SAP: the interface between people and data

“Sometimes network, sometimes 1st level support, sometimes IT projects,” says Sebastian when asked about what he did for work before ZEISS. He goes into more detail when prompted: “I studied Business Information Systems at the University of Cooperative Education in Mannheim. After my degree, I worked as an SAP consultant in a large company and then for several consultancies in various areas and project phases.” It sounds like an exciting profession with magnificent career opportunities. When it comes to the market value of the consulting specialists, German business newspaper Handelsblatt reckons that: “SAP consultants are currently worth their weight in gold.” So why did Sebastian choose ZEISS in Jena, where he currently works as an SAP logistics consultant, developing solutions for enterprise resource planning?

“There are several good reasons for this,” he tells us. “First, ZEISS has an excellent reputation as an employer and is firmly established in the Jena region,” he explains. There were also aspects about the job itself that were important to him based on his previous work experience: “As an external consultant, you do work with your clients to develop amazing solutions, but once implemented, you jump straight to the next project. I missed the long-term commitment to my work.” He now has more continuity: “I appreciate the long-term collaboration you get within a team and the mutual appreciation that you feel when you all succeed together.”

I appreciate the long-term collaboration you get within a team and the mutual appreciation that you feel when you all succeed together.

A team is more than the sum of its members

Of all companies, why ZEISS? “I was excited about being in the professional environment of a multinational corporation with international teams – after all, ZEISS enjoys a reputation for innovation. In my current work environment, this specifically results in us being a strong team with plenty of capacity for innovation. For large IT projects, for example, there is a project manager, a product owner and one or more SAP specialists who are specifically responsible for the SAP part. Everyone does what they do best, which creates perfect synergies.”
Sebastian thinks it is particularly exciting that he is responsible for all ZEISS segments in corporate IT, from mass production right through to make-to-order and workshop production. The customers range from big tech companies and car manufacturers to doctors, hospitals and research centers right through to consumers here: “From the hospital nurse to the Nobel laureate, from the major corporation to the ornithologist – we cover this complexity of requirements and needs in our daily work,” he enthuses.

I think it’s important that you discuss ideas locally with users and find a consensus together.

Greenfield strategy

Sebastian is currently preparing the global roll-out for the next SAP S/4HANA generation. The project team consists of more than 100 employees plus external consultants. The team is located all over the world, including the USA, India and Hungary. “We are adopting a greenfield strategy and redefining our SAP landscape from scratch. This is a unique opportunity for consolidated IT architecture and harmonized processes, but also a lot of work,” Sebastian says to summarize this challenge.

Understanding local needs globally

“It’s an exciting time,” says Sebastian in summary. “I think it’s important that you discuss ideas locally with users and find a consensus together. This way, you get to know the local ZEISS sites and each of their requirements. It creates a connection and acceptance.”

Planning and consultation

In addition to maintaining the current system and planning for the coming SAP generation, Sebastian’s team is also responsible for 2nd level support. “I like handling tickets and responding to requests from ZEISS users. But most of all, I love working on projects,” says Sebastian, outlining his priorities. “For me, the ratio of projects to support is roughly 80:20. For some colleagues, this ratio is the other way around.” Typical ZEISS: the wealth of tasks and the consideration of personal strengths and preferences leads to tailor-made job roles.

Same but different

What will Sebastian be doing in five years? He grins at this question: “Hopefully the same as today. I enjoy the work. There will always be new requirements and projects to be integrated at ZEISS. It’s always exciting here!”

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