Well, where to start! This is my first foray into the blog world. I have dodged this whole blogging thing for a very long time, mainly because I am not a tecchie and was under the old and clearly misguided impression that SDN blogs were still completely technical(ly)-focused. Good old Craig put me straight.
Anyway! Why now … and why me?
Well, I’ll be honest about my motives. I have a boss. Don’t we all 😉 And the boss, (Big R) has told me that I need to contribute more material to SDN. So, have I been pushed into blogging? Well, erm … yes; kindof 😉 But I have another motive that I can’t blame Big R for …
…. I talk too much. And type too much.
Ask anyone. My emails are legendary. Well, infamous. Hated 🙂 And quite probably deleted upon receipt. (Well, that would explain a few things anyway …)
I am one of those folks who goes the whole hog – colours, underlines, italics … the works. See, my problem is that much of my pre-SAP background was in training. And I can’t help it! I can’t ‘just’ give the one-liner. To me, detail is necessary, and makes perfect sense. “Teach a man to fish rather than hand him the fish” type-logic. Oh well. Let’s agree to differ on that one. It doesn’t stress me out … anymore.
Have I proven my point? That I talk too much? …
So anyway, I thought I would contribute a little blog to SDN by bringing you some behind-the-scenes material! So, for anyone who is looking for a serious blog, move along ….. this is definitely more in the light-hearted category.
My role on SDN is within the Platform Team; I look after the “Application Services” group which is basically an umbrella term for 3 teams who work very closely together: Application Configuration, QA and Technical Support. I work directly with the folks on the SDN Development team, however part of my role is also to interact extensively with other SDN teams (content, requirements definition etc), so I get the gossip from the other sides too 😉
So how about I take you through a typical week on the Application Services Team? Bear in mind that I have to be careful (A) not to get fired and (B) not to tell too many untruths, but aside from that this is only a bit of fun. All names will remain slightly anonymous, but lads, you know who you are …
First of all I say “lads” because I have to admit that on the Platform team we are seriously male-heavy. Don’t worry, I am not going to go off on a feminist rant, because that doesn’t bother me in the least. Our only female developer was once famously introduced to the rest of the group as our “girl developer”. We’re all still laughing at that one 🙂 Aside from that, there’s me; and we also have a part-time colleague on the QA team (Ms. N) who I keep trying to steal full time. But that’s it! 3 girls on the Platform Team. Make of that what you will 🙂
Let’s check out the week.
Monday 23 July 2007
This is going to be quite a week! We’ve just hired 3 new colleagues in India, and they start this week! Vinay has just returned to India after a couple of weeks of training with the QA Team in SAP Berlin – I think he was a bit culture-shocked and took today off to recover 😉 Sanjeev and Balaji will start tomorrow. Today I have a call with India to speak with the local Engagement Manager who will help me with anything I need to arrange on the ground at the Indian side. I have to admit that the admin effort to extend our operations to India in this manner has been phenomenal. CVs, rounds & rounds of interviewing, phonecalls, video-conferences, schedules, time-zones, emails, international trips …. It has literally taken months. So it isn’t something I hope to have to do again soon! One of the biggest challenges of course will be to master the cultural side of things. We have of course many Indian colleagues who are members of SDN, but as far as I am aware this is the first time that SDN has expanded globally to hire team-members who are permanently based in India. With all the political correctness in the world and all the best intentions in the world; I am sure we will hit some cultural challenges …. from both sides!
On a deliverable level; today we deliver a lot of documentation to the Business Team: SDN is working on an important feature release hitting you soon; and we’ve delivered the Test Cases and Functional Documentation to the Business Team so they can see where things are going at the moment and reconfirm with all stakeholders that things are moving in the right direction.
