COVID-19 continues to motivate ASUG to think of new ways of putting our members first. The health and safety of our members is crucial, and as a result, many face-to-face events like chapter meetings have been temporarily postponed. But that doesn’t mean networking will stop.

The necessary measure of staying at home has inspired a new way of thinking about the structure of chapter meetings. No matter what form a chapter meeting will take during this time, ASUG wants its members to know that your local chapter is still here to help you make important connections and find answers to your SAP questions.

Touching Base with the ASUG West Regional Chapters

Seven ASUG chapters call the West their home, and they hail from the forested Pacific Northwest all the way to the southwestern deserts. A region defined by the Rocky Mountain range, the West drives even the most home-bodied person to walk outside and explore nature. Surfing, swimming, tanning, climbing, skiing, hiking, parasailing—the area offers so many ways to experience the outdoors.

The West also represents a sizeable group of SAP customers, claiming 281 ASUG member companies. Their membership allows every employee at their organizations to join the local chapter for a day of networking and problem-solving. We checked in with the fearless leaders of all seven chapters to ask how they were doing during these uncertain times. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Tell us about yourself and your role as an ASUG volunteer. What makes your group unique?

ASUG Seattle: I am part of a great team that has supported the Pacific Northwest for the past five years. Our team is scrappy, but we get it done and always keep the audience engaged! I love being part of the community, meeting new people at each meeting, and keeping the conversation going.

ASUG Colorado: We have a dynamic, fun, and friendly chapter here in Colorado with many regular attendees. We are lucky to be able to host most of our meetings at ASUG member companies—it’s great to learn how they use SAP.

The ASUG Colorado Chapter has been together long enough that many of our members have become colleagues and friends. They consistently look forward to visiting with the leadership team as much as attending the sessions. About 40 members are consistent at each meeting, and we are good to include new people. We also have our famous SAPpy Hour after each meeting, and we are proud of our yearly charity networking event at either a Colorado Rockies baseball or Avalanche hockey game.

ASUG Arizona: We have core membership from about three or four companies here in Arizona and have maintained a steady attendance of about 80–100 people at our chapter meetings. One of the core members is the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, which have been great chapter members over the years.

ASUG Salt Lake City: Our group started less than 18 months ago, so we are still learning a lot, but we are very keen and eager to see how this group is growing in the Salt Lake Valley. Our chapter volunteers come from mining/rare earth minerals and medical device industries.

2. With measures in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, how have you and your chapter members adapted in your own workplaces? What are you still doing as a group?

ASUG Arizona: Everyone at my company is working from home as well as the rest of the ASUG Arizona Chapter team. We were in the middle of planning for our spring chapter meeting in April, but in accordance with the CDC, local government, the MLB, and ASUG, we decided to cancel to help reduce the spread and keep our members safe.

ASUG Salt Lake City: We are still active on LinkedIn/Twitter and email and stay in touch on conference calls. We attend the virtual Think Tanks where possible and contribute where we can. Local teams are working from home and meeting virtually.

ASUG Northern California: Our companies have adopted working from home as a preventative measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. In addition, we follow the CDC’s recommendations of washing our hands regularly, maintaining six feet of distance, and wearing face masks. We have our work areas set up at home and are having regularly scheduled meetings.

3. What are you looking forward to most once we can resume face-to-face chapter meetings?

ASUG Arizona and Northern California are looking forward to seeing the familiar faces of the local chapter members again. They miss the personal interaction, in-person discussions, and group education through robust agendas, strong customer and SAP content, and getting the latest SAP solutions.

ASUG Colorado wants to create a panel of members willing to share:

  • What changes will perpetuate regarding working remotely, adding video to meetings, etc.?
  • What were the major challenges to moving to remote work: technical, hardware, self-discipline?
  • Was there a positive by-product from switching to remote?
  • Any guess on how long it will take the business to recover financially?

4. What are some of the business hurdles caused by COVID-19 that you or your members are having to overcome?

ASUG Colorado: We were in middle of implementation of new plant and new module (SAP EWM) when the COVID-19 impacted us. Also, our company is in essential services to provide cleaning equipment. One example is PS 4/7 Bp Mister, the hospital-grade misting system designed to reduce risks of health-care-acquired infections by killing viruses, bacteria, and mold faster, safer, and quieter.

We have been facing multiple priorities, as the machine which we are planning to produce is only 50% moved to the new plant. To produce a machine, we had to prioritize the migration of materials to the new plant, procure them, test the system (new), and implement it. Above all, the implementation team is from Germany and they can't travel, so WebEx with long video calls have helped the process.

Also to operate safely, the company had to maintain social distancing; only one door is allowed to enter the building from outside, and everyone coming in has to have their temperature taken and wear masks at all times. These have been anxious times. Our company has set up an emergency team and has given updates almost daily to assure the safe environment. We also had to work with our vendors using Google Duo to complete the setup of devices like DLOG, scanners, and UPS equipment. On a different note, to not lay off a percentage of the workforce, the management has decided to cut down a percentage of salary across all full-time employees, so we only ended up losing few of our colleagues.

ASUG Salt Lake City: Most of our companies are implementing the Families First Act in the HR benefits module, to ensure the sick leaves and quarantine leaves are implemented in time as recommended by the Department of Labor.

5. These are some collective tips for working from home from the West regional chapters:

  • Establish a routine that includes exercise or moderate physical activity.
  • Get dressed for work.
  • Create a designated workspace.
  • Take small breaks during the day.
  • Take an actual lunch break.
  • Set daily goals.
  • During video and phone calls, keep your microphone muted if you are not speaking.
  • Be proactive in your leadership.
  • At the end of the day, pack up and completely shut down your workspace.
  • Watch the news and validate the facts.
  • Go outside.
  • Take part in a virtual happy hour.
  • Breathe, share, care.
  • Binge-watch without guilt.

6. What are some processes within your own organization you’d like to change to better prepare for future business disruptions?

The ASUG Colorado and Salt Lake City Chapters suggest an examination of the organization’s process. The COVID-19 crisis has scattered organizations. Many employees are working from alternate locations, alternate shifts, or are unable to work at all. This has highlighted the unintentional bureaucracy that has crept into numerous processes and is now slowing our responses due to the difficulty in getting a quorum. The result has been a significant slowing in our ability to react or anticipate.

Our hope is we’ll get back to simplified processes that allow us to move faster through greater trust. For instance, having a general business continuity plan (BCP) known by all would be helpful. In addition to the ability to manually download, reformat, and submit a bank file if the people normally in charge of that process are unable to complete.

ASUG will always continue to bring members together through these unprecedented times. We encourage all members to visit our events page to search for virtual opportunities to stay in touch with local members and meet some new faces. Also, be sure to update your profile and follow your local chapters to stay connected. Once you follow a chapter, you will receive alerts on your ASUG dashboard for upcoming events.