How to find valuable information on the internet
How to find valuable information on the internet
Hello SDN community, I’m a young SAP Basis Administrator, I have been working for about 4 years now in SAP and I recently decided to start blogging on SDN, a new adventure for me with an unknown end destination.
The internet has become a place where you can find almost anything (even secret government documents nowadays). Along with great information which is useful in every day of life and every day at work there is also a lot of garbage floating around. That’s what you get when you give an endless amount of storage space to someone. The less storage space I have, the less garbage I will place in it (that goes for most people I have met).
In the end it comes down to finding the valuable information in between all the garbage, sometimes it can seem you are looking for a needle in a haystack. Of course, what is garbage and what is valuable information, differs for each individual.
A lot of the questions asked on the technical SAP SDN forums have solutions that can be found on the internet. Then the question becomes, why don’t those persons find that valuable information ?
The most important things for me are: searching in the right place, using the right keywords, knowing the tool you use to find that information and along with that comes narrowing down the result. If you want to solve a specific issue for example, you are not looking for every single bit of information on that subject. You only want to get to the information that you require to solve the issue.
I do focus more on finding information for functional or technical SAP but in general (we are on SDN) the guidelines are valid for anything you search online.
Searching in the right place
If want to buy a flat screen television but you are standing in a starbucks, you are in the wrong place. The same is valid for finding the right information. You should first get a general idea where to start looking. How can you know if you haven’t used a resource, you basically can’t. It’s a trial and error process, you can form a quick list of valuable resources by starting on a search engine (Google has my preference so far).
As a SAP Basis Administrator one of the best sources for me is http://sdn.sap.com and of course http://service.sap.com. If I can’t find it on those, Google is my friend. Whether you are active in the functional area, technical area or both those sources can provide valuable information you are looking for.
For example, on SAP service marketplace, there is also the SAP xSearch available (SAP Support Knowledge Base Search) which not only searches for SAP notes but on all repositories from SAP (PDF guides, articles and so on).
Using the right keywords
If you are looking for something related to SAP and you start in a search engine it’s a good idea to use SAP as your first keyword. I try to find the information with important keywords. I don’t advice to go and write full sentences in the search box (unless it really makes sense in a specific context if you know for example that sentence is written in a document and you want to find that document).
I must admit sometimes it’s hard to find the valuable information as the keywords are also given by authors of the information or extracted from the actual document and it doesn’t always make sense. This is however is not a general rule and using the right keywords will help a lot.
Knowing the tool you use
It’s equally important as using the right keywords, know the tool you use to search the information. Do you ever use double quotes when searching Google, do you use other features such as AND, OR or advanced search ? I’m convinced a lot of persons also don’t use the filters available on http://service.sap.com/notes or don’t know that certain possibilities exist. A great filter is searching by SAP system to narrow down the result to SAP notes that are valid for the current version of product version of your SAP system.
Did you know that you can also use program code lines to search for SAP notes that include corrections on that program code line ? I’m convinced lots of administrators don’t know and in fact it can be an easy way to find a specific correction for a shortdump in SAP on line X in your program coding.
Do you use the favorites button in the SAP notes to safeguard valuable SAP notes you have found ? It’s a great way of having shortcuts to the valuable information you might be looking for again in another point in time.
All those features are explained in the various help sections (online help etc) so take the time to take a look at what is possible to help you get the valuable information from the big pile of information.
Narrowing down the result
Narrowing down the result is the result of combining all of above. If you search for SAP system on google while you want to get specific information on how to install SAP ERP 2005 you will get too much information.
Narrow down the result by going to the correct source. Installation guides are provided by SAP as official documents so you should be checking on http://service.sap.com. If you don’t know where you should find it on SAP service marketplace, you could go for a general search (xSearch) or check the available quicklinks (knowing the tool you use).
Once you are in the right location, make sure you use the right keywords, instead of using SAP system use of much valuable information as possible. You know the software is SAP ERP 2005, using keywords “ERP 2005 installation” gives back interesting results. You don’t have to necessarily stop there, check the results and see which additional key words you can use to further narrow down your result. For example you are on a Unix platform, in the search result you see that a document returned ERP 2005 installation on windows, not exactly what you need but you can add the keyword Unix to your keywords and do another search.
Even after you have a good set of keywords, you can further narrow down the result by knowing the tool, for example sorting the results on date or by only displaying results from certain repositories (a functionality that is available on both SDN and Service Marketplace).