The Road to Social Enterprise - Part 1: Testing SAP JAM

With the merger of SAP Stream Work, and JAM by success factors, a powerful social networking platform has emerged. Many features and options are available to "post, like, and share" content such as documents, videos, pictures etc. Furthermore, there are a number of other features such as surveys, discussions, polls, tasks, etc. that makes JAM a very user friendly and flexible tool.

Moreover, the SAP On Premise Applications are available for integration via interfaces to the NetWeaver 7:31 SP05 and JAM. Thus, Content can be automatically available in JAM from a variety of SAP modules such as, SAP CRM. In principle, it is possible to access JAM directly from the ABAP environment, and for this, JAM even has its own Class Library.

JAM-data is stored in the cloud. All data is thus available anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The amount of data storage space (GB) is dependent on licensing.

You can even „JAM“ on mobile devices. SAP has created a free app; currently available for Android, iOS and Blackberry.

First Steps with SAP JAM - Facebook for Business?!

At first, SAP JAM can be a little overwhelming. The functionality is reminiscent of Facebook, Twitter etc. therefore, people who don’t use social networking tools very much, may have some difficulty understanding its functionality and intuitiveness. There are many ways, perhaps too many ways, to publish content on JAM. To this end, it may initially be a little daunting deciding ‘where’ to publish ‘what’. Once you get the hang of the system, and when you have posted your first few funny thoughts, and liked a few things, the benefits to using the system present themselves more and more each day.

As a practical example, let's take an internal project, where colleagues who sit in different locations, or are in different departments, are working together on this project. Till now, the customary form of communication was via email. So your PC is flooded with emails, you don’t have a good overview of what has happened on the project, there are different versions of documentation being sent between colleagues, and so on an so forth.

In JAM you simply create a group, give it a specific theme or name, and invite the colleagues that are relevant to that topic to join the group. In essence, JAM creates a virtual community, and brings colleagues together, thus simplifying collaboration and communication.

SAP JAM group

Here the whole communication for the project can take place. Under “Feed Updates” you can see what has recently happened in the group, whether new documents have been created, or existing documents have been changed. Whether someone in the group has the same or similar queries as you do, and who is working on what topics and issues.

Under "Content" all documentation pertaining to the project is stored and can be easily accessed by all members of the group. Creating folders and organising the documents can be arranged as desired. Documents can be viewed by multiple members simultaneously, and making comments and notations are done directly in the document itself. If you use Microsoft products such as Word, Excel or Power Point, you can also edit these documents directly in JAM, and saving any changes will automatically create a new version of the document. A log of document versions is recorded for you to access and view at any time.

In addition, there are a number of decision-making and planning tools such as timelines, polls, Pro/Con lists, task lists, and many more, with which you can plan and document the project’s progress.

Under "Forums" you can find ideas, discussions and questions from the members of the project group.

So with all of these features, every member of the group will know exactly what is currently happening on the project, and will find all the necessary information structured, and in one place. If the group status is set as ‘Public’ (as opposed to ‘Private’) then the group’s feed updates will also be seen in the global company news feed. People who are not members of the group can also obtain updates about the project, and can keep track of what people are working on which project.

What is the reality?

Project management (also with external members) is only one example of the various tasks that can be managed in SAP JAM. Numerous HR, sales and purchasing processes can just as easily be managed in the platform, for example, you can use JAM to negotiate with suppliers till you confirm the details of the delivery order.

In developing JAM, SAP has placed emphasis on the collaboration of the tool with Sales. JAM and SAP CRM can be linked to make it easier and more efficient to complete sales work. With the help of socalled "Work Patterns" an employee receives information gathered based on sales history, such as, opportunities and leads that not only come from CRM, but also from JAM. The ability to integrate SAP ERP is in fact already included in the roles of the newly delivered SAP ERP.

One can only conclude from this, that this is only the beginning – There is a lot that is yet to come.

Technically, there are few restrictions with implementing JAM. The difficulties here, as with any software launch, are the cultural and process changes to be made. Defining which processes or steps should be done in JAM, whether to discontinue using tools which were used up till now, and of course training staff in the new system, are all part of the change process when introducing a new tool.

As man is a creature of habit, it’s not customary at first, to post (instead of email) the information on JAM to the addressees. JAM works best if it is always open in your browser. Then it is no more complicated than sending an email.

Moreover, JAM requires another inherent factor for its success. Like with any social network, JAM also needs the ‘Early Adopters’. These are users who are enthusiastic from the get go, and quickly become familiar with it. These Early Adopters are the ones who post, like and share things incessantly. They are the ones that make the platform interesting and useful for other users until they all jump on the band wagon.

Mobile - Always with you

As already mentioned, there's also an app for JAM. Thus it is possible to stay "in the loop" all the time. As the app is a simplified version of JAM, and has less functionality, it is a better way for beginners to get started as it is less overwhelming.

At Phoron, the App tested very positively. In a meeting you can take a photo of a flipchart directly with the app, and post it to the project group’s news feed.

Whether you are sitting on a train or at the airport, you can kill time by logging onto the JAM app and checking out the various groups you are a part of to see what others have read, shared, or written. You can also post your own feed updates, or comment on other member’s posts. It basically means you are ‘in the know’ while ‘on the go’.

The benefit of mobile functionality depends upon the type of company processes you want to complete with JAM. Simple tasks, authorisations or queries can be completed "on the move". This can be a real advantage when it comes to efficiency and speed to market.

SAP JAM on iPhone   SAP JAM group on iPhone

Integration - Easy, or then again...

Besides JAM there are a number of other successful platforms (e.g. Jive), which vie for the company’s attention in this space. An important reason to opt for JAM, is due to the simple, well-prepared integration with existing SAP applications such as CRM and ERP.

In fact there is so much available: Interface classes, pre-defined rolls, customising points and lots more. It seems like it’s only a matter of a few simple configuration steps, before you are up and running and able to set up your own enterprise portal with single sign-on directly to JAM, or to automatically generate the project groups in JAM from your own SAP Project Management system.

As simple as it appeared to be; it wasn’t. You definitely need the support of SAP and Success Factors, as some settings need to be made in the "Cloud." It took us several weeks before we found the right person to help us, and still, the integration is not fully working - We however, are still working on it.

Conclusion

SAP JAM is extensive, and it is initially difficult to select the functions to suit your needs. If you have worked out the trick to using JAM, you will quickly realise the advantages that the system has to offer.

For example:

  • I see the information that I need, when I want, and where I want
  • if many people use JAM, you will have a lot to gain
  • everything is recorded and traceable
  • teamwork is encouraged, and even required

To be continued...

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