SAP: Winner of the Creative Talent Management Impact Award 2020, Europe

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Beth Hampton

Missed Part 4 of the series? View Ecopetrol's award-winning transformation journey HERE.

SSON's Impact Awards are globally recognized, annual awards that honour and celebrate shared services achievements across several different categories, across four different regions in the world. Applications are evaluated by a judging panel made up of leading practitioners selected for their experience and are exemplary members of the services delivery community.

Today’s shared services operating models are the engine of enterprise transformation. Here we share an edited version of SAP’s winning application for the Creative Talent Management Impact Award.



SAP Global HR Service Delivery (GSD) is an organization within the Human Resources Board Area of SAP.

We ensure that HR services and processes run better - consistently, e􀃠ectively, e􀃞ciently and in compliance, as we support the full employee life cycle. Thereby, boosting operational excellence and helping SAP scale and run its business sustainably.

We provide HR Services that range from hiring to retirement, support development for Early Talents to Chief Experts, pay compensation, enable workforce mobility, help SAP to sell credibly, integrate acquisitions, & advise on all local or global work-life matters.

To enable us to stay strong and focused on our consumers and priorities while we innovate and evolve without disruptions, we leverage the latest technology to increase human touch through state-of-the-art collaboration technology and mobile accessible HR services available 24/7.

Integrating best-practice HR Service design and execution capabilities for a growing workforce, we work closely with all HR functions to deliver a positive consumer experience. We offer easy-to-consume and adaptable HR services allowing SAP employees to remain focused on their core responsibilities as we provide meaningful help & experiences 24/7.


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Before we, as HR, can determine where we want to go, we saw the need to understand our current environment. We derived what we needed to deliver from our SAP Strategy which is - Become the Experience Company powered by the Intelligent Enterprise.

In addition to our SAP strategy, trends in the market have influenced our direction, making sure we adapt to the changing times and how businesses evolve and how our workforce transforms. These trends include topics such as the expectation of personalization, new working models, and purpose-driven business.

From the SAP Strategy, SAP HR has then deployed the HR Strategy which focused on “Power intelligent technologies to deliver engaging experiences to realize our combined best”. This means that being a front-runner in the digital HR world means that we in HR need to address not only our employees’ future but also our own in HR in order to bring superior consumer experiences to our people.

Now keeping in mind both overarching strategies, our Global HR Service Delivery (GSD) organization, a power house of SAP HR, has started focusing on Intelligent Technologies and Consumer Experience as we are serving over 100k+ employees globally. What are our focus areas from Talent Management perspective?

From one side, on our digitalization journey, there’s a clear need to develop and scale RPA, Machine learning Specialists, Cloud Solutions Software experts, Coding gurus, Data Analytics skills further. #KeepLearning culture became a critical element of business success. From the other side, the speed of business increased dramatically and with this, GSD needs to be ready to be agile, speed up decision making, leading us to a shift towards self-managed empowered teams with reduced hierarchical structures and deliver quick results together.

As digitalization has started to become the new norm and intelligent technologies bringing in the new demand and change for the people, we are happy to share our creative Talent Management strategy - "Powered by Innovation, driven by People". We knew that the focus on consumer experience & digitalization can only be executed cross-functionally as one team. The quote "Your customer experience will only be great if your employee experience is greater" resonated with us a lot and we went this way by empowering our people and including them in addressing business challenges.

Firstly, we identifed four key focus areas and established that it’s extremely important that we focus on Leadership Development as our leaders are our multipliers – intensifying our focus on re-building our leadership culture.

Secondly, on building cross functional networks teams – another strong multiplier layer – in order to foster business value, innovation culture, empowerment, growth and learnings, upskilling our people and leaders in Innovation and in technology and helping our people to grow and develop.



How did we set about implementing this across the organization? Crowdsourcing, empowerment and network teams!

First, we established a Leadership and Development Council comprised of volunteers across the organization. We took best of both worlds and merged both top-down and bottom-up approach as we did our 􀃕rst round of feedback collection – the activity that triggered the positive changes with the way we do people development and talent management in our organization.

Our Development Council was essential in providing us feedback on the own consumer experience for our people. We then set about identifying our key focus areas on Leadership, People Development, Cross-functional network, Innovation and Consumer Experience Upskilling, and Branding, and agreed on a concrete action plan and measurement of success.

Discover more award-winning journeys at the SSON Impact Awards: The Winners Series  

In just a span of one year, several workshops, learning sessions, and platforms have been put in place in e􀃠orts to accelerate value creation to drive outcomes that allow us to empower employees and increase the e􀃞ciency in our business model by focusing more on experiences and personalized services. This has also allowed us to direct our focus on the overall development of our employees, having our people as the enabler for the future - strengthening our focus on consumer experience and delivering the intelligent enterprise, triggering us to build networks within our organization.

