ASUG sat down with Colleen Speer, Global Go-to-Market Lead and Senior Vice President of Business Process Intelligence for SAP Signavio Solutions. We discussed the importance business process intelligence (BPI) plays in the SAP ecosystem and how the acquisition of SAP Signavio can help current customers.
This is an edited version of our conversation.
ASUG: What is your role at SAP?
Colleen: I am currently the senior VP responsible for the go-to-market strategy for BPI in the Americas for SAP. As of April 1, I will be taking over the global go-to-market strategy for SAP Signavio.
ASUG: Do you think that the disruptions caused by COVID-19 have made your case for implementing and leveraging BPI solutions easier? I’d love to know your perspective on that.
Colleen: I think it accelerated it. The world is constantly changing and is unstable. Companies need to be agile and resilient. One way to do that is to understand your business processes and have transparency into them. You also need to keep them digital, centralized, connected, and intelligent. This allows customers to move more freely and quickly. I think COVID-19 accelerated that, because with SAP Signavio, the customers were able to move to remote in a heartbeat. They could receive intelligent insights and recommendations about their business processes. They could have workflows and work interactively with other departments that they possibly had never interacted with before, but when they were changing something in their business processes and it touched another business process, they were notified about changing workflows so they could stay in sync.
That whole concept started to take off. Companies that did what I call “process excellence” survived and thrived through this horrible pandemic. But the pandemic’s just one example. You see this type of acceleration with other disruptors as well, such as cryptocurrency affecting banking and the focus on sustainability. As a company, you always want to be agile and resilient. SAP Signavio helps to support that process within a company.
ASUG: What excites you the most about BPI?
Colleen: That is a hard question for me because there’s so much that really excites me. I think, at a high level, SAP Signavio covers both SAP and non-SAP processes. A lot of people don’t realize that. SAP Signavio, on its own, was very strong with non-SAP solutions. Coming together with SAP raises the capabilities to a new level. That ability to take you across a business process that touches both SAP and non-SAP is really exciting to me. I think the fact that it’s a true end-to-end suite for business transformation is also very exciting. For example, it’s not just about looking at my “as is” and “to be” and modeling what they could look like, simulating things, and then seeing benchmarks.
It’s about that whole end-to-end scenario. So once all that’s in place, it’s about continuous improvement. It’s about tools such as SAP Signavio Process Insights, which are automatically running. These tools keep the company aware of where stressors are in their business processes, where optimizations can occur, and where risk and compliance might be triggered.
At a high level, those two things excite me. If I get down to the technical level—because we are SAP and we like to talk about our features and functions—one of the newer things I’m excited about is SAP Signavio Process Insights. When you talk about customer and process excellence, a lot of times people go right to the mining aspect. Process mining is good, but it’s deep and a heavy lift. Then you have to spin up a project to resolve the things mining uncovers. SAP does have mining in our SAP Signavio solution suite, but the SAP Signavio Process Insights component is a smart alternative that has a fast, simple implementation. It’s implemented in a few days and it’s delivering inputs and insights across your business process in hours. So it’s a light lift. You’re getting all that low-hanging fruit: recommendations to improve, as well as the ability to create benchmarks. Your peers tell you what your potential cost savings could be on an ongoing basis. It’s real-time within your system. SAP Signavio Process Insights is currently only for the SAP footprint, but our vision is that we will be able to expand that in the future.
ASUG: Let’s talk about RISE with SAP, which BPI is a key part of. Why is leveraging SAP BPI capabilities so vital for your customers as they migrate not only to SAP S/4HANA, but also to the cloud in general?
Colleen: When you’re looking at a move like this as a customer, you can take a couple of different paths. From an SAP perspective, we’re about business processes and transforming those processes. We want to look at this holistically and it’s the perfect timing. You don’t want to just do a lift and shift and move everything up into the cloud. Because then you’re taking a lot of baggage that you probably don’t need. But how do you look at that stuff quickly? How do you plan it quickly? That’s where SAP Signavio comes into play. You may have heard Gero Decker, who’s the co-founder of Signavio, call SAP Signavio a navigator in this process. It helps you look at that business process. It’s a phase zero to help you look at the “as is” and the “to be” elements, and then understand and simulate those changes that you’re going to enact before you move them forward.
