Managing Global SAP Teams

400_dreamstime_10053595In global organisations today it is not unusual to find large SAP teams working across different time zones, cultures and languages, and these types of working environments are growing. As projects develop within the organisation; internally and externally, there is a need to be able collaborate these global teams and streamline the working environment so the teams are working as one and not as separate entities.

Although global teams offer many benefits, they can also pose a number of challenges such as:

  • How you develop effective global leaders
  • Keeping remote employees engaged and informed
  • Managing successful recruitment
  • Retention of global teams
  • Monitoring distance employees
  • Developing a global voice which all the company understand.

Global teams are valuable to businesses; because of the social and cultural fit for working business environments which has an impact how business growth and sustainability. Without local knowledge and resource it can be very difficult to work with customers who have a local need.

Building successful global teams usually requires the support of the CEO and other executives. Invenio Solutions run SAP Global teams in many countries across the world, for internal purposes but also for their international clients. There are 5 elements which Invenio Solutions use to manage and develop their global teams thus, enhancing their servicing of global clients in the most effective way. We will discuss each one individually:

1. Employ trusted, local, global team heads

Like every business, Invenio strive to employ the best people at any level in our organisation, we use our in-house built techniques and qualifications to really delve into a person’s employee history and personality. This is especially important when recruiting global team heads. Invenio employ local employee team heads so they understand the cultural environments and for ease of employee engagements, there are a lot of different elements when meeting east with west so the team leaders should also have knowledge of the international business landscape.
Each global team head we employ has to make sure the relationship between his or hers team and the organisation works simultaneously and this should be portrayed when dealing with global clients. It is the job of the global team head to develop strong relationships with other international team leaders and push the true voice of the company.
Action points:

  1. Draw up a Global Team Head persona for an ideal candidate, this should be matched within the job description and interview questions should form around the requirements
  2. The team head of local departments should have frequent calls scheduled into their diaries to discuss company activity and relay this back to their teams

2. For new employees, have a structured introduction process which is consistent across the globe

It is important to really introduce new employees to your company so they don’t feel out on their own or unsure of what the company really stands for. Invenio have a global hand book which is adapted to the language of the local office. We also have a structured internal system to bring on new employees. We suggest that employees travel and work from our different locations at some point in their first year to really understand how other team operate however, this is not compulsory.
Action Points:

  1. Create a “Welcome Pack” for your new employees, include information about the business, its history, growth plans, senior staff members, locations etc.
  2. Put new employees in touch with each other so they can share helpful advice and collaborate between themselves
  3. Think about creating an internal social platform or intranet to hold company standardised documents and information

3. Create trust and collaborate, keep employees up to date and part of the organisations “family”

When teams are spread around a vast area it is very important to feel that you can trust every single team member and rely on them to represent the organisation in the most appropriate manner.
Teams should be kept up to date with regular group emails and messages to make sure everyone is aware of the goings-on within the organisations. As a company which is only 7 years old, Invenio have grown extremely quickly ad have found that the importance of keeping employees informed has a huge impact on operations.
Action Points:

  1. Try creating a quarterly internal news bulletin to keep everyone informed and up-to-date
  2. Make sure you have a group email address account set up for when emailing ALL employees and add new started when they join
  3. Make sure all of your team understand your brand and how your company wants to be viewed from an external point

4. Have regular virtual team meetings and introduce team building incentives

Invenio run monthly international team meetings where we are able to share news, updates, ideas and a few jokes to keep the teams involved and talking. We introduce new starters and any new client updates. We run a yearly team building days where we encourage our international employees to attend.
Action Points:

  1. Schedule in some virtual group meetings where you can introduce new employees, clients, ideas etc.
  2. Have regular team building events locally and if possibly globally

5. Have a structured monitoring system for all employees across the global teams

It is very important that you are able to monitor and record your employees individually and as a team, it is vital that CEO’s and/or other executives keep themselves involved with employee performance and manage those correctly who continue to fail. This type of task involves a lot of collaboration between team heads and the executives, they need to continually be aware of the goings-on, on the ground work force level.
Action Points:

  1. Have regular virtual meeting with executives and team heads
  2. Create a global employee review system so discussions and viewpoints remain consistent

It is very evident that there are many challenges with building and managing effective global teams, but in fact, they are becoming more prominent and vital in organisations today. Global team management and development requires a lot of commitment from your CEO, Global Team Heads but also all other team members.

