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Low-code technology has now reached an acceptance level in the market where a lot of customers are eager to adopt it, however, the IT-management who are responsible for the administration and operation of SAP Build have been asking us: “How should we get started with citizen development and rolling out good governance of low-code projects?” What we have been advising them to do is to get moving fast with a learning phase, building a first use case and hosting a hands-on experience, and then to use the insights coming out of that to inform the broader strategy and set-up of a center of excellence.

One of the customers we have been consulting with about this is Freudenberg Group, and in April, I had the pleasure to participate in an amazing event where they kicked of their pilot "Buildathon,” and launched the Freudenberg “Confactory” – the brand for their digital solution building center of excellence.

It was a fantastic experience and I’m happy to share with you how this event was shaped, and what Freudenberg got out of it by involving people from various lines of business, with different levels of business and IT skills, to ideate new use cases and to rapidly create new low-code applications and automations with SAP Build. So, let’s deep-dive into how this worked...

Who is Freudenberg?

Founded by Carl Johann Freudenberg in 1849, Freudenberg stands out now as an agile and flexible global technology company, with a scientifically based standard of progress. Their employees are experts in leading technological products, services and solutions that are used in thousands of applications and about 40 market segments. Freudenberg’s seals, vibration-control components, technical textiles, filters, cleaning technologies, special chemicals and medical-technology products make a valuable contribution to the success of their customers around the world. Just three examples representative of thousands of applications: Freudenberg solutions ensure that the air in rooms is cleaner, that cars can drive and that wounds heal faster!

Why this SAP Buildathon?

Earlier this year, Freudenberg’s Corporate IT built a first use case and had a successful go-live with SAP Build. After that first step, Freudenberg decided to kick off Confactory, with SAP Build as a centerpiece to more than 30 citizen developers.

The two-day “SAP Buildathon” event took place at Freudenberg in Weinheim, Germany. The agenda included a mix of intro presentations from SAP, Freudenberg Corporate IT, and hands-on challenges to develop use cases with SAP Build.

The first day started with a welcome video from Juergen Mueller, SAP CTO, and introductory video from Christine Grimm, Director Process & Digital Technology Management at Freudenberg SE to explain the objectives and expected outcomes of the event. SAP Build is intended to enable all hands and minds to use their full potential to shape digital transformation at Freudenberg, with the SAP Business Technology Platform as the digital backbone of the group.

Simon Jarke, Head of Corporate Digital Business Innovation at Freudenberg SE, shared with the participants how the event has been shaped over two days. His colleagues gathered from all over the Freudenberg world for an exciting time of learning together, and the conversation quickly blossomed about the future of building of digital solutions with SAP Build.

After that, we shared SAP’s vision on low-code development and introduced our 3 product pillars.

We also showed how SAP Build supports the Intelligent Sustainable Enterprise with the example of how it helps National Hockey League to achieve their sustainability goals.

Six challenges to easily discover SAP Build

Then the participants rolled up their sleeves and put their hands on SAP Build tools, with six challenges that they had to complete:

  1. Add business partners to custom list - SAP Build Apps

  2. Approval of the employee equipment order - SAP Build Process Automation

  3. Sales Order Management - SAP Build Process Automation

  4. Barcode-Scanner Application - SAP Build Apps

  5. Invoice Processing - SAP Build Process Automation

  6. The ultimate LCNC Challenge - SAP Build Apps + SAP Build Process Automation

Spending 1-2 hours per challenge, all the participants succeeded in completing at least a few if not all of them – achieving the recognition that they are now SAP Builders!

Use case Ideation and Pitches

After having concretely discovered SAP Build capabilities by creating apps and automating tasks and processes, participants spent the last half a day figuring out what uses cases they would be happy to build to optimize their daily work and improve processes at Freudenberg. This ideation round was very fruitful: not only were a few use cases quickly identified and a winner was selected by the participants, but they even went so far as to quickly build prototypes of their ideas using SAP Build before the end of the second day!

Feel free to learn more from Simon Jarke and Katja Nawrath on why they chose a federated model for Low-Code Governance.

According to Simon Jarke, “This was just the start of our joint journey towards sustainable and continuous digital innovation at start-up speed at Freudenberg. With SAP Build enabling all hands and minds to use their full potential to shape Digital Transformation and with the SAP Business Technology Platform as the Digital Backbone of the Group.”

Ready to get started with your own Buildathon?

If you want to foster low-code creativity in your own company and get started fast to learn and inform your center of excellence requirements, I highly recommend having such an SAP Buildathon with your teams: Not only your colleagues from various lines of business or departments will discover how they can quickly create apps or automate processes, but they will also identify very relevant use-cases with significant ROI.

Get started today and develop your own community of SAP Builders!