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The Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) helps members hone their public-speaking and business management skills by providing education-focused programming and networking at both the chapter and national levels. Adrian Davis, president of the Toronto Chapter of CAPS, says the organization was facing challenges coordinating programs and tracking activities, given the organization’s goals and the board members’ busy schedules.

Although individual board members were using various technologies to become more productive, the organization itself was relatively low-tech and needed a solution that could streamline communications and processes without requiring a lot of training. According to Adrian, CAPS selected SAP StreamWork and hasn’t looked back since. By using the on-demand solution to streamline processes and provide a collaborative space available to all, the organization has become more productive and innovative. Board members were all able to catch on quickly and have been using SAP StreamWork in ways they couldn’t have anticipated.

Adrian calls out six key ways in which CAPS uses SAP StreamWork:

1) Board meetings.

The board meets 10 times a year and follows a strict agenda to tackle key issues. Nevertheless, the group typically doesn’t have time to address every issue on the agenda, not to mention new ones that crop up during the course of the meeting. To address this problem, CAPS has begun posting the minutes of each meeting to SAP StreamWork. There, board members can review or hash out issues that are still under discussion, revise the minutes and submit approvals. For issues that require a majority vote, they post a poll. New board regulations require that minutes be kept under a password-protected site, so Adrian says the security features of SAP StreamWork are a great benefit.


Example of meeting minutes taken in SAP StreamWork. (The image above is a stock file and does not belong to CAPS)

Adrian also mentions that SAP StreamWork is a big time saver in the distribution and approval of minutes. Previously, board members would email the minutes to the group and continue the conversation in email, which usually resulted in some duplication of effort. With SAP StreamWork if someone catches an error in the minutes, they can correct it immediately in the Activity. With email strings, multiple people might catch the same error and send several notes back to the minutes administrator. SAP StreamWork also allows the person managing the minutes to view all of the requests for amendments in one place, rather than combing through emails for requests or repeating side conversations with board members.

2) Monthly newsletter.

CAPS also uses SAP StreamWork for publishing its monthly newsletter. In advance of publication, the marketing director will notify people via SAP StreamWork of deadlines and how he wants content submitted. Any comments or questions about the content can be posted and shared with everyone, again avoiding duplicate efforts of asking and answering. Since there are two co-chairs of the organization who may offer slightly different directions regarding the newsletter, SAP StreamWork helps ensure cohesion by hosting the conversation in a collaborative space available to all, making it less likely that different directions will go out.

3) Mobile features.

Adrian frequently accesses SAP StreamWork on his iPhone and iPad. He has SAP StreamWork set up for a daily notification that lets him see issues and address them immediately, by commenting and responding to questions.


Screenshot from SAP StreamWork 2.0 for iPhone. (The image above is a stock file and does not belong to CAPS)

4) Prioritization.

CAPS has been adopting more new technologies this year than in previous years. Using SAP StreamWork, the group created a matrix that maps out the most urgent and important technologies so they can plot out a roadmap for adoption. Using SAP StreamWork, the document isn’t just an Excel file. Instead, it is a living, evolving matrix where it’s easy for people to comment on specific areas of the grid. By mapping it all out, they are able to get a consensus around where they need to focus their tech training time and which software to adopt. Using SAP StreamWork to host documents and discussions has helped them understand what they need immediately and what they can plan for in the future. Before, Adrian says, they would have done this in email.


Example of a discussion in SAP StreamWork. (The image above is a stock file and does not belong to CAPS)

5) Program development.

Adrian says SAP StreamWork has helped CAPS become more innovative. The organization used the technology to upgrade the programming and quality of the content offered to members in monthly events. CAPS has also used SAP StreamWork to revisit pricing issues, including benefits contained within member “season passes,” price differentials between guests versus members, and ways of generating revenue outside membership dues.


Example of a pro/con table created using SAP StreamWork. (The image above is a stock file and does not belong to CAPS)

There have been rigorous discussions, where users have created pro/con tables to aid in the decision-making process — with the entire discussion captured in one place, along with the eventual decision. Additionally, the group can hold ideas for future reference if they need to be revisited. Adrian says if anyone ever has a question regarding rationale for pricing strategy, they can go back and see the flow of the discussion. He anticipates questions arising in the year to come, given that the position(s) of chairperson turn over every year. New leaders will be able to quickly get up to speed on how decisions were made and the discussions involved. Adrian sees it as a built-in “on boarding” bonus for new board members and officers.

6) Organization.

Adrian notes that some of the team’s favorite tools are the poll, consensus and time management features, which put structure around a discussion. He also thinks it’s “cool” that SAP StreamWork builds a table of contents along the side of the activity. If he wonders, for example, what the team decided about having a workshop in July, he can just go to the table of contents and access the conversation instantly. Adrian says he finds this a much less stressful way of organizing information, since it’s all in one place.

What are you favorite ways to use SAP StreamWork? Please let us know in the comments below!

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