If as a product manager at SAP I was part of a large system and aware of customer problems, but not directly dealing with them, now I am in the front line: no one to blame, judge yourself daily and experience tough situations, accelerate your product knowledge fast and become an expert, while still representing both your company and the customer’s needs.
I sometimes find myself dialing my SAP phone number to ask why the feature doesn’t work, why the bug hasn’t been fixed etc., etc.
Your knowledge is your power and it is measured very carefully by your customers, as you are watched by your performance, from far away (not physically ¡V it is Israel-º) from your managers and penetrating into very large companies with massive MIS infrastructures, where SAP is one player, not always the major one.
There are also many similarities between the past and the present: instead of writing MRD’s (Market Requirement Document) I have to write design documents and analyses; instead of working closely with the development, I do the same with implementers and programmers, and managers are always there. The main difference is now I have 2 ¡V the customer and mine (without mentioning wife¡K-º).
Being part of SAP, it is also an interesting experience to go through the technology changes, recalling the days we had on Yahoo! Portal Builder¡Kand now with EP 6.0 when installation is much easier (hey¡K I know some people here don’t accept that but comparing nightmares is different expertise-º)
All in all I can say the change is good. Customer facing is always good experience to gain, product knowledge is very valuable and the variety of the projects make your life interesting. The exposure to decision makers in the highest level of each organization, influencing them while trying to get deeply into their way of thinking, is an experience I will carry on further in my career.