Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Jim Spath

End to End Root Cause Analysis – I’m Virtually Trainable (Day One of Five)

Day ONE  2  3 4 5


We finally got this class going, after a couple delays.  And when I say “we” understand I’m just the student.  With the preparation work done, it was time to wait for the school doors to open.  Right away, differences between physical and virtual classes jumped out.  I’ve used the Adobe connect tool many times before, meaning the general mechanics were understood.  But the instructor had us clicking in to verify many questions that would have been a show of hands, and needed two monitors to keep the slides going as well as viewing the social interaction.  


Here’s one of the early questions:


“How many SAP Virtual Classes Have You Attended” – all but one were first timers; the eighth student didn’t click in right away.






I used the introduction period to forward a link to my SCN wiki profile page, as that contains answers to a few questions.  As it turns out, I know one student  from previous ASUG conferences and forums.





After those preliminaries and backgrounds were out of the way, we took a look at our test/training systems, connecting not via Adobe, but via remote desktops.  The basic tool looks like this (should be familiar to many):




With the right login data and system specs, all eight of us were connected in short order.  I was beginning to think of us like a Gilligan’s Island crew of castaways – thrown together for a few short episodes. In real life, we’re spread out from Finland through the West Coast of the U.S., meaning someone is up until midnight perhaps, and someone else is starting around 6:30 AM.


The answer to the poll question – “who printed out the course book” only received  two affirmatives.  I tried to print mine onto “booklet” format, meaning one-half or one-fourth of the normal page count.  I hit a few printer snags, so it took me longer than I expected.  The instructor suggested the exercises would be a good minimum baseline for hard copy work sheets.







So what did we cover on Day One?  Besides the usual background introductory level-st kind of talk, we drilled into Change Reporting.  Not the kind of changes that go with Charm (or change management processes), but the kind of “delta” reporting that many of us have cobbled together over time.


The instructor (Jose) went through many examples in the demo system, which always makes it look easy.  That’s better than showing slides,  by a long shot, and confirms that we should be able to get the same results, since we are all using the same system.  These days it is hard to tell when the virtual systems collide, unless we all try something very ambitious simultaneously.  With but 8 of us, and having different learning speeds, not a likely problem.


Below are a few of my screen shots – not the actual course questions, but explorations I made while trying to follow the demos being done.




MSSQL_PARAMETER database configuration views


Parameter comparisons (“OtherUsers”) in this case.



Conclusions, recommendations, etc.


I’m not going to comment on the course content, or the pace of the class; these are best directed through the normal SAP Education feedback channels.  But I’ll say a few peripheral comments that occurred to me during the course of the day (ha).


The instructor needs to keep a solid pace going, which is  harder to gauge virtually than it would be physically.  When you can see people check their email, you know their interest is flagging.  Without frequent polls and online chat feedback, that’s going to cause virtual drift.  Anyone who has been in classes with me knows I ask a lot of questions, some directly on target with the material, others maybe somewhat tangential.  But without a check and balance to the real world, the class exercises are a total waste of time.


From the checks that made, our Solution Manager systems are nearly the same as the classroom lab systems.  That surprised me, as many times I’ve been to classes where the very latest upgrades have been rolled out, meaning new functions  I learn might not be applicable for a long time.  However, I didn’t get the same answers on Change Reporting, indicating we’ve missed an underlying step in installation or configuration.  And that’s always a new challenge, since this is “just one more thing” that the system teams need to get right before the data can be trusted.  I’ll look for the SAP Notes…  Not holding my breath.



The last area is  touchy for many of my SAP Mentor colleagues, not to mention the entire underworld of certification and testing.  There is always an emphasis on later courses, exams and what I consider “non-value-added” content in courses like this.  I just want to get my hands on the system, try things out, and get explanations why it doesn’t do what I want, or why my system doesn’t act like the ideal training landscape.  I could care less about passing a test.  I know what I’m going to do with this knowledge; adding the course number to my annual review is a bookkeeping exercise (at the most).



The history (or so) of Solution Manager blogs (by me):



The question is: how to bring in a virtual apple for the teacher?

Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Greg Myers
      Greg Myers
      Thanks for the in-depth recap of your first day of online training, Jim.
      It's good to see SAP moving this way. I agree it takes more discipline to attend a virtual course than a traditional one because of the ease of distraction. I've also found that virtual training can be much more efficient, though. You can get the same amount of content in less time than a traditional course. You also get to subtract travel or even a commute.
      Well done! Looking forward to reading about the rest of the course and your wrap up at the end.
      Author's profile photo Timo Stelzer
      Timo Stelzer
      Very interesting article Jim! Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm curious about how your overall résumé will be.
      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt
      Many things to comment on here. 
      1) thanks for sharing your SCN wiki profile as a way of introducing yourself to the class.
      It would be a great equalizer if every student thought to have one 🙂 - maybe something to suggest to the trainers to suggest to students as a preliminary "warm up".  It probably would save time as well of precious online instruction.
      2) Wonder if there was any thought given to teaming with others in the class to work on exercises.  Such peer work obviously prevents one from "drifting off" as it creates a ocmmitment to work productively with another class member .  That was usual behaviour in the brick and mortar environment where 2 students shared a terminal and from a learning theory perspective has proven to give good results.
      3) The more someone needs to work to understand something, the more retention.  Do you find that to be true?  Would you learn more or better if you had to explain what you learned to someone else "real time"?  (point of comment #2 and team excercises).
      4) Would there be something gained from pre-course assessment or evaluation?  Would it help to have some level setting down before the start of a class?
      Author's profile photo Jim Spath
      Jim Spath
      Blog Post Author
      Marilyn - great commentary (likewise from Greg and Timo); food for my thoughts on continuing this blog series.  I will write about class dynamics, and more about the tool use.  It's interesting to ponder the immediate feedback with peers, compared to the "next week" syndrome typically experienced with remote on-the-ground training.
      Author's profile photo Somnath Manna
      Somnath Manna
      Early this year I took my first SAP Class - and it was virtual for me (being at different location). I tried my best to focus and concentrate (moved away from my desk to a small meeting room and locked in) but it was a tough experience. In comparison my second SAP Class (also this year) was face-to-face and worth doing only because I read up most of the material overnight and engaged with the trainer and others in class. Will be following this blog series of yours.