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I spend a fair amount of time working as a Moderator on the SDN forums. I focus on Finance and the associated forum boards are very active. I have seen a number of posts where people just want user guides or for someone to tell them how to perform an end to end project without really having the experience or knowledge. I always point them to the wiki for some more information, and remind them that SAP Education will offer good training courses to provide the first level of skills to master a new subject.

 

In reality you cannot get a good SAP Education, just by attending a course for a couple of days. The course is just the starting point. I believe that there are three key areas that a consultant must work on to enhance their skills in a certain area of SAP.

 

  • Training – attend the relevant course
  • Actual implementation experience
  • Playing around in a sandpit – trying thing out.

   

 

 

Training to most is the obvious place to begin the journey of enhancing your SAP skills. SAP has its own Education department, and most local SAP offices run a variety of training courses. Due to the sheer size of the product base SAP now offers, certain training courses are run maybe twice a year and you may have to travel to attend a course. This can be an issue, if you have a project starting in say 6 weeks, and the next course is 4 months away. SAP Consulting Partners can offer bespoke training for end users in certain areas. Training courses can be bespoked to a clients requirements and can provide a better return as the customer can control the scope and all questions and examples can reference the precise clients requirements. One point to raise, formal training or otherwise is the best place to start, without accurate training you could be making incorrect assumptions and deliver a solution incorrectly.

 

Actual implementations are the place I find I learn the most about a product, solution or subject. As customers will keep on reminding you, they are all different and no training course can teach you to react to some of the specific requirements a client may have. Formal training should provide you a foundation for your SAP knowledge, however actual implementations are like the bricks and mortar when building a house. You need to lay the house on good foundations, but the bricks and mortar are required to increase your knowledge and improve your confidence in a subject matter. Once you have implemented a solution or product a few times your own personal confidence in the subject should have improved and you should find that when you engage with a customer you are providing them insight into the design of their solution based on your previous experiences. Potential customers like to learn from your experiences and one of the most powerful arguments is when you can provide evidence that a certain approach they have caused issues on a different implementation and that you do not recommend it.

 

Sandpit time can be seen as the last piece of the jigsaw. It could be that you attend a training course, but you don’t perform the implementation for another 6 weeks. Where you have spare capacity you should try and use a sandpit to play around with a product to get some ideas and practise what you learnt in the course. A sandpit can also be used to solve problems that a customer might have had in an implementation, or to record processes that were well received. Sandpits are also a good way of testing out new functionality that may be available within the latest Enhancement Package that you might not have used before.

 

The final piece of the jigsaw is obviously SDN. Did you think I had forgotten to include SDN? My personal recommendation is that the wiki should be your first port of call if you are new to a subject or you have an issue with a subject. If you cant find the answer to the question you have in the wiki, the search function within the relevant forum page is the next step. There is no point asking a question that has already been asked and answered. If the question has not been asked, feel free to create a new thread. Remember, SDN is not just a place to ask questions, you can also answer questions. As you move along your SAP Education journey you should find that the number of questions you raise will reduce and the number of questions you answer will increase. Where ever you are within your SAP Education journey – using SAP SDN and remember the three key phases should help you get to where you want to get to and ensure you deliver good SAP solutions to customers.

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13 Comments

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  1. Former Member
    Hi Mark,

    Well said about the various avenues.  You have also summed up it up well.  But I slightly differ in the order SAP training –> Playing around in Sandbox and then the actual project.  I would definitely want to play around the sand box with different ideas we get during the training before going for the implementation (of course if time permits).  This would certainly increase our confidence and would allow us to explore various possibilities.

    But I would also like to point out that SAP Help site is as good as it can get.  It has answers to most of the questions people have.  So I suggest that before posting a thread, a read on wiki, other threads and the help site would avoid most of the questions.  Of course the navigation on the SAP help site is time consuming, but is definitely worth the effort.

    Regards,
    Ravi  

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  2. Former Member
    How do I learn? – I’m thinking..  Well there are a lot of different ways, and I’ll probably miss a few.

