Sitting in the University of Gothenburg’s main lecture hall, many of the 300 participants at the spring meeting of the Swedish SAP user group SAPSA probably had the feeling that they’d been there before. But rather than being greeted by their old professors, they were welcomed by Anders Schyllert, managing director of SAP Sweden, Peter Sahlin, head of IT at the Swedish social insurance organization, and Andreas Nemeth from SAP partner Novell.
Saving during times of crisis
The main topic of the user group meeting was the financial crisis and how to survive it. According to the speakers cost containment is the best approach – with process optimization as one possible strategy. Sahlin suggested business process management, while Nemeth from Novell demonstrated how processes can be made more efficient by switching an SAP landscape to Linux.
What’s more, cost-saving measures can have a positive impact, too, according to Mikael Karlsson, chairman of SAPSA. With many projects being postponed, IT managers have more time to tackle IT governance and to prepare their system landscapes for future upgrades.
Perhaps because they were under less time pressure than in previous years, the SAPSA members were keen to exchange ideas and experiences. This year, there were twice as many participants at the University of Gothenburg as in 2008 in Stockholm.
Tomorrow’s managers study with SAP
The choice of location was no coincidence – SAPSA cooperates with the University of Gothenburg. The SANTE Academy, a joint venture between Scandinavian universities, implements SAP learning systems at Swedish institutes of higher education.
This enables students to get to grips with one of the most common ERP solutions during their studies. Furthermore, cooperation with SAP University Alliances gives them access to a global network of universities where SAP software is part of the curriculum. Prospective doctors can find out how hospital administration works, while computer science and business students can improve their employability by gaining SAP expertise.
Studying with SAP represents an investment in the future – also for companies that support the initiative, such as Volvo – because Sweden needs skilled SAP users.
SAPSA’s members are very active and play a part in the international SAP User Group Executive Network (SUGEN), too. In addition, the Swedish group plans to work more closely with the other Scandinavian user groups. For instance, a joint event with Danish colleagues is scheduled to be held in Aarhus.
Currently, however, most efforts are being concentrated on organizing the main meeting in Stockholm – SAPSA Impuls – at which around 600 participants are expected in November. Looking even further ahead, SAPSA is contemplating how to celebrate its twentieth anniversary next year. And Karlsson promises that fun will be a key ingredient.
The Swedish SAP user group was formed in 1990 by a group of SAP R/2 users, including Swedish rail SJ (Statens Järnvägar), SEB Bank, and the COOP supermarket chain. Today, around 110 Swedish companies are members, representing 85% of SAP’s Swedish customers.
Every year, SAPSA organizes two user conferences, a spring meeting in Gothenburg or Malmö and the main conference in Stockholm in November. In addition, 14 focus groups gather regularly to discuss topics such as human resources or business intelligence.