Technical Challenge: Implementing a New Help Concept

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, beside all of the other non-standard elements would require a non-standard help concept. Help for most SAP applications is built around the SAP Help portal. The SAP Help portal is a one-size fits all. It has its specific structure and all documentation is geared around what it supports.

The tools that feed the help portal support multiple authors and translation, all vital requirements for the on-demand product. How to get a help solution that would meet the needs of the new target audience while still providing the collaboration and translation requirements?

The Solution
A team of authors and translators from the SAP CRM Knowledge Management group met to devise a new help method for the new product, initially named SAP CRM Express.

To kick off the development effort, I created an initial definition of the help concept based on two styles of help, the Help Center and Context Help. From within the product, users would access:
  • The Help Center page through the static help link within the UI frame
  • The Context Help page through the help link at each page

The Help Center is the key element of the proposed help solution. When at the Help Center, users would see such links as Jump Start Guide, Tell me about, and How do I.

While the help elements would be implemented through the Help Center, the help text would be developed using standard SAP information development tools ensuring collaboration and translation support.

When the help solution I presented for CRM Express was implemented for the SAP CRM on demand product, it was very close to my original vision. Here are links to the Help Center Concept Overview and the Help Center Graphic Elements.

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