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Does SCN contribute to poor SAP Consulting?

I spend a fair amount of time within the SCN site. It could be reading blogs, answering questions, or even writing blogs as I am doing now. I am aware that recently there has been some good debate around the SAP Education process and the perception within the community. It feels like there should be a way to join, SAP Education, the SCN Community to tie in with actual SAP delivery.

In my role as moderator I have been concerned recently around the level of questions being asked. Some pretty basic questions are being raised:

Here are two examples I found within 5 mins of looking around:

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image 2.png

  
      
What I can also see is that community members reply with correct information. From a high level this is great. SCN is doing its thing, helping fellow community members. But then I got thinking a bit more. We have SAP consultants, who seem to be working on a client site without a “Scooby doo” (clue) what to do. They are reliant on the community to deliver their SAP projects, which is scary to say the least. I am unaware if these consultants, are internal or external, what I can see from their questions is that they are unskilled to do the job that someone is paying for them to do.The person who is getting
cheated here is the customer
. I have recently come across a situation where the skills of a consultant did not marry up to the skills and experience they had on their CV. It became clear quickly that the consultant neither knew the product nor the process which put us in an awkward position.

This topic has again been debated previously but I can see some synergies between these types of activities. 

  

What is the real issue here?

So back to my original question, well SCN is a great place for consultants to share ideas and to learn from each other. However in my opinion there needs to be some base entry points. Asking a question in an area for which you know nothing is a risky approach for an unskilled consultant. You have no way to vet the response you get and therefore you are at the liberty of the individual who provided the answer. SCN promotes good practice, and the reputation and points based approach allows users to reward a consultant who provides the correct response, leading to a source of reliable answers. With this combination, I am sure there are some consultants that can “learn on the job” and implement a solution without any real knowledge of the process and solution. (Is this something that we should be promoting within SCN?) 

Generally they will scrape through, but without the insight into the true skill-set of the product or the process, the solution that will delivered to the customer will either be basic, or highly bespoke as standard configuration items have been overlooked due to poor education.

To translate this back to the customer, they have either paid over the odds by over-bespoking, or under-achieved but not using all of the functionality. Either way the result for the customer is not their desired outcome.

How to fix this?

OK, I am not pretending that this is any easy issue to fix. If it was I am sure it would have been fixed a while back. However with all of the comments around Education, certification and SCN, I thought of a combination of changes that could help.

Within a user profile, include the “S” number of the consultant. Not all user ids will require a “S” number only people who configure and develop SAP. A customer can access SDN and view comments and questions against that “S” number. If I were a customer and saw that a consultant was asking detailed questions via SCN, I would be encouraged to learn that they were looking after my interests. 

Where basic questions are being raised, these again could be flagged, and potentially filter back to the customer. This would enable the customer to know that a question was raised on SCN that was deemed basic by a consultant that has been sold as experienced and alarm bells could then sound.

This process wont be easy to implement as it will require changes to both SCN and SAP systems and there would need to be some integration.

 

  

  1. This would ensure the level of questions raised within SCN improved. I remember before the SCN upgrade there were over 100,000 Finance questions in the forum board. I am sure there were plenty of duplicate questions and plenty where a consultant asked for a Finance configuration guide or Blueprint document.
  2. In the short term, there is a “report abuse” icon within the forums. I would like to see SCN encourage wider use of this to include the creation of basic questions (potentially a new icon so these can filter through a different channel). If someone came on to the Finance forum and asked “how do I create a GL account” – or something similar I would like to see this flagged.

Changing these behaviours will enable the community to focus on proper questions and unique questions which are always within the forum, but sometimes get lost due to the high volume of basic questions.

Who benefits?

  

SCN is a great community, one where there are some great networks of active contributors and I would encourage them to continue and the size of the networks to grow. By removing basic questions, and encouraging unskilled consultants to gain a high level overview prior to engagement would make the SCN experience more enjoyable for all concerned. Not only would SCN improve the final delivery of the solution that the customer receives will improve due to the better product and process knowledge of a more skilled consultant pool.

