Michael Bader is Managing Consultant in the Mannheim location and has been with valantic CEC Deutschland since 2005. He tells us in the interview why a close customer relationship is important and what he’s especially proud of.
Hello Michael! You’re Managing Consultant. Can you tell us what you actually do?
In our SAP Customer Experience (former SAP C/4HANA) projects, I take on various roles: As consultant, my focus in our projects is a technical one – I implement the programming and customizing. As project manager, I coordinate the implementation and as solution architect, I work with our customers to design the software architecture and maintain a sense of the big picture.
In addition to project work, as a portfolio manager, I lead an 8-person team that handles the topic CRM on-premise. This includes supporting regular customers in their old systems, but also helping them with their entry, including implementation and migration, into the new cloud world.
What does a project like this actually look like? What kinds of questions does the customer have for you?
We have worked with one of our customers, an association of sports retailers, for many years. We introduced CRM 4.0 there in 2007 and this was actually also one of my first projects.
At that time, I was primarily responsible for the development of the interface and programming of additional functions. Since then, this customer has become a regular customer whom I support personally. We think this is especially important: That our customers have continuous customer support and are advised as well as possible – and this for many years. Personally, I think it’s great to work so closely with the customer and to be incorporated directly into decisions, even those involving follow-up projects and support.
For this customer, at the beginning of last year the question was raised how to continue with CRM/the cloud and what the best strategy might be here.
In a strategy workshop with the customer, we revealed the various possibilities; the cloud was one of the alternatives offered. After we had evaluated the procedure and costs of each possibility, these were discussed with the customer. The decision was then made to replace the old CRM on-prem system with a C/4HANA system.
What was your personal challenge on this project?
For me personally, the challenge was that I come from the on-prem world and don’t know my way around in C/4HANA so well yet. This was my first C/4HANA project. Of course I know my way around well enough to function as an architect, but I also have a knowledgeable C/4HANA team by my side. For us, projects are not individual achievements; we always work as a team. The team specializes in C/4 and all questions are discussed by the team and proposals are formulated jointly. These are discussed with the customer, who makes the decision in the end. Then we implement this decision.
For me, the whole thing is an exciting topic and, of course, also the opportunity to dive deeper into the cloud world.
That sounds fascinating. Can you tell us a bit more about the project? How large is the project team and precisely what is your role on it?
This project is a so-called “submarine project.” We consultants use this term to refer to projects that have to be planned on short notice. In order to be able to accomplish this, I “borrowed” 2-3 consultants from other colleagues’ portfolios and incorporated them. Here we work across team boundaries, which is very enriching. Essentially, the people involved are the project managers, who are responsible for the coordination and main communication with the customer. Added to this is a team member who takes care of the interface, in this case the CPI (Cloud Platform Integration). And last but not least, two employees who make the settings directly in C/4, such as expanding fields, adjusting interfaces, etc. Depending on the requirements, there can also be a technician who can program the add-ons in the cloud.
For this customer, I am primarily responsible for the project management. However, I am also responsible for the expansion of the ERP system – which functions as back end for the C/4 – in order to make interface adjustments for the data integration. I am very familiar with the ERP system and thanks to my ABAP experience, I can handle these expansions very well.
What are you especially proud of?
That’s clear: if I, as for the regular customer I mentioned above, can assist customers across many years and it’s not just business that’s reduced to the system and the implementation, but rather, a personal relationship develops across the years. In my eyes, the customer’s trust is the greatest confirmation; that’s how we know that he was satisfied with us over the last 13 years.
What I especially like is the opportunity to work with younger colleagues and to see how they develop. They then emerge from the “shadow” of the “long-term professionals” and are then themselves close contacts for the customer. They can emerge as key players, answer questions themselves, and get a sense of how it is to work under different project managers since each project manager is different. For example, I have noticed that my style is different than that of my colleagues, and I think that’s a good, enriching experience for the junior employees. And, of course, good feedback from the customer makes me especially proud.