The UK & Ireland SAP User Group has begun participating in key elements of the supplier's Customer Connection programme, allowing businesses and public sector organisations to have a real influence in product development.
Input into the Continuous Improvement scheme is open to all members of the UK & Ireland user group, and already exists for a select set of user groups in the US, Germany and the Netherlands.
Craig Dale, chief executive at the UK & Ireland User Group, told Computerworld UK that the initiative had become necessary due to the number of requests being made to SAP, and many "disappearing into a black hole". The user groups were already achieving a notable difference with SAP quickly making changes according to a number of their requests, he said.
While changes to product development had often taken three years to notice, Dale said, recent suggestions through the user groups for the company's CRM software resulted in changes "within six months". The target for full execution on all requests will be nine months.
"User groups and SAP both recognised that the previous process wasn't effective and didn't meet either party's needs," he said. "For users, development requests could disappear down a black hole, while it is also fair to say that SAP needed a better way to prioritise development requests as it only has finite resources."
Under plans, SAP and the user groups will agree focus topics - current topics include media, enterprise performance management and supplier relationship management - that are updated quarterly. Customers can then post improvement requests under these topics, and SAP and the user groups will prioritise requests.
"The feedback so far from people involved has been very positive," said Dale. "What we'd like to see now is for our UK & Ireland members to really get on board with their input."