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Taming the Chaos of Hosting an Offsite

Part of a series on how SAP uses SAP

Darriel Dawne, director, Business Model Development, SAP Global Inside Sales

/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/darrieldawne_114129.pngHave you ever hosted or attended an offsite meeting, had what felt like a great, productive day and then thought to yourself, “Now what?” as you stared at all your notes, figuring out how to summarize them?

Darriel Dawne, director of Business Model Development for SAP Global Inside Sales, no longer has this problem. She recently worked with SAP’s HR team to organize a summer offsite called “Ignite” for 125 employees across all lines of business from the company’s Vancouver office using SAP StreamWork.

The offsite engaged SAP employees in the vision, goals, strategy and mission of the company, with a special emphasis on better understanding SAP customers. Dawne says that, “As we were designing the offsite, SAP StreamWork came up very early on in our discussions and became a foundational piece for how we organized the day.”

Dawne and the Ignite team not only used SAP StreamWork to plan the event, they used it as a central organizing tool to manage discussions during the event. Here’s how it worked:


Enriching discussions. At the offsite, attendees divided themselves into 16 tables of eight. Each table had a leader and an SAP StreamWork champion. The leader, a senior manager, guided discussions on various topics while the SAP StreamWork champion captured the discussion directly in the application. Each table focused on the same topic at the same time, and each champion could see how all the discussions evolved. In addition, Dawne projected SAP StreamWork on a screen at the front of the room so that everyone could view the discussions as they evolved with input from all 16 tables.

“People could see what others were saying as the answers came in,” says Dawne, “which would spark new ideas at the tables. It added to the richness of the discussion.”

Guiding the conversation. During the offsite, the polling feature in SAP StreamWork was used to level-set and get a sense of the baseline knowledge each table had on certain topics.

One of the poll questions asked each table to respond yes or no to the following statement: “We can name 10 SAP customers whose products or services we use every day of our lives.” Dawne didn’t know what to expect, but was pleased to see that 93 percent of the response was yes. This created an immediate shared experience for all 125 attendees, who were proud to learn how many SAP customers they all knew.

An unanticipated benefit of using the polls was that they provided an energy boost. “We didn’t know what the answers to the questions would be,” says Dawne, “but an amazing thing happened: When questions came up and people saw the instantaneous answers with the poll tool, it brought them closer together and raised the energy in the room, regardless of whether the answers showed similarity or differences. We didn’t anticipate that.”

Record keeping. “A big piece of work at any offsite is record-keeping,” says Dawne. “Typically, someone would have to collate information from a workshop – taken on note pads or post-it notes – to create a workshop document to share with the participants after the session. With 16 tables of eight people, that kind of work could take days. Using SAP StreamWork, we didn’t have to do anything. All of the outcomes from the sessions were already captured in the SAP StreamWork activity. The tool allowed us to capture and store information for everyone who needs access to it.” Following their offsite, people have kept the conversation alive by continuing to refer back to the SAP StreamWork activity and they have even started new activities to continue ongoing discussions.

“SAP StreamWork allowed instantaneous collaboration during the offsite and reduced the amount of work during and after,” says Dawne.

“In addition,” notes Dawne, “since using SAP StreamWork for the Ignite offsite, I’ve been contacted by others who want to use SAP StreamWork for executive and high-level customer workshops. Experiencing the power and simplicity of SAP StreamWork has inspired people to use it in ways they had not thought of before.”

If you are planning an offsite or event, consider using SAP StreamWork and let us know how it works for you! And as always, please post your questions or thoughts in the comments section.

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