(portions of this blog appeared on ASUG.com – written by me, mind you).
It’s hard to believe that in less than a week, I and Sue Keohan (of the ASUG BITI Workflow BPM Special Interest Group), along with BITI alumni Thomas Jung, several other SAP Mentors, and our roadies, will be descending on Sydney airport to help begin a conference called “Mastering SAP Technologies.” When Gretchen Lindquist and Karin Tillotson were chosen last year, I was sad to be left out, but enjoyed their reporting from the other side of the world. I’ve written a bit about getting ready for the conference already (see “Wrestling language and pictures into coherent focus“). It’s been more than 6 months in the planning, so with everything coming to a head, what are the last minute obligations for a speaker, traveler and ASUG representative? I’d guess many of the audience will know about ASUG, with a small minority having visited the U.S. for an SAP event, or work for international companies who are also ASUG members. But the majority will not be, perhaps a few know about the SAP Mentor program, and maybe a few more know me from my SAP Community Network presence.
My 2 formal presentations are in the bag, so to speak, with only minor changes to the slides likely as I walk through with an audience (either human or canine) to have the flow of ideas clear in my mind. Unlike ASUG or local SAP conferences where slides may be downloaded prior to attending (sometimes just a day or 2, but still), the event management company in Australia won’t release copies to the attendees (“delegates”) until afterward, and only to those who fill out session evaluations. Though there’s probably a way around that, what with thumb drives and all. I’ve been through my “technology” packing list a few times, starting with power converters, clearing the camera memory, locating rechargeable batteries and chargers, plus non-electric brain teasers for the long plane ride such as Scrabble ™ and Games magazines. And I got the laptop battery replaced, plus ordered a new extended battery.
On the Sunday before the conference, there is an “SAP Inside Track” session that I’ll visit, a speaker preparation meeting (I’ve hosted a few of those), and a Demo Jam, the first for Australia I believe. Not having anything of interest to demonstrate, I’ll watch, network, and probably blog a bit. Last week I sat in on a conference call for “just one more session” that I was originally not going to speak on, but which has since developed into a panel discussion on SAP support. It is titled “Getting the Support You Need – and Fast!“. The goal will be to share best practices, not run this as a gripe session on how long it takes for tickets to be processed.
In our preparation call, I suggested several areas I will talk about on SAP support issues.
Customer Certification Center
My company has been certified as having a competent support center, meaning we’ve qualified using an SAP mandated checklist, which gives us rights to elevated support levels. Or that’s the theory. I don’t always see that we are treated differently than other customers. Part of our requirements was to establish a minimum installation and configuration level in Solution Manager.
SAP Community Network
As a Mentor and Moderator, I’ve seen many sides of support questions, from the contribution by SAP employees to the evolution of the Community Network itself, to the changes in what we used to call OSS. Questions and answers on the forums are critical to some global companies, with competitions and rivalries generating side effects of flame wars and plagiarism accusations. What does a mature SAP customer get out of SCN? For myself, I don’t post questions often, and don’t always get the answers I’m looking for, and have more success with the complex challenges I have by using the blog process.
Beyond the confines of the sdn.sap.com web site, other kinds of mutual support continue, from face-to-face meetings, to conference calls and webcasts, to the standby email lists. I’ve had more success from dividend payback of ASUG network contacts over the years. How can others build up the same resources, and how can you justify such work to management leery of social media and concerned about competitive advantage?
The current speakers for the Getting the Support You Need and Fast panel are:
The agenda for the conference – http://www.masteringsap.com/tech/agenda
The Four of Us
(that’s me on the top left)