The Americas' SAP Users' Group (ASUG) announced yesterday that Steve Strout will become its first full-time, salaried employee.
ASUG was the largest user association of its kind with no paid staff, and it historically outsourced management functions, according to Strout, who wouldn't rule out other full-time positions being added in the future.
The move shows the organization is maturing and becoming more useful and influential, according to Michael Doane, president of Peachtree City, Ga.-based Doane Associates.
"The past practice of tapping user firm representatives for such leadership had its merits," Doane said. "But the importance of this organization has reached a point at which full-time and dedicated stewardship, as well as continuity of leadership, is quite welcome."
This is a different model from the user group for Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle. The CEO and president of the Independent Oracle Users Group, Ari Kaplan, also holds a position as a senior consultant at Datalink Corp. of Chanhassen, Minn.
Strout cited SAP's goal of 100,000 customers by 2010 and the potential for a different group of users attracted by A1S as reasons ASUG needed to commit to a full-time staff. Strout does not feel that leaving his current position as CIO for Morris Communications in Augusta, Ga., will affect his ability to relate with SAP users.
"ASUG is still very much driven by members," Strout said. "Dedicated leadership will help provide streamlined decision making and bring products and services to members much more quickly."
Dan Lubin, director of IT for Danvers, Mass.-based Abiomed, perhaps best summed up the feelings of SAP customers and users.
"If a full-time president gets us more influence with SAP," he said, "I'm all for it."