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It was a whack-a-mole day.  We went live on July 2.  With the holiday last week and lots of people on vacation the first week of our SAP experience was fairly calm.  This week has been different.

From dawn to dark — and this is summer time — all modes of communication have been flooded.  Wait, someone just walked up.

OK, I’m back.  We implemented FI, CO, MM, PS, PM and parts of HR in nine months.  Next April we have Go-Live II when Portal, SSO, ESS, MSS, BI, xMII, PY and the rest of HR come up.  I can type “initpass” in my sleep, and sometimes do. My wife just hits me with a pillow to make me stop.

It’s lunch time at my desk trying to catch up.  Microwaved Hormel Chili with crackers.  “Leo, I hate to bother you…”.  It’s Mike, a real trooper from Maintenance who is a Designated Power User and instructor. (As  part of our Change Management program we identified power users in different locations and specialities and gave them extra training and coaching.)   “Can you give me a hand setting up the Guasti room for my class.”  I hesitate, but immediately feel guilty.  I’m off to help him, with only a quick glance back at the chili.  We get all the thin clients and the laptop in the converted conference room set for his Plant Maintenance class. (We have a lot more users with SAP than with our legacy system.  We opted for thin clients, which after a rough start seem to be working OK.).

We’re ready.  Strangely, accountants begin to show up.  They claim we are in the wrong room and that this is the Financials Open House.  (We are using an open house concept where people can bring their real work to do, rather than have a practice client.)  They are right. We’re in the wrong training room.

Mike and I grab his manuals and head down the hall.  Only thirty yards, but I’m tackled.  Rosie has been locked out.  Only three tries to login?  How unforgiving! Unlock. Initpass. Smile. Try to catch up to Mike.  Teresa blocks my way. She’s having trouble logging in, but it’s not her fault.  The Group Selection icon we pushed out to all the PC’s is not working.  I manually create a user defined icon for her to use.  Her initial password is the first three letters of her name and the last four digits of her Social Security Number. (So that all new users would have a unique password, that only they would know, and that wouldn’t need to be sent out in e-mail, I wrote a short program to extract this info from the old payroll system.  In spite of clearing this with HR and God, I still received a few nasty phone calls for having a program look at Social Security Numbers. I was careful, but they don’t care.)

Teresa is in and I’m off to check on Mike.  He’s almost done getting the right classroom ready, but it’s harder when you’re five minutes late and your students are staring at you. 

I get back to my desk.  The message light on the phone is lit and some how the yellow stickies around my monitor have cloned themselves.  Luckily you can reheat chili multiple times and I think the flavor actually improves.  As I shove a saltine in my mouth, I look up at the ad from a helpdesk company I push-pinned to my cubical wall.  It shows a cave man with stone axe hunched over a computer.  I respect and appreciate my users.  The picture is there to remind me to be patient during this major software culture shift, and to acknowledge that in terms of SAP, I’m still pretty much a cave man myself.   Mmmm, chili good.

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3 Comments

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  1. Mark Yolton
    I enjoyed this peek into your recent life and go-live experience.  You made it real, almost tangible, with humor.  Very enjoyable and insightful thru your personal story.  I can’t wait to read about Go-Live-2 when you launch the rest.  Hope you get a vacation in-between.  And stay away from the chili. 
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  2. Mark Finnern
    Way back during my consulting days, I actually started on R/2, the things that got me through the days right after going live where Bananas and water. As far as I know they have everything you need in them and come with their own protection package which is relatively easy to open and not messy.
    You are totally exhausted at the end of the day. Once things calm down and no show stoppers have turned up I was actually very happy for having been able to help a lot of people.

    Loved that, Mark.

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