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.