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Editor’s note: This is a guest blog post from William Newman – Managing Principal, Newport Consulting Group.

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In our work with small to midsize businesses, corporate enterprises and not for profit groups, one thing is clear.  Executive sponsorship is definitely needed to drive strategic initiatives such as sustainability across all aspects of the triple bottom-line: financial, environmental, and social performance.  We have found that social business platforms like SAP StreamWork in a highly participative manner.

Social business tools – essentially social media and other communication platforms used inside the enterprise – allow participants to contribute opinion, make decisions, and add to thought flows in a contextual and not necessarily quantitative manner.   This is important for executive support. Executives don’t want to “put their hands on” performance management systems – they prefer to comment on management initiatives. Which makes SAP StreamWork a great tool for busy executives  who want a mobile, on-the-go platform without the systems responsibility associated with SOX 404 compliance and other corporate policies which can lead to jail time if a simple metric is reported incorrectly.  Words can be redacted, but systems data is forever and legally binding.

So how does SAP StreamWork affect issues across the triple bottom-line? Well for starters SAP StreamWork has the potential to connect into significant business analytics tools which drive and monitor business performance, including financial. SAP StreamWork can be connected through links and integrations to both BI and SAP EPM platforms.  This can be helpful in both communicating the direction of the company based on strategic focus, as well as organizing the information and providing comment on that information as it is being generated.

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Figure 1: Internal working group activity for assessments and discussions for sustainability programs.

We use SAP StreamWork to help support and facilitate sustainability efforts. It’s flexibility and available integrations with other SAP reporting tools makes it an effective solution to analyze and incorporate the right data, while its social capabilities capture executive opinion and help increase employee engagement.

On the environmental side, you can consider how different environmental health and safety (EHS) programs are operating, as well as carbon reporting and monitoring of other greenhouse gases (GHG) inside SAP StreamWork.  Your SAP StreamWork activity can be structured so that feeds of information from different SAP operational programs illustrate key metrics and goal accomplishment.  All within the social and team environment SAP StreamWork provides.

Finally with respect to social performance, SAP StreamWork can work with your internal supplier management as well as external supplier teams to report, collect and share many questionnaires, surveys and forms required for comment before actual filing.  This can affect social performance standards including business improvement programs and audits by facility and location.  SAP StreamWork provides a non-threatening collaborative environment where teams can work together without the fear of committing officially to “binding statements” and other outbound communications where issues may or may not be properly managed.

As in any social business environment, SAP StreamWork does not operate in a vacuum.  Organizations need to review their corporate policies for mobile and cloud applications and determine what is “official information” versus “working papers” with respect to internal and third-party collaboration.  Often e-policies are sorely lacking in this area when it comes to social business tools.  Once the operational environment is structured properly for employees and suppliers to engage, social business tools such as StreamWork can provide significant benefits in open communication for initiatives like sustainability and other far-reaching programs.


William Newman, CMC, ASQ, SA is managing principal of Newport Consulting Group, LLC, an SAP influence partner focused on EPM and GRC solutions, and a member of the Sustainability Executive Advisory Committee (EAC) of SAP. His 25 years of experience in the development and management of strategy, process, and technology solutions spans Fortune 1000, public-sector, Inc. 5000 and not-for-profit organizations. He is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and in process to become a Certified Trainer for the Social Fingerprint® method of social performance and business improvement (both professional certifications meeting ISO 17024 requirements).  In addition Mr. Newman is a qualified ASQ trainer since 2000. He holds a BS degree in aerospace engineering from the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA, and an MBA in management and international business from the Conrad L. Hilton School of Management at Loyola Marymount University. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at Northwood University in the area of management studies, as well as the University of Oregon Sustainability Leadership Program. You may contact him via email at wnewman@newportconsgroup.com or follow him on Twitter (@william_newman) or Google+ (William Newman).  Mr. Newman is a frequent contributor to the SAP Community Network.  For more information on Newport Consulting Group, please visit http://scn.sap.com/community/www.newportconsgroup.comwww.newportconsgroup.com.

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