12sprints for Collaborative Decision Making: Lots of Promise

SAP released the public beta of 12sprints yesterday:

SAP AG has made its 12sprints collaborative decision-making project available via public beta and has formed a strategic research partnership with The 2.0 Adoption Council ― a peer forum of IT and business leaders and thinkers who are discovering new ways of working in modern organizations. Both of these moves demonstrate SAP’s commitment to helping companies bring the power of Web 2.0 technologies and trusted information into their business processes. 12sprints, the codename for a new collaborative decision-making application, is the first and only software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that brings together people, information and methods to drive swift, informed decision-making. The public beta phase of 12sprints invites everyone to take the solution for a free spin, evaluate it and contribute feedback to enrich its further development.

Well, I signed up for an account earlier today, and had “took it for a spin”, as SAP encouraged everyone to do in the press release.

My reactions:

  • Why Are We Here? … The first activity I created was based on the “Decision Activity – Basic” template, the default of 8 templates. What immediately struck me on getting in there, was the centrality of the purpose for being here. The first thing I saw as the activity owner was, “We need to decide … “. I entered text in there, and then whenever someone else comes into the activity space, that’s what they see first. I write about the importance of this centrality of purpose in Seamless Teamwork, although I didn’t use that exact phase. It’s great to have it front-and-center in 12sprints.
  • Dashboard and Drill-Down Views … 12sprints offers two views. The first is what I’m calling the dashboard, a view of all your tools and associated comments in one screen. The second is a drill-down view into a single tool (SAP calls it a “Single Items View”). In the single item view, you get the overview at the top, then the comments / action items / references at the bottom. Think “3 pane email client layout”, and you’re about there.
  • Clever Email Integration … It’s important to provide people with an easy transition path from what they know today. Email is a big part of that. 12sprints enables a registered user to send an email message to 12sprints to create a new activity, and CC’d people on the email will be automatically invited as participants. I can imagine this working really well — you get to a break-point in a meeting and someone says, “we need to 12sprint this”. They create an email, invite the group, and they’re off.
  • Needs Better Participant Presence … When looking at the 12sprints screen, you can see who is “Active” within the space by looking at the bottom right-hand corner (see below, “Active: 2”). If you click the “2”, you can see who is there, as I have done in the screenshot below. But I can’t see how you can make that always display on the screen. One of the things I really like about a SharePoint site when connected with Microsoft Office Communications Server, is that the presence and availability of the people is displayed directly within the site. Groove takes it a step further, and tells you which participants are actually in the Groove shared space. Although 12sprints is focused on making effective decisions, given that decisions are made within a social context, I’d like to see the participant list becoming a standard part of the 12sprints screen.
  • 12sprints App Store … It looks to me that 12sprints is built as a platform play, and that an “App Store” for decision making methods is on the roadmap. Note in the screenshot below that “SAP” is the publisher. I’m guessing there will be an ability for others to offer decision making tools (called “Methods”).
  • Online Security … 12sprints is a hosted solution. SAP wants businesses to use it to make decisions. Some of those may be business-critical decisions — “Should we acquire XYZ Co?”, “When should we release new product Widget16?”, and the like. As such, SAP had better make sure that 12sprints is tamper proof.
  • Tutorials on 12sprints … SAP offers a large set of tutorials on 12sprints, all hosted on YouTube.

Net-net: a good purposeful addition to the online collaboration world. For people focused on making decisions, definitely check it out.

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