Get more out of your SAP JAM implementation with these tips

Updates to SAP Jam add functionality, but companies need to integrate collaboration into their business processes. Discover how with expert tips.

Tips for successful adoption of SAP Jam, SAP's social collaboration platform, include aligning Jam so that it fits business processes and making sure that employees are open to a new way of working, according to experts and users.  

SAP Jam combines elements of collaborative social media software from both SAP and SuccessFactors, a maker of online human capital management software it acquired in 2012.

SAP recently released preconfigured work patterns to connect sales and service teams to the rest of the enterprise through SAP Jam. The first patterns, which integrated Jam and CRM, allow teams to ask questions and manage accounts, according to the company.

TELUS, a Canadian mobile telecommunications provider, uses SAP Jam integrated with SAP SuccessFactors HR software to help with its corporate training programs.

The company trains anywhere from 700 to 900 geographically-diverse employees annually, as part of its high-performer leadership program, according to Dan Pontefract, head of learning and collaboration at the Vancouver, B.C.-based company.

Using Jam, TELUS was able to create a one-stop shop for the group, allowing employees to share thoughts on the curricula, link to documents, share photos and videos and other tasks to manage the program, he said.

But before adding Jam to the mix, companies need to already have a culture of collaboration in place that includes trust and transparency, according to Pontefract

"[SAP] Jam is not a Field of Dreams' product. You can't build it and people will come,' Pontefract said.

Align Jam with the business

Companies also need to align Jam with the way their employees work. Too many companies try to approach rollout from how social media for the enterprise is typically pitched, which is to improve transparency, according to Steve Hamrick, senior director of product management at SAP.

"Usually those things end up destined for failure because you [may] get some attention at first, some excitement… but then because it's not relevant for people's daily work, the attention drops off really fast," he said.

Instead, the implementation needs to align with a problem the business is facing: improving the employee learning and onboarding process, better managing customer accounts or responding faster to service tickets, Hamrick said. "Those are the kind of big gnarly business problems that Jam is good at solving," he added.

"This is about social in the context of getting your job done," said Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Monta Vista, Calif.-based consultancy Constellation Research.

"They can adjust their long-standing, existing business processes that often involve subsets of people and now provide access to that information to larger groups," he said. For example, the CRM program is rarely used outside of sales, but with a tool like Jam, others in the organization can assist with tasks like finding the right contact person to help close a deal faster, he added.

Create new, wider groups in Jam

One mistake that companies might make when setting up Jam and workflows is to recreate the old email distribution lists, groups and social settings, according to Lepofsky. "When you're switching from old styles of collaboration to more social business collaboration tools, it's a great time for transformation and to remove some of those barriers," he said

Be prepared for resistance

Not every employee is going to be thrilled about learning a new system, however,  companies planning to implement Jam should prepare for resistance, according to Patty Hoppenstedt, director of human resources for the village of Schaumburg, Ill. "The biggest hurdle was, 'Man, another system [that we] have to learn',"' she said. However, once the employees got past the initial change, they realized that Jam could help their workdays be more efficient and embraced it, she added.

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Part of what makes Jam more efficient for Schaumburg is the absence of strict policies. "I'm the director of HR, and we're quick to set policies: You can't do this, you can't do that. We took a different approach," Hoppenstedt said. The only policy, per se, is common sense; employees must be respectful, professional and courteous. "Let employees use professional common sense, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how they adapt and utilize it," she added

In fact, Schaumburg encourages its employees to go beyond professional posts to create more of an informal community, according to Hoppenstedt. Employees often post about life events, like another employee getting married or having a baby, she said.

TELUS takes it a step further: for the end of 2013, the company is using a hashtag, #holidayspirit, for employees to post anecdotes about their holidays, whether it's a tradition or just a funny story, according to Pontefract. "It's touching and hilarious at times," he said.

But know Jam's limitations

However, Jam is built for collaboration, and not for archiving or managing files that are created as a part of certain projects, as Hoppenstedt discovered. "We're having to take a step back to utilize Jam for its strengths and what it's intended to do versus trying to force it to be a document management system," she said.

This was first published in January 2014

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