How Do SAP's Best Run Companies Improve?
When I sold my Lean Manufacturing software company to SAP in 2006, I continued with them for another five years. For two of those years, I worked at SAP HQ in Walldorf Germany, during which time I must have visited with hundreds of SAP customers in a variety of industries ranging from extremely large global corporations to small to medium sized businesses. This was probably the time in my life when I gained the most insight into the common challenges facing businesses as they strive to satisfy current customer needs, while simultaneously innovating to remain relevant by expanding their products and service offerings. While the SAP customers had a solution for “doing work,” they lacked an equally robust solution for “improving work” to meet these common challenges.
SAP is an outstanding business partner, delivering IT applications with rich and deep functionality to ensure that their customers are truly the “Best Run” companies, as their ad campaign says. Today, the SAP portfolio of solutions extends to the Cloud and embraces mobile applications, creating a complete solution for “doing work” and managing the human capital deployed to do the work. Part of my responsibility while in Walldorf was working on internal process innovation inside SAP to bring products and services to market in a lean and agile way. This included integrating the customers into cross functional teams to ensure that their products and services were brought to market faster and were of the highest quality. “Right first time” was, and still is, the ethos of SAP development.
In being part of this lean and agile innovation within SAP, I realized first hand the cultural change that was necessary to ensure that these new innovative processes sustained. SAP invested heavily in organizational culture training and education programs to help their leaders at all levels within the business understand what it meant to be a “Lean Leader.” Respect for people was at the cornerstone of this training, and once this concept was learned, leaders realized it was far easier for employees in the cross functional development teams to be empowered to make decisions.
During this time, I also saw the need for a new type of software platform to support innovation. Innovation and improvement are business processes that cannot be supported by the applications that are designed to “do work,” but rather, must be supported by applications that have been designed to support the process of “improving work.” I witnessed the challenges with cross-functional team collaboration. Within SAP, there are teams in India, China, Europe, and the Americas that need collaboration capabilities that can support these geographically diverse teams. There was also the need for transparency and visibility of what different groups may be working on to ensure that there were no costly, time consuming, and counterproductive duplicative efforts. Finally, there was the need for a way to enable best practices sharing and the “all boats rise” effect, so that best practices could be proven and then implemented in multiple divisions for consistent and common benefit.
Now that I am CEO of KaiNexus, I am leading a great team of innovation software engineers bringing to market a new innovation and improvement software platform. All of my experiences with the hundreds of businesses I have worked with over the years, as well as my experiences working inside SAP, are being brought to bear in the design of the KaiNexus platform.
KaiNexus is a Cloud application that can enable cross-functional collaboration across the globe. The mobile and desktop capabilities are intuitive and designed for the process of continuous improvement and innovation. There is complete online reporting capability that supports a 360-degree view for total transparency. The status of every innovation and improvement initiative across the enterprise is instantly visible through online reports that provide real-time bottom line impact and ROI data.
The SAP platform is designed to support Best Run companies to run better in DOING WORK. The KaiNexus platform is designed to enable these Best Run companies IMPROVE the work they do and innovate and improve to remain ahead of their competitors and capture new opportunities. Using SAP to do work, combined with KaiNexus to improve work, will ensure that the Best Run stay Best Run for future prosperity and growth.