On Thursday 5th September, SAP UK & Ireland hosted an exclusive partner event to explore SAP’s approach to Government Shared Services (GSS).
Rachel Colby – Head of Public Sector Alliances, SAP UKI – opened the event with SAP’s 27 feelings video, to emphasise how SAP is making a big move on Experience Management as the defining element of the new economy. Rachel then underlined how SAP is wholly committed to the public sector and passionate about working with its partner community in this sector.
The first speaker – Andy Helliwell – Executive Director, Government Shared Services, Cabinet Office –entitled his address as an ‘update on the Government Shared Services Strategy’, however, it was much more than this.
Andy provided an update on the GSS strategy, outlining how it has re-focused on “the needs of the end user”, noting that the 27 feelings video really resonated with the GSS objectives. GSS are about improving the end users’ experience and Andy is keen to ensure it is as effective as it can be.
A sigh of relief echoed around the room when Andy clarified that they’re “definitely looking for a single core ERP system per department.” For SAP and it partners, this elucidation induced relief and excitement, bolstered by Andy’s remark that “both us in GSS and each department are genuinely open-minded about what the right solutions are for them and I’d really encourage SAP and its partners to proceed on that basis.”
It’s safe to say, Andy’s address educated the room on the direction of the GSS. More importantly he clarified that the government was very much open to working with SAP and its partners. In fact, the government is eager to replicate SAP’s existing successes, referencing HMRC and the Department for Transport.
Next on the agenda was Phil King – Head of Public Sector, SAP UKI – who summarised SAP’s approach towards GSS.
He started by stressing how important the public sector is to SAP. Not only is Jens Amail – Managing Director, SAP UKI – passionate about shared services and its growth, SAP’s public sector commitment extends to the board level too. Adaire Fox-Martin, SAP’s Global Customer Operations Officer, has an extensive background in the public sector, so she is personally invested in shared services.
Secondly, Phil addressed the updated GSS strategy. He commented that the core features remain the same, however, the high-level objective has changed. The focus on the end user is the element of the GSS strategy that, for Phil, we need to fully understand.
He summarised it, questioning: “What does the shared services user really need to be like for the average civil service worker? It’s not just about technology, it’s about how it will work for me and what will I get out of it to make my life easier?” Phil was confident that SAP and its partners had the capabilities to answer this question.
SAP’s distinctiveness in GSS solutions is attributable to its modular style of implementation. Rather than overhauling everything, you can ‘start anywhere, go anywhere’. Departments can start with one process they want to change, before moving on to the next. Ultimately the flexibility of the platform, understanding that one size doesn’t fit all, guarantees that the needs of the end user are met.
The next presenter, Neil Stoker – Head of HR Systems & Pension Solutions, Group Human Resources, Department for Transport – echoed Phil’s comments about the attractiveness of SAP in the public sector.
Neil presented a history of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) relationship with SAP, and how this fits into the shared services strategy. For the DfT, the need for a single modernised system to deliver what it really needs, was crucial for its efficiency as a department. Moreover, he affirmed Phil’s assertion about the attractiveness of the modular approach, remarking: “that’s me! I really like the modular approach.”
Similarly, John Burton – Head of Business Intelligence, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – shared his experience of becoming a data-driven department with SAP. He shared MHCLG’s history with SAP, and why SAP was the solution provider they adopted.
Again, John linked the attractiveness of SAP to the importance of the user experience. SAP solutions in MHCLG provide civil service workers with the tools to exploit real values and secure meaningful insights, hence simplifying the end users day-to-day.
Neil and John’s talks on their journey to the cloud were enlightening, especially in providing context for SAP and its partners in understanding the intricacies of what government departments want from their cloud platforms.
The final address of the event was a Q&A session between Alex Lowen – Group General Manager and Group Head of Performance Management, Rewards and HR Transformation, HSBC – and Richard Masterson – VP Strategic Industries, SAP UKI.
HSBC implemented SuccessFactors globally last year and Richard kicked off by asking what its experience has been to date. Alex began by celebrating its success, commenting they’re “very happy with how it’s worked”, and asserting the main benefit since implementation has been ‘empowerment’.
This Q&A was vital in stressing the collective element to SAP’s approach to the public sector. Alex verified what Rachel and Phil had already suggested; that implementation is very much a collective effort between SAP, its partners and the customer. Alex commented that “getting people feeling part of the same team…that collective feeling…really got us over the line.”
Richard concluded the Q&A by asking Alex: “what’s next?” While Alex mentioned the development of futuristic technology, namely Artificial Intelligence, he acknowledged it was realistically about streamlining the systems. Running SuccessFactors as “efficiently and digitally as possible without that being the core focus of HR” is the priority for HSBC.
Richard closed the event by affirming the main themes of the event. Firstly, that SAP is passionate about the public sector. Secondly, SAP has the end-user focussed toolkit to be part of the answer for the GSS question. Finally, and most importantly, he acknowledged that we can’t do it alone…we need our partners in the public sector!