WE WILL RISE TO THE COVID-19 CHALLENGE
Michael Eberhardt, Managing Director and COO of SNP SE
SNP is observing the development of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany and around the world very closely in order to be able to constantly assess and evaluate the effects on employees, customers and partners despite the dynamic situation.
In everything that SNP does, the health and safety of its employees is of the utmost importance. At the same time, the company’s actions remain focused on the well-being of its customers and partners – both their health and their economic well-being. SNP has mastered this balancing act. Michael Eberhardt explains how.
What measures has SNP taken to protect employees as well as to ensure business continuity and agreements on ongoing or planned projects?
Michael Eberhardt: What we are currently experiencing is challenging us all time and again. As company management, we therefore decided at an early stage to observe the market and the new circumstances very closely in order to be able to react to the dynamic situation with the necessary speed and flexibility. For weeks now, we have been cooperating closely at all levels in order to do the situation justice – for our employees as well as our customers.
Specifically, this means that we are discussing general approaches, communicating them to the management teams and workforces worldwide, and thus determining our behavior within SNP in this manner. This concerns avoiding contact, so social distancing, as well as hygiene regulations and other universal issues that politics and legislation have defined for us globally. At the same time, we are leaving ourselves enough room to maneuver so that we can react to local conditions quickly and adequately. This is because the news about COVID-19 reaching us from all over the world indicates rather diverse circumstances in terms of danger and risk. We have observed clearly different situations within Europe as well as in other regions and on other continents, for example Asia-Pacific or the USA. We have therefore opted to establish general rules with local supplements in order to protect our employees everywhere as best we can.
“We are using all the technical possibilities
and have long been proficient at navigating
the digital working environment.”
As a modern IT company, we are able to introduce further important measures that go beyond regulations for protecting health, enabling our teams to have a regular work routine with functioning processes. In the past, we have already harnessed digital processes both in our work for our customers and internally, which distinguishes us significantly from many competitors – but particularly from other industries – and underpins our performance. Comprehensive work from home policies, mobile devices, an outstanding network and standard business applications enable all our employees to access critical systems such as SAP or Salesforce securely from their own homes. Teams and company management are in constant close contact via various digital collaboration platforms and work together on documents and projects remotely. We are using all the technical possibilities and have long been proficient at navigating the digital working environment, but are currently also increasingly using technology to maintain social interactions between colleagues, which is also an important health aspect. Even now, colleagues sometimes meet up for a beer after work – just digitally.
A strong capability to work remotely guarantees a company’s ability to deliver. What conditions must be created to be able to serve customers or support projects literally from any place and at any time?
Michael Eberhardt: We don’t have any production, but rather project work. We did this remotely even before the lockdown, and our customers are quite used to our consultants not being on-site every day. As part of the COVID-19 measures, we consistently implemented the work from home policy for everyone three weeks ago; we have since extended it until Easter and will then see how the situation develops. But we will continue to work much more digitally afterwards, even when we return to normal work – that is the future.
“Our customers are very happy that
we are capable of delivering projects in
the usual quality even amid lockdowns.”
Before the current situation, our customers were already used to exchanging data via our digital transformation platform CrystalBridge. This requires a high degree of trust, since ultimately the networks of both companies are linked when the customer lets SNP access their systems – providing access to the data at the heart of their operations.
The good reputation of the SNP brand makes this possible: 25 years in the market and our position as a leader in the area of automated data migration have made us a key component of any business transformation. This trust in us, our technical capabilities and the positive experiences of our customers enable us to carry out many projects 100 percent remotely today. Our customers are very happy that we are capable of delivering projects in the usual quality even amid lockdowns. In addition, we want to use technological enhancements to carry out projects in offline mode and thus, for example, parameterize systems without having to access the customer’s systems the whole time. A major advantage.
SNP has successfully implemented SAP S/4HANA this year and shifted its focus to delivery. In view of the current situation but also in general: Why is it so important to prepare systems and processes for new technological challenges, digitalization and globalization now?
Michael Eberhardt: I think we can all see how the COVID-19 issue has forced us to embrace a digital model and a digital economy more quickly. For our industry, this means the digitalization of customer engagement, project fulfillment and project delivery. For society, in view of the current threat posed by the virus, there is the question of how a pandemic can be better detected and contained with digital support and how chains of infection can be better traced. The virus has made it clear to us that, without digital processes and structures, the world as we know it will be difficult to manage in the long term. That is why companies must prepare themselves now. One example is the retail sector: Traditional businesses and the shops in the pedestrian zones of our inner cities are suffering severely from the lockdown, while Amazon is hiring 100,000 new people to meet the increased demand – because they can continue to deliver.
“Crises open up opportunities and lockdowns are not a permanent solution.
After this experience, people will be more open and ready
for the necessary changes.”
We put a lot of effort and personal commitment into keeping the supermarkets running, with women and men putting their health on the line to fill shelves and operate cash registers. I believe that if today’s supermarkets were ready to let their customers do 90 percent of their shopping remotely, then in a difficult situation like the current one, perhaps only one or two cashiers would be needed instead of ten, therefore posing them less risk. I think that the ability to work together in networks regardless of time and place can protect us – our health and our well-being.
Those who have not yet understood why digitalization makes sense will certainly understand it better due to COVID-19 and its consequences. Crises open up opportunities and lockdowns are not a permanent solution. After this experience, people will be more open and ready for the necessary changes.
SNP wishes the people in Germany and all over the world all the best.
Please stay healthy!