With this current article I’d like to tell you about a product, developed in SAP Labs Bulgaria which has a slightly different focus than the other topics developed here – SAP Environmental Management Information System – and what was my motivation joining this team.
Sustainability became more and more important for global companies in their aim to balance strategic business goals with regulatory and moral obligations, in serving their customers, partners, employees and stakeholders. So for me working on such a product gives me the opportunity to closely collaborate with customers, partners, SAP colleagues from different departments making a solution that really brings value to the market.
What is SAP Environmental Management Information System?
You all have to know that nowadays companies have increased pressure to improve their environmental management, information and performance processes to stay ahead of growing environmental reporting and compliance requirements. They are driven by the need to reduce the cost of compliance and avoid fines for noncompliance, to lower the cost of operations (e.g. waste treatment) and minimize the risk of environmental incidents or mismanagement. At the same time, companies need to increase their brand value to stakeholders (e.g. regulators, customers, and the public) by demonstrating their environmental performance.
For this reason, a team from SAP Environment, Health, and Safety (EH&S) was set up to research the processes and scope of a comprehensive Environmental Management Information System (EMIS), i.e. a system that would allow companies to gather, process, validate, audit, and report environmental information both across the entire company and to environmental authorities.
Relevant industries are heavy polluting industries such as Oil & Gas, Mining, Chemicals, High Tech, Mill Products and Utilities. In general the rule is that the greater impact on the environment has a given industry or customer, the more (and stricter) requirements and regulations exist that must comply and therefore – the greater benefit such customers would have from a system like EMIS.
So the team from SAP product management team conducted a series of discussions with companies from target industries where the goal was to have the global market perspective and see where different customers put the accent on using such a solution, where they do see the pain points in their current processes and what their needs are. Based on more than 40 contextual interviews, a product roadmap was outlined and development started.
How do we do co-innovation?
Customer collaboration continues in a structured manner during the complete product development lifecycle – we involve end users in interviews (some of them onsite during our visits) and different quality assurance activities like formative usability testing for example. Customers and partners also value the opportunity to influence the product and to make it better fit in the business area. All communication takes place under the umbrella of Customer Engagement Initiative which offers budget, legal and infrastructure support. We are happy that our co-innovation customers list includes one of the biggest enterprise companies in the world and we work closely with most knowledgeable consulting companies. Customers appreciate that we value their input (and we are not trying to build such a complex topic in isolation) and receiving the recognition for it from outside of SAP for this approach was also very motivating for me and the team members.
All of the hard work of the team paid off and as of today SAP EHS Management solution is valued by both customers and analysts in the EHS segment because of smooth integration with other SAP business applications such as Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Human Resources (HR), which makes SAP EHSM the logical choice for customers, relying on SAP as a system of record. In fact, recently we were proud when Gartner positioned again SAP EHS product into the “Leader” quadrant. SAP is the only ERP vendor with such a significant EH&S product suite and development initiative. The SAP EMIS solution will leverage those benefits to support SAP customers to run their environmental compliance related activities better.