We had a customer that was looking at an SAP S/4HANA implementation and was going to use RISE with SAP. They laid out their plan, and at the end of the allotted amount of time, that was where all their value was. When they took this plan to their executive for approval, the response they received was, “I can’t wait that long to see the value.” We used Process Insights and SAP Signavio to help them understand that if they shifted certain processes to the front of the project timeline, then these are the benefits and value that will be triggered early on in the project. By understanding which process changes help people obtain the most measurable value, the customer was then able to redo the project sequence and show value across the entire project timeline. After finding where the big bangs were, they could then reevaluate it within their timeline and their process. Phase zero is an important piece of this.
I think the alignment that comes in a project is also vital. As a customer, you need to own your business processes. By leveraging SAP Signavio, you can model your processes centrally and digitize them. Then you can connect them with the workflow and get those intelligent recommendations to automatically come through. Now you’re all on the same page. It’s centralized. No matter where you’re working from—if you’re remote, traveling, or working on a global team—everybody’s looking at the same things. It’s all connected with workflows. This means that no one’s changing something that’s going to affect someone else downstream. And then it grows. This isn’t just about a project (it’s not a “one and done” as I call it). It’s about establishing ongoing, automated, and continuous improvement with insights you can use quickly. These insights include where the business processes are stressed and where people are circumventing the business process. These areas become vulnerabilities if they are not addressed.
When you look at cybersecurity and you see these stress areas in your business processes, they’re weak points. They’re potential areas where unscrupulous characters could also be looking. SAP Signavio gives you different insights and ways to address how your processes are being used.
ASUG: I’m glad that you mentioned SAP Signavio, because I’d love to hear a little more about why SAP decided to acquire the organization last year.
Colleen: As I said earlier, SAP is about business transformation. We were looking holistically at what SAP had in its stables and portfolio. As we started to look at business process intelligence, we wanted to round up that portfolio and give our customers a bigger picture. As we looked at companies in the process, we were already using SAP Signavio internally for our transformation to centralize those aspects. It was a great candidate to have in that process. And it was a complementary portfolio to ours. SAP Signavio was less replication to what SAP already had. It was more additive in its makeup. When you have what SAP had in the portfolio, along with what SAP Signavio brings to the portfolio, it was a more robust offering as we moved forward in business process management. The acquisition was a good decision, because we just ended our year, last year, in strong, triple-digit growth. Clearly, it’s resonating with our customers and they’re starting to adopt it quickly.
ASUG: How is SAP—now with SAP Signavio part of the ecosystem—facilitating innovation as it relates to BPI?
Colleen: When you bring two companies like these together, you first want to make sure that your integration points are getting stronger. We’ve got some strong integration points with our procure-to-pay SAP Ariba scenarios and our SAP SuccessFactors scenarios. We still have to round out some other points. I think bringing together the centralization of the business content is going to be a big uplift for our customers. We’re bringing that library together with the pre-delivered content that will be housed within SAP Signavio.
ASUG: From your perspective, what advice do you have for organizations that are reevaluating their business processes right now? What are some hurdles they should avoid or practices they should implement?
Colleen: As they’re looking at their business processes, my first advice would be to take the bite that you want to take. You don’t necessarily have to dive into the most difficult tasks. Start with the Process Insights component to gather insights and understand where you’re at. Then, work with your team to simulate your changes with SAP Process Manager, and to leverage benchmarking to find potential value. I think even just touching that small part of the entire suite will give you so much insight into where you want to go next. Eventually, you’re going to get all the low-hanging fruit handled or moving in a direction where you’re seeing value. Down the road, you go into the deeper dives like mining. I would take the time to understand your business processes and leverage the tools and digestible chunks as you go. The other thing I suggest considering is this concept we have called a “company on a page.” That’s the ability to see all processes and their key drivers with status ratings on one page.