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An Independent’s View of the New SCN

My first issue is going to be to figure out where this blog should reside.  And what tags to add.  After all, a blog is no good if it’s not read. So since I can only pick one now, it’ll be a bit more challenging!

This conversion to SCN has been interesting.  I heard an interesting take by another independent on line.  Petr Solberg said in a comment that he loves the new SCN mostly because it makes it so hard now for members to find answers and he hopes it continues. It would thus make the consultants more valuable to clients as clients might have a diminished ability to get answers to often times, fairly simple problems.  Now I’m sure Petr’s comments were somewhat tongue in cheek and probably posted with a certain amount of frustration.

Do independents really think that way?  Do we really think a bad SCN is good for us?  No.  I don’t’ think deep down any of us really do.  We want SCN to be good ultimately.  Independents need SCN as much as SAP and consulting houses need independents.  I know many of them think of us as leeches and opportunists. 

I’d like them to think of us more as relief values.  It’s rare that a project is done without a consulting partner.  When times are good, these partners, including SAP, use independents to plug the holes when they run out of internal resources.  When times are bad, we are the first to feel the affect and as a result help to protect internal employees from layoffs.  Ideally project demands always match available resources but we all know that isn’t always the case.  So independents play a crucial role in all project work whether it be an SAP project or a construction project.

When it comes to SCN, a good SCN is important. Independents can’t participate in many SAP events because they are not a partner.  They have to pay for their own SAP classes and events.  They cannot get an “S” service number account to cruise OSS.  We often don’t have a sandbox to play in and can’t test or experiment with new releases of SAP.  So SCN is a great way to keep up with the pulse of SAP.   We can learn about new things and new approaches by participating in discussions (forums).  But time is money for us and an inefficient and ineffectual SCN is very detrimental. 

But what does a bad SCN do for us?  For an independent a strong SAP market is critical to making sure our skills are in demand.  Anything that detracts from SAP’s strength in the market and ability to compete is detrimental to us.  SCN is now one of the key faces of SAP.  New customers are going to be cruising through it.  Companies planning an expansion of SAP functionality will do research in SCN.  What does a bad experience in SCN say to a customer?  What does a bad conversion say to a customer?

As an SAP customer, I need my new systems to be converted over in a short time with as little disruption to my business as possible.  The project team needs to deliver on time, under budget and with no, to little impact on customers and vendors.  That’s what we are all charged with, whether a consulting partner, SAP, or as an individual member of a team.

I know that SAP will get SCN running.  It will be a good system at some point and people will use it and learn it.  And maybe even get to like it if not love it.  Have you ever heard the same thing said to a group of users or power users being trained on their new SAP system prior to a go live?  I have!  It’s new, it’s different, change is hard… etc, etc.

But that’s not a good thing!!!

We’re expected to convert to an SAP system over a long weekend and come up running Monday morning with little to no interruption.  Users are to be trained and ready.  The system is sized and running.  Security and user profiles are good and ready to go.  Data is loaded and correct.  Open orders and transactions have been loaded.  Financials are correct.

Do we always get it right?  Nope.  There are scores of horror stories out there about bad projects and businesses almost brought to their knees by problems.  And most of us have been involved with one or two of these projects over the years.  On the other hand there are many, many other projects that do come in on time, under budget and with little interruption. 

With almost everyone in SCN having been involved in these projects why would we, as a community, expect anything less from an SAP run project?  We have high standards and high expectations.  If SAP can’t deliver their own conversion project on time and with little interruption to their clients then who can?  If I’m a customer or potential customer and I see the types of problems we have seen with SCN this week it would make me think twice about an SAP project, or at least using SAP to manage the project. It’s kind of going to a new dentist and seeing he/she has bad teeth.  Or having an obese cardiologist.

So are we being overly hard on SAP?  Maybe we are.  But SAP’s success is crucial to all of us. Our livelihoods depend on it.  We expect them to set the bar.  At three days and counting the bar is dropping.

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9 Comments

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  1. Jarret Pazahanick

    Very good article and I think that many people (including myself) have a sense of pride in the community as well as friends with many of the internal team and has limited some of the critical comments but do agree that there are many issues still occurring 4 days after the launch (ie SSO) and it is important that these got fixed yesterday.

