Soccer team in a huddle

A Question of Quality

May 5, 2015 by Stephan Magura 0

Last week, the SAP Quality Awards were handed out to the best three customer projects in each of the following five categories: Rapid Delivery, Business Transformation, Cloud Innovation, SAP HANA Innovation, and Mobility Innovation.

Choosing the winners was not an easy task for the independent judges, who received 214 nominations in accordance with a fixed set of criteria. The solutions behind the nominations were relevant to about 600,000 users all together – a number we can be proud of, said Henrik Wilken, Active Quality Management (SAP EMEA), during his opening speech.

According to Wilken, the event was not only successful in recognizing the extraordinary achievements of both customers and partners, but also in further developing a Quality Plan. This plan contains feedback from the participants and can serve as guidelines for other customers for future projects. The participating SAP customers agreed, for example, that the composition of the teams and the unobstructed support from top management were vital components for the success of their companies. The use of standard procedures and best practices is also becoming increasingly important.

“Old friends” remain a potential danger for the success of projects, explained Wilken: Time pressure, sufficient supply of resources, and change management are recurring topics in conversations about risk factors. During the implementation stage, technical problems, data migration, and system testing consistently confront customers with the most challenges.

Victors with a plan

All this adds even more merit to the winners of the Quality Award. In some cases, the decision was obvious. In others, it was but a hair’s breadth that decided between gold, silver, and bronze. Even though many of the award winners focused on similar subjects, a closer look reveals that each project was approached and implemented in a unique way.

For example, the judges praised the manner in which real estate company Wasl worked through its milestones, as well as the Austrian electronics company ZKW Group, who invested much time in project preparations and the creation of a process master list, which greatly simplified the implementation. The project management system at Al Nasser was met with great approval. NATS earned points for following the quality requirements in great detail, while Rimi managed to go far beyond the expected added value with its self-appointed goals.

Even the head of SAP EMEA, Franck Cohen, who attended the ceremony, could not help but be impressed. He emphasized the importance of SAP’s commitment to helping customers achieve their goals. “Whenever I ask our customers what is most important to them, there are two things they always mention: They want to simplify and to innovate,” Cohen said.

Though SAP still has a long way to go, we have already achieved simplicity in important areas, he added. Cohen listed the combination of operative data and analytics, the shortened price list, the rapid-deployment solutions, the consistent SAP data model, and the fusion of SAP Services and SAP Support into GSS as examples of SAP’s simplicity.

All in all, Cohen considers SAP well equipped for helping companies in their digital transformation – a development that is quickly becoming unavoidable for them. However, Cohen insists it is no longer enough to “just” act upon customer demands. “We need to be obsessed with leading our customers to success.”

Beware expensive spaghetti

Alongside Franck, MIT researcher Dr. Nils Fonstad was also invited to speak at the ceremony. He led the participants into a world where business agility is the characteristic of competitive companies. In his example, business agility is the combination of investments in cloud and the creation of a digital platform for a company.

In his studies, Fonstad examined several companies including SAP customer and silver medal winner Ferrovial. Interestingly, Fonstad claimed that synchronizing cloud investment data, processes, implementations, and technologies on a standardized platform is more important than counting how much money the cloud structures costs. He believes that whoever tries to bring 30 individual systems into the cloud without first consolidating them is wasting resources and creating a “Spaghetti”.

Designing and creating such a platform takes time, Fonstad explains, because a company needs to go through several developmental stages in its quest for digital leadership. They also need experts from all departments of the company for the project to be successful.

Before the audience left, the MIT researcher gave them some finals words of advice: “Take control of digital platforms. Make sure that your top management understands how much damage can be caused by an imperfect platform and do not be satisfied with synergies on a technical level, but rather continue to constantly develop and expand your platform.”

Quality Award Winners 2015

  • Rapid Delivery: ZKW Elektronik (gold), Gloucestershire County Council (silver), Fenerbahçe Sport (bronze).
  • Business Transformation: Rimi Baltic Group, Ferrovial, Üstünberk Holding.
  • Cloud Innovation: NATS, Bauer Kompressoren, Koninklijke PostNL.
  • HANA Innovation: Al Nasser Trading and Import Company, LLC Lenta, Ferrero.
  • Mobility Innovation: Wasl Asset Management Group, Smiths News, Grupo Damm.

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