Invenio Solutions feel that they execute SAP Global team management successfully for their internal teams and for their customers, it is not easy and takes time and perseverance but once you have a good, robust system in place the rewards can be remarkable.

If you would like to know more about managing global SAP teams please contact us.

Automation of the Procure to Pay function, is this the “Holy Grail” everyone is after?

ThumbsupspeachA colleague says “So, as the finance director you oversee purchasing and spend decisions?” Your response is likely to be “Yes, you’re right I am responsible for spend decisions and would like to see as little operating cost as possible.”

So what is Procurement?

“Procurement means the whole process of acquisition from third parties (including logistical aspects) and covers goods, services and construction projects”– Crown Commercial Service (Government)

‘Procurement’ covers all activities that involve buying, contracting, purchasing, sourcing or tendering; it incorporates lots of divisions and lots of personnel. Procurement could, account for up to around 50% of the costs to an organisation, so no pressure at all to try and reduce the spend!

By seeing the procure-to-pay process in its entirety, buying and paying for goods and services, to the request for the product by the operations staff, to the issuance of the purchase order, receipt of the goods, and finally payment of the invoice. You can see quite how much this involves, a lot of which is manually operated.

P2P Focus

Over the past few years there has been more focus on procure-to-pay, with a marked increase in conferences, seminars and also organisations wanting to specialise in improvements in P2P. The focus now is on procurement and with it accounting for so much of your business, it’s about time. So what are the problems of procurement?

Manual Rules the Roost

‘Time is money’ and nothing could be truer than this in procurement. Currently a lot of the processes and systems are still very manual, this can be a big problem, it can mean time delays, manual input errors and frustrations for those involved. Here are some key things that come up time and time again in procurement as needed for improvement, here we will address a number of these.

  • Reduce admin
  • Improve efficiencies
  • Having a clear insight
  • System integration problems – that is when you find a solution!
Reduce Admin

As an organisation you currently have very manual processes, with lots of data input. Wouldn’t you like to change that? With a few alterations, you really can re-engineer the division of labour. I’m sure currently internally you are:

  • Looking at info
  • Registering suppliers
  • Processing / approving quotes
  • Checking budget availability
  • Raising PO’s
  • Chasing sign-off
  • Checking goods receipts
  • PO Matching
  • Processing invoices
  • Approving payments

And what are the suppliers doing?

  • Submitting quotations
  • Sending invoices

This is typical scenario with your employees doing 80% of the admin load and suppliers doing 20%, it’s about time the tables were turned.

So here’s how it works

With a P2P system such as Invenio’s P2P Solutions, you can have the following benefits:

Reducing your admin – Suppliers register and manage their own master data and submit quotes and invoices.

Improving your efficiencies – ‘One click approvals turning quotes to purchase orders’, fully automated workflows for multi-level spend authorisation, in-built security, budget allocation and approval processes to make it easy, fast and efficient.

Giving you clear insight – Manage budgets and authorisations on one global platform. For ready visibility across all cost-centres, projects, budgets and geographical locations.

Eradicating integration and consolidation headaches – Purchasing information sits inside SAP and so it’s always ready, always up to date and becomes a part of your existing investment in SAP.

All of this results in the ultimate goal of the division of labour being reversed. Some processes are totally automated and will flow through the system without the need for any manual handling, resulting in speedier processes and less laborious tasks. You really can now have your employees approving quotes and approving payments, all whilst the supplier is now:

  • Registering and doing data maintenance
  • Uploading quotes
  • Notifying goods and services delivery
  • Raising invoices

As the financial director, wouldn’t you like to say “well yes, that slick operation is mine, we have created a system to reduce costs and to make procurement processes more streamlined and automated”. The overall result being a reduction of costs for the whole procurement team.