    There are different conferences.  AUSG has an annual conference.  It highlights different things that people have done with SAP.   SAP Teched is always a great place to start.  SIT – one of my new ways of learning – SAP Inside Track is a great way to learn something new, and meet new people.   (And it’s free.  It could be close to you in your area.)  There are POD casts.  There usually is a monthly mentor “Webinar”.  There are different magazines that you can read.  Of course SAP books – I use them as references.  I rarely read one from cover to cover.  And then there is eLearning on SCN.  This is a great way to get introduction to technologies, and increase your overall knowledge.

    So I think the idea of a good SAP Education is finding different places to learn.  I like the idea of being proactive.  Learning things before you have to use them.   That way you can suggest them as a possible solution to an issue on a project.  You may even be able to demo them to show what you can do on the system.

    Of course training classes are great!  But I think you should pick these based upon something you’ve already read about at a high level.   I read a blog that had something I would like to use, and so I went to a training class. Or I started learning at Teched / SIT / Elearning,and I need more information prior to using the new technology.  It gives you an advantage when you get to the training class.  You will probably already have questions to ask.

    The best way to learn is on the job.  I agree.  I also agree you have to have the basics before you can use a technology.  If you don’t know what is available in the first place, how can you use it?

    For help – yes I agree – SAP help, SCN WIKI, Blogs, SCN white papers (articles) and forums.  BUT don’t forget the network of people that you have.  They may have done what you are trying to.

    Side note: Whenever you post something on SAP you will learn from the comments – like a blog.  If it’s a WIKI – you’ll learn as people start updating it.  Articles – again you’ll learn by the comments.  So post your own information on SAP and see what happens.  I know I learn a ton just by putting out information.  My favorite are blogs and WIKIs.

    Also – there are those people with the “lemons” by their name.  They are the SAP Mentors.  We are always happy to help.  When I don’t know the answer to something, I will try to find someone who does.  We are here to help!  Feel free to use us.  Of course we all have regular jobs too, so the response time may be a little longer. You’ll see us on the other SAP ways of learning too!

    You have hit upon a subject near and dear to me.  I try to promote constant education and learning new things.  You may be SAP certified, the best consultant, and you may get great reviews.  But if you let your skills stagnate, then eventually you will be unable to perform your job.

    And last – SAP Teched.  I hope to see you there.  It’s a nice mix of the latest and greatest + the “old” stuff that you can use as soon as you get home.  

    I’ll be in Las Vegas Teched!  Hope to see you there.

    Long response – Nice blog!

    Michelle

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  3. Gregory Misiorek
    sending your sandbox transports to production is the best way, but also the most difficult and risky.

    wiki is obscure, help is often not relevant, forums (fora?) are unpredictable, and blogs are, well, just blogs.

    sap education is the most comfortable and controlled environment. it’s great for expanding horizons and meeting others in a non-threatening circumstances. it’s also pricey.

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    1. Former Member
      And so…  You would say WIKI, Forums, and Blogs are not a good way to learn things.  How about elearning and articles?

      SAP Education is good.  Don’t get me wrong.  I go to it as well.  Of course at a class you are held hostage when the instructor isn’t very good.  You can’t get up and move to a different class.  That’s a whole other issue though.  It also may not be in the budget.  I also like to get a jump prior to the class.  

      How about events like Teched?  I meet a lot of people there.

      So — I would disagree.  I think that the things listed give you a great start in learning.  They may not tell you everything – but neither do SAP courses.  You must to a point too.  Here you are responding to a blog.

      Keep in mind – I do go to SAP courses too.  But I usually find out about something I want to learn thru a Blog, WIKI, or SAP event.

      Me – debating,

      Michelle

      No matter how you do it – learning is a great thing.

