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Learnings from my SAP Career

Having met SAP changed my life, too. What about you? twice in person at TechEds and The specified item was not found. virtually their blogs got me contemplating. Then came a Friday – lull before the storm (its cloudy, gloomy day in London after glorius sunny days) both in terms of weather as well as professionally (next GoLive in 25 days). The outcome is this blog – an attempt to put on paper (literally) what did I learn from the projects, CoE over past 7 years I am in SAP profession.

I started my professional life as a “Project Engineer” doing design & execution of captive congeneration power plants with a major Indian engineering company. Only after 1.5 year we got desktops shared between 2/3 engineers. Prior to that during my engineering days did some FORTRAN 77 and C programming. The first time I used was at c a computer camp organised at a science musuem – its was BBC Micro. Not sure if anyone remembers it. So my first programing language was BASIC. Over time I have tried my hand on FORTRAN, C, C++, Java and recently (two years back) Ruby. Interestingly I still cannot consider myself an amateur programmer. I have to confess I can read ABAP not not code it. Being a functional consultant for a long time made me pick out the essentials of ABAP to be able to debug and figure out technical objects to develop proper Functional Specs but no more than that.

But this blog is not about that. This blog is to see what did I learn about Information Technology per se in course of my SAP career. Well after three years working as a “Project Engineer” I got myself enrolled to a business school. I still remember the first thing I did was to run to the Computer Centre (CC) and created my Yahoo and Hotmail accounts. Remember moving from Altavista to Google for Search very early (way back in late 1999). In my final year I took an elective course which involved labwork in SAP R/3 3.1 (if I remember correctly). But most of the time went in theory of PP, MM, SD etc. The year I graduated was 2001 with a job offer from US-based small SAP Consulting company which finally did not work out owing to bad economy. However in March next year I got a job with Tata Consultancy Services as a SAP Consultant.

Over the next five years with TCS, I had the opportunity to work in a couple of big projects and then couple of small projects including working in internal CoE. More recently I left and went on to join my current company. Have been working in a big rollout project since joining. Looking back the three major projects I was are all from different industries (Consumer Electronics, Pharmaceutical and Oil & Gas), different phases (Implementation, Support and Rollout) with different team sizes (progressively growing from 100 member to 550 members to 1000+ now) and different delivery models (100% Onsite, Onsite major with Offshore minor, 50-50 Onsite-Offshore now). Its interesting even from a non-SAP learning perspective.

I learnt there are certain aspects which are key to any IT Project at whatever phase it is at. These are Requirement Management and tracking, Document Management, Test Management and Defect Management. There are different tools to support this. Of course SAP Solution Manager has functionalities for each of these. Based on my experience I fould HP Quality Center (erstwhile Mercury Test Director) provides all these functionality except Document Management. Its a good tool to track Project Delivery broken down to Config and Custom Developments right from Requirement stage to delivery, testing, resolving issues to moving to Production. In terms of Document Management I came across Documentum which is very good and particularly used by regulated industries like Pharma. My current client uses a Web-based application called Livelink. These apart purely from an IT Lifecycle perspective all projects have a Change Management System in place in one form of the other.

Finally before closing to answer the big question – what would I have been if I have not come into SAP world. Well my parents had wished I become a doctor. I was inclined for it but did not get good rank in the entrance exam. Instead got into Engineering. No regrets whatsoever now – especially when I see the struggle my friends (including my sister and brother-in-law) have to go through to establish themselves. Thanks to SAP work I could travel to 10 countries (mostly European), visit 20+ states of US, tried out 25+ cuisines, attend two TechEds, one SAP Inside Track not to mention made so many friends in the Community. I can say SAP made me embrace Web 2.0 early enough through Wiki, Blogging, Twitter so on.

To sum up I have a day job (at client site), a evening / weekend job (devoting time to my 2 year old) and also a night / Friday afternoon job – SDN 😀 which I really like.

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  • Hey Somnath -

    I'm glad you shared your story. To me what I find most compelling is how people's lives unfold, and the most fulfilling ones seem to involve not so much careful planning (example: "I'm going to become a doctor") but by following passion and opportunity and not worrying about where it's all going or pleasing other people's expectations of us.

    At some point I will try to share my story about how SAP has impacted me, but one thing that I can relate to in your blog is how SAP has opened doors for you internationally. Working with SAP definitely pushed me to think beyond the local business work that I was doing and think (and work) in a more global context.

    Thx for the blog!

    - Jon

    • Jon did you share "your story". Would be interesting as you are above the mainstream SAP Functional / Technical Consultant.