We began the day with the VF visit, followed by a delicious lunch at a small restaurant. Here we were able to experience the local food, catch up with our classmates, and ask our tour guide more about the area.
After a delicious lunch we made our way to SAP where we were met by Riina Tirra, head of organizational development. SAP Business Services Center of Europe covers several lines of business: HR, marketing, finance, and global financial shared services. Global financial shared services was our focus of the presentation. They currently have 500 employees on several teams. They are responsible for helping local SAP subsidiaries with finance functions in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Their 24/5 strategy is automated as much as possible.
We learned just how language dependent SAP is, learning they are in 120 countries and speak 37 languages. Their employees need not only financial competencies, but also language skills. Every employee we met spoke a minimum of three languages. We heard German, English, Italian, and several others as we walked through the offices meeting people from accounts receivable, records to reports, and collections.
Their motto is “Shared Service – Shared Success” and they have four pillars of profitable growth strategies and objectives: cost success, employee motivation, growth, and operating margin. Their productivity targets are clearly defined based on benchmarks and shown in Bejing Board offsite. Prague was chosen as the location because it is very cost efficient and is located in the center of Europe. Several classmates work for companies that use SAP and one uses a competitor, so questions and discussions at SAP was one of the best we’ve had so far.
Even though back to back visits was tiring the day was very informative. The bus ride back to the hotel was a quiet one, since everyone was exhausted.
Written by: Melissa Oakes