To find out more about how Invenio’s P2P Solutions P2P can help you to become automated, please do get in touch.

Invenio at the BRIT awards 2014

sam_38531The 20th February 2014 saw this years BRITs awards held at the 02 arena, London – the venue of choice for the award show since 2011.

The British Phonographic Industry’s annual pop music awards (BRITs), are the British equivalent of the American Grammy Awards – and Invenio were extremely privileged to be a part of it. The awards began in 1977 as part of the commemoration of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and have continued ever since.

Invenio hosted two tables at the event, and invited employees from customers – XP Power, SAP, Neopost and Universal Music Group to join us.

The team headed up to the venue for 5pm and were greeted as if we were stars as we headed down the red carpet toward the arena, keeping our eyes peeled for the first celeb spot of the night. We then headed through the security gates and were shown to our seats – which were located less than 3 metres from the main stage!

As Invenio and our UK customers mixed amongst the celebs, we enjoyed a delightful three course meal, followed by performances which started at 8pm from some of the world’s biggest ‘stars’, as 4.2 million viewers tuned in to also watch from live television broadcast.

The evening started with a bang with an incredible performance from English indie rock band Artic Monkeys, followed by performances from Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Ellie Golding, Pharrell & Nile Rodgers, Beyoncé and other chart topping names.

The evening – hosted by comedian James Cordon was filled with great food, an amazing atmosphere, fab company, incredible performances and most importantly happy customers!

Award winners included:

  • British Breakthrough Act: Bastille
  • British Female Solo Artist: Ellie Goulding
  • British Group: Arctic Monkeys
  • British Male Solo Artist: David Bowie
  • British Single: Rudimental ft Ella Eyre – Waiting All Night
  • British Video: One Direction – Best Song Ever
  • Critics’ Choice Award: Sam Smith
  • International Female Solo Artist: Lorde
  • International Group: Daft Punk
  • International Male Solo Artist: Bruno Mars
  • MasterCard British Album of the Year: Arctic Monkeys

Here are some pictures from the evening of us mingling among the celebs:

HANA, the British Sunshine and a Naval Ship: What an event!

photo-32Following the previous blog “SAP HANA Evaluation: Why Invest?” it’s only right we update you on the event. Well what can I say? Yesterday was an exciting day for the Invenio team; it marked our first 2014 event for HANA. We held the event on HMS Belfast in London, a unique ship and venue. She is the Royal Navy’s last surviving cruiser, the largest preserved warship, and the only surviving cruiser built in the 1930s.

Luckily for us, the weather was kind, and you can’t help but love our capital city in the sunshine! We were really looking forward to showing the audience our capabilities with HANA, we have a good reputation in the marketplace for our work with this superb appliance. We currently hold the SAP EMEA Regional Partner Excellence Award 2014 in the category “Database and Technology”, awarded to us for our HANA Lab Innovation. Invenio have the largest HANA Partner deal worldwide, so we are becoming known as an organisation with expertise.

We wanted the day to be very open, to have a relaxed and casual feel to it; it was all about the delegates getting the best out of the day and giving them the opportunity to ask questions specific to their business needs. We had a large table with the speakers sitting amongst the delegates, to really allow open discussions amongst everyone.

The day started with a short and informal introduction from our Managing Director, Partho Bhattacharya, who has worked with the teams in the UK and India on the Universal Music HANA project. He explained that as an organisation, we started investing in HANA in mid 2013, despite HANA being available for the past 3 years. The reasons for this can be seen in our previous blog ‘Big Data, Hype of Reality?’ As Partho explained “if you use a PC, you will somewhere be using in-memory technology”, although you may not realise it!

