This is Part 10 of the Global Bicycle Inc. (GBI 2.0) story, as related by an intern. The full series begins with Global Bicycle Inc.: An Intern Adventure.
It was now late June, early July 2010, and we received word that we would be getting access to a final GBI test client. This was the last client to test the various processes in before GBI went out for worldwide testing. I was in Jackson, MI, for an internship at a local utility company (Consumers Energy) during the summer; the three interns who would be doing the actual testing were located in Grand Rapids, MI, at GVSU; Dr. Magal, our supervisor, was in Singapore for a class; Mr. Stefan Weidner who was responsible for final configuration, was located in Germany. I received notice of this about a week before it was to begin. I had one week to come up with an effective way to manage all of this after putting in eight hours or more a day at my summer internship. I had now advanced into project management.
So what did I do? I took a lesson I learned while being a manager at Papa John’s: I went back to basics. I opened up good ole Excel, and I created this massive spreadsheet that I am extremely proud of. This thing had grouped cells, conditional formatting, updating percents, the whole works. It took me about five hours to create this spreadsheet. By this point, some of the interns and I were using Dropbox, a free cloud service, to manage some of our documents. I located the Excel sheet in there, put all the exercises in there that would be used for testing, and the interns got to work.
Each process had at a minimum two exercises. Part 1 of the exercise is a sort of “show-and-tell.” The exercise shows the student the master data behind the process, more often than not has them look at the financial statements, and shows them other needed information. Part 2 of the exercise is the “doing” part. In this section the students actually carry out the process in the SAP system. For example, they would create a Purchase Requisition, convert this into a Purchase Order, receive the goods, enter the invoice, and send payment. Each step has a transaction code associated with it, and the students would go to each transaction code and input the necessary information to complete successfully complete the process.
We had 27 different exercises. Each exercise had to be reviewed by two different interns. Additionally, there was a solution document (basically the exercise with the answers in it) for each exercise that also had to be reviewed. This means there was 54 separate documents. After each document “passed” review by the other interns, I had to look at each document to make sure they didn’t miss anything. I would like to tell you that this process ended perfectly and we churned out a perfect, wonderful set of exercises. In actuality, we messed up a few items that were not caught until the next semester when the exercises were used in a class and the students brought them to our attention. This was most definitely “not cool,” and entailed a late night of revisions.
During this process, most of the changes being made were to the actual exercises themselves. The client we were testing in was pretty solid. A few configuration items; however, were found each day that needed to be addressed. The interns documented them, then I went in the system to double check. After that, I complied all the configuration changes for the day onto one document and emailed it off to Germany.
For about the next two weeks I spent about five hours every night mostly reading and writing emails to individuals in three separate counties. One night while I was hard at work composing these emails I received a phone call from Dr. Magal, while he was in Singapore. I explained to him that while I was working on many different things, I did not feel like I was accomplishing anything. His response was, “Corey, that’s called Project Management. When the Excel sheet reads100% all the way down, and all the cells turn from red to green, then you know you’ve accomplished something.” Wise words indeed.
I complied configuration errors onto documents, and watched as my conditionally formatted cells on my impressive excel sheet slowly turned from red to yellow to green (signifying 100% completion of testing and it all works). Finally at long last, all the processes were tested, all of the exercises were updated, and the client was golden.
The interns and I finally sat back and breathed a sigh of relief. For now, GBI was out of our hands and off it went to be tested by the worldwide community. It was not long after till we heard the news. Worldwide testing was completed. The only issue encountered? The instructions on the exercises used to test the GBI client were sometimes not clear (hmm they must not have used our exercises). Otherwise they had absolutely, positively, no issues with the configuration of the Global Bicycle Inc client.
We had done it. A group of college interns at Grand Valley State University, located in Grand Rapids, MI, had accomplished what few people in the world can claim. They had configured an entire company with SAP-and it worked perfectly.
Global Bike Inc: a production company located in the United States with 3 plants, one for production, and 2 for storage and distribution. 12 customers, 12 vendors, 2 sales organizations, 2 divisions, about 78 general ledger accounts, approximately 48 different materials (25 raw materials, 8 finished goods, 3 semi finished materials, 10 trading goods, and 2 miscellaneous items), and the ability to execute every single major business process within the ERP system. GBI 2.0 is a true work of dedication, teamwork, skill, and as always, a little bit of luck.
In October of 2010, I received an email that the official testing phase of GBI 2.0 was over. By the end of 2011, GBI 2.0 will be the training environment used in every single classroom in every single university, located around the world that teaches SAP. Something truly to be proud of.