I found myself answering this question many times introducing my group and myself in real life; recently I’ve been getting many emails asking the same question – so I thought why not to blog about my team and my role at SAP?
I work in Solution Office of the New Product Introduction group. It’s a global group presented in North America, Europe, Israel, and Asia Pacific. There are just a couple of dozens folks in the team but all came with a sound background in ABAP, Java, or .NET and brought many years of experience in a variety of technologies.
The mission of the group is told in its name. When SAP introduces new products (not just new releases of the existing ones) it may take some time until all the major divisions inside the company get up to speed with the products: we need to iterate the products through a series of adjustments accommodating cusotmers’ needs and consummating solutions, educate project and sales forces, enable the ecosystem, and gain mind and market share. I don’t want to call this phase “crossing the chasm” but it’s a very critical period for a new product and while it does its first steps outside of the labs the product needs a team fostering and supporting it. This is a team behaving like a task-force unit. Again bringing a military analogy such a mobile group reacting in an agile and sensitive mode isn’t burdened by revenue, utilization, or any other rigid KPI and can do whatever is needed for a product’s success (comparing to SAP’s armies of consulting, education services, sales forces, etc. using an approach of scalability and targeting revenue generation).
I’m leading a team of architects and experts in the Solution Office driving MDM – Master Data Management. Our mission is to provide customer success on early project implementations, enable internal project forces and the ecosystem of partners with knowledge and experience gained in the projects, roll-in the feedback to the R&D, assure solution awareness among our customers and partners, develop solutions on top of the product, and do everything is needed to warrant product success. We closely work with other groups of the NPI virtual team (more than 15 different divisions), engage in pre-sales activities, bootstrap projects, assist in evaluating solutions, present the product at different conferences, evangelize the solutions on customer and partner events – so the team knows the product inside-out which helps us to identify the gaps, propose, and carry out solutions.
With only a handful of people in the team we’ve reached this year lots of things. We’ve worn a hat of consultant (proposing solutions for customer ), a solution architect (evaluating architectures with project teams), a trainer (preparing and teaching classes), an analyst (brainstorming with customers ways to resolve problems), a bizdev guy (creating solutions on top of the product and educating partners), a sales man (pitching the solution in front of customers), and many others internally. The only our criterion for a task to be taken by the team is a company-wise impact. Our group doesn’t exist to replace any other team although often a task can be dispatched to another team. At the same time usually there is no time, or enough expertise acquired by the the other team, or a shortage of resources, or they have other priorities. So we take the task on our shoulders, build a solution, and later – to achieve scalability and a massive impact – roll it out to an appropriate owner in the company.
We cherish (or boost?) a new product for about 12-18 months and when it reaches its maturity and simultaneously other teams acquire necessary experience the product departures from our radar giving in its place to the next one.
It’s a very interesting group to work in with tons of dynamics and wide exposure to other teams in SAP. It’s also a very unique position for touching non technical areas of our industry (such as marketing, business development, sales, consulting, training, etc.) without loosing contact with our technical background. The only disadvantage one (but not we) may find is intensive travels. Some of us have spent about 100 nights outside of the homes this year and flown more than 100K miles but with the majority of international destinations it’s hardly perceived as punishment:-)