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      1. Gregory Misiorek
        Hi Michelle,

        thank you for responding to my comment. i agree that i have posted the negatives for SDN components, but obviously there are positives as well as i have been using them all for quite some time. they are basically ‘free’, so you get what you paid for.
        TechEd to me is like compressed SAP class and if you don’t know how to handle the crowds it can be quite distracting, but it’s great for catching up with people and hearing the buzz.
        i don’t consider blogging learning unless i write a blog myself and then need to edit it over and over again.
        all in all, making comments is the easiest and the least time consuming task of all, so my highest ROI on SAP learning goes to twitter.

        rgds, greg

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        1. Former Member
          Hey Greg!

          Another valid point.  Teched to me is like going to a bunch of different compressed SAP classes.

          Blogging – learning – yes, I totally agree.  I learn a ton by comments.  Writing and editing?  Well as you can see from some of my blogs, I rarely edit.  I write and then post.  Not always the best way of doing things.

          I consider blogs learning for a couple of reasons:
          1.  They introduce a new technology.
          2.  Some of them contain “how-to” tricks with a story around how they stumbled across the trick.  IE This is my requirement – here’s how I solved it.
          3.  You take blogs as they are – blogs.   Some of them will point you in the wrong way.  So I would say follow up with different information.  I have SAP books on my desks for reference. 
          4.  Sometimes you have an “AHA” moment and the light blub goes off while reading a blog.  You think – that’s it!  That is how I would do that!  You went around the problem, and the blog helps you think of the answer.  Maybe not exactly from the blog but like it…  It has helped.
          5.  There are some super stars that write blogs that you can be almost 100% sure they are correct.  I follow those people.  I could list about 50 of them.

          Now as for my personal blogs.  I have lately only been doing ones that are more “fluffy”.  Introducing things like Sap Inside Track – have you heard of that one?  Another place to learn.  However, I have posted some technical information.  It is usually wrapped in a “this is what happened” and then “here is how I solved it”.  It’s cool.  I get some great comments – usually.  I learn something.  YES – I learn something.  Hopefully the person reading the blog learns something too.  – They get an Aha! moment.

          (And honestly, some of the blogs I read – well – they shouldn’t have been approved.  I try to comment on them – I hope you do to.  Nothing nasty – remember they spent the time to blog – but something constructive.)

          BR – hope to see you at Teched!

          Michelle

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  4. Jerry Osborn
    Learning by doing is the best teacher and learning from the right source. SAP Education has the right methods and classroom experience on a live system with topnotch trainers cannot be beat for learning. Online and virtual training is great too for course material and easy to access remotely.

    I have always enjoyed the classroom training provided by SAP. I hope they offer more classes in the coming future.

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    1. Former Member Post author
      Hi Jerry,

      Learning from the right source. A great and valid point.

      The risk of not doing this is picking up poor habits and having wrong information that could lead to issues within projects.

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    2. Former Member
      I like the idea of going to classes.  I really do.   BUT – how often does the courses teach just the basics?  Really are you coding like you did in class?  I’m sure not.  Talk about inefficient code.

      They have to teach in a certain way so we understand the basics.  Then we have to take the basics and start to apply them to our requirements.   Then we find out – through trial and error – that what was taught was the basic way of doing things.   So we have to do something to increase performance.

      Here is where places like SCN, Google, etc.  Really shine.   Somebody has been there and done that.  You can learn from what they have done.

      I’ve been told I learn strangely.  BUT I like the ability to control the pace of the class.  Slow it down in confusing areas, and speed it up when I’ve got the subject matter down.  How often do you start on the exercises while the instructor is still teaching?

      I still love Teched where I can bounce around between sessions.

      I like this idea.  It’s a strong point on the other side.  There are different areas here and on the web where things are taught “wrong”.  So you learn the wrong way.  I would say that elearning and articles are reviewed prior to adding them to SCN.

      Michelle

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  5. Former Member
    Hi,
    Apart from all the sources already mentioned, I find the RKT (Ramp up Knowledge Transfer) material particularly useful when a new version/product is out. It highlights the key differences between versions and is a set of focused documents, rather than a fluffy sales slides.
    Regards
    Sue
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