.
“The relationship is a bit different now,” says Dr. Matthias Melich, vice president of SAP Solution Manager, SAP’s counterpart to Johannes Hurst. “We used to gather and develop requirements ourselves before showing them to DSAG. Now we include DSAG in our discussions early on and stay in touch with them throughout the development process.”
DSAG’s Deputy Executive Board member Andreas Oczko also thinks the relationship between DSAG and SAP has changed completely in the last few years. “It’s important for software developers and end users to get together and discuss product functions before the new product or release is launched.”
Oczko refers to this particular cooperation as a flagship project because of “the exceptional depth of our collaboration.” He explains that the working group employees don’t work together on a formal foundation, which requires trust and respect. When they were asked to gather suggestions for the new functions of SAP Solution Manager version 7.2, they managed to filter out the most pressing topics in a workshop with an open-space approach after just a few months of preparation in advance. “That was teamwork at its best,” Oczko says.
The success of this collaboration is clearly evident in the interface for the SAP Solution Manager’s Service Desk: It was defined together and certified by SAP, and it was so successful that other Service Desk developers have integrated it in their products.
Yet Oczko thinks their collaboration can grow even more.
“SAP can let the working group know what they’re planning to do. If they are working on new functions or releases, the working group’s spokesperson is informed so the customers can think about this as well. The next step would be for SAP to discuss important factors with them, and then hold a workshop with experts from both sides – SAP as well as customers.”
This way, the customers and developers can work together before a product is even released. SAP and the Solution Manager working group are not that far away from this vision.
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