“We Want SAP to React Rapidly”

"TI como el sistema nervioso"
S. Moreno: "I regard IT as the company’s nervous system" (foto: AUSAPE)

SAP.info:Spanish companies are among the many currently suffering from the current economic downturn. What impact is that having on IT?

Moreno: In general, we are observing that many investments are being put on ice. And this isn’t a new development, but has been happening since the beginning of last year. Large-scale projects don’t usually have a chance. Instead, companies are tackling smaller projects – and doing so very carefully. While it used to be relatively easy for CIOs to convince company management of the necessity of projects, now a type of self-censorship prevails. Many suggestions are not even put forward.

CIOs should now concentrate on what their organizations actually need. There are definitely no resources for additional, nice-to-have features. The IT experts need to really understand the core business issues – then more can be achieved, even if the budget is less.

SAP.info:How can software solutions help organizations overcome the crisis?

Moreno: I regard IT as the company’s nervous system, which transmits signals and information. However, the IT department can’t replace the expertise and ability to make decisions at the top of the company. That’s where the equivalent of the brain is – and that’s where clear strategies to combat the crisis have to originate. The IT department can then act as a strategic partner and provide suitable support, for example, in sales and in customer relationship management, but also with regard to costs.

SAP has drawn up a procedure to help companies find a way out of the recession. It involves intense cooperation among all company divisions, vendors, and partners. And software tools that ease this cooperation are especially important.

SAP.info:What goals is AUSAPE currently focusing on?

Moreno: First and foremost, we represent the interests of the Spanish SAP customers. This isn’t always an easy task, even though we have an excellent relationship with SAP. Everyone has a role to play. We press the issues that affect us; SAP listens and reacts. These issues concern improvements to the products, to customer service, and to implementations. Member discounts for training courses are also on the agenda.

We focus particularly intently on the topics that emerge when our members work with SAP software. And we want to offer support that is as valuable as possible. Some questions can be solved, for example, when customers get together in our working groups, in other words, from customer to customer. In such cases, one company benefits from the experience of another company. But beyond this, we supply our members with other comprehensive and useful information. This offering is designed to motivate companies to make an active contribution to AUSAPE.

Read on: AUSAPE president for the second time

SAP.info:What do users expect from SAP and its partners?

Moreno: Above all, we want SAP to react rapidly to our demands. Each of our working groups summarizes its main concerns in a “top ten” list. SAP then finds out what the customers’ needs are directly in the group meetings. This is a unique advantage. By the same token, we also expect a fast response, even if SAP can’t meet our requests fully or can’t meet them immediately.

As far as the SAP technology partners are concerned, we hope that they will assume a new role. Instead of reacting to specific needs, they could sit down with customers to identify promising opportunities and take a holistic approach to implementing projects – as advisors and long-term partners, rather than as pure “implementers.”

SAP.info:You were AUSAPE president from 2001 through 2003. And you were reelected in January for another two years. What prompted you to become so involved?

Moreno: When I became president in 2001, AUSAPE had fewer than 80 member companies. Our job back then was really to do the groundwork. Today, AUSAPE has around 300 SAP customers and 100 SAP partners as members, and is a powerful organization. This situation is a new challenge for me, and that’s why I’m glad to be back on board. In the IT world, you always need to be up-to-date with what’s happening, and AUSAPE is the right environment for this.

SAP.info:You are a qualified psychologist and head of the personnel division at the ONCE corporate group. How did you find your way into IT?

Moreno: In 1999, my company was one of the first in Spain to implement SAP software for human resources. The CIO and I had to spend two years convincing the company management to buy HR software from SAP – because back then, SAP had the most expensive and complicated solution. But the advantages were self-evident to us: future integration, investment protection, and extensibility for other divisions. Today, SAP software is indeed deployed throughout the company. And SAP often approaches me and asks me to talk with prospective SAP users about my experiences. I then mention many positive aspects – but of course also areas where there is room for improvement.