Problem-Solving for the Fortune 100 Set


Design thinking is fundamentally changing how SAP innovates, using diversity to achieve competitive advantage. The innovations that numerous teams worldwide have already delivered reflect a large-scale commitment across the company to value differences that produce real innovation that’s fundamentally changing people’s lives for the better. This is the second of a two-part article that spotlights how diverse teams across the company are using design thinking for everyone’s greatest advantage.

Easy, secure solutions – No technical expertise required

Yesterday’s diversity article showcased a design thinking project team working in customer relationship management (CRM) at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany.   The same kind of innovation is taking place 5600 miles away at SAP’s research lab in Palo Alto, California. Saye Arumugam, Product Owner and Senior Director, Product Management, credits his design thinking team’s diverse make-up for the incredible insights that have helped produce a new app that will help customers more easily access SAP governance, risk and compliance (GRC) solutions.

As GRC solutions are designed for regulatory compliance and risk mitigation, there’s no margin for error.

“Our job is to take something that’s very complex and risky—access to company software—and make it easy for business users,” explains Arumugam. “With 80% of a customer’s employees using this GRC app, we had to make the entire process intuitive from requesting access through approval.”

Like many teams across SAP, this one includes professionals of varied ages, both men and women, and of different backgrounds. They were tasked to solve a problem that some of SAP’s largest, Fortune 100 companies worldwide are grappling with, namely how to streamline system access without compromising security. The approval process was roadblocked by poor collaboration between requestors and approvers.

Through in-depth customer interviews and open idea exchanges among themselves, Arumugam’s team was able to more quickly identify the problem and collectively arrive at the ideal GRC solution. He says that having team members from development, quality assurance and knowledge management made all the difference. “Each person was able to use their distinct talents and experience to interpret customer needs in a different way,” Arumugam explains. “Together, we produced the most intuitive solution that’s easy to use but also mitigates risk.

Leave the complexity, keep the security

As a developer, Sanjeev Agarwal suggested embedding a solution into the application that would foster communication. Drawing on her consulting and knowledge management experience, Liz Ambuhl leaned toward building functionality similar to existing customer service products. With quality assurance backgrounds, Ankush Gupta and Shahija Sukumar reminded the team that getting the right information at the right time to the right people was just as important.  Recent college graduate Snigdha Malik was intent on making sure people would find the product and process easy to use. Throughout their team discussions, Arumugam emphasized the benefits of cost-effectiveness along with privacy and security.

Arumugam says the new GRC app will allow customers to eliminate time-consuming IT “intermediaries” that were previously required to create requests for software access.  Employees can directly request access to software they need, while managers will immediately understand the impact of approvals. The new app is expected to be included in the next GRC release.

Diversity makes sense for business

Like every successful business, attracting and retaining top talent is a priority for SAP. Hiring and retaining the best and the brightest translates to better opportunities for employees as well as customers. Diverse teams like this that use design thinking to innovate faster and better are changing the game for everyone.