As a Software Engineer in Folio3
SAP is one of the world's largest software companies with 55,000 worldwide employees, 32,000 customers and €14B in annual revenue.
The SAP marketing team develops positioning and messaging for the company's broad range of products and solutions. They had a challenge in providing consistent messaging across multiple audiences and channels. The messages also needed to be tailored to specific industries, customer roles, geographic regions and other criteria.
Given the sophistication of SAP software, the marketing team needs to get many experts within the company to collaborate in the writing and review process. The existing process required emailing documents and spreadsheets around the company. This made it difficult to consolidate feedback, maintain the most current version and ensure consistency. SAP therefore wanted to create a web-based workflow to centralize and manage their marketing messages.
SAP partnered with Folio3 based on the company's expertise in workflow automation, high quality results and ability to turn a vision into a solution. Folio3 proposed a requirements discovery project to help SAP determine the specifications for the full solution. Folio3 then created prototypes over multiple iterations to help SAP test different implementation options. These functional prototypes were then tested with users to determine the optimal solution. Throughout the process Folio3 collaborated with SAP to collect user feedback and make design changes.
The ultimate solution was an automated workflow system called “Positioning Central”, a system that allows SAP's marketing team to completely automate the process of creating and distributing marketing messages. Positioning Central enables users to:
- Centralize and manage marketing messages about products and solutions
- Distribute consistent marketing messages across audiences and channels
- Create custom solution briefs on demand for specific industries and roles
- Incorporate community-based feedback
A unique capability of Positioning Central is its message creation workflow and syndication. A user can send the preview messaging content to solution/geography owners for review. The system knows who to route to for review, based on roles in the company. Once the messaging is final it can be syndicated for use in Video demos, Brochures, Web pages, Case Studies and other material.
Positioning Central delivered numerous benefits to SAP over their previous process including:
- Cosistent and aligned messages
- Improved messaging quality through testing, oversight and evaluation
- Higher degree of transparency and accountability
- Improved productivity of stakeholders
- Reports on messaging usage
- APIs that enable other applications to access content from Positioning Central
There are over 2,000 internal users of the Positioning Central system at SAP. Folio3 put a great deal of effort on the user experience design in order to delight SAP's users. This effort included goal-oriented design; intuitive icons and effective use of white space to increase content visibility. SAP was so pleased with the user experience and functionality that they took ideas from the Positioning Central design and implemented them in other SAP solutions.
All technologies used in the SAP Positioning Central are Open Source and include:
- Drupal 6: Content management application framework
- Sphinx: High performance full text search
- LDAP: Single Sign On (SSO) and Active directory integration
- jQuery: Rich front end user experience framework
- MySQL 5.1: Database server
- SSL: Secure content delivery
Folio3 used an agile development methodology with a focus on early product definition. At the start of each iteration the features were determined based on stakeholder input. The user experience was defined using wire-frames and detailed specifications were written. Once SAP accepted the features and user experience the development began. The team shipped six versions of Positioning Central over a 3 year period and continues development of new versions.