Technical Challenge: Helping Power Users Adapt to a New Environment

Background
SAP was developing an on-demand Web-based solution for its CRM product that would provide rapid deployment and integration with existing SAP ERP software. This product would not look like or behave like a standard SAP product; it would require its own look-and-feel. It was also not aimed at the standard SAP market; real end-users would be running and using the product.

The Challenge
Because typical SAP documentation is aimed at the consultant, the on-demand product would need a new voice and feel because it was aimed at the end-user. There was no style guide or internal format to use as a model because the end-user documentation concept did not exist at SAP.

Given the Web-based market, the documentation that would support the product was vital. It had to:
  • Fight against the traditional documentation the market was expecting
  • Give Power Users enough information to really support their own environment to reduce or eliminate support costs
  • Flow easily through translation.

How do you transition from a consultant-centric documentation style to a user-centric style and give Power Users the information they needed to perform in a new environment?

The Solution
We crafted a series of tests in both English and German working to make sure the information we were developing as lean as possible. Within the text we used:
  • Second person throughout the document (talking to “you” rather than “the user”)
  • Screen images we built in our information development environment ensuring they could still go through translation
  • Graphic elements whenever possible, showing the procedure steps within the screen images

To ensure we were working within the same style, authors worked with editors at each draft. When we had a final version, we then cycled the texts through translation to ensure we could be consistent in both English and German.

The result was a concise, user-oriented guide that contained all the information Power Users needed to support their SAP CRM on demand product. Here is a link to the initial release of the CRM on-demand solution Power User Guide.

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