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December is almost over, and after what was an amazing year for me both with ABAPZombie and at SDN, I got myself thinking about the main reasons why some people still thinks that they don’t need to learn new stuff and, supposely have all knowledge they need to stay on top of their areas. I’ve come up with an analysis, and would like to discuss it with you, because maybe it’s not directly their fault…

The Legend of “Technical Gods”

Most people I know that works inside SAP Market as a consultant have already heard something about people that says they’re “SAP Technical Gods” but doesn’t know how to handle simple work assignments. Those guys are popularly known by the way they can sell and offer their jobs, in a way that it masks their lack of preparation to work with a particular technology.

If you haven’t heard anything about them, just think in someone that gets inside your company and is said to be very good on the same technology you are working with. He starts by your side, and you realize he can’t finish something VERY simple, or takes TOO MUCH TIME doing it. It will take a while until everybody (managers, team leaders, senior consultants, etc) realizes he’s not that good, and fire him out of the team. Then he’ll try to move to another company, hoping that it takes more time until someone get to know the facts. That’s our guy.

I believe this kind of situation won’t end any time soon, and probably will never cease to exist. Getting to know if someone is REALLY good at something is trully hard. I can use Certification 5 as an example: a whole community team dedicated in trying to find the best way to test people out and give them a solid recognition for their knowledge. Now imagine how hard it is for companies to hire people and identify wich of them are lying, and which are not. If we consider that some recruiters doesn’t know anything about technology, it turns out to be even harder.

But what relation can these people have with someone who doesn’t care about developing? Well, they´re affecting the levels some might use to describe a strong technical consultant.

Turning into an expert without doing much

Imagine a project with 2 developers. If one of them is the guy that lied and sold himself as an Senior consultant, the other one has strong chances to get into spolight and be praised by the rest of the team, just by getting the job done, without anything special. That can generate somekind of self-illusion, making him think that he knows much more than the average Senior consultant. He’ll lose their desire to learn and develop – he already knows what he needs to have a great carreer, as everybody says he’s really good.

I believe that most of you who are reading this would never get into this kind situation, but unfortunatelly I have close friends who thinks just as I described. Those people often ask me: “Why creating a blog and share you´re knowledge? You won´t get anything back from it”. Sad, isn’t it?

What can you do (or advice others to) in order to avoid this situation?

We are tired of hearing that we got to study and seek more knowledge in ANY carrer whe choose. That’s a fact if you want to trully succed. I made a ABAP Blog and I share some thoughts here on SDN because these are things that keeps me motivated to learn. As I discover new technologies, new tips, tricks and techniques I realize that I’m very far away from knowing everything I want, and that’s a good thing.

For people who have stopped in time and were affected by that “illusion”, I’d say: be careful. Find ways to keep you mind active and motivated to learn. I’m not saying you should start doing a blog – that worked for me and many others, but maybe it won’t work for you. Luckly there are tons of other ways to do it: forums, books, courses, social networks, lectures… Just do yourself a favor and keep going, until the very end.

Last but not least

This is obviously not an absolute rule, but it’s something I’ve been dealing with for quite some time (and is bugging me, of course). There are plenty of people who do an amazing job keeping themselves and their teams motivated, and I believe this is mandatory on the road to success, not only on your carrer but in your whole life. I just hope this can help someone in their process of awakening.

Oh, and maybe the only way to get rid of those liars from market is trying to be better. It will be hard for them to get a new job, as they will really look amateurs, even trying hard not to. Well, someday we’ll get there, I hope… 🙂

Thanks! I wish you all a very happy new year! See you next time!

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16 Comments

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  1. Prasad Bhawalkar
    Mauricio, Good thoughts !!

    Continuous learning and improvement of one’s knwoledge or expertise is the only way a consultant or IT professional can ensure long term survival. Some may get just lucky but would always have the guilty consciousness – whether they admit it or not. As the world gets smaller it would not take much for someone sincere and knowledgeable to replace a ‘fake’ expert !

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    1. Mauricio Cruz Post author
      Hi Prasad, thanks for your comment!

      In addition to the guilty consciousness, I believe these kind of people are living in fear…

      And yes: we MUST always improve, otherwise we would be doomed! 🙂

      Regards!
      Mauricio

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  2. Kumud Singh
    Hello Mauricio,
    You again bring in a new discussion.Unmotivated people can take away the charm of working if not tackled well.They never gain the respect of anyone who respects knowledge.But at the same time, I think wherever we go we do get different kind of people and hence them.Pretty debatable topic, to keep it short, I will add that I tackle them either by being direct with them or doing the work myself.