    On a side note I heard some joke yesterday that some SAP projects must be struggling as it is well known that some “consultants” use the forums to try to learn SAP while selling themselves as experts to the customers and the upgrade as thrown havoc into that strategy 🙂

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    1. Craig S Post author

      Jarret – thanks for your comments!  Well…that’s the problem with many of us independents.  We have a bad habit of speaking our minds and its why many have become independents because they often times have problems playing a lot of the poltical games that go on in many consulting houses.  Some interpret that as not being team players.  But there is a fine line sometimes between supporting your employer and being a honest team member.

      Unfortunately there is no joking about new consultants using SCN while “playing” the role of consultant.  But I think you’ll find most of these people are not true independents but new employees or older employees at consulting houses being forced into a new role they aren’t ready for by their employers. 

      There are several good blogs, (at least there were!) about weeding out the bad consultants during interviews.  I’m just not sure how to find those blogs just yet!!!

      FF

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      1. Marilyn Pratt

        Some of those very blogs you mention were written by Jarret 😉 as well as folks like Jon Reed.  If you follow Jarret and subscribe to be notified about his content you can keep in lockstep with his postings here.  You know FF that I “feel” your pain and beyond the issues with performance and search which are being and should be addressed and are very frustrating, there is an element of pain that many feel in CHANGE and that is truly something that time, education, use, and kicking the tires addresses.

        As someone who has been with this community for many years…pretty much since inception at least as a lurker, I know the history of each iteration of evolution.  I can promise you that there were loud protestations when we created the wiki and then when it became governed.  Moderation was something that evolved over time as well as for a good portion of the blog time, Finnern, Craig and myself were the ONLY moderators.  So of course there are going to be a great many more voices engaging when we have over 700 moderators (wo)manning the posts and the barricades.  In fact, I remember a time when we needed to beg for and poach content because there was great resistance to contributing.  As one of the mentors said elsewhere.  Many folks hated the old SCN and got tired of talking about it.

        Know that we are in constant listen mode to all the kinds of talk here.   I am very grateful for your comments FF and the obvious element which you illuminate here: our success is important to you as this platform is a lifeline to many in the field. 

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  2. Luke Marson

    This is a great article. There are many teething problems and I know SCN are working hard behind the scenes to resolve it, but I did expect less “critical” issues.

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  3. Erika Atencio

    My only probelm with this new scn is forums are not well organized. Hope they were at least a little bit like old SCN forums, so easy to browse.  But I guess it won’t happen so we all have to get used to this not-well-organized forums.  And will learn the trick to understand this mess. 

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  4. Mark Finnern

    Hi FireFighter,

    I would agree with your last paragraph, if this was an SAP upgrade and done by SAP consulting. But it was neither.

    We implemented the latest Jive platform. To the best of my knowledge there is no one of our community size on that release yet. It is a tough decision, do you go with the latest release and the shiny new features and have some birthing pain, or go with the tried and true and come out with a system that is out of date at the start? We choose the former.

    We would have loved to have SAP consulting help us implement the new SCN, but they are all out at our customers implementing HANA etc. Therefore it isn’t the dentist with the bad teeth, it is more the shoemakers son problem.

    I am convinced that we need some time to discover and grow into the new features. There will be some wow moments, like when you list blogs and you can see the number of views, comments, likes and bookmarks in one glance. That is golden if you want to find out what is going on in your space.

    All the best, Mark.

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    1. Craig S Post author
      Mark,  Thanks for the insight from the inside.  Maybe I have been overly critical.  Folks coming from regulated, pharmaceutical areas who work with Quality systems on a regular basis tend to be that way.  And I’m no where near as picky as most of them!!  Being on the bleeding edge is never easy.  I’d love to someday hear about the “lessons learned” or “after action report”.  Maybe a root causes report?  :-).   Anyway, we are all passionate about SAP.  We want this too work.  It has been improving greatly.  I think I was only kicked off less than a dozen times today.  🙂  And that was mostly early today.  Seemed much more stable after lunch, (EST).  FF
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  5. Martin Hinderer

    I don’t think we are overly beeing hard with SAP on this. Thinking back to the blog post about the “day 2 status” what made me angry the most was not the fact that SCN was practically not usable (getting slightly better now…but just got an “internal server page error” popup 😡 ). It was the way how this blog has been written: trying to sell this go live as a “success with some things to be improved” is just bold. MH

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