Must you write your own code to get SAP to work?

For a couple of decades, attendees have said in class:

“Hey, our system doesn’t work like this!”,

just as I am performing a demo of some SAP functionality in class.

By asking a few standard questions, we can usually determine that the User is experiencing some form of User exit, “Z” program, screen mode or special interface to a legacy system that is inevitably included in their interface with SAP. (Most don’t even know that SAP supplies multiple “Blank” fields that a configurator and just name, define and 90% of the work is done, saving everyone trillions of wasted Project funds!”

Why the exit? Why the code. Many times it turns out that if the Consultant had a better understanding of how the SAP configuration worked, that any special code would not have been necessary. In many cases, it is just easier to write code, then to try and learn all of the SAP functionality. That would require SAP training and a better understanding of the system. I usually respond ironically Before someone says SAP can’t do this or can’t do that, make them prove it!

I am never really sure how someone would retain their integrity by trying to prove something them really didn’t know anyway, but at least I am trying to get people to better understand the environment they are supposed to know. Many Configuration partners (bless their souls) have wonderful ABAP and code writing skills, but little to no business acumen.

They just don’t know how a business works. So using the Project specs, they write out some code to solve a problem that could have probably been handled in configuration.

One of my best examples was when I was in class using the SAP Report to Report interface (standard functionality) in my report and linking a Sales Order view transaction code to a standard sales report. This was to allow the user to review what the Customer had purchased and then “drill-down” to the Sales document reported in summary. Standard functionality. Took my five minutes to write the report in front of class. A student loudly protested that I was using previously created exits to display these transaction and I was making it look to easy!. They should not expect to find this functionality on their home SAP systems.

I gently disagreed and reconstructed the report and drill-down with everyones attention. The student left the room and we could hear her call her office and ask what was going on. Sheepishly in a few minutes, she returned to the room and told the classroom that her configuration partners had 3 people working for 2 months to “develop” this standard functionality.

She apologized.

But it really was not her fault. She was there to learn and she did. The Partner should have been better informed, better trained!

I have ALWAYS recommended that Project Teams question every user exit, code, Z program, whatever, BEFORE they accept that this is the only answer.

There are many places to ask your question including members of your ASUG group (you are not the only one who has this procedure, no matter how different you think you are!), your assigned Platinum Consultant, Help.SAP.com and on and on.

Remember this is code you will own and maintain for years to come. Make sure you need it! Chances are that you are really paying big bucks to help train that 3rd party consultant and they just don’t know the big picture until the end of your project.

I am an Instructor. No doubt! But I know that the money spent to properly train your Project Team and the End Users, will be dollars well spent today and in the future. And for heaven’s sake, don’t look for the lowball estimate! Get references, talk to the Instructor, and review the material! Make sure you know what you are buying.

Even for an Instructor, there are always lessons to learn

Welcome back!

I was thinking this morning of a few of the standard lessons I have learned since I have been on this journey. First of all, I believe that SAP ERP software is a wonderful TOOL! You must learn how to use the tool, before you try to implement this software; or any ERP software for that matter!

I explain to Classes that say that their SAP implementation has failed them or the enterprise in some way. My question in response is simple: Do you blame the hammer, because the carpenter fails to properly build the house? Do you blame the wrench, when your auto fails to start?

Where should the blame be placed? More times than not, two events have occurred: the people performing the implementation, although the low bidder on the project, have set up the SAP world as THEY understand SAP and not to meet the current and future growth needs of the Enterprise. Secondly, the Project Team and the End User community have not been properly trained in this new world.

There are more issues. I hope to include them here as they arise. Maybe the Senior Management staff has not fully engaged the scope of this project. Maybe there has not been the necessary “buy-in” from all of the interested and effected parties. Possibly, an Enterprise wishes to invest several million dollars in this project, but those engaged want EXACTLY what they had before, even in some cases, with a front-end that resembles exactly where they left off on Friday. The Senior User Community has failed to grasp the scope of an SAP project.

On other occasions, Users that are involved in an SAP Project, fail to accept the temporarily expanded scope of their responsibilities. Face it, SAP is an integrated solution. It is complex. We must understand where our data and transactions originate and what impact our transactions will have on others down the line. So many times in class, when I am teaching general financial functionality or Sales or Purchasing, an attendee will chime

“When will we cover how you press the button to release the Purchase requisition for review? That is all I do. That is all I am interested in.”

I will try to respond with an approximate time, I demonstrate that specific function and they will get up to leave the class. They have no other interest than that specific function. This is a User that understands to push a button and little else. I suspect, they need to either be removed from the project or explained the far -reaching impact of their actions.

They have failed to see the integration, the scope and the entire purpose of the project.

As an SAP Reporting Instructor (there are very few of us, but we will discuss that reality in a later post), I always see the relevance of what happens in the SAP transactions and how important correct and complete Enterprise data is to someone creating reports. I usually draw 2 simple examples of the real steps of an SAP Project and what I have called the “Sources of Data”.

Please take a minute to review both and contact me if you have any questions.

Please just click on the SAP Train PDF file below. More details will follow

 

SAPtrain

Inital Posting:SAP Training

Congratulations!

Part of the adventure of accepting an invitation to take part in an SAP Project is discovery. By including a search for the best SAP information by heading to the web, you have taken that important step.

Introduction.

My name is Stuart Welch; I live in the California desert, approximately thirty miles south of Palm Springs California in a town called La Quinta. My family chose La Quinta California because I was traveling with SAP nearly 75% of each month. As long as we located a home with a lower cost of living, downsized our home (2 out of 3 of my sons were either just completing college or had finished), a location with a good Airport facility and a low incidence of crime, we were well on our way! La Quinta California fit the bill.

I was employed by Prime Computer who purchased Computer Vision in the late 80’s. One of the challenges was to integrate these two sizable companies, both with an international presence, reduce the number of systems world-wide and establish a single version of the Truth. I was asked to join the SAP Worldwide roll out in 1992. The Project Team completed our SAP Training, set up a SAP Configuration War Room in Utrecht Holland and after several months of teeth gnashing and “thinking outside the box”, we went live between our US Facility, a Holland based Distribution Center and several European office locations.

I joined the Training staff of SAP Education in early 1994 and set up an early office in Waltham Massachusetts. I focused on SAP Finance and SAP Reporting. I later was certified in Waldorf Germany in SAP Business Warehouse. I earned the title of first SAP Platinum Consultant in the area of SAP End User Training and then SAP Reporting. I rejoined SAP Education as an SAP Platinum Instructor until the Boston Training facility was closed down following 9/11.

Almost immediately, SAP Education, through their SAP Education partner IBC, re-iniated contact and I have trained for another ten years as an Independent Instructor. I have also worked with many SAP Projects as a Training Consultant including the IRS and the AMTRAK SAM Project.

I learn something every time I lead a class. One lesson for example is that unless an SAP Client is willing to take the necessary steps to properly train their Project Team and the User Community, that SAP Project is almost certainly doomed to failure. Time after time, I have heard horror stories of Users leaving their office on Friday night only to find new unfamiliar SAP transaction screens on Monday morning.

I will cover additional lessons learned in some future postings.

Thank you and please feel free to comment!