    Regards,
    Kumud

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    1. Mauricio Cruz Post author
      Hi Kumud! Let’s just say that I really like to discuss these controvertial topics. And I find it fun to know that I’m exactly like you with those people: I’m extremely direct with them, and sometimes I end up doing the work myself (and also report what is happening to my superiors) – and I just feel bad if I don’t do this. It’s like I’m helping him If I get to know he’s lying and do nothing.

      Thanks again for getting into the discussion Kumud!
      Best Regards!

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  3. Lukas Moll
    Hello Mauricio,

    there is a lot of truth in this Blog and it is worthwhile to discuss this issue in large organization within a SAP Market which is getting more and more complex and bigger.

    Br,
    Lukas

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    1. Mauricio Cruz Post author
      Hello Lukas! Thanks for your comment.

      One thing that aid the cases I bloged about are the complex IT landscape from larger companies: there are so many technologies envolved that its harder to ensure that everyones that are being contracted really got what it takes to do the job.

      Regards,
      Mauricio

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  4. Michelle Crapo
    Beware!  There are liars everywhere.  SAP doesn’t have the market on liars who get promoted or can talk their way into a job.

    Technical.  Well for me this is the easiest to find a good technical consultant.  We do technical interviews prior to them arriving.  Does this always work?  No.  We once had a consultant who had someone else do the phone interview for him.  Crazy, huh?

    We also ask technical questions of people we are going to bring on as permanent employees.  We can quickly determine who is stretching the truth and who can actually do the job.

    So beware – if you apply here, we do technical interviews.  We catch the liars pretty quickly.

    Michelle

    BTW – Constant learning.  I push that a lot.  Sharing knowledge is just as important.

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    1. Mauricio Cruz Post author
      Michelle, what if I told you that I’ve seen thousand of technical interviews made by phone calls? How can you know if someone is lying if you can’t even look at his face? VERY Crazy indeed.

      And I once heard from a consultant used to make phone interviews that, sometimes, you can’t directly reject someone who’s not “that” good. If he demonstrates enthusiasm and a will to learn, it’s better to bring him inside the company, try to teach him how to work and only then determine if he must stay at the job. From my point of view, this is even more crazy… and he wasn’t talking about newcomers.

      So, basically, he wanted to hire someone who was already working at the market for about 2 or 3 year and didn’t know much about the technology – that’s sound like a liar to me,  who has won the jackpot if someone is hiring him to teach how he should’ve been working.

      Making an interview is not an easy task if you do it the write way, now imagine doing it like this guy I’m describing.That’s how liars get through, and there are plenty of them out there…

      Thanks for your comments Michelle!
      Best Regards,
      Mauricio

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      1. Stephen Johannes
        It’s sad that people lie to get positions.  I have seen this happen a few times and in the end it hurts the person involved, the hiring company and the agency providing the resource.

        In terms of the bait and switch part, well I think people need to realize that some of us can figure out an act in a small part of time.  When I used to do full-time ABAP development, I could normally determine skill level after a few conversations or no more than a half day of work with the person.

        I must admit your blog scares me a little as I’m going to be faced with reviewing resources in the future and will need to make sure I get the right person.  Perhaps I should tell everyone I’m reviewing to read this blog, so they know I what I won’t tolerate :).

        Take care,

        Stephen

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        1. Michelle Crapo
          Sadly – it does take about a half of day.  I work in an FDA regulated environment.  That means that about 1 – 2 days are spent learning our standard operating procedures for the consultant.  AHHHH!!!

          Then the 1/2 day where they are coding.  Well if it is a large project, I wouldn’t see that code until it was completed.  (I usually check before then, just because I’ve seen those liars.)  So it takes me longer to catch them.

          Have fun with the reviewing!  It’s not a fun job.

          Michelle

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          1. Arun Varadarajan
            I work in a similar environment too .. and I am in support – what this means is that someone does some development and its not good and the stuff hits the roof when it enters production and this always means a P1 and a lot of mails and phone calls and a lot ( a very big lot ) of documentation!!!!
            Getting the documentation past Quality assurance and ensuring that FDA compliance is met is not easy!!!

            But then I have been on the other side too – for another project where I was the architect – I changed a field in a table and brought down the entire BW system for a week!!

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      2. Michelle Crapo
        WHAT!?  OK – that is nuts.  I guess it may make sense for a consulting company to think that way.  Because then they can advertise that the person has 2 – 3 years experience.  But that is crazy!  (Can you tell I used to work for a consulting company? or 2)

        Not ALL consulting firms are like that.  I know that.  But it’s sad that I as a customer have to interview the consulting team.  I should be able to assume they are great at what they do.

