Business Challenge: Getting Feedback from a Target Audience

The knowledge management teams at SAP provide up to 18 information deliverables for each software release. These can include such things as terminology, system texts, messages, implementation information, help portal content, and guides for installation, security and operations. Consultants, not end users, are the target audience for most SAP documentation.

The SAP Suite Extensions Knowledge Management (SE KM) team is comprised of over 100 authors and translators distributed between 7 offices located in 5 countries. The team has high expectations for the quality of its work. One of the on-going initiatives Management set for the team was how to get feedback on documentation quality from our seemingly elusive target audience.

The Challenge
There has always been a disconnect between the consulting community and the knowledge management groups within SAP. Management has preached for more contact, but they also insisted on a hands-off approach because of two perceptions:
  • That consultants had no time available to talk with us
  • That consultants felt KM groups lacked professionalism

Additionally, this was not the first time teams were put in place to get feedback from consultants. There had been a feedback project the previous year that did not meet management’s expectations. And now Upper Management was clamoring for results.

How do we get in front of our international target audience to determine what they found useful and to determine how they measured the quality and value the SE KM deliverables?

The Solution
We found once we started that consultants really are elusive. They are not organized into departments or areas, they were spread throughout the organization. To counter this, I used a “sales leads” approach to get a pool of consultants using the SAP internal networks. With a handful of consultant names we wrested from our more senior knowledge management colleagues, were able to network ourselves into a pool of 70+ names.

While we were gathering our targets, I had my team develop a series of questions on documentation organized to cover 6 general areas such as Usefulness and Level and Quality.

To ensure we had answers and not numbers, it was our goal to hold conversations rather than surveys. We also made the entire process easy as possible for our consultant targets by providing an internal project for their time and offering to do interviews in either English or German (the main languages spoken at the company).

The recommendations we derived from the findings formed the basis for a department-wide feedback initiative. Here is a link to the Interview Results and Next Steps I prepared for Management.

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