Inspirational Leaders SAP UKI Interview: Andy Hodges at Gavdi Discusses Cloud HXM in the Mid-Market

Andy Hodges is Chief Sales & Marketing Director of Gavdi, an SAP Gold Partner headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark with 11 local country operations in EMEA including London, UK.  The Gavdi Group delivers award-winning SAP workforce management solutions built around human experience management (HXM) and has been successfully operating for 22 years.

Andy talked to us about his career in technology, Gavdi’s company culture and how they are helping their customers innovate. He also offered some advice for mid-market organizations looking to transform their HXM.

 

SAP UKI: Tell us a little about yourself, Andy.

I live Hampshire, close to Winchester, with my wife, three teenage boys and our two black Labradors. Two of my boys have just finished their A-Levels and GCSEs respectively and we are now waiting for the results.

In lockdown, I discovered a keen interest in gardening and have turned my garden from a wilderness into a nice place to sit and enjoy a barbecue. Most of our family life is dominated by sports, whether that’s playing (I still play tennis) or ferrying my boys to various events at school and local rugby clubs.

 

SAP UKI: How did you get into technology as a career?

I was working in recruitment in the early to late nineties and decided in 1997 that this ‘internet thingy’ was really interesting, especially how it could be applied to what I did. I then made a conscious move into the ‘E-recruitment’ space. I spent about two years in E-recruitment, mainly consulting organizations on how it would benefit them. SAP approached me to assess their new SAP E-recruiting system, which was part of the SAP HCM solution. As part of that contract, SAP then introduced me to Pecaso, an SAP partner in the UK and I started working for them and, as they say, the rest is history.

 

SAP UKI: How did you come to join Gavdi?

I was working for one of the Top Four consultancies which was great, but I generally prefer working with smaller boutique specialist firms as it suits me better. In 2012, just at the time SAP acquired SuccessFactors, I met the CEO of the Gavdi Group, Søren Koppelhus in a chance meeting in SAP UK. We had a chat and he asked if I would be interested in running their UK business. I was really impressed with their whole work ethic, focused on customers, I thought ‘that’s a company I want to work for’. Ten years later, I’m still here and both Søren and I are ‘still in the trenches’.


SAP UKI:
What are Gavdi’s core values and personality?

Valuing people and relationships is at the core of everything we do. That encompasses relationships with our colleagues, our clients, and with partners like SAP. All these relationships need to be maintained and improved through good communication, transparency and honesty. It has to be a Win-Win or relationships risk breaking down.

Honesty and transparency are at the heart of our culture, especially when it comes to engaging with customers. We partner, and I really do mean partner, with customers over a long period of time. We partner with customers as equals, as colleagues, all working to the same ends and goals. Trust is essential to our long-term relationship. Too often, Systems Integrators focus only on the Go Live. We don’t just focus on the Go Live, we are looking at the entire journey, and are always looking to improve things and help customers get more out of their SAP systems. We are committed to being their long-term digital transformation partner. It’s essential that they can trust us to always recommend solutions that are right for them.

Innovation is also a core value at Gavdi. After delivering over 500 successful SAP SuccessFactors projects we have learned that there are certain things that almost every client asks for. Taking these common requirements into account, we developed our own packaged solutions using SAP SuccessFactors technology. We offer these to our customers as SAP-Qualified Partner-Packaged Solutions which give them a faster implementation and a quicker ‘time-to-value’. This not only saves time and money, it also enables our customers to innovate and improve their businesses using industry-accepted best practices.

 

SAP UKI: How are you helping your customers to innovate?                                                                                                                                       

Our business is evolving, not just in the UK and Ireland but also across our EMEA-based business. We continue to develop our SAP Qualified Partner-Packaged Solutions along with our own product line, PXMSOFT, to help customers become more efficient. One example is a service line we offer called HXMNOW, which is mainly aimed at SMEs. It’s based on SAP SuccessFactors as a platform with our packaged solutions at its heart. It enables smaller businesses to get into the Cloud with a Tier 1 product like SuccessFactors at a very reasonable cost. We are so confident of this that we publish the pricing for these solutions openly on our website. Through our PXMSOFT, we have also extended SuccessFactors’ capabilities to enable organizations to keep up-to-date with changes in global data protection regulations and data protection acts, ensuring much-needed compliance in an ever-increasingly regulated world.

In recent years, we’ve also seen real innovations in terms of AI helping to automate certain transactional HR processes. We’ve been applying AI to our recruitment solutions, especially for the mobile environment, which helps organizations to transact processes faster. As part of our PXMSOFT suite, we offer Easy Recruitment which goes onto SuccessFactors and makes it easier for managers in a retail environment to recruit via their mobile devices where they have no, or , access to PCs or Laptops.

We make it easier for companies to buy, use and make the most of SAP SuccessFactors, streamlining the entire process. Candidates also benefit from a faster recruitment process, which means they are more likely to join. Candidate Experience Management, CXM, is our next adventure so watch this space!

 

SAP UKI: Is there a particular project you’re proud of?

It’s hard to pick just one, but the work we did with the renowned Sports Retailer, Decathlon, encapsulates everything that we try to do as an SAP partner. Not just in terms of the solutions we provide but also because of the excellent collaboration between SAP, ourselves, and the customer.

We went live with SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, Recruitment and Onboarding, SAP Payroll, and a third-party time and attendance solution within an eight-month period from project kickoff using our Gavdi Packaged Solutions. That is very impressive for an organization of approximately 1,300 people. The collaboration between our two organizations, with a total commitment to quality, ensured we worked together for the same goal. It’s all about teamwork at the end.

We find it really rewarding to help our customers transform their HR and payroll processes so they are more effective and easier to manage. Equally important is that we also save them time and reduce their overall costs using best practices.

Decathlon is really happy with our work as witnessed recently at the SAP UKI HXM summit which they presented at. That’s what I’m most proud of – seeing our customers genuinely happy and satisfied after working with us because they’ve reached their goals and enjoyed the process along the way.

 

SAP UKI: What is Gavdi’s vision for the next few years?

We’re constantly trying to help our existing customers by demonstrating new product and service lines that might help them. We are committed to continual innovation based on our customers’ changing needs. As I mentioned, AI is really important, and CXM is one of the areas we are developing now – which goes back to where I started my career, recruitment.

Gavdi is also growing as an organization. We’ve been working mostly in Europe and the Middle East, but we want to become more global and plan to extend into the Americas and Asia Pacific to see if our customer-focused approach works there too. We believe it will.

 

SAP UKI: What one piece of advice can you give to midmarket organizations looking to transform their HXM?

There really is no single answer or ‘magic bullet’. Everything good requires hard work and good organization. I agree with Thomas Edison – it’s one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

However, what I would say to a customer is that there are lots of excellent partners within the SAP ecosystem who can help you to understand, learn and help you transform. It’s important to find one that complements your own organizational culture and structure so you can work really well together.

A good HXM technology partner will understand your business and ensure you’re buying and implementing solutions that will provide tangible business benefits. Good partners have your best interests at heart and a win-win mentality and culture. It has to be that way to be mutually beneficial. I personally have always found that customers only look at the costs of something when they don’t see its value. It’s important that we emphasize the value of what we are doing in relation to reduction in costs (though doing things more effectively) and the Return on Investment (by reducing actual costs).