Of course there comes a time when you have to get your hands dirty. You have waded through courses, textbooks and organisational induction programmes. Maybe you have got experience of another information systems. Either way, credibility is earned the hard way; you only really learn by getting stuck in. It’s a shame though that you can’t influence what happens day to day. Or can we? This post is the first in a 5 part series of articles that will describe how I attempted to deal with the difficulties of a first job, and how I subsequently learned to make this experience work for me in the future.
I vividly recall my first big SAP job, at a defence manufacturer in 1994. I remember feeling enthusiastic about my emerging career, and my confidence was bolstered by a series of SAP training courses that I had taken. I also remember the first project meeting with the implementation team, during which all my illusions were shattered. I was now faced with the harsh reality of working with real people in a real factory.
The learning ‘process’ was haphazard and painful to say the least, with the only qualities that appeared to be required being staying power and the development of an impervious skin. The other project members were suffering also, but the company deemed this an accepted method of learning.
I felt that I didn’t need any more training courses, just some pointers through the maze.
As the project progressed I attained more responsibilities. Of course this meant supervising junior project workers, whilst I simultaneously learnt from my own mistakes. After a while (and some ‘pep’ talks from the Project Manager!) I began to accept that the size of the task ahead was massive and I would just have to get on with it. But surely I didn’t have to slip on the same banana skins as my predecessors?
Some time later, I eagerly accepted the offer of a Project Manager’s position in a subsequent SAP project. My excitement was beaten away quicker than before when I gained first-hand experience of what it is really like to be a manager with significant responsibilities for staff and budgets. None of the individual bits are too taxing, but knead them all together and add a sprinkling of thorny organisational politics, and you get an idea of the bittersweet taste of a line manager’s job.
Everything was wrong – or at least it seemed that way. Bespoke code was behind schedule, programming quality was variable, data cleansing was never-ending and the workforce was uncooperative. There was a mountain to climb, with many challenges ahead. Lots of experience must equate to lots of learning!
In My First SAP Job – Part 2 I shall explain the value of some critical self-evaluation.