Next week we’ll be launching the new Integrated Business Processes with ERP Systems textbook at the SAP Curriculum Congress 2011. I wanted to give everyone a quick update on how we’ve progressed over the past 4 years to deliver this innovative new curriculum and acknowledge the many SCN members who have supported us along the way.
Right around the time that the BPX community was being formed in 2007, the CEO of Adobe asked me to chat with an old college buddy of his (Simha Magal) who taught ERP courses using SAP at an SAP University Alliances member school in Michigan. I had worked on a couple books back then and Simha wanted to write a textbook that covered SAP ERP concepts from a process perspective, rather than the typical module approach, and with an academic angle rather than just a technical one. Since this was very much aligned with SAP’s BPX strategy, I agreed to help him out. Funny how innocently things like this start out.
SAP was working on building the BPX certification program, so we decided to model the textbook off of the approach of primary ERP process understanding leading to BPX capabilities to make sure that students would be learning the same concepts as their professional counterparts, but in a more academically-appropriate way. Many students who take the ERP course aren’t MIS or computer science majors, they’re accounting, finance, marketing, and operations management majors. We quickly realized that all of the key process-oriented ERP concepts were already covered in the prerequisite course to BPX, the SAP Education TERP10 certification academy , but the SAP materials weren’t appropriate for a university classroom filled with 19 year olds who had never worked at a “real” job. SAP assumes quite a bit of work experience and process knowledge prior to entering the TERP10 academy, so we would have to cover all the same concepts as TERP10, but put them into a much more student-friendly, academic format.
Our primary goal for this book was to enable faculty to teach students the core ERP concepts through an integrated process perspective of business operations. However, since our curriculum would cover all the concepts in the SAP Education TERP10 academy, we could actually prepare students to take the certification exam at the same time. The first few faculty members we discussed this with were extremely enthusiastic about the approach since SAP customers and partners would be thrilled to hire new grads with such a broad understanding of SAP ERP and an official “SAP Certified Business Associate with SAP ERP 6.0” certification on their resume before they start work.
1. Introduction to Business Processes
2. Introduction to Enterprise Systems
3. Introduction to Accounting
4. The Procurement Process
5. The Fulfillment Process
6. The Production Process
7. Inventory and Warehouse Management Processes
8. The Material Planning Process
9. Process Integration
10. Enterprise Asset Management and Customer Service Processes
11. Management Accounting Processes
12. Human Capital Management Processes
13. Life Cycle Data Management Proess
14. Project Management
With our framework in place and no clue how much work was ahead of us, we partnered with John Wiley and Sons to publish a 600 page textbook for SAP University Alliances schools around the planet. Now we just had to write the damned thing 🙂
“Innovation is a team sport”
Our biggest challenge was to ensure that we met two somewhat conflicting goals: (1) to cover all the official TERP10 content well enough to pass the certification exam (which is a beastly test), and (2) explain concepts, techniques, and principles to ensure students’ understanding of integrated business process and ERP concepts. It was kind of like writing two letters simultaneously, one in Greek with your left hand and one in Latin with your right hand. We wanted to cover SAP in sufficient depth, but did not want the book to be about “SAP training.”
To pull it off, we had to have the help of several people from SAP. Most importantly, we had to have the subject matter experts for the TERP10 course review every single sentence in the book to ensure we were covering all of the TERP10 concepts and explaining things the “right” way. We were incredibly lucky that Charla Pachucki jumped at the chance to be a “super reviewer” for the textbook since she actually created TERP10 and “owns” the content for SAP Education. We gave her “redline” power and sent over the first draft of every chapter for her to brutalize. Surprisingly, she turned around her reviews in record time and had only a few, very prescient observations that made all the difference in explaining key concepts. Probably the greatest compliment we’ve ever received as authors was when Charla said that she learned a thing or two from our chapters 🙂
At the same time, we had to make sure that the content was academically appropriate and that we had adequately explained the concepts, principles, and techniques. For that, we pulled together a group of rock-star professors from SAP UA schools from around the globe and made them super-reviewers. They would get the second draft of each chapter (after Charla had her shot at it) and would go thru them with an “academic” lens to make sure everything would work for the mind of a 19 year old. In parallel, we had a team of student interns who were helping with the creation and configuration of the new GBI company & client (see Corey’s blog series) who would review the chapters as they were executing the homework exercises. We decided to push out the official release of the textbook by a full year so we could print up “beta” versions of the book for use in a handful of classrooms (mostly the super-reviewers) to get feedback from actual classroom use before we finalized everything. Here’s some of the professors who helped us greatly with feedback on content:
Anthony Pittarese, East Tennessee State University, Stefan Weidner, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Jane Fedorowicz, Bentley University, Paul Hawking, Victoria University, Rod Sager, Grand Valley State University, Robert Szymanski, Georgia Southern University, Donna Everett, Morehead State University, William Mackinnon, Clarkson University, Earl McKinney, Bowling Green State University, Jeff Mullins, University of Arkansas, Al Pilcher, Algonquin University, Pamela Schmidt, University of Arkansas, Felicitas Ju Huang Seah, National University of Singapore, Venkataramanan Shankararaman, Singapore Management University, Catherine Usoff, Bentley College, indiganavale Vijayaraman, University of Akron, William Wagner, Villanova University, Tom Wilder, California State University, Chico, Lou Thompson, University of Texas-Dallas, Ross Hightower, Texas A&M.
Along the way, we had a huge amount of support from the Regional Contact Information globally: Don Bulmer, Bob Lobue, Heather Czech, Gail Corbitt, John Baxter, Heino Schrader, Crispian Tan, Martin Gollogly, Rich Blumberg and many others were wonderful in helping us connect with professors and get feedback at SAP UAP events.
We literally could not have finished the book without the help of everyone mentioned, and a few hundred more people (especially the Wiley team). Everyone involved was giving their maximum effort for one simple reason: We want to make sure that the next generation of employees hired by SAP customers and partners have the best possible preparation and understanding of integrated business processes and SAP so that they provide immediate value when they start work. Hopefully, with this textbook, we’ll be helping SAP customers get much more value out of their SAP systems by ensuring that all the people using and implementing their SAP systems have a better understanding of how processes are supported by SAP ERP.