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Today’s universities and research institutions face tight budgets and fierce competition. Researchers are more and more involved in time consuming activities hunting for grants, controlling execution of projects or reporting to funding bodies distracting them from Research. Staff members are enforcing resource optimization and cost effective purchase, consolidating data from different sources, tackling complex compliance constraints and asking researchers again and again the same information. This information is processed in order to present it – in different formats – to the institution board, to the donors or funding bodies or to promote the institution. Finally, Managers should support world-class research while insuring the institution’s sustainability, but also that health and safety measures are correctly implemented.

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While SAP (Higher) Education and Research portfolio is already addressing these different tasks, we are continuously working toward improving our solutions. For us, direct input and feedback from our customers is essential to improve SAP solutions in productive use. To assess requirements and simplify tools  for Researchers and Administration staff, we organised  a Design Thinking workshop with selected customers within the areas of Researcher daily life improvement, Optimization of resources : from project acquisition to educated spending, but also Innovation and Knowledge management.


The Setup and Participants

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The Design Thinking challenge was organised  in the SAP Innovation Center in Potsdam last June with 14  participants coming from 5 institutes. Our two DT coaches Pablo Paez and Wolfgang Ullwer embraced our challenge and were instrumental to work in a friendly and energized atmosphere.


The participants were coming across Europe with attendees from FU Berlin (DE), EPFL (CH), KUL (BE), University of Sheffield (UK) and University of Siegen (DE). We also choose to embed few SAP people from the Research and Innovation team that are daily managing industrial researchers.


Following the Design Thinking precepts, we were aiming to think ‘big’ toward desirable, viable and feasible solutions to our initial challenge. The first objective was to redefine the challenge in a concise manner to launch the research phase using a braindump method and sharing the perspective of the different attendees to define a common challenge to be adressed.

The Challenge

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The challenge was rephrased as :

“How to improve accessibility to research information through collaborative, user-friendly tools for researchers and administration?”


The next stage was of the day was to start the research starting with the definition of the personas we wanted to focus on,

this will be the topic of our next blog …

Toward a new Research Information System – Personas (2/4)

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