Sap Women

Managing the Change: Closing the Gap Between People and Technology

Tabea Mächtel, Business Process Consultant in Digital Change and Adoption at SAP, is driving customer success and user adoption in strategic engagements by helping to close the gap between people and technology. By setting achievable goals and understanding the benefits, she advises that even those most stubborn to change can succeed

by Rachel Johnson | 17 Oct, 2023
Tabea Mächtel SAP

As a sociologist, you work in a software corporation. To what extent is this environment advantageous for you?

It definitely helps a lot because I can combine many theoretical parts to understand very complex dynamics or to find solutions for a problem. Sociology allows me to combine theoretical knowledge to address complex issues effectively and equips me with the ability to observe and analyze structures, helping me see the bigger picture and solve problems comprehensively.

At what point when you were studying sociology did you realize that you would go into technology?

My interest in technology came later during my master’s degree. I became fascinated in learning how the two fields could work together. When it comes to change management, it’s important to remember that people also influence technology. The best technology is not helping anyone forward if we are not using it in the right way. And this is exactly our job in change consulting to underline the benefits so that clients get the best use from it.

How would you explain your tasks in a few sentences?

As a change consultant, my main role is to work closely with clients, both external and internal, to clarify their expectations and coordinate projects. We often begin with a change story to give an overview and to have a basic understanding of what it is that we want to achieve. Then comes the training. Everything that we are doing has to do with communication and strategy to ensure project success.

What specific skills can you contribute exceptionally well?

Understanding is an important one in my field of work, to be able to analyze and address abstract problems. On a more personal note, I would say to be able to get along with people and to read the room. I’m also very solution oriented, which is needed to drive change.

One thing we should know about change management…

The word itself is a bit irritating because it's very hard to manage a change. It’s not about managing as much as it is about closing the gap between people and technology and bringing experts together. Our team is titled Digital Change and Adoption because it's all about how we can adopt technology.

Change is not to say that the old way was bad, but that there is room for improvement.

When working with clients, what are common difficulties they are facing with transformation?

I would say a huge challenge from time to time is that people, including myself, are often very open to change when it's not affecting us personally. It’s definitely a balancing act of how we can move forward and not be negative about the way it was done before. Change is not to say that the old way was bad, but that there is room for improvement.

The other factor I find clients are dealing with is cultural challenges, especially in a huge global company. The motivation needs to be there, and this is something which is really hard to motivate someone on because it's always better if there is an intrinsic motivation.

Are there any tricks to prompting this motivation?

You have to be very open and to see what clients initially bring to the table. Transparency is also important – to have clear goals and to be able to visualize them so that in the long run you don't lose sight. Regular updates are important and celebrating the successes we have along the way.

What is your favorite part about working in change management?

That I get to know many people and different branches of companies. Every day is unlike the last and there are so many interesting people to talk to. Besides that, no project is like the other and to constantly discover new fields is super interesting to me.

And the most difficult?

Actually, my favorite part might also be the most difficult because with so many different people it can be hard to coordinate. It can often be exhausting because you need to wait for people to come back to you or chase after them. But overall, I would say that it's a very dynamic working area compared to other jobs.

You are, among others, an expert in design thinking. What do you like especially about this approach?

The whole design thinking approach is not really new, especially at SAP, but for myself, there are psychological, educational, and sociological concepts which are very interesting and beneficial. I did a systemic consulting training for three years and design thinking brings all of it together, which is what I love about it – this systemic approach. I now have a huge suitcase of methods that I can use for workshops and meetings, and it’s also a very open process of thinking, you don’t necessarily need to start at the beginning.

You mentioned that the team you work with is half female. Why are diverse teams more successful in your opinion – especially when it comes to transformation?

While we have achieved gender equality, I would say our team is not diverse enough because we still have very similar backgrounds in education and in other regards. But in general, what I observed and what is also scientifically proven, in diverse teams conversations are more productive and more creative. You are more open towards each other and also to new suggestions and ideas. Some male colleagues mentioned in a workshop that they observed that when people are in meetings, having a women present puts people in better moods. It helps everyone to feel like they have a voice, and we can benefit from each other. Specifically in our team, we are very open, sharing both our successes and failures. It’s important to be there to share in the good and the bad and to help each other grow.

Where do you see the department going in the next 5-10 years? What would be your hopes and visions?

My vision is for the awareness to grow throughout the entire company for the need to focus on people topics whenever it comes to technological obstacles. Without us, no one takes care of that. We all want to learn and to develop and a translator between technology and people is important for this. So hopefully in five years we are at least double the size we are now and it will become a must to have change managers on SAP implementation projects.

What are your top tips that we can all use to bridge the transformation gap and put change into action?

  1. Start with small, achievable goals, gradually increasing them based on your capacity, even if you need to adjust milestones later on. Like with everything, when you think “oh, I need to eat healthier, I need to run more, or I need to invest more time with my friends”, starting with small steps is easier than feeling overwhelmed by big goals.
  2. Take the risk. Whether this be an investment on a client’s side or in personal development, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and go for it.



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