At the company since: 2002
Company: PROMOS consult
As CIO, Volker Schulz is a member of the Management Board. In this interview, he talks about himself and his domain at PROMOS.
You have been at PROMOS since 2002 and as CIO you are in charge of the Service, Support, Data Centre Operations and Project Development departments. Why do you enjoy working at PROMOS?
Volker: Good question! [laughs] I enjoy working at PROMOS because we have a really good team and it’s a lot of fun here. Through my professional experience, I have learned that, particularly in large corporations, there is a lot of bureaucracy in day-to-day work. At PROMOS, we have created the necessary structures during the course of the growth that the past few years have brought, but we are not drowning in red tape. Everybody has the opportunity to be creative and innovative. This and the good team spirit make working here simply a fun experience.
How has working at PROMOS changed during this time in your experience? For example, with regard to the technical equipment and infrastructure?
Volker: Compared with 2002, the size of the infrastructure as a whole has changed. Back then, we hosted around five or six SAP® instances. Now we run far in excess of 200 SAP® instances for our established customers in our data centre. In general, IT infrastructures have become much more complex. Previously, one person could provide virtually comprehensive solutions for certain technical issues; today, teams of three or four people work together to resolve a problem. Another example is the telephone system. That used to be a separate solution, and now we work with IP telephony including an image and data transfer. We have taken several steps over the past few years to drive forward the development of our infrastructure.
Which topics are still ahead of us? How will the way we work change?
Volker: A major topic for all software development companies is, of course, cloud solutions. Because data is available more quickly, can be accessed from different locations and, since video conferences are also an option, collaboration will change in the future. At PROMOS, this will certainly have an impact on travel time for the employees – it will no longer be necessary to be on site for every appointment. A lot of things can be resolved digitally. This is clearly a gain when we consider how long people spent at airports or train stations in the past. And our cross-location collaboration also benefits greatly from such developments.
What makes your work station immediately recognisable?
Volker: My first thought was: purism. I actually only have one monitor on my desk. [laughs] But I have two work stations; one in Berlin and one in Dortmund. I try to keep my desk quite tidy, but at first glass I don’t think you can really distinguish it from other work stations. The only thing you won’t find on my desk is a fixed phone – that is very important to me. I trust software telephony 100 percent.
Our customers generally first contact our Support team with any questions. What is the work in this department like?
Volker: The colleagues in Support are the first point of contact for all kinds of emotions. Obviously they first have to deal with this. And the queries to our Support team have become noticeably more complex over the past few years. Our established customers, in particular, now often have in-depth technical questions while for instance, queries about problems with logging in have become much less frequent. So we have highly qualified colleagues in Support and are constantly working on ensuring that our direct resolution rate remains high. Nonetheless, many questions still have to be passed on to experts from Consulting or Development.
How do employees stay up to date? After all, we are continuously developing new solutions and SAP® is also constantly updating its software.
Volker: We address this in multiple ways. We work continuously with employees on their methodological training. Topics such as “Successful calls – the right way to approach people on the phone” are available especially for Support staff. To make sure colleagues' knowledge is always up to date, they regularly attend in-house training sessions that are held by the Development and Consulting department in the scope of current projects. Regular training courses are also offered via SAP® Enable Now and in the framework of the certification as an SAP® Partner Center of Expertise (PCoE).
The colleagues in Support naturally cover specific service times – but there are also young parents working in this department. How do you ensure that they can combine professional and family life?
Volker: Our basic Support service is provided between Monday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. We cover this time through a rolling two-shift system with ten shifts. This means that each of the 15 colleagues currently working in Support has no more than one fixed shift per week. The employees can divide up their remaining weekly working hours flexibly, as is usual at PROMOS, taking into account the core working hours.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview.
Volker: Don’t mention it!