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  • It's not SCN, it's the SI, consulting companies and their managers that are unwilling to pay for

    a) good people

    b) training (internal, external)

    Sadly, everybody can enter the SAP market, you only need to find a company (mostly the big SI) to hire you.

    SAP clients suffer but they are also to blame as they trust their HR / SI to give them the right people (or forced to take whatever they get) without doing a background check.

    Every mechanism that identifies a person won't help (poor guy, got hired and has to do the work while his manager won't train him), maybe identifying companies who's employees are asking basic questions and than publish that info. But that will result in a boycott of SCN from certain companies.

    • Hi Tobias - I cant see all of the blame falling at the door of the SI - but then I work for a SI.

      People are performing a role without the right level of knowledge and relying on others to help them out.

      IF SI's are putting unskilled resources on a project the customers should either ask for a refund.

      My vision is that if the quality of question increases and the duplication reduces then actually SCN will become very valuable to SAP, the SI and the customer.

      • Hi Mark,

        Very interesting blog indeed. I actually enjoy browsing through questions and being able to help fellow consultants, but I tend to ignore questions that are a bit too basic. I think it is hard to draw a line though and set controls around SCN. Personally I would shy away from asking questions on forums and I don't think that would be the desired outcome either.

        I do agree with Tobias though when he is saying that the main question is why these consultants are in a situation where they have to ask basic questions on a public forum in the first place, and I do think that consulting companies are sometimes (not always) to blame.

        Just some food for thought though,is it possible that you may have a skilled consultant on a small project and he might simply be trying to help out in an area that is out of his comfort zone - in the best interest of the customer?

      • What do you mean by: "IF SI's are putting unskilled resources on a project [...]"? That's reality. Just navigate to the public internet presence of some and look at their HR sites and statements made there: "Got hired from university and presented to the customer the 1st day as the one that will solve the problem". They sell these stories as investing in their people (you get a mentor, internal training, training on the job, etc) and get prizes for their HR program (that is the company where you should start to get your career starting in XYZ).

        As the consultants only learned from each other, collecting information without really understanding the big picture they arrive at your project, and develop in the sap.com namespace, don't know what eCatt is or how to do a transport (if they figure out how to log on, as the logon data changed (!!) compared to what they know from their internal training)*.

        Their idea is actually not bad when done right - the internal training, the mentor, the rest - just think about how many good people started like this. The problem is, even when it works for some, the largest part is just lost. Resulting in the long run in a bad reputation of SAP.

        Yes, SAP is loosing in the long run as the SI managers tell the customer: "Well, that is how SAP works, complicated, expensive, bad documented, ..." and the client believes this - or quotes them to his boss to pass on the problem (can't blame me, blame SAP).

        BTW: the most useful way to solve the basic question is to delete them (did no search) or ignore it.

        *OK, that wasn't someone from a SI or partner, this consultant was an SAP employee

        • Tobias

          It is easy to tarnish people with the same brush.

          I am sure what you are refering to do occur, but I can confirm this does not happen everywhere.

          The other point I was making in the blog was a customer might decide to go native and try and implement new functionality by themselves (with their internal SAP Team that dont have the experience).

          • It is easy to tarnish people with the same brush.

            That's what you are doing with the ideas you mention in your blog. Doesn't make sense to go after the guy who is posting the question. Ask why he is posting it. And the reason why the question was posted is outside of SCN. Creating barriers or showing the whole world who asks basic questions or who employes them: why? Using credits for answering/posting? Will result in shared user IDs and companies blocking SCN or hire someone that answers questions.

            Not every customer has an internal SAP team that has the skills / time. That's why they outsource. And who says that the easy questions are not all asked by customers or simply by students?

          • Hi Tobias,

            The whole point of my blog is to NOT tarnish all with the same brush.

            There are 1000's of community members who post great questions, and 1000's more who provide great responses and insights.

            I want to encourage that as I am sure you do.

