An SAP Overview Classroom Failure: What Happened? You decide!

What was this client thinking?

The theme of today’s posting is simple: Are you seeking for a Consultant to do some training because they know a little about your company and a great deal about their area of expertise or are you looking for an Instructor with a broad base of knowledge of SAP and have only had a brief review of your enterprise.

Today, after nearly 20 years of SAP Training in hundreds of locations in many different environments in several countries, my SAP Overview class disintegrated in 20 minutes!

The Client, new to SAP with a brand new SAP Pre-Configured Project facing them, cancelled their overview class saying that I was unprepared and did not know their company.

Question 1: This is an SAP Overview Class. I asked for a review of the materials days before the class start date, but they never got to me. Why not?

Question 2: No dedicated space was set aside for training even this short 2 day class. Why not?

Question 3: The class was a mixture of Executives and Senior Management. Having their support and “buy-in” is important. Were they ever informed that in an SAP Overview class that there may be topics covered that were not specific to their immediate area of responsibility?

            Question 4: The Client said they were already 6 weeks behind in their project because they dumped their first batch of SAP Implementers because they were just “1099” people. Really? Why?

I have a feeling that this class was a disaster waiting to happen. The Client said I did not know their business. If I am teaching a Sap Overview class, is that important? They are a precision metal fabricator using discrete processes and maybe some defense contracts. What else do you need to know as an Instructor?

When an Instructor asks: How many currencies do you use or how many legal entities do you have or how many location or plants do you run, that is not due to the Instructors lack of knowledge, but it is an Instructor trying to make the class as pertinent and relative as they can teach without re-writing the entire re-defined course.

There are lessons to be learned here.

SAP Classes are expensive. Good Instructors are expensive. Pay cheap, get cheap. Pay the going rate for a good SAP Instructor and you had better have a room prepared, systems that have been set up and checked and confirm an agenda with your Instructor days or weeks BEFORE the course begins. Get the books to your attendees early so they can review them and prepare questions.

Set aside time and space for a class and whatever you do, try and avoid those essential emergencies and dragging people out of class. 2 people were pulled for 2 days of one of my classes last week for site emergencies and they never caught up the rest of the week! Plan to bring in coffee, snacks, lunch. Keep the class together.

Encourage the attendees to act like a team and discuss topics that may arise in class. Have enough time in the class, for valuable discussion time. There is nothing wrong with a class going long on any day but the last day.Team work is incredibly important to a successful project. I knew I had a problem today when someone said “At the end of this class, I want to be an SAP expert!” Good Luck. Show me an SAP Expect in all of SAP and I will show you a lunatic. Don’t hire them. They are delusional!

Half or more of SAP Consultants and Instructors are 1099. Doesn’t mean they are bad. But it is the client responsibility if these 1099 people know anything about SAP or are you doing a long term training project for the Implementor at your expense. I have heard many Instructors and Consultants get the third degree set of questions to figure out if they know anything about SAP except how to spell it! Don’t kick someone out because they are a 1099. Find out if they know anything!!!

Not all topics in a class are going to be relavant to everyone in attendance, But guess what! SAP and Oracle and J.D. Edwards and all of these ERP giants are INTEGRATED SYSTEMS. You should understand a little bit more than just how to push the Purchase Requisition “Approve” button.

I asked how they planned to do reporting in their new system. No response. I asked how they did reporting in their existing system. No response? Really, Reporting is and will always be the foundation of every project and quides every single configuration step. If information is important to anyone, it should be the lifeblood of every single executive and senior manager that was in that room.

This class was one mistake by the client after another. Audience that didn’t know why they were there, lack of dedicated training time, equipment not set up, insufficient time to have an Instructor prepare to lead a 2 day discussion. The ONLY thing they had worked out was that lunch would be there at 12:00 ON THE NOSE!

At least they had their priorities in line.

Do not waste your time of your company’s time in poorly arranging the very important training that must accompany your SAP Project. Do not believe in the myth of Knowledge Transfer from your Consultants. Do not take everything your consultant says about your Enterprise as Gospel. You have some responsibility. Exercise it!

It is just too bad that this client, who has wasted so much time and money, will not see this blog or all of your valuable responses! Your responses on how to do this correctly are so appreciated!

Thank you!


6 thoughts on “An SAP Overview Classroom Failure: What Happened? You decide!

    • No problem. I get paid, they get billed. With 20 years of experience, I don’t want to brag, but I have been in their shoes many times and like Dad knows, I know what they need to know. Sometimes people don’t want to see past their little secure world and don’t want to see how the machine works. They just want to spin their wheel. That is what they know, that is what makes them comfortable at night while watching Dancing with Stars or Talent shows. I made the mistake of challenging and asking questions instead of telling them: This is who you are. This is what you will do. It is OK! One rejection in 20 years ain’t a bad record! Now I will go find a bridge…There does not seem to be a shortage here. Thank you!

  1. Good article. Sounds like sabotage for political reasons, sorry you were the fodder for their cannons. Could they possibly think they’d find a trainer with specific knowledge of their business? Maybe they should just buy the book “SAP for Precision Metal Fabricators Using Discrete Processes: Novice to Expert in 24 Hours”.
    And what the hell does it matter? As a consultant (both W2 and 1099, which is often the consultant’s choice) most consulting jobs are 90% software knowledge and 10% domain and I’m sure the domain knowledge for a trainer is much less or even none. At most of the trainings I have ever sat through, the trainers either had little or no knowledge of the business side. I never thought they should.
    I would guess that your experience with the company just hints at much deeper management problems. I’ve been blessed to work at companies that value training: my last employer would always try to make the training off-site, even if it meant borrowing another company’s class room across the street. But I’ve also worked for some real losers – when I asked one IT director why he choose a particularly awful ERP over a clearly better one, he replied “because they gave me the most perks”. Two years later the company threw it (and him) out and wrote their own.

    As they say, you can’t fix stupid…

  2. Thank you for your kind words. Maybe they weren’t stupid. Maybe they were scared. It is a challenge to be responsible for the implementation of SAP. It is much easier to have someone just “give you the answers.” In all fairness, I did adress them with questions like Do you use multiple currencies?, How many legal entities do you have? Have you considered which of your internal processes will be replaced by SAP?

    In short, I was asking them to think. I never expect answers, but anyone taking any class, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Excel, whatever, should walk away with new questions. It is the way training works. Once I know how a hammer or a saw works, what can I build with those tools?

    • Good Morning CSW,
      And thank you for your kind words. After 20 years in front of an SAP classroom, I thought I should share some of what I had learned. I remain puzzled at what a backseat good training and good reporting has taken. Everyday I see listings for “FREE SAP Training” and I always post that it is worth every penny (or rupee) you pay for it.

      I have had to take a little break from posting to deal with my spouses health issues, but I will update my posting soon and if some good words come to me from other sources that would be helpful to my audience, I will share.
      Thank you!

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