        I completely agree – that is how liars get through the cracks.  It is not a very good system.  If they have been working 2 – 3 years, and haven’t learned what they needed to know..  Well how can you think you can train them?

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  5. Arun Varadarajan
    Mauricio ,
    I have seen a lot of “Padded” resumes – I could go on about the same but then it would not be nice…

    Telephone – never believe the telephone – use it as a filtration tool but never hire a person without meeting him/her first. If possible go the extra mile for a video conference on Skype – it is worth it.

    Also in some cases we work along with the client on projects and the client gets to hire people to supplement the team – lets say the client decides to hire a person for BW and makes him/her work as part of the team – and if this person is not good – then it becomes even more hard .
    In many projects – we have the habit of “Kiss and Make up ”  ( could not find a better description ) – the client is bad – adjust your work and slowly you get to a point where you end up doing the lions share of the work and the client person gets the credit.

    Is there a solution to this – if the client project member is bad – what do you do as a consultant ( read : contractor ) on the project.

    ( I might have gone off on a tangent here – justwanted to add my rant to the list of woes!!!)

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    1. Michelle Crapo

      I agree.  A phone interview is not enough when hiring a full time employee.  However when bringing a consultant in that’s the best option we have.Michelle

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  6. Philip Jones
    Ive worked on a lot of client sites and seen a lot of different work practices. You need to hit the ground running and for that reason the interview should be used to get information on the specifics of the project being worked on.

    If the emphasis is on IDOC processing (which Ive not touched in a few years) then you get your head ‘back in the book’ so you dont struggle on day one. This also involves keeping personal notes and tips that were useful when you do work.

    I agree whole heartedly that if you are in this job then ‘learning’ is as important as eating. BUT there is no way you are going to know it all or even close to all. Knowing what you need to know and what you are going to need is possible.

    That means keeping up to speed with what your company is planning and what the solutions are. If you dont have that kind of enthusiasm then you are in the wrong job my friend.  You dont love what you do, its that simple.

    Ask any 12 year-old football fanatic about his team and you will get chapter and verse. Ask him about math and you will likely get a blank expression. No mystery, the math holds no charm.

    Same for your work. Doing a job becasue its ‘what you do’ isnt good enough. If you get to this level then there are tons of options if you find the excitement is gone. Dont give second best which is all you can do if your heart isnt in it.

    Ive seen consultants ‘bomb’ when its clear they shone at other sites. This is not entirely their fault. Different client/different work culture can make or break the most knowlegable and experienced of us. I believe its a little unfair to label such people as ‘liars’ when they dont meet your expectations.

    A change of job or contract is a major investment for all parties. It is also high-risk. I would suggest that a bad consultant will get away with bad work twice in succession before finding work is difficult to get.

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    1. Michelle Crapo
      I used to think “If I hated my job I would change it”.  Now I think “If I hated my job, I have house payments, my child, my desire not to travel, my bills, my quality of life…”

      Does that mean I hate what I do?!  Are you kidding most of the time I love this thing called SAP.  But there are days…  There are days where I hate it!  There I said it.  There are days when I hate SAP!

      And so you are a consultant.  You know IDOCs inside and out.  You would rather work on something new.  I don’t know what – PI maybe.   The job comes up for IDOCs.  You need the job you take the job.  It may not be the one you would like.  And you may hate it at times.

      BTW – In my world everyone would love their job all the time.   Of course, my world doesn’t exist.

      Now I know that’s not what you really meant, or is it?  That consultant that takes the IDOC job may be bored, and that shows in his work.  So they bomb where before they shined.

      Company culture is big!   Sometimes a consultant can say and be heard when they say it “This is not the right way to do things.”  Sometimes if they say the same sentence to a different client.  The client is thinking get rid of him he isn’t a team player.

      I think you bring an entirely different idea to this discussion.   What about company – what does that do for a consultant’s reputation?  Does the client always want to hear they are right or do they want the consultant’s help on solutions?  Those maybe two entirely different people that they want.  The technical interview is basically the same for both situations.

      Interesting….  You have influenced one person – that’s me.  To take a second look when I think the consultant isn’t right.  Maybe I should be learning from them.  Maybe I should be leading them.  And I SHOULD change my interview questions to see what type the person is.  The best of course, would be the consultant that can do it all.

      BTW – I love what I do MOST of the time.

      Happy Friday!  I love these thoughts,

      Michelle

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