            I dont propose to "go after the guy asking the question" - far from it.

            Education is the key here.

                 Education around how to use SCN and why to use SCN

                 Education around SAP knowledge

            I have no problem sharing my knowledge with fellow consultants. I dont look to see if they work for a rival SI, are independent or work directly for a customer. I answer the question if I can.

            What I take issue with, is someone asking questions in order to implement a solution where they have no previous knowledge of the solution.

            I would encourage them to either engage with skiled professionals (again no preference where they come from) and / or to attend relevant SAP lead training courses.

          • Sorry to insist Mark, but from my point of view you are. Attribute an S-User to a user account to allow customers to trace down his behavior on SCN? That's punishing everybody: the one who does and posts beginner questions (because he got recently assigned to a new project) and the one who don't (raising a suspicious question why he didn't). As with every other idea where I first have to proof that I know what I'm talking about.

            I am in favor of letting people only gain a certain status / badge on SCN when they share important information about them. One can be the company or S-User. But using that to get rid of easy or how-to-do-XYZ-step-by-step questions?

            The solution - of course - is to train people. But training is expensive, SAP Education has to make profit instead of ensuring that SAP customers get qualified consultants / employees, short: After the sale is done, training is interpreted as on-the-job, mentoring, use Google (ok, not everybody can use Google: lmgtfy is the proof) or go SCN. But that's outside of SCN, so when you see a lost consultants, you can show mercy, ignore it or enforce the rules.

  • While what you have pointed out is valid, but the solution you have provided that SAP should inform the customer that so and so is asking such basic question is a recipe for disaster. This will literally ensure that nobody uses SCN.

    The current method of Moderators locking such posts is fine.

    There is famous saying which comes to my mind. One guy will ask many people to identify what they see in a big white wall that has a small black spot. Every one will only say "I see a black spot" while ignoring the huge white wall. This is human nature.

  • Hi Mark,

    This is a good blog and highlights a problem that others have picked up on around the area of "fraud" etc. I certainly know that the Nakisa forum (SAP Talent Visualization by Nakisa) is often used by people who don't really know how to implement the solutions properly. However, this is really caused by a lack of solid training in this area and the unwillingness for SIs to hire experienced competitors SIs to help them deliver.

    As a contributor to the main HCM forum also, I see day after day people asking basic config questions or a series of questions as they stumble along an implementation. I think if contributors are more likely to push people in the right direction rather than provide a full answer (and thus maybe not receive full points) then this might help the situation. In the Nakisa forum I have stopped providing detailed answers, but rather started to push people into a diretion where they will be forced to learn themselves.

    I think it is dangerous to allow people to think that they can just get the answer on SCN rather than go through a process of learning and discovery, especially given that SAP consulting is not about system configuration but about designing business processes that are supported by SAP. Since SCN contributors don't know the context or business requirements, what seems like a correct answer may actually be the wrong answer in the context of what should be delivered. This is why I prefer to nurture posters to learn themselves - this way they can learn knowledge and apply it to situations, rather than just asking a rigid question based on possibly incorrect interpretation of a customer requirement.

    Anyway, that's enough blabbering for now. In summary, I think contributors should use a mentoring approach to responding to discussions and not just look for getting the 10 points for a correct answer. Unfortunately the point hunters will always provide whatever answer gets the points, but the smart and genuine contributors will look to nurture and mentor an individual to provide them with the real value they should get from a community like SCN.

    Keep up the great work,

    Luke

    • Luke Marson wrote:

      I think it is dangerous to allow people to think that they can just get the answer on SCN rather than go through a process of learning and discovery, especially given that SAP consulting is not about system configuration but about designing business processes that are supported by SAP. Since SCN contributors don't know the context or business requirements, what seems like a correct answer may actually be the wrong answer in the context of what should be delivered. This is why I prefer to nurture posters to learn themselves - this way they can learn knowledge and apply it to situations, rather than just asking a rigid question based on possibly incorrect interpretation of a customer requirement.

