Skip to Content
Certifications are always frustrating to me.  Personally, I’ve taken several Microsoft cert exams when I was in college (MCP, MCDBA), several PMI exams, CCSP exams (I can’t remember who even gives them), and a few others.  The commonality is their irrelevance to actually working with the product/methodology that they test you on.  I suppose that they have value, in that it shows a minimum level of competency in memorizing workflows and concepts in an application or method, but they’re really no indication of how “good” you are at something.  Reminds me of no child left behind, communist China, etc… (but I digress).  Regardless, to actually do my job I need to pass this thing, so I’ve been preparing.  Here is what I’ve been up to:

  • Watching e-learning videos – I feel like I know Craig Powell well enough for him to be my best man.
  • Reviewing online training, webinars with Gadi Barnea, SAP websites, and accumulated exam information.
  • Working with other consultants at Omega on projects related to the application.
  • Setting up my own demo company in SAP Business One and using it to test workflow.

I won’t bore readers with the details of each method (mostly because it leaves me material to post later), but I would like to go into what has worked and what hasn’t.  By “worked” I mean really improved my knowledge of the application and how to use it.  I have a technology and business background, so most of the application “basics” were things I picked up on the fly after I got started.  Here are the major steps in the learning curve: general applications knowledge, company settings and initialization,  workflow details (how to use the app to track work), reporting details (how to use the app to gather information), and customizations/extensions (not covered in this post).  I know that there is SDK information too, but it doesn’t pertain to my position yet, so I’m going to save it for later.  Generally, I like to start by just firing up the application and seeing what I can do.  I’ve got a bit of a knack for learning by doing, and then checking help files when I get stuck.  I managed to royally screw up my company in about an hour and had to restore from backup.  This led to several realizations: SBO is complex enough that it’s nearly impossible to accomplish anything by just playing with it, and that a business/accounting background really helps you understand what you’re doing.  After several more iterations I decided that this study path worked the best for me:

  1. Gaining general application knowledge:
    • Use the e-learning videos to figure out basic workflows.
    • E-learning, while helpful, is best used as a way to understand how the application is used.  Understand, they represent a limited pathway – it is a single-person’s way of navigating the application, and I don’t believe they’re intended to represent best practices.
    • After you have a feel for the application, come up with some business scenarios to discover more about the application.  Rinse, repeat, wipe hands on pants.
    • The online class (webinar) is a good way of supplementing the e-learning for general knowledge, but you end up with a lot of repetitive information.  Honestly, the webinars aren’t very interactive (i.e. you’re watching a replay of pre-recorded content, you’re on mute the whole time, etc), so it’s like watching a video and then being able to ask someone question about what you learned.
  2. Company settings and initialization:
    • No doubt about it – setting up your own company is the way to go.
    • Review information related to company initialization and  application settings.  These are in some of the e-learning vids.
    • I recommend setting up two new companies – one with a pre-defined chart of accounts and one without.  I found the G/L Chart of Accounts modules to be some of the most difficult and critical to navigate properly.  Having a pre-defined chart is a good reference, but knowing how to set them up manually (and factor in determinations) is valuable given that most of the settings are unchangeable (sort of) and absolutely critical once the application goes live.
    • This is a knowledge area that I’ve found that many companies/consultants have their own flavor for.  Hence, as everyone does it differently, its a great idea to review your company’s best practices, and get a range of ideas from your peers as to how things should be set up.
  3. Workflows:
    • E-learning is again helpful, but mostly the demo sections.  When you know what you want to do, but don’t know exactly how to do it, you quickly become a master at flipping through the e-learning slides to the appropriate section.
    • The SAP help files are a great reference for what fields mean (though there are some discrepancies).  Additionally, if you’re having trouble you can review the data dictionary to see how each filed is used within the database.
    • Most workflows my company goes through are accounting based.  While these are the most well known, if you’re a little rusty at determining the differences between financing and operating activities, peers (especially CPAs) are a great resource.  This is especially true for accounting procedures outside the normal purchasing/sales modules.
  4. Reports:
    • Nearly every built-in report is self-explanatory.  Taking a look at e-learning/help files for the more advanced reporting tools is sometimes helpful, but I found the information disorganized and difficult to pull good info from.  The webinar was better, but still only scratches the surface of the reporting tools.
    • As devs or consultants in your organization to see the code behind any custom reports that your organization has created.  They’re accessible, so it’s a lot easier to ask them questions than to always be posting them
    • Check forms/blogs (like this one), Google, TechNet, and various other online resources.  Lots of people use SAP, and chances are, if you have a question someone has already asked it.
    • Finally, exporting reports into Excel and manipulating the data there can give you a better idea of the information you want to retrieve, and the work you’ll have to do to get there.  The SBO report generation interface is a little clunky at times, and it works better for me to figure out my logic on paper/in Excel first.

That’s it for now.  Tomorrow is going to be diving into more specifics on how different training types are effective, and next week I’ll probably dive deeper into each of the areas covered above.

To report this post you need to login first.

Be the first to leave a comment

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.

Leave a Reply