Tuesday 24 July 2007
Today, India becomes very real – Marc, the Application Configuration Team Leader flies to India today! He’s going to spend the next 3 – 4 weeks training our new hires locally in India.! It’s Marc’s first trip to India, and I think we can probably get him to blog for us while he is over there. That is, if he makes it over in one piece and with any liquidity 🙂 He has a stopover in Dubai, and a wife who has given him a shopping list for the airport 😉
While Marc is still in the air, I have a conference call today with all 3 new hires to have a final chat about kicking off the project. One of the things we discuss is the arrangement of office hours in India. One of the biggest challenges facing remote teams is the difficulty of getting ‘face time’ together (well, ‘phone time’ to be more accurate!) So we have agreed that the Indian team will work from 11am to 7pm local time, in order to get best crossover with the bulk of the existing Platform team who are in Israel, Germany and UK. However, getting India to find some crossover with our Support Team Lead on the East Coast of the US is going to be a whole other story 😉
As normal for Tuesdays, we have our weekly Platform Team conference call with Big R where we go through all the current issues on the radar for the Platform Team. Also as normal for Tuesdays, I have a weekly call with the Content Team – it’s really an internal Content team call but I usually attend to see if they are having any technical problems with the Portal. Today, they forgot to tell me it was cancelled. Grrr. Guys this is 2 weeks in a row! Send me a mail!!!
Wednesday 25 July 2007
Wednesday starts as always with the weekly QA Team conference call. The QA Team Lead (Mr. E) is on 2 weeks vacation so we’re a man short and have our new hire which puts training stress on our small QA team. But our experienced QA Engineer in Israel, Mr. B, is a complete star – as always – and has everything under control. Not only is he taking the full lead of the extensive QA on the new feature release mentioned above; he is also single-handedly working through the QA of this month’s set of changes and bug-fixes (release 4.0.8). Add to that his mentoring and training of our new colleague Vinay; and Mr. B is being kept extremely busy! I suppose it will prevent him from being arrested which appears to be a personal hobby of his; particularly on trips to Europe. Now that I think of it, he was in Paris at the weekend and was remarkably quiet about it …. I wonder was he detained at M. Sarkozy’s pleasure at any stage …?
Marc arrives in India safe and sound, and calls me to say he is being treated like royalty 🙂 Collected by the Director of our partner company; chauffeured around and generally being spoilt rotten! It seems that we’re facing a few IT challenges at the Hyderabad office what with new laptops, new user IDs etc, but that’s only to be expected.
Marc calls again later this evening saying that he is taking his life into his hands just trying to cross the road! He is off looking for food; which is a cause for concern; as everyone in the UK office will know that Mr. NG has a healthy appetite at lunchtime and is frequently seen checking out the options for dessert #2 ….
Thursday 26 July 2007
A relatively calm day! Only two scheduled conference calls today which is quite unbelievable. One is to discuss some features of the new release – we need more information from the developers so that we can fully understand use cases and therefore prepare test cases …..
I spoke too soon. Have just spent the budget of a small country on phonecalls to India to help sort out Laptop dilemmas. Don’t get me started …
The other planned conference call is with the Support Team Lead. This is a weekly call where Mr. B tells us if anything completely mad has been coming in through the support email channel, and in return we make sure Mr. B is updated from the development side if there are any known issues / changes that could impact either the end users or indeed the Admin users of SDN – many of whom are based in the US and for this reason turn to Mr. B as their local hero 🙂
In this way we try to limit the surprises. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose 😉
Aha, the SDN newsletter goes out today. This always brings more traffic to the site and more than a few support requests to ‘unsubscribe’ me (cos people have forgotten their logon details). The Support team looove newsletter days 😉
PS did anyone see Top Gear on BBC last night where they drove to the North Pole? Brilliant! Check this out for some great video clips …
Friday 27 July 2007
Who doesn’t love Fridays?
Today starts with my weekly Friday morning meeting with the Development Manager to discuss any critical bugs on a case-by-case level; before reporting the status later today to Big R. You’ll be happy to hear that there are no biggies which impact end users this week 🙂 To be honest, end-user bugs are quite rare. Well, whoppers anyway 😉
Later in the day, Big R has a weekly call with a few of the team: the Development Manager, the System Architect, the Operations Manager and moi. (Actually, I can’t remember if I have all the titles correct!). Anyway, as always, we go through the finer details of Platform-related issues; reviewing system performance, and today in particular getting the heads up on a couple of projects which are in the pipeline. Sometimes we are terrified at what we hear, sometimes we are delighted – it depends 🙂 Today, there are also a few heated opinions on some of our internal process planning.
Hey! True to his promise Marc has published his first report! Check it out SDN grows workforce into India (Part 1)!
As for me, I’ll have a think about doing this again sometime ….. Depends if I get in too much trouble or not!
Have a lovely weekend all,