Customer Orientation Next Level – Jens Kramer on opportunities & prospects in SAP® Consulting
Twenty-five years ago, Jens Kramer founded a company with 13 employees. Today, more than 270 consultants, developers, IT support staff and many others work at PROMOS – and this number is growing. Well-known customers from the real estate industry and innovative newcomers rely on PROMOS’ consulting and solutions, and some of them have been doing so for a very long time. PROMOS generates more than 50 percent of its total turnover with customers it has been serving for more than ten years. This is achieved with needs-oriented and customised projects based on open and trusting communication.
Now Jens Kramer is taking over the management of the consulting department and has big plans for it. Jens Kramer believes that a distinctive training programme and a comprehensive library of solutions are what make PROMOS consulting so special. How does he intend to promote these aspects and take the company even further? What can PROMOS employees and customers look forward to in the future? To mark the 25th anniversary of PROMOS, we sat down with Jens Kramer and asked him these questions.
IT&I: You founded PROMOS 25 years ago. How do you think consulting has changed in that time?
Jens Kramer: A lot has happened, especially technologically. A big step was the invention of the iPhone. Since then, everyone, regardless of whether they are fond of computer science or not, has a high-performance computer in their pocket and can also operate it. This demystifies to a certain extent the profession of IT consultant. While it is a job very much based on knowledge and skills, the fact that everyone can now operate software themselves means that the fear of these technical subjects is no longer so great. The scope of a consultant’s job has changed accordingly. It is now more about imparting knowledge – ideally in a clear and understandable way. Taking away the fear of change that comes with new software. Being able to generate enthusiasm. You could say that we are all a bit more impatient these days. After all, if you order something via Amazon, you don’t read a manual any more. The product should ideally be self-explanatory so that you can use it without any effort. Our software solutions are usually much more complex than technical devices that are ordered via Amazon for everyday use. Nevertheless, nowadays there is a higher demand for intuitive and self-explanatory digital solutions.
IT&I: The demands have increased. What is considered more important today in terms of digital solutions and consulting?
Kramer: Today we have a completely different relationship to complex software and computer technology than 25 years ago. In the past, for example, a technician was needed to install an Internet connection. Nowadays, anyone can do it themselves. We now demand the same from our solutions. Customers should be able to make adjustments themselves, if possible. The whole world has become more digital. There are no longer any islands of tranquillity. But our customers in the real estate industry are also facing new challenges. There is an enormous shortage of skilled workers and this is happening in an environment of constantly increasing requirements. Keywords are, for example, sustainability and price development as well as digital networking and the abolition of paper as a medium for information. Digitisation has already begun, but it is far from complete. For companies, the efficiency of the workflows within their own company as well as towards their customers and service providers is increasingly becoming a key factor. IT systems play a very central role in this. As do, of course, the consultants who are supporting this transformation with competence and understanding. The customers are still in the foreground, but their demands have changed, and this must be taken into account in consulting and in the development of solutions. You could say customer orientation next level.
IT&I: As a consequence, consultants have a somewhat different range of tasks these days. What is important to you when working with your employees?
Kramer: As Managing Director, my direct employees are mainly managers. It is important for me to be able to hand over responsibility. In my daily work, unplanned things often happen and therefore a lot has to be delegated. Often you weigh up whether it doesn’t take longer to explain something than to do it yourself. However, it is important to build a structure that makes it possible to pass on tasks to others and support them in completing the task. I’m always happy when colleagues are open to new ideas, change and responsibility. I then gladly take on the role of a coach and contact person who is always available. You often need to have a lot of trust to give up power and responsibility. But it is very important and always worth it in the end. We want to continue to grow sustainably, and that’s only possible in efficient organisations.
IT&I: And how do you promote equality at PROMOS?
Kramer: Unfortunately, both our industry and the IT world are often more attractive to men than to women. Throughout the history of PROMOS, we have often tried to counteract this. We have always been a very mixed group and had employees of both genders and many different nationalities. In the past, this was not a specific measure, but came about on its own and was perceived as positive. However, I have noticed over the years that women often don’t have it easy and the quota of women in management positions is very low – I found that unfair. So I think it’s great that there are organisations and mentoring programmes for women. I’m also a mentor in a women’s network that supports women in building their careers.
Concrete support measures and suggestions for solutions are, in my opinion, the right way to go, which is why we have introduced a part-time working model at PROMOS, for example. In our project-based business, a strict reduction to a 30-hour week is often not easy to implement. However, mothers or fathers cannot always manage a 40-hour week. With this model, it’s possible to work part-time and calculate any overtime on a monthly basis. This allows mothers and fathers to be flexible and to reconcile their new family with their working life. Anyone who has children of their own knows how time-consuming it is to raise and educate children. I think it’s important that we accommodate our employees in this way and offer them support.
IT&I: It’s great that PROMOS takes into account the different needs and lifestyles of its employees. How is young talent promoted at PROMOS?
Kramer: We have always provided training – I myself started as a student. I also know many colleagues who had their first student job at PROMOS and now lead entire teams in the company, whether they are consultants or software developers. We always act as equals and even career starters can take on responsibility very quickly with us, provided they are ready for it and would like to do so. There are several factors that make PROMOS so good at promoting young talent. On the one hand, there is a distinctive willingness to help. We are very collegial, always work together and support each other. On the other hand, our working atmosphere is considerate and respectful. Young newcomers are listened to and taken seriously. Every opinion counts in our company. Young employees are therefore also given important tasks and hence the opportunity to grow with these tasks.
IT&I: What will be important to you in the future as head of the consulting department?
Kramer: I am a management consultant myself – I have managed projects and also programmed, sold and implemented software. This is something I really enjoy, which is why I am very much looking forward to my new area of responsibility. The customer orientation, the view from the outside, the focus on the value of our own activities for our customers – these are the priorities on which I will prepare our internal structures and workflows for future growth. The consulting department is very large and, in a way, the mother ship of PROMOS. We’re very specialised and are unique in Europe. Our portfolio ranges from individual solutions to complete and scalable IT eco-systems. From standard solutions to made-to-measure products. We’re getting more and more enquiries and have many opportunities to grow internationally. Many exciting and interesting projects await us.
I have many ideas – maybe in the future customers will be able to arrange their own projects online. We’re also a training company – we want to expand and further professionalise this aspect. We want to always be attractive for young professionals and a reliable partner for our customers. Ultimately, we like challenging tasks and have big plans!
IT&I: That sounds like an exciting and successful future! Thank you for the interview.
Kramer: A pleasure.