With the empowerment of employees and moving towards a network driven organization, we were able to start the shift in the area of culture & mindset, with our crowdsourcing approach allowing for growth of our networks such as our Peer-to-Peer trainers, Future of Work leads, Experience Managers & People Agenda/Comms Partners, addressing our challenge on how to become more agile, less hierarchical, and more responsive to change.

For the focus on leadership behaviours, our leaders are now operating on the same set of leadership principles - moving from profit to purpose, hierarchies to networks, controlling to empowering, planning to experimentation, and privacy to transparency.

Aside from the culture mindset shift, we were able to shift our business approach: the group of volunteers came up with the scope of CX strategy and 1st key initiatives: journey reviews & CX culture enablement. Then as a next maturity level - the key roles of Process and Quality Experience managers were brought into the network. After several Co-creation workshops, the Network came up with the whitepaper on Experience Management-now this team works as a cross-functional platform for resolving all customer issues and inefficiencies.



  • From unavailability of a platform to trigger collaboration to more than 50 blogs posted internally and externally
  • Experience Management is co-created by the Experience Management community supported by development and roll-out of a consumer experience mindset workshop designed specifically for a high-volume service organization
  • From top-down engagement to volunteering with 10% of our population actively involved in organization-wide initiatives
  • 50%+ increase in the number of the active development plans
  • Peer to Peer Learning introduced 50+ lessons with 500+ unique registrations covering various aspects as agile project management, soft skills, etc.
  • Upskilling sessions for targeted employee groups and teams such as Analytical upskilling, IRPA, GBS market trends, Lean/six sigma
  • Innovation and consumer experience events where 90%+ of the participants requested for similar events to be offered in the future
  • Improved traction of cross-functional collaboration via the different career development sessions and experiential learning and development opportunities such as internal/external certification and shadowing opportunities
  • More than 50% of service delivery employees with a certain development identification in 2018 have moved to another role in 2019, showcasing the opportunities that have been made available to our employees through cross-functional exchange and networking


Referring back to the quote "Your customer experience will only be great if you employee experience is greater" – our Customer Satisfaction is 9.48 and Net Promoter Score of 84.2 across over half a million cases we handled in 2019. The Consumer Experience mindset and Future of Work collaboration culture supports better cooperation across the teams and quicker and better services to our employees.

Building the direct link between the corporate/organization objectives and strategy with our employee's development plans and career paths support our aim to build a workplace for our people where they can feel connected through experience and continuous and meaningful learning/growth opportunities.

The example of this is our cooperation with our people where we report back on our achievements and plans for all topics. Several feedback received show that what has transpired out of their initial feedback and recommendations set the tone for the direction our people aimed to see in the organization. This was evident as well as shown in the People Survey score where 90% of employees said they are Proud to work for SAP and would recommend SAP as a great place of work, suggesting that our colleagues are proud to work for SAP and they feel energized by their job.

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The first challenge we had to overcome was the size and demographics of the organization. With 800 colleagues around the globe, spanning across multiple time zones, it was challenging to ensure that our strategy and plan for implementation would resonate with each of our 800+ colleagues. To address this, we developed a collaboration platform which we used as our vehicle in spreading the message to the whole organization. We deployed an aligned and strategic communication plan wherein we first started establishing the need for transformation. We communicated market trends and other research results to showcase why we needed to transform the way we approach talent management and development. Based on the research, combined with alignment with overall corporate and HR strategy, we then came up with strategic focus areas and aligned all initiatives and programs towards the applicable focus area it supports. This allowed us to bring consistent messaging to our people - ensuring that they always understand not just the rationale of each program and initiative that we rolled out, but more importantly, where we are heading as an organization.

This collaboration platform was then supplemented via various networks built - ensuring that we stay transparent in bringing forward the state of the business to our people. This transparency not only helped our colleagues to stay informed, but also ensured that we opened the doors for feedback and recommendations directly from our people.

Another challenge faced was being a high-volume organization. With 100k+ SAP Employees that we support, we had to ensure that we are business as usual in providing our best-in-class support for our employees while working on our development - individually and as an organization. To address this, we leveraged on one of our focus areas which is innovation upskilling. We automated where possible, allowing us to free up time and focus on our development.



  1. We are working on the people engagement and talent management, but this is not a side story anymore. This is the MAIN answer to many business challenges - crowdsourcing, network-based teams, peer to peer learning, experiential learning - all bringing the Intelligent Enterprise to life and the best possible Consumer Experience.
  2. Change is a commodity and no longer a one-time event, causing businesses and our workforce to continue evolving and transforming. We need to continuously re-think our strategy, our portfolio, our processes, and our technology. This is an ongoing effort to continue the HR transformation.
  3. Transformation is about a change of culture, which requires a radical re-thinking of people, processes, and technologies. To provide superior consumer experiences, we need to ensure that we retain and intensify the human element in Human Resources, supplemented by the power of technology, and the people's capability to interact within the whole ecosystem.


Column 5 of the SSON Impact Awards: The Winners Series available next Friday!