While scrolling my Twitter feed, I came across a message that stood out: “You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis, trying to work.” As the nation braces for a third week of stay-at-home orders and as business leaders get creative with keeping the status quo, there is an ever-present need to stay busy and essential.
In last week’s ASUG Pulse Check, we asked members to rate their overall productivity over the previous week. We saw the number of respondents who indicated they were extremely productive double week over week, and more than half of respondents were somewhat or very productive. While business leaders initially struggled to get their workforce prepared for the changes, most have now proven to be agile and adaptive.
“Leaders at MOD Pizza are keeping with the changing government regulations and ordinances,” said Tara Gambill, senior director of enterprise systems at MOD Pizza. “This is especially important as we think about our employees’ and customers’ safety. We’re also thinking about how we can keep the business going, and that includes doubling down on delivery opportunities and curbside service.”
Agile Takes on a Whole Different Meaning
MOD Pizza isn’t alone in looking to different—and in some cases, completely new—ways to keep the revenue stream going. Businesses across the country are transforming operations to either find ways to help meet demands or reimagine their business processes altogether.
“There is a part of our business that isn’t doing so great, but then we have another part where the demand for our product is through the roof,” said a member of the ASUG Executive Exchange. “And I know we’re not alone. There are businesses that historically have manufactured alcohol now focusing their energy on manufacturing hand sanitizer. It’s incredible to think of all the different ways we can repurpose what we already have.”
A Renewed Need for Design Thinking
This is the time when many organizations need to revisit and revise their strategies, and perhaps their products or services. “If our distribution channels change, then our product as we know it today changes, too,” said Gambill, who also serves on the ASUG Board of Directors. “This is when an enterprise architect can step in and deploy some Design Thinking.”
She stressed that business leaders need do an impact assessment that can withstand any kind of inbound issue. Today the issue is COVID-19, but tomorrow might present a different challenge. The key is to have in place the ability to take stock of what you have and a high-level understanding of all your core business processes. “You need to know how to explain it in consumable, snackable content,” she added. “It needs to be clear to not only your technology people, but also your business leaders across the board so that they can consume the information and know when to pivot.”
How SAP Customers Are Adapting During COVID-19
Business leaders, as well as the entire workforce, must learn to bend and reinvent, too. While most businesses have cut back organizational spending, the expectation is to keep business continuity.
According to the ASUG Pulse Check, COVID-19 is causing organizations to reduce costs and preserve cash. While nearly half of the respondents are not completely canceling planned technology initiatives, a sizable share of organizations (64%) are postponing them.
So, what does that mean and how does it affect those running SAP systems or planning SAP projects? Marty Mrugal, global head of customer first at SAP, told me, “Business continuity is top of mind for us. We often cite the statistic that 77% of the world’s transactions touch an SAP system. So, we’re 100% focused on making sure that those business systems—and our customers—are always operational.”
Ultimately, everyone from leadership down needs to learn how to adapt and change. “We’re reassessing every day,” said Daniel Stuart, SVP of IT services at Southwire and member of the ASUG Board of Directors. “We have daily huddles to iron everything out and prioritize what’s right for the right now.”
Growing While Remaining Still
According to research by Gartner, there will be three trends that emerge out of this pandemic. The first is that remote working will be a prevalent way of getting jobs done. Second is that organizations across industries will increasingly rely on digital platforms/channels to increase future resilience and growth. And third, data and analytics will become essential in assisting faster and better decision-making.
These trends give a glimpse into where employers and employees should begin to shift some focus. Although many events that served as a platform to learn, network, and share ideas have been canceled or postponed, many others are popping up on a virtual platform. This past week, ASUG hosted its first SAP-Centric EAM virtual conference. ASUG has also hosted—and will continue to host—Executive Exchange roundtables and daily Think Tanks, just to name a few chances to connect with other SAP customers.
Time to Sharpen Your SAP Skills
SAP also is offering a number of different learning opportunities to the broader ecosystem. It recently launched a digital learning initiative that consists of three pillars: openSAP, which includes massive open online courses; free learning journeys for universities; and the SAP Young Thinkers program.
“The top three concerns for CEOs right now include the constantly changing regulations, political conditions, and the availability of skills,” said Eva Zauke, chief knowledge officer and SVP of SAP Knowledge and Education. “People are instrumental in making any business successful, and with this initiative, SAP wants to make people successful.”
According to Zauke, SAP has seen registration for the courses more than double since launching the initiative, with the most popular courses focusing on SAP S/4HANA, intelligent technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Ariba.
“We’re excited to offer this access to provide value to our customers and partners so that they can be successful in their workplace and in the work they do,” Zauke said.
Redefining Our Work
During one of the ASUG Executive Exchange roundtables, one participant reminded everyone, “Work is something we do. It’s not somewhere we go.” As everyone learns to adjust and find a rhythm again, we’ll find that there are opportunities ahead of us—whether it’s learning something new or thinking of a new way to do something we’ve always done. In the meantime, keep your eyes open and spirits high!
Register for one of the ASUG Think Tank online sessions taking place and stay tuned for a follow-up series of the ASUG Executive Exchange online sessions. You can also explore options from ASUG for training your SAP teams.