Changes to the SAP World? Do we really even need End-User Training anymore? Really: We have the cloud…Doesn’t that eliminate the need to train all of those transactional users?

Dear Reader,

Just maybe I am confused here. I posted an article on SAP and it’s future in the cloud.

They chatted about HANA, and trillions of bytes of info and clouds and hackers: but was there ever a mention of the uses?

Will someone still place a Sales Order, fulfill a purchase requisition, post an adjusting journal entry, create a production order?

Did anyone talk about what happens to the thousands, no millions of everyday users that create these transactions in SAP that are stored in these clouds? Where did everyone miss the boat that for every one project person I train, there are anywhere between a dozen and a hundred people just waiting to figure out how this works…How do they do their job?

At one time while I was in the SAP Platinum Consulting Group, I was the ONLY Platinum Consultant representing SAP End User Training and SAP Reporting. What is with that?

I will never forget the day I received a call from a large telecommunications company and with my little re-printed form in hand, I asked this question: How many end-users do you plan on training.

Their answer was simple but I fell off my swivel chair when they said calmly approximately 100,000.

I asked to put them on hold and went into my boss and said “We have a problem”

And when they replaced me with another entire firm, none of their “Trainers” had ever even run a single SAP Transaction.

That was a dozen years ago and every time I teach a class, I hear the same story over and over. I realize that SAP is a software developer first and foremost and an Implementer as required, but it seems that NO ONE has even attempted to do a satisfactory job at providing END USER TRAINING.

Whose is to blame? Are Enterprises in too much of a hurry to get SAP running? Are the End User Trainers falling short or are they overwhelmed?

Or maybe with the article I put in the previous post, all of my whining about training is past history and just not required any longer. Somebody let me know!

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We know what this means to SAP in the Clouds, but what happens to the users on the ground?

SAP Takes It All to the Cloud

By QUENTIN HARDY

SAPVishal Sikka, of SAP’s executive board, was among those overseeing the rollout of a cloud-based product providing companies with fast computing and data retrieval.

SAP, the German software giant, is making one of the largest pushes into cloud computing yet seen from a large incumbent company. It may even be destroying its own business, in order to build for a new one.

SAP is famous for developing enterprise resource planning, or ERP, software. ERP is used to control complex manufacturing, run corporate functions like financials, or manage a company’s systems of supply. A few years ago SAP introduced HANA, a product that combines fast computing and data retrieval to better analyze how well a company is working. The product has been a big hit, and SAP has been proclaiming it the company’s future.

On Tuesday SAP said it would offer HANA as a cloud-based product, providing companies with access for the cost of a license. Prices were not disclosed. SAP has established a network of seven data centers around the globe to support the endeavor, a company official said, and will begin by deploying 30,000 computers for the network.

“We will do cloud-based ERP on a massive scale,” said Vishal Sikka, a member of SAP’s executive board and one of the people who oversaw the project. Of SAP’s regular product, he said, “At some point in the future, complex implementations should go away. All of our products are moving to HANA.”

SAP, along with companies that have agreed to test the product, already has 750 terabytes of data in the system, enough data to fill 750 million good-sized books. The company expects to have twice that amount in the system by the end of the year.

That probably is not all that much data, compared with the amount SAP touches the old-fashioned way, with conventional computer servers inside companies, but it is a decent start. As SAP builds the trust of big customers with its cloud, Mr. Sikka said, SAP will become a giant.

“We have single customers running projects that are bigger than the entire Salesforce.com cloud,” he said.

SAP has already been running both cloud and software as a service, or SAAS, projects, thanks to its acquisition of two companies, Ariba andSuccessFactors. With HANA in the cloud, however, SAP is moving much more into offering insight online, either directly to its customers, or as a service to end-users.

Mr. Sikka said SAP served some 220 utilities globally, who reach about 2.5 billion customers. The utilities could let the customers use HANA to model how much they were spending, and finding ways to cut their bills. “We realized we could do that for them with 2,000 servers,” he said.

