SAP is a world-class ERP software and enterprise cloud-hosting company. Its competitors are Salesforce and Oracle.
I worked for the global Cloud Architecture & Advisory (CAA) team out of SAP’s Newtown Square office, however I collaborated with teams located around the world such as Silicon Valley, Germany, India, Australia, and South Africa. The CAA team is a critical part of SAP’s HANA Enterprise Cloud division, which onboards and hosts large international companies on SAP’s fully scalable and secure private cloud platform.
I was the lead project manager responsible for building a globally standardized technical assessment for the CAA team. The CAA team uses a distributed governance strategy because customers in each region have specific needs. However, there is a new initiative to globally standardize some business activities. Understanding which data to collect from customers is critical to CAA activities; the Global Technical Assessment project was created to officially define those critical data elements.
My job included consulting the Project Sponsor and Steering Committee, soliciting project requirements, acquiring human resources, managing a Project Charter and Schedule, organizing and moderating project meetings, assigning tasks to resources, and managing the project’s overall progress. Managing a global team is always complicated, especially when working with individuals in sales. Their main priority is to generate revenue, and devoting time to the Technical Assessment project cost them the time they could have spent with customers. With fewer resources at my disposal, I frequently had to delay the project schedule. As the timeline extended, project scope also changed. It was challenging to keep the project team focused on the Steering Committee’s changing requirements.
The main takeaway I gained from this project is that my job as a project manager did not involve providing any technical input. I think this is especially true in an organization as large as SAP. I realized that I impeded the project’s progress when I involved myself in technical discussions about the Assessment prototype. Though I wanted to help, I instead created frustration. There is a right and wrong way to encourage deeper discussion.