Users taking the measure of SAP

One of the world’s largest SAP user groups is preparing to conduct a series of surveys among its Canadian and U.S. members to establish benchmarks of how enterprises make use of the vendor’s business applications.

The Americas SAP User Group (ASUG) represents about 1,700 companies in North America, and has about 50,000 members. It has been doing benchmark surveys for some time but will expand the program to include areas such as the use of human capital management (HCM) and supply chain management, said the group’s president, Rod Masney.

The benchmarks are based on surveys sent out electronically over the course of a week. The results are tabulated and distributed to members to see how their SAP deployments compare with those of their peers.

“The idea is to give them an understanding of where they are in the continuum and where they can seek additional value opportunities. You’ll have a sense of whether you’re at the upper quartile of performance,” said Masney, who is also director of IT infrastructure at O-I, a manufacturer of packaged goods based in Owens, Ill. “It also points out areas where you may want to investigate opportunities to enhance performance.”

ASUG also seeks to influence product development, which means it needs a healthy relationship with SAP’s executive team. Although the user group includes one representative from the software vendor, Masney said the departure earlier this year of Shai Agassi, president of SAP’s product and technology group and architect of the NetWeaver middleware platform, left a considerable void.

ASUG has met with Doug Merritt, who was recently named the head of SAP’s business user group. Merritt said SAP would be bringing out a corporate performance management (CPM) system later this year that integrates products from acquisitions such as Pilot Software and OutlookSoft. This blend of business intelligence and front-end software is key to the company’s strategy, Merritt said, because SAP recognizes its reputation for being difficult to use. He added that SAP’s CPM suite would assist in areas such as profitability planning and consolidation of assets. “The way people plan is through the tools they’re familiar with,” he said.

Masney noted that the CPM system should find acceptance among SAP’s user base. 073994

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