      Luke

                         

      This. Exactly this.

      @OP Blogpost. SCN does not contribute to poor consulting. Poor consultants do.

      The "how-to-fix-this" part of the blog doesn't really convince me (The S-Number-Restriction idea sounds like locking this community from the 'public audience' 😏 ), aside from the part that the community itself has to look after its workspace to keep it "clean" by flagging "Please do the needful" posts and the like. I think this is indeed the only measure that works on the long run.

      Cheers, Lukas

  • I think this all stems from the blog on consulting fraud. I think the best thing to do is to "report abuse" on all these posts you mention.

    SI's are a disgrace from what I see. The whole economics of it does not work in the customers favour. Charge the most for the least qualified people that they can pay peanuts to. And it's not the customer only willing to pay for cheap people. From what I see they actually pay top dollar and get totally ripped off.

    I don't understand why companies aren't prepared to do implementations with a mix of their own people and experienced contractors where they can vet the individual skills. You get no value whatsoever from using a large SI - mainly inexperienced people and at top dollars...

    I see these issues every single day.  😉

    The SI's I've worked with all say they justify their high rates because of the worldwide backup that they have and their highly experience people - but they have none of this. There is no backup and they are generally just body shops to get the cheapest people they can get.  I could go on and on......

    • One of the best projects I worked on was staffed largely with independants or consultants from boutique consultants (hired on a person-by-person basis). The only problems was the sub-continent based outsourcing provider, but that's a different story...

    • As a customer that hired a SI because of their worldwide support + people, you actually CAN get the best they have. But it's complicated, several conditions have to be met like:

      • you have to threat them (and most surely afterwards the customer will need to hire a new SI).
      • (large) project goes down
      • show case project is going to fail and the SI will loose his image.

      They are the firefighters, so when they arrive you also know: the house is on fire, it is better to leave now than later 🙂

    • Hi Jason

      You are spot on - consultants (or people to give them their real title) are committing fraud by making out they can do a job that they cant.

      No one knows everything, and I dont want to come across as all high and mighty. I mainly answer questions on SCN - however I have asked a number of questions and I am sure I will do so in the future.

      Good questions and good answers is what we should strive for.

      Over time the consultants who ask the questions SHOULD turn into the consultants that answer the questions and that is great for everyone involved.

  • Hi Mark

    I agree with a lot of your comments but I just wanted to respond with my thoughts on the two suggestions you made:

    1. Visible S-numbers - I think (please correct me if I'm wrong) that you can only associate one S-number (or C-number, etc...) with each SCN account and once the association is set, it can't be changed. The problem for consultants who work for multiple customers is that if they wanted to allow their customers to see what questions they're asking, they'd need to create an SCN account for each S-number they have and could end up with an unmanageable number of SCN accounts. On the flip-side, if someone wanted to hide the questions they're asking from their customers then it wouldn't be very difficult for them to set up a "shadow SCN account" and ask questions through that account. I think that both of these would lead to undesired behaviour and an unnecessary proliferation of extra SCN accounts.

    I think that "identity" is an important thing in SCN and maybe even more so after the recent SCN changes. Anything that could dilute identity would not be a good thing.

    2. The Report Abuse button - I think that most people are reluctant to use a button like this as its connotation is quite negative. I wouldn't say that asking-a-simple-question-without-searching is "abusive". In some cases, I believe this is being done by users who just need some guidance on the new way of working and searching in SCN rather than being chastised. I would, however, class this activity as "misuse". I wonder if people would be more willing to press a "Report Misuse" button if they knew that by doing so would raise this content to the attention of moderators for a friendly follow up? An additional benefit could be that this would introduce a new piece of data that the SCN Team could analyse and use to target repeat offenders and groups of users or spaces that need more education and guidance.

