Taronga Conservation Society Australia was highly commended in the recently concluded 2020 SAP Innovation Awards for using employee experience to maximise conservation through the mobile app Stax.
Taronga Conservation Society Australia (TCSA), which operates Taronga Zoo, Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, is a 100-year old institution that has evolved from a place of entertainment to conservation, scientific research, and education hub. Like any growing organisation today, TCSA has intended to go digital with employee experience as its strategy’s key component.
In partnership with SAP, TCSA has designed and developed the Staff Experience “Stax” cloud app, a mobile app based on SAP Cloud Platform to deliver efficiencies in the areas of finance, procurement, payroll, and human resources. Stax centers on simplifying and unifying the employee experience of the mobile zookeepers and office staff’s cumbersome vital transactions such as food ordering, procurement, HR, approvals and notifications into a simple intuitive app.
Mark Kemp, Head of Information and Digital Technology at Taronga Conservation Society Australia, has shared that a sizeable increase in efficiency has been seen as a result of the TCSA’s digitalisation according to an article written by Jim O’Donnell of TechTarget-SearchSAP.
Kemp said that the mobile app project was undertaken by TCSA to improve efficiency as it upgrades its SAP-based IT infrastructure. He explained:
“What we saw was that a lot of our frontline staff, the people that we need to be caring for the animals and doing the research — keepers, veterinarian scientists — found it very cumbersome to be bogged down with the inefficiencies of our old-school procurement processes.”
“With SAP, we have a project going at the moment called Project Elevate that’s heavily emphasized around increasing efficiencies across the board, and we also built the Stax mobile app, which is our solution for digitizing paper-based workflows,” the TCSA IT head added.
TCSA’s recognition at the SAP Innovation Awards highlighted the achievement of Stax in cutting processing times for all key transactions from weeks to minutes, and maximising employees’ time spent in the field. Through Stax, the staff of the massive Taronga facilities in Sydney and Duboo can efficiently complete tasks in the field without traveling to their offices.
The SAP Mobile App
Stax built on SAP Cloud Platform includes runtime environment, application services, SAP UI5 frameworks and integration with the SAP HANA database on the back end. The mobile app simplifies user access by using Microsoft Azure ID single sign-on.
Together with its Melbourne-based and SAP mobile app development partner Bourne Digital, TCSA’s Stax went live in April 2019. Kemp said that the two months spent in aggressively developing the mobile app was made possible due to the quick completion time to an iterative agile development process.
Kemp emphasised how SAP UI5 facilitated the user interface development process. He said:
“The advantage of working with SAP UI5 framework — which is what the front end is built in — is that it’s quite a rigid structure. This allowed us to focus more on the information architecture and getting the forms right. Rather than tinkering with the bells and whistles and how it all looks, we were able to focus on the core information being presented.”
The SAP mobile app includes a variety of data feeds, such as an OpenWeather API integration that shows daily weather and UV index reports. Routine business tasks like leave requests can also be processed via the application. Staffers are now able to send blast messages like emergency alerts with Stax’s integration with mail servers. Kemp said this is an improvement to what zoos had before when dealing with situations like medical incidents or potential animal escapes.
Though the specific cost-savings from Stax were not accounted for yet, Kemp said that tangible benefits are already being experienced by TCSA. One benefit is that the organisation has become greener as it transitions paper-based processes to digital. Another one is that procurement protocols, which used to be time-consuming, are expedited with the use of Stax.