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SDN: Pass it On!

So now it’s my turn? I’ve been reading these blogs, forums, Wikis, and eLearnings for about four years now. I suppose writing blogs, supplying code, answering forum questions, is our way of giving back knowledge that has been so freely given to us. We just can’t keep taking out of the bank without making some deposits of our own, right?  I suppose there would be no SDN without contributors. OK, so I admit I am close to having Active Member Status. So I decided to take the suggestion of writing a blog to reach my 250 points. If I reach the 250 points there will be no balloons dropped from the ceiling of my office, or any increase in my salary, or a brand new car delivered to my home. But, while the status is nice in SDN, and sure I can always use it on a resume if I were looking for a job, but am not, it’s the idea of knowledge sharing that becomes so valuable in our SAP careers. If I were to take an educated guess of how much I’ve learned via knowledge sharing, the percentage would surely be high. Why? SDN, it’s free, convenient, and it is their 24 hours of the day.

So you ask, “Tom, what have you gotten out of SDN over the last three years”? “Well”, I say, “A lot of ABAP code from the forum and WIKI, great tutorials in eLearning, new ways of looking problems from great posts by consultants like Rich Heilman and Thomas Jung. But, I’ve also gotten a better night’s sleep, more confidence, better reputation, and while I share the value of SDN to others, I see it as my hidden advantage. I always ask others, “Why don’t you use it, what a shame”? The responses are usually too busy, or forgot my password, or just that old fear of having to navigate into a new online world. So, I learned early on that taking extra time to learn how to navigate through SDN has paid me back ten-fold.

How many times have we needed a desperate remedy? It is important to mention that spending a day writing syntax or googling for solutions can be much more difficult and time consuming than posting our questions in SDN. Especially when we get lucky enough to get 3 or 4 responses in 5 minutes that resolve our issue. Many of us in our early years of ABAP remember relying on a more senior member to give us solutions. Hey, maybe they were getting their solutions from SDN! For this ABAPr SDN became my right arm in 2006, when accepting a Senior Programming position at a major convenience store retailer on the east coast. Somebody mentioned SDN to me. I cannot say how many times it saved me. At that time I was writing ABAP in ERP and BW while being also responsible for XI programming.

Since then moving on to my current employer, one of the world’s leading diversified chemical companies, has given me many opportunities in SAP technologies. We perform a wide range of SAP programming: Upgrades, ITS (Internet Transaction Server), consolidations of SAP business systems, SAPSCRIPT and SMARTFORMS, develop new interfaces, enhancements, SD, MM, etc. The point is, SDN has been irreplaceable as the number one go to support tool in all categories for this programmer. When there is nobody else to turn to, SDN is always there. And I would say it has helped with 80% of issues that could not be figured out on my own.  

Remembered best was last year during an acquisition of a company whose data was not readily available to us until the final hand shake. So, lots of programming occurred blindly, but at GoLive time things needed to be done quickly. During the second phase of this the need to produce a SMARTFORM, instead of SAPSCRIPT, to me, was seen as crucial, so that we might get a taste of the newer form technology. Having never written one, SDN and it’s community were mostly responsible for the success obtained from writing this first SMARTFORM. Of course, it wasn’t done as quickly as I would have liked, but, subsequent related tasks lose that learning curve. WebDynpros, the new SAP screen processing technology, while classroom training is always the best, here at SDN there is more than one can handle as far as learning materials go. And, while SDN is always great for the newer stuff, those of us who have had to support older versions of SAP find SDN a great resource too. I am sure to this day that I have yet to see all the benefits of SDN.

So while SDN has been my ace in the hole, most of the time, I have also found that participating in the forums, not only asking, but answering questions, has been rewarding. When we see those reward points, we at least know we helped somebody. OK, so what do I get out of those six , maybe ten points, if lucky, I don’t really know, but if feels good. Perhaps I can try to wear the shoes of that tech who is stuck, and I know once the issue is resolved, especially if I’ve helped, we’ve taken some of that pressure off of them, and made them happy and smarter. Let’s keep sharing! Knowledge Sharing is at the core of our survival and existence in this field we love (we better love it) so much!

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