    Some might argue that a "Report Misuse" button is similar to a "down-vote" or "dislike" functionality in other forums however I think that "misuse" is more an objective term (someone is either posting correctly or incorrectly, based on a set of rules) rather than "dislike" which is subjective ("do I like/agree with what the author has written?"). I know that I would be more willing to press a "Report Misuse" button than a "Report Abuse" or "Dislike" button. But maybe that's just me...

    Anyway, as I said before, I agree with a lot of your comments and would be interested in your thoughts on my thoughts on your suggestions. 😛

    • Glen - I know my idea is not thought through enough. I was after getting the SCN community to come up with some ideas and to change the mind set of people who respond to these type of questions, or employ (sell) people who are not trained.

      There is a view here around certification as well.

      Your report misuse suggestion is great and I hope this gets picked up.

      thanks

  • Hi Mark,

    At times I feel the person who asks the question, doesn't express himself/herself well. Like the highlighted discussion on 'Dunning', might be the person knows the basic steps but just wants to know any exceptional scenarios. I agree that even such scenarios can be self-searched and the person could be more specific but might be he could not express well.

    Relying on SCN for the quality of consultants might sound to be a good idea but I would prefer closer techniques for evaluation.

    Thanks for a thoughtful blog.

    Regards,

    Kumud

  • Disclaimer: Just re-read my reply and noticed it can be interpreted in Two ways. Aggressive, or Passionately lecturing and brainstorming. Please read it with the latter in mind 🙂

    Hi Mark,

    "SCN contributes to bad consultants." Hmmm.. I have some problems with that statement.

    1) SCN is not the only SAP related forum on the web

    2) SCN should not become an elite club

    3) SCN is not the culprit, the lazy SI's, consultants, customers (yes they too) are to blame. SCN is merely the medium which is abused.

    4) Yes, in a way uneducated consultants can abuse SCN to do halfbaked SAP projects. But hundreds, Thousands, of other professionals find innovative ideas here to provide the best possible solution to their customer.

    Coupling an S-user to a SCN profile is not really feasible. I for one don't have an S-user on my SCN profile. I keep my SCN profile and my S-user strictly separated. My employer, and thus my S-user, may change, but my ideas will always stay mine.

    Trying to fix lousy implementations by changing SCN is not going to work. SCN is not the only resource. The best, and only way to weed out uneducated consultants prior to hiring them, is by having a little chat with them and test their knowledge.

    And that, is the customer's responsibility.

    None-the-less, I completely understand your concern as I can get quite agitated as well about the current behaviour. Although it's not new. It's the main reason why I have always stayed far away from the fora. Since the upgrade however, it also started to affect blogs (different discussion), so I am a little bit more annoyed than I used to be.

    Often, I have the impression that customers don't really care about the resources they are dragging in, until the sh*t hits the fan. To me, customers are partially to blame in such situations. I don't buy new trousers without trying them on first. It seems more constructive to educate customers on the product they bought, so they can weed out the uneducated consultants. This will create a ripple effect in which the SI's become obliged to educate their consultants, leading to better overall baseline quality.

    The customer must arm itself to protect the integrity of their systems.

    As you mention yourself, it's a complex question, but it doesn't necessarily mean we need a complex answer.

    • I think the question is not that complicated - the measurement of my view is up for debate as are the potential solutions.

      I find it warming that there are people out there who share an opinion and want to work together to make SCN a better place.

      SCN is not the only place for SAP Consultants to ask questions - however it is run and managed by SAP, and I would encourage them to seek some of the solutions.

  • Hi Mark,

    first: important blog, thank's for it.

    You can watch this lack of education also among developers. A lot of questions give the impression that the dev posting has learned the language ABAP but not how to program.

    Which is a great difference as every well skilled dev knows.

    The worst appearance of this I've seen and which annoys me is, that some people are not happy to get helpfull answers with hints in which direction to search/learn ( Luke Marson great comment ) but answer back "I need detailed code."

    Ok maybe such behavior is the result of despair or time pressure but both can't mean that others are doing the coding work and the ones posting are just copying and pasting.

    In the end it's all the harvest of lack of in depth education as already said.