Other uses of the data analysis tool might include real-time understanding of online customers, financial risk analysis or rapid insight into geologic information for energy companies, he said.

If SAP follows through on a fast build out to cloud computing, it could create some tension with Amazon Web Services, currently an SAP partner. AWS has recently made it clear that it wants to host a lot more corporate computing in its giant cloud.

And, as usual over the last couple of decades, the move will be viewed in terms of competition with Oracle, which is operating its own cloud services, but also offers a lot of servers and software for customers to buy and use inside their companies.

“Oracle – what can I say?” Mr. Sikka said. “The future is in open clouds, not proprietary hardware.”

11 Comments

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  • UnBelievable
  • Houston, TX

    And the clouds run on what? Vapor. I respect SAP and how they compete against Oracle but statements like that temper my enthusiasm for the company.

  • Priscilla Berry
  • Milwaukee, WI

    SAP does not specify just how they are going to provide Hana as a ” cloud-based product.” Are they going to rewrite Hana as a multi-tenant Native Cloud tool? Or are they just going to host it in the cloud as a Legacy Cloud tool?

  • maxvox
  • Rochester, NY

    That doesn’t excuse illiteracy. I’m a technical narrator and have corrected the usage many times. I’ve never been overridden by a client.

  • on-line reader
  • Canada

    When you cut through the marketing hype, it sounds like a return to the olden days of “Time Sharing Bureaus”. What the article doesn’t make clear is whether Company “A” will have any sort of access to the data from all the other companies it is sharing the Cloud with. 

    If Company “A” only can access its own data, you have to wonder if Company “A” would be better off hosting its own servers, or going with a generic provider. 

    And, of course, there are other issues such as privacy. A lot of Canadian companies/organizations, for instance, do not want their data hosted on a server in the U.S. because the privacy laws in the U.S. are a lot weaker than those in Canada.

  • Samir
  • Singapore

    Is it best for SAP to “buy” than “build”. “Big brotherly” statments on SFDC are good; It may not sell anymore as SFDC consumers simply love it; Its best to look out and see what’s working out there?? Anything build internally (minus ERP) had not seen any real value, mate.
    I see signals of a confused strategy….and usual “late” catch up over Oracle.
    Welcome “Big brother”. Start buying working innovations out there…..
    You have a lot of free cash. buy revenue every quarter…..

  • Jonathan
  • NYC
  • Verified

    Yes, and when hackers break in and see the undisclosed real-time financials of publicly-traded companies, what happens then?

    • Lois Ginter
    • Madison, WI

      Not to mention employees’ SocialSecurity numbers, home addresses, and bank account numbers.

    • DipB
    • San Francisco

      So hackers cannot break into financial institutions, firewalled computer networks, government databases ? You guys must be living under a rock. There have been many high profiled hacking of heavily firewalled computer networks including defense departments, banks, sony playstation servers. Cloud computing actually provides higher level of security by pool security resources and providing the highest level of encryption at the data center level.

  • maxvox
  • Rochester, NY

    The caption under the photo on the business page should read “on premises”, not “on premise” software. Resident software is on the business’s premises, or property.

    • maxvox
    • Rochester, NY

      Update: Kudos to The Times for eliminating the erroneous content.

    • ochowie
    • Ohio

      Unfortunately, on premise the industry term.

SAP needs more Training, not less!

SAP needs more Training, not less!

It is probably not my business. Well, of course, it is not my business, but SAP has decided to lay off more Instructors. And Senior Instructors at that. I am guessing we will be stuck with newer people with less SAP experience.

But is that so important? They sell, you buy it, change some names and off you go. Without training, I think SAP Customers will use about 10% of the power in their Enterprise hands. It is just like that new car with 50 buttons and you can use 6 buttons to make the car run. A new amplifier (do they still make those?), with 50 buttons that you have no idea what you can do.

My position is that the Project Team should be chosen from my best, isolated from the day-to-day operations and allowed to learn SAP. Then, with the help of strong SAP Consultants, together they set up an SAP Environment. Train all the Users to put SAP to the test and use it.

Then after everyone knows what SAP can do, after they know the other 90% of what this incredible SAP tool can bring to the Enterprise: tear it down and then set it up correctly. Implement the other 90%, once you know what it can do.

I am not naïve but I realize how little of SAP people actually utilize. If an Enterprise utilized as much of their 10 million dollar investment in SAP as they do in the macros of their 300 dollar Excel worksheets, Enterprises would explode with the ROI they would receive.

I have often thought about starting a group of Consultants and Trainers who would go in AFTER an Enterprise went “live” on SAP and then go about setting up the rest of the system. And with the Trainers on hand, on-going Course Instructions would keep Users informed of the latest enhancements to their work environment.

Think about just how little of the SAP tool you have implemented and how important Project and User Team training can be. Interview everyone you bring in to implement and train in your new SAP world. Call ASUG for suggestions. Attend SAPPHIRE.

Hey, if you are looking for some PRIME SAP Instructors to bring into your Project, now is the time to grab them up. In the days to come I will ask some to put their information here.

Do your project the greatest jutise by finding the best Instructors you can afford. You will be more than rewarded. Then you can consider your SAP Mobiles and HANA and Z programs and other fancy sexy SAP. Let’s get the house built first and a strong, strong foundation.

As you, I look forward to your comment and please share this little blog post!

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!

German Document Types and Bad Debts in SAP

For all you searchers for German doc types that are hitting this blog: first Thanks. Second: create your own doc types and your life will be easier. Users will understand them. The document types will make sense and it will be easier to select one to use.

Stick your collective neck out!

Be Bold!

Instead of using SA for everything, create a document type” JV” for Journal Voucher or “JE” for Journal Entry.

It will take you 5 minutes and make everyone happy.

Call me crazy, but for those non-P.O. Vendor Invoices, consider “VI”…oooohhhhh. Such a radical!

How many places do I go where everything is DR,KR, SA. Do you even know what those letters meant?

I do. I will give you a clue. I have paid enough restaurant tabs in Germany to say “Rechnung, Bitte!”

And some day, we will figure out:Just how do we write off a Bed Debt in SAP without taking 26 steps to do it. How about we start by making a document type “BD.”

We will discuss the quick, easy, painless and trackable Accounting way to credit out that old Bad Debt item tomorrow. (I was reminded of this because I am teaching a class next week in the US and giggled when I saw IVA’s.

 

Keep sending your questions and I will keep trying to answer them!

 

 

The Future of SAP (my 1st thought this morning)

Dear SAP Concerned,

 

With flurries of SAP related postings on Facebook and Twitter and all available social media, I could only render one thought:

“Accept the Cloud, once you understand the ground”

 

I can’t tell you how many get excited about the latest of the latest and yet never learn much about where they came from or where it is they are leaving from. All of this talk of the Cloud and SAP and mobility is wonderful.

But remember the people that make the data. Remember the account groups and field status groups and basic core processes and number ranges and naming conventions and the ground and everything that builds a strong foundation!

 

What happened to my SAP Project? Let’s start by firing my Lowest Price Configuration Bid! A Saturday night dinner conversation!!

(BLOGGER’S NOTE> THERE WAS A LONG CONVERSATION ON FACEBOOK ABOUT THIS POST> ICOPIED IT IN FULL AND PUT IT IN COMMENTS!!) THANK YOU!

 

Saturday night and visiting with some family members from the other side of the table. One is quite adamant, when he learns that I worked for SAP, that SAP is “Just an Finance System” and doesn’t  handle change orders or manufacturing logistics.

I feel my ire rising as I explain that Sap has a strong Logistics presence, it easily handles change orders (not their kind of change orders, the Uncle protests. He is talking about the kind of change order where an order changes after the sales order is made and before the goods are shipped). I shake my head. This is a social gathering , but again I can’t resist talking about SAP Change Orders from the variant configurator to Engineering Change Orders, Recipe Editing and so on.

Uncle shakes his head. Is this new in SAP he asks? I answer that these functions including all for the reporting on these function had been in SAP at least 15 years, maybe longer.

He insists Change Order were not available in SAP and they could only use what SAP was created for: Finance.

Boy, did someone blow it! Here is a typical company. Nothing fancy but an old school Electrical component manufacturer and they were sold a bill of goods.

Not only were they poorly trained, but they spent their valuable project dollars on building weak and limp interfaces to a series of systems. Systems, they had intended on replace when they purchased SAP originally. But rather than learning what SAP offered and how it could be set up to meet their needs, they probably contracted with the lowest priced configuration team, did a poor job in training themselves before the Project began (because their own IT staff did not “buy into” replacing the 150 “Good” patched homegrown systems they had tweeked and tweeked and re-tweeked for the last 20 years. They did a below average job of training before the “Go-Live” portion of their project and the building and distribution of Reports were dismal.

If only SAP had reports, the Uncle moaned. If only they could look at data from SAP and all of the legacy systems they had continued to maintain after they went live.

If that was my company and I had heard that company, I would:

  1. Fire my current SAP Configurators. Make sure they are replaced with a proven strong team. Interview each and every member of the team you are bringing in. Your company does not want to be a training site for newly hired configurators!
  2. Train a select group of internals what “thinking outside the box” really means and provide them with written 100% support of any and all management over the heads of the team. Make up a set Progress Meeting dates
  3. Pick a primary Project Team from the best of the best of my Company and send them offsite to determine a strategy, especially of what they had learned about SAP to date.
  4. List the important aspects of what they must accomplish in SAP including reducing the number of systems they were maintaining outside of SAP.
  5.  Train the Project Team in the Applications, Integration and Configuration of SAP. Make interfaces and special programs a “Last Case” scenario, not a follow the path of least resistance. The Project Team cannot be afraid of the decisions they are about to propose.
  6. Before the Re-Project begins, establish a Reporting strategy to control every aspect of configuration. No Configuration step is made without first testing it against the reporting requirements.
  7. Set up a Super User and End User training scenario. Start Training and maybe re-training some people. Every company has some old-timers that refuse to do it the new way! It is a time to be harsh if need be!
  8. GO!

In addition to these steps, I would guarantee that while on the project, the Team Members are “ON THE PROJECT” and not pulled 15 ways. The must be dedicated in each and every phase. If they are pulled away from this important task, then someone in Management is not fully supportive of the investment that the Company is about to make in SAP and the Company’s future!

I was so disappointed to hear that SAP had been set up so shabbily at this little Electronics Manufacturer. He acted as if they were they only Electronics Company that SAP had ever worked with. He had never even heard of ASUG or various SAP User Groups.

I reminded the Uncle that if they built a house and when the house was complete, if it learned or a wall fell in or the foundation cracked that they would not stand around yelling at the bad hammer. The owner of the house would seek retribution from the carpenter not the tool. SAP is a tool and works. It works well in a variety of environments. We just need commitments, our brains, know our business and a little forward thinking before we undertake implementing SAP.

Another Class Graphic!: Sources of SAP Data

Frequently in my SAP Configuration classes, I draw this simple diagram on the board.  When we are trying to fix a challenge or shortfall in the data, it is always necessary to understand what was the source of the data.

Knowing where the data originated is half of the struggle to correct our Reporting and Implementation problems. It is certainly easier to correct a problem than to build an ABAP program or make some fishy “down & dirty” code-modifying solution!

Hey, I don’t hate code modifications or User Exits, I just believe half of them are unneccessary and weaken our initial SAP Implementation and the on-going project.

SAP as a Data Source: You typically don’t change any of the information that is provided by SAP: Client ID, System Date, User Name.

Master Data as a Data Source: Using Account Groups, you can control what information is captured in the Master Data of objects like the Customer, Vendor or Material and more!

Configuration as a Data Source:Of course, the data captured in Configuration is far-reaching: number ranges, document types, clearing procedures, defaults and so much more. Review any number of test transactions and determine what was the source of that data.

USERS as a Data Source: But the MOST DIFFICULT to control and predict is the End-User provided data. This is typically where your largest problems can originate, especially if you fail to properly train your User Community!

Transaction Code se13 is also a helpful tool in determining what information is being stored from the results of the transaction.

Please, as always, I appreciate your comments and questions and especially the tips and tricks that I try and share here!

IBC Education Store now Open!

These are good friends of mine. Their Organization ALWAYS produces the best SAP service and Instructors available anywhere! Bar None!
IBC is excited to announce the roll out of the IBC Education Store which can be found at https://www.ibcllc.com/course-catalog/.  Through our close partnership with the SAP Authorized Education Partner program, IBC offers the highest quality educational experience to our customers. Whether a customer is looking for a public class, virtual class or computer based product, the IBC Education Store is the place to get it all. The store offers educational products for all of SAP’s solutions including the SAP Business Suite, Business Objects, HANA and Sybase. There are six primary education offerings: classroom, virtual classroom, eLearning, Subscriptions, eAcademy and Online Knowledge Products.

“We are incredibly proud of what has been accomplished to bring this vision to reality. Many months of hard work went into the creation of this new channel. While IBC has been providing most of these products for years, the Education Store will provide our customers a simple and user friendly mechanism for identifying and purchasing the education they need.” Todd Barber, Managing Partner, IBC.

Integrated Business Consulting, LLC (IBC) is a Certified Small Business founded in 2003 with the goal of providing the most talented Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) functional and technical experts in the Commercial and Federal industries. IBC has extended into other focus areas including State & Local Governments, Retail, Transportation, High Tech and Aerospace & Defense. IBC provides consultants with exceptional knowledge and experience in multiple ERP packages (SAP, CGI Federal’s Momentum Financials, and Oracle E-Business Suite), Business Intelligence, Quality Assurance/IV&V, and Management Consulting. Additionally, IBC has been an SAP Authorized Education Partner since 2010. As SAP’s primary provider of instructors since 2007, IBC has the largest staff of certified instructors in the program.

SAP Graphics I draw on the Board! Helpful Hints to Success!

SAP Project Triangle     (<–Please click this link to view the SAP Project Triangle!)

When I teach an SAP Course, I use two diagrams that I draw up on the board at the beginning of class. The SAP Project Triangle is one. The Sources of Data in SAP is the second and I will cover that shortly. Both are simply diagrams, but very helpful in class and when pulling together a project!

I believe that many SAP Project, start by an analysis of the Client’s reporting requirements. This assists the Project Team in defining what the Organizational units (what is a Company? What is a Plant? What is a Cost Center?) are and how does the Client’s existing internal structures, translate into SAP.

We know that we can not create a single piece of Master Data (Customers, Vendors, Cost Centers, Material Records, Fixed Assets and so on) without first defining our Organizational units. Once the Organizational structure is defined, we can begin the definition of the Master Records.

One of the earliest bits of SAP we learn, is that transactions are just combing the information found on two or more Master Records(More to be covered in the Sources of Data in SAP Diagram coming soon), From a Sales Order to a simple two sided journal entry, the user simply provides the Master Record IDs and the rest of the necessary information populates the transaction.

It is at this point we consider what information has been populated in the SAP Data Base tables. If we are missing a key piece of data, we return to our design and adjust the Account Group, Field Status Group or some component in configuration that will allow the data to freely flow into our reporting tables.

The information that is required in our Reporting tables forms the foundation of our configuration. Those that chose not to consider what information is available for standard Report at the conclusion of the design phase, does a disservice to the client.

You must build a house from an architectural design plan, you plan a vacation trip on a roadmap: you would do nothing less on an SAP Project. But boy, do I hear that it happens and people just start building away without ever considering the consequences, especially if they believe that someone can “write an ABAP” or laughingly “Download to EXCEL” to solve the problem of their poor planning. They get to the end of the project and look to their reporting requirements from the Users and then exclaim “Darn SAP…they have no Reporting” because they didn’t follow the simple roadmap when they began!!!

Back soon with more. Don’t forget to click the SAP Project Triangle  above!!