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“Why haven’t you blogged on SCN lately?” a pal of mine asked. The reason was typical: “I fell into a workhole.” Ah yes, that enemy of content sharing: client deliverables and other activities that put food on the table and pay those cable bills for World Cup coverage. One problem with falling into such workholes is you lose track of items worth sharing.

Now on my way out the door for SAP Inside Track Newtown Square, where I am honored to be presenting amongst a great cast of SAP characters (see link for details on live stream, etc), I want to get this piece of content – a podcast featuring 3/5 of the Certification Five as well as a special guest – out to you.

This podcast was taped live at SAPPHIRENOW Orlando, and one reason I am fond of it is that it is rare in this line of work to get globally diverse people in one location. Sparks always fly and affiliations bond into friendships. This recording features three other SAP Mentors who have inspired my work and I think it captures some of that intellectual excitement we get when we have a chance to talk passionately about all things SAP. Certainly where I live – admittedly out in the sticks – talking about SAP is something guaranteed to generate blank stares, so I don’t take such moments for granted. 

Of course, content becomes dated quickly. Case in point: our views on SAP certification expressed in this podcast continue to evolve. Dialogue on this topic has continued after SAPPHIRENOW and will continue at Newtown Square and beyond. We all reserve the right to move beyond our current thinking, and that applies in this case as all of us continue to debate this topic inside and outside of SAP.

But there’s another topic on this podcast that is more timeless: navigating a succesful SAP career. My three guests on this podcast have accumulated a lot of hard-won wisdom on the do’s and don’t of SAP careers. Topics covered include: impact of analytics on SAP skills, BPX and Agile, and how to time skills trends without getting too far ahead of the curve where there are no project requirements. Perhaps most of all: how to avoid becoming a “skills commodity.” I think you’ll enjoy hearing their takes.

Recorded on a Zoom H2 portable on the second day of the conference, this forty-five minute podcast has gems-from-the-field from Martin Gillet, Jon Reed (me), Leonardo De Araujo (3/5 of the C5) and special guest and fellow SAP Mentor Vijay Vijayasankar. Vijay has become an key voice in the SAP community on SAP skills issues and also recently ignited a debate on SAP and Agile development as only he can. (Check out Vijay’s live Enteprise Geeks “SAP-Agile Throwdown,” also taped live at SAPPHIRE). 

As always, I’ll include some text highlights from the podcast with time stamps to help with ease of navigation…

(If for any reason the player doesn’t work, you can download the podcast using the “download media” link on the right hand side).

(Trouble downloading? if for some reason it’s not playing in its entirety for you, check out the version on in the meantime.)

Podcast Timeline

Podcast Highlights

:35 Introductions – Who you are and what you have taken from the show so far – we are halfway through day two as of this taping. P.S. “Martin is not a nugget.”

2:40 ASUG and SAPPHIRE topics – likes and dislikes.

3:25 Leo: Reactions to SAP Business by Design and the SME market – as a partner, I want to understand my role. Business by Design imlementations will be different, they won’t have the level of customization of All in One and ERP, but it’s not going to be one size fits all either. What role will partners play?

5:55 Martin – I’m not clear about the future, in that I’m not clear how my HCM skills fit into future business models such as on demand. What is the helicopter view? Focus on HCM – how do we get there and how do I get involved and get the right training?

7:00 Certification Five topic – Where do you stand on certification? Vijay: I’ve never been asked if I’m certified – I have never seen an argument for the career benefits of certification that compels me to do it. IBM has its own certification program, and I’m certified at the highest level there. It’s not an exam, it’s a process and you go in front of a board of people. It’s a long process, and it works well – I’m a fan of certification in that sense. Discussion ensues…

14:30 Vijay has been disrupting the SAP-Agile conversation.

15:30 Leo’s book idea: Leo is techno-functional but started on the functional side – why does he want to write a book about it? Usually there is a gap on the functional side with skills, and the tech team has to come up with functional knowledge to fill the gap – this leads to cost overruns. We need a book to help the functional people understand the technical options – how to deal with user exits, etc – you should understand ABAP and how the technical sides work.

18:45 Would this book idea fly in IBM? Vijay: yes. Most functional guys are dependent on tech guys, this is relevant. Tech guys can only offer so much, the functional people need to be able to present requirements in the language techies can understand. It’s not just for existing technologies, but for new roadmaps like BusinessObjects and now Sybase – who has a handle on this information? There is no one place to look.

20:45 Jon’s first-ever Business Process Expert card – not a consulting firm trying to look cool, an actual user from a user team. They see a need for individuals who can go beyond config with process knowledge. This functional “SAP Business Process Expert liaisons with Enterprise Architects – they know enough tech to talk same language as techies but also have a handle on the process side.

26:40 How should an individual invest in the right skills to stay one step ahead – we talk about next generation process modeling, meantime SAP customers are happily using Visio. You can’t afford to take a skills direction that doesn’t pay off for you.

31:25 “Developing expertise in the context of a community – Vijay’s example of Agile development – he learned more from his blog post comments than he ever could have from a book. Martin: this is blended learning: Learning Management Systems for a combination of books, blogs, conference learning, computer based training.

34:30 Avoiding being a commodity – is there one guiding principle that you follow?

Vijay: Globalization is a fact, it’s not going away. Someone getting money for something will make less latter, and that’s not going away, but if you’re in the top ten percent of your field, your job is not going anywhere. We can do blueprinting virtually – not everyone is away from the client, some are still in front of the client – the client-facing skills and industry knowledge are never going away.

Martin: I agree with Vijay- this is the human factor that is not going away. No matter where you work, you still have to look out for yourself – go to the communities – SDN, BOC, and BPX, or other online communities – Buckle up and keep looking out for new trends and ideas. Commit to your own learning curve.

39:00 Being an SAP Mentor – it’s not about money, Martin: there’s no triple rate, in fact you make less money because you invest yourself. Vijay: More people recognize the Mentor program than they did at TechEd last year. Leo: We have made a lot of progress with visibility and what the Mentor program is, but we still have a lot to do – when people see me in my Mentor jersey, I’m still being asked, “What is that? You on a team for that?”

41:00 Lightning Round – positives and negatives from SAPPHIRE so far.

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  1. Former Member
    Thanks for posting the podcast, Jon! It’s always interesting to hear the mentors talk about things like certifications and functional vs. technical skills.  How is that book coming along, Leo?

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