SAP: Zach Dover

Our first speaker was Zach Dover from SAP, he presented ‘Reinventing Businesses through Innovation, Value & Simplicity’, a relevant, entertaining and understandable piece. This raised a number of questions from the delegates and helped them to understand HANA alongside business needs. As he explained, the way a consumer purchases is different. The way we interact and engage in 1-2-1 relationships with consumers has changed. You can send an e-mail to a customer service centre and wait a day or two for a response, if you tweet a complaint, you will receive an almost immediate response. All this creates data, a lot of which is unformatted and text, such as e-mails and social media tweets, postings and updates. With HANA you can uncover the value in your data and make it accessible to all in your organisation. HANA has shown people, they can unlock questions they never thought possible to answer, or even to discover it can answer questions they never realised they needed an answer to. Zach’s presentation was well received and really opened up the areas for discussion.

Universal Music

Universal Music, came to present a HANA case study using their evaluation, what it has done for them and where they hope to take the developments in the future. They started by explaining that an artist is no longer just someone that makes music, they are now becoming a brand, a shift seen over the past 5/10 years. Life with these artists is a lot more complicated – not just because some are divas! But due to the different streams and aspects that comes with an artist, such as merchandising, social media, direct-to-fan, brand partnerships, to name a few. With all of this comes data and lots of it!

Universal is fairly unique in the fact it has one SAP instance across the whole organisation; information can be seen across some 70 countries. So whatever is done can be replicated in the other 70 countries. With the revenue reducing from the music, the shift in emphasis is on the other elements. Universal can use the revenue from the various data streams when in negotiation with artists, to show the number of sales they need, number of downloads/streamings to generate target revenue, etc. This also varies in different countries, some are now into streaming music, but places such as Japan, still like to buy a physical CD, so these elements can be accounted for.

Universal Music are not looking at HANA as a quick term fix and have looked at this from a long term roadmap, where they are now, where they would like to be and then future developments. The current installation of HANA has been all about month end, for 20 days per month the system is unused and then the billions of records are uploaded towards the end of the month, as a result month end can take up to 10 days. Because of the native features of an SAP system, a journal entry in SAP can take up to 4 hours to appear in the consolidation tool (Hyperion).

In the POC that Invenio conducted in the HANA Lab, it was demonstrated that the delay of 4 hours, can be brought down to 5 minutes. Also, HANA’s power can be utilised, to make data upload much faster and allow the business to run reports much quicker.

‘Words of Wisdom’

To close their section, Universal Music shared with the delegates what they call ‘words of wisdom’ from the HANA Evaluation:

  • Identify your Business, Financial and Technical Drivers /Objectives/Constraints for the HANA project
  • Liaise closely with SAP and Support partners ensure your Roadmap is in-line with the SAP Roadmap
  • Limit the number of HANA options reviewed
  • Keep the POC process as short and focused as possible
  • Define measurable deliverables
  • HANA alone is not the answer to all of your businesses problems!
  • Don’t underestimate the hardware and architecture required

Following all the presentations, a panel discussion took place around the table; here are just a few of the questions asked by delegates.

  • Why wouldn’t a new ECC customer go straight to HANA?
  • What happens to commitments with commercials such as Oracle, if moving to ECC with HANA?
  • HANA is all about data in one place; our organisation has data everywhere, what is the process to get data in one place?
  • Total drilldown: Can you drill down to the original data with HANA? Other systems, don’t seem to be able to do this
  • Currently data is taking days to load, will this also be cut down?
  • If taking data from multiple systems, does the data need modelling?

To finish the day, there was a complimentary tour of HMS Belfast, what a remarkable experience, to see a piece of British history and to experience what life was like aboard for the 1963 crew. You are able to see the quarters, go aboard the 9 decks and onto the top deck with its spectacular view of London. HANA, the British sunshine and HMS Belfast made for a wonderful event!


HMSBelfastTo ask your own question, to see the comprehensive answers given to the questions raised or to understand more about HANA, please do get in touch with us.