    Regards,

    Dirk

  • As has already been said, much of the root of the issue is firms that do not train their staff (I won't call them consultants - that is far from their level of experience and expertise). But also, there are clients who hire the cheapest resources thinking they are getting a great deal, which fuels that end of the market too.

    I simply don't answer such basic questions that I see in SCN or that I get via email. Maybe if each SCN user profile had some indication of the training they had taken, that would be help the community guide the discussion. Have a question on how to write a PCR in payroll? Haven't taken the payroll config courses? Well then the answer to 'how to write a PCR' is 'take the training'. Maybe that would help - but as long as the demand for unqualified contractors exists and such basic answers are given on SCN, this will probably continue to be an issue.

    • Anecdote:

      I tried that once. Someone in the WebDynpro forum was asking some questions, which at first seemed pretty interesting, so I dived in and tried providing an answer.

      He started breaking that answer down into smaller parts and started to ask questions on the basics of how I would implement this.

      At this point I figured out that he didn't have the basic knowledge of WebDynpro needed. So I suggested him that he would follow the NET310 course, to which he promptly replied: "Where can I find the PDF of this course online?"

      -------

      Every so often, I venture into the fora. Like, once every 6 months or so. Above anecdote dates from about 4 months ago and it instantly drove me away from the fora again.

      It's offensive to read something like that:

      A) he basically asks me to do his job

      B) he asks me to illegaly share copyrighted material

      C) I gave quite some WebDynpro trainings already, and still want to do so in the future. So the fact that he tries to avoid SAP education impacts me as well

      I have no problem in sharing knowledge with others. SCN is such a knowledge sharing platform, and I do so by blogging (and sometimes answering questions).

      SCN however, is NOT a training platform. That's essentially where it goes wrong. New users trying to get training here, which they should get in a classroom, or on guided projects with experienced mentors.

      • That kind of behaviour is annoying and, more importantly, disturbing to the ecosystem. As you rightly pointed out, this individuals is trying to avoid SAP training (okay, SAP is not the best, but it would probably have answered a number of his questions as it seems to be mor technical than functional) and to get someone else to do his job. How and where did this mentality come from? Is it just a problem of the modern age of consumerism and the "I must have it now" culture?

        • humouristic sidenote:

          SAP education not the best? When I give the training, it's totally friggin' AWESOME 🙂

          more seriously:

          Yes, it's a matter of mentality. SAP consulting is very lucrative and has a thriving community. This inevitably attracts people who try to cheat the system (much wider than only SCN) and dig for gold. I can only hope that the major part is still in the eco-system for the passion they share.

          • SAP education not the best? When I give the training, it's totally friggin' AWESOME 🙂

            😀

            I'm wondering more about the SAP HCM consultants who keep asking for a blueprint or configuration document for global roll-outs of PA/OM, Time and Payroll - or the 600+ training SAP HANA consultants! 😉

    • Steve you make some good points that align to education and maybe even certification.

      I would sit any SAP based exam if it meant I could do my job better.

      With people pretending to be other people it can be hard to spot the fraud.

      The idea of the "S" number was so that frauds could be identified.

  • There are several issues in trying to fix this.  First the s-number association just won't work.  If you switch companies then you have to switch id's.  I have switched over to a public account in order not to have to mess with the switch again.  Second there are some very legitmate reasons for people to have "anonymous" accounts.  I was orginally against this concept, but I understand there are still customers of SAP who for some reason see that using SCN is terrible thing to do.

    To fix this issue I believe we need to move to a pay to ask model, that eliminates unlimited consumption and requires basic engagement.  In other words you get so many questions to ask free a month and but can also lose credits to ask when you abuse the system.  You can gain credits to consume by rating, commenting or contributing.  The baseline allowance given to everyone allows the most casual user to get what they need.  It works both on gamification(how can I earn more) and ownership principles.  As a reward you can spend/unlock content with credits earned.  For the light google search user/etc there wouldn't be much difference, and only those trying to use the site as training substitute would feel the impact.  Active contributors wouldn't notice anything as they would have an exceess of consumption credits.  In fact ideally in my system consumption credits could be traded among members.

    The problem is that more people are interested in "high traffic" so pay to consume is seen as a barrier and many people don't like the idea of "negative marks". However I don't really see a way to prevent the behavior by moderation alone and instead there needs to be a way to direct/model the posting behavior to a different pattern.

    Take care,

    Stephen

    • To fix this issue I believe we need to move to a pay to ask model, that eliminates unlimited consumption and requires basic engagement.  In other words you get so many questions to ask free a month and but can also lose credits to ask when you abuse the system.  You can gain credits to consume by rating, commenting or contributing.  The baseline allowance given to everyone allows the most casual user to get what they need.  It works both on gamification(how can I earn more) and ownership principles.  As a reward you can spend/unlock content with credits earned.  For the light google search user/etc there wouldn't be much difference, and only those trying to use the site as training substitute would feel the impact.  Active contributors wouldn't notice anything as they would have an exceess of consumption credits.  In fact ideally in my system consumption credits could be traded among members.

      This is one of the best suggestions so far and I like it a lot. I wouldn't want there to be any money paid, but earning credits through contribution and recognition certainly would encourage users to give back as well (Pay It Forward), which would please people like Jarret Pazahanick and myself.

      Best regards,

      Luke

      • Was having the same though.

        I like the idea, and the more I think of it, the more I like it.

        3 remarks:

        - No real money

        - Monthly credit reset: if your account hits 0, reset after 30 days to 10 or whatever...

        - point deduction should be based on abused, or misused posts. Not abuse/misuse reports. Otherwise, 1 post can lead to 50 reports: ergo -50 credit.

        I can see how abusers will quickly hit 0 (due to abuse) and be blocked for 30 days in posting new content (effectively being a temporary ban). this will scare away abusers quickly.

        They could of course just create new accounts, but it will be a cumbersome process and they'll quickly grow tired of it.

        users that do respect the spirit of the community will not be affected by the system (if we at least get the "like and rate" mentality to kick off 🙂 )

        PS: it's "appreciation month", so I shared your blog on twitter --> kicking off the "like and rate" mentality

    • Stephen

      You make some great points.

      Your credit idea is one I like. I have made a point around SCN being a first level support of OSS.

      Customers see the value in OSS - something they get from their licence fee - do they see SCN in the same light?

      I think there could be some mileage in your idea

    • I have made the same suggestion elsewhere, so naturally I like it! Questions and blogs cost point to post, and you only earn points back when people like/rate your content. Run out of points and you can't post.

      This will only work if enough people get into the habit of rating content, though. That might be an easier problem to solve...

  • One point that I thought would come and so did not raise it was that SCN is similar (not equal) to a first level OSS support desk for SAP.

    SAP takes an annual licence percentage to provide support to the customer.

    SCN provides a role in supporting the customer and I dont think this gets recognised.

    What do you think?

  • Hi Mark,

    Your blog was well thought and nicely presented to depict what do many of the consultants do in this forum. The questions you have used as the essence of the blog are not the exceptions. In many of the forums, these are the normal kind of questions we get. I attribute this problem to 2 major causes.

    1. Unrealistic expectations of the customer. It is a normal trend in the industry that customer hires a consultant for one skill and then ask him to learn something else because the organisation uses the process but doesnt want to hire another consultant for that domain. May be because they use it sparingly and very little. There are customers who do this even for a module as a whole knowing very well the implications of what they are doing. Through such practices,they indirectly promote consultants to ask basic questions in forums like this. And as the forum will always answers like this because it is easy to answer such questions and score points, mediocrity prevails.

    2. The second is more dramatic. It is the consulting companies. I have even seen organisations which provide half baked training to the brand new young guys from college in all domains of SAP like ABAP, XI, SD, MM, FICO etc all in flat 45 days!!! and then depute the guy in an untrained module say QM. 😆

    This situation is not a special case at all. All the firms in bodyshopping mode are purely into this practice. The only solace for all such consultants is our SCN forum.

    3. The third reason is anyway the incompetency or lack of process knowledge of the consultant. But as long as he knows where to get the answer, I think that is fine, he is really doing consulting!

    It is a tricky question whether SCN should promote this or stop this practice. It is better to leave it to the market to decide.

    Thanks for your nice blog Mark.

  • I agree with your points Mark, I wouldn't expect a Gas Engineer to come and install a gas boiler only to find him looking on the internet for how to do it.

    • I'm not sure that's a fair comparison - the complexity of installing a gas boiler is somewhat lower than installing an SAP system. And anyway, it wouldn't surprise me if the gas engineer had a quick flick through the boiler manual before he started, or indeed at various points in the process. I might even find it comforting that he wanted to make sure he was doing the job right. Of course, if he started at page 1 and followed the process through page by page I might get a little nervous...:-)

      I've had tradesmen phone a friend for advice when something isn't quite going the way they expected. That they have a source of additional expertise for when things don't go to plan is also a good thing in my opinion.

      Like many people above, I don't see the provision of a source of help as the problem at all.

      • Fair comment Steve, I just like to make comparisons like that as I deal with a lot of "Non Techie" people. I do however think that if someone is being paid to do a piece of skilled work like, an SAP implementation, then they should know the basics but nothing wrong with checking on more complex issues. We sometimes use more junior staff on projects but always let the customer know and charge them a much reduced daily rate.

  • Mark - to your comment here:

    One point that I thought would come and so did not raise it was that SCN is similar (not equal) to a first level OSS support desk for SAP.

    SAP takes an annual licence percentage to provide support to the customer.

    SCN provides a role in supporting the customer and I dont think this gets recognised.

    What do you think?

    There are many customers who recognize how the community allows their SAP teams to make better decisions. There are VOLUMES more who do not. Why teams dont share this with their managers, I am not sure. We would benefit greatly if the customer community (team leads, IT management) were more aware of the benefits. We do allot of postings in external docs like SAP Flash, sap.info, etc. We are always stressing the benefits and ask that all our members share their experiences. We are hopeful that with Jive - and things like seeing how many followers a person has - will help build a "quality screen" that will indicate who is most likely to be a true expert.

    • Very well said Gail Moody-Byrd. When you say " Why teams dont share this with their managers, I am not sure."  I would really like to know the answer to this question. Recently I realized that I know many people in my vicinity who had been very active on SCN few years back but not now in terms of contribution. One thing that I would add is 'what's the real quest behind using SCN: 'Self-evaluation by answering questions', 'To remain updated of the current happenings in SAP world', 'Reading blogs etc' and many others. If the team realizes the intention well there is no problem in informing others. Since the time I have realized why I am using SCN, which is mostly for the reasons sited above, I have kept my team and managers well updated of anything worth sharing e.g. HANA on AWS, Online Innojam etc. and they are well taken. Just my thought though!

      Regards,

      Kumud

    • Hi Gail

      Thanks for picking up on this point.

      My personal view around the usage of SCN across the board is a mixture of awareness and focus.

      Hwever it all comes down to education.

      Education of the SAP solution

      Education of when to use OSS to search and raise a note

      Education as to how SCN can help a project team.

      OSS and SCN are not paid for directly and therefore the SAP sales teams would not push to promote these tools.

  • Hi Mark,

    I understand your frustration, but that's really nothing SCN will ever be able to fix.

    It all comes down to how you manage to vet a potential consultant. And it's not consultants only, it's also in the employee hiring process.

    It's completely OK for people new to SAP, or for experts in one area, to ask beginner questions to get into a new topic. I agree that if questions are too basic we should try and lead people to a more structured learning approach, but that may be limited by what a user can afford.

    I would also like to see the possibility for customers to add references to people just like in LinkedIn, but that requires bigger changes (like actually verifying users and managing complaