Compliance, HR and my job.

I’m off to ride my new bicycle up some italian mountains this easter weekend, when many sensible folks are planning a last skitrip or looking for easter eggs. Contrary is my middle name. My wife has sensibly taken herself and the kids back “home” to South Africa to see the grandparents and the sun.

I had lunch with Amit Chatterjee earlier this week, he is one of the senior strategy guys at SAP. We talked about the Virsa acquisition, compliance issues and we generally fixed all that was wrong with SAP before we got to the coffee. Bright guy.
I’ve also been talking to the compliance product management guys both here and across the pond. The Virsa acquistion will really help accelerate compliance related developments, and I believe, reduce customer compliance costs significantly. What is also fascinating is that there is a lot of good compliance stuff buried in the ERP core, we need bring it to the surface and tell people about it. Some people complain that ERP code base is too big, but it does mean sometimes we discover cool stuff we had almost forgotten about. Code-wise the Virsa stuff fits well, cos it was developed from the start as an SAP add-in. There is a lot of work to do though. (makes me realise what a big job the Oracle folks have got on their hands)

When I get back I’m preparing for a compliance and risk workshop with some senior compliance and risk folks from some of Europe’s biggest companies. We will be looking at compliance management and risk management, exploring their relationship. We will also be looking at how you practically reduce the ongoing cost of compliance, and manage multi-country multi country compliance rollouts. I’ll be discussing the Virsa acquistion and how it fits into our solution plans, and one of the Virsa guys will be there with me. It should be a good session and I think I will learn lots from the folks there. The workshop should be really interactive and open, as we are keeping ppts to a minimum.

There is nothing like listening to people who have to run complex businesses, sometimes you just sit back and say “wow” you did that with our software? There is lots of innovation in big companies, you find it in the strangest places. It is amazing to see what people do with our solutions in real life. Big multi-billion euro businesses rely on our stuff to keep them in business. It makes you feel proud and humbled at the same time. (is that naff?)

The department I work for, the Business Solution Architects Group, is one of the most interesting groups at SAP. Everyone in the group joined SAP in 1970 something or there abouts, except me. Having colleagues that can architect MDM based solutions, and digress to  explain how punch cards worked is cool. The group started off focusing on Finance, as the department head is one of the “fathers” of SAP’s accounting solutions, Dieter Scheuermann. What he realised is that we weren’t spending enough time with CFO’s and senior finance people. So my boss got the okay from Henning (I can name drop with the best of them) to get out there and talk to senior finance people and help them get more out of what they have already bought. It works really well and means we build strong relationships with a key part of our customer community. With the breadth of experience in the team, and the awesome internal and external network I think we are helping the finance functions get more out of SAP. For these finance folks we provide an alternative channel to SAP, and we are really building up that trusted advisor relationship. (see the links in the about page for more info).  Jürgen Daum is also in the team. He knows far to much about controlling and finance. His website is a mine of information.(www.juergendaum.com)

SAP builds business software, and although there is a lot of focus on platforms and technology today, and that the technology is key for SAP’s long term growth and success, I personally believe that SAP’s competitive edge is that we have a lot of people that understand the complexities of business. Just as we have people who are passionate about the future platforms and GUis, we have lots of people who have passion and a deep knowledge of an industry or a functional area. When you speak to business experts, technology is simply not enough.

I have been in the HR space since I left university in 1991, so I was brought in to build the same sort of thing up for HR. I also cover the compliance topic, as a have a information technology law masters, and I am plodding through the world’s longest PhD, focusing on compliance in enterprise applications.

I’m faciliating the first HR best practice meeting in Zurich at the end of May, and we are hoping to have about 10-12 companies (20-25) discussing and sharing how they address issues such as retention, high potential development, recruitment, succession and the like. If you are a senior HR person reading this and interested in finding out more, drop me a note at thomas.otter@sap.com

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