By Todd Morrison

A little over a year and a half ago, the UK and Ireland SAP User Group announced it was participating in SAP’s Customer Connection program for Continuous Improvement, aimed at giving SAP users more say in the company’s product development and more influence over changes they want to see in SAP software.

How’s it working out so far?

According to the group, the program has brought about roughly 300 improvements in a wide range of applications, including CRM, application performance management, and product lifecycle management, as well as vertical industries from banking to healthcare.

But there should have be more improvements, according to Craig Dale, the group’s chief executive, who said that red tape in the registration process has limited the program’s effectiveness. Those problems have recently been addressed, he said.

“It was overly complex. [It’s] one of the main reasons why there haven’t been more improvement requests put forward, and therefore delivered,” Dale said. “”There’s now less complexity in the registration process that will make the program more attractive for members to get involved.”

Previously, users had to register with both the SAP Community Network (SCN) and SAP Idea Place websites before they could even get to the SAP Customer Connection portal to make change requests.

Now, customers can use their SCN registration to log in at SAP’s new Customer Influence site and begin making requests as soon as their registration is approved and they are assigned to their respective geographical user group.

Under the format, new topics for companies to weigh in on are introduced every few months on a staggered, ongoing basis –instead of a more chaotic any-topic-at-any-time approach.

The current roadmap of focus topics includes Human Capital Management (e-recruiting), Global Trade Services and BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, all of which are currently collecting improvement requests. Other planned focus topics include retail, HCM (compensation) and CRM.

The full list of Focus Topics can be found on the Customer Influence portal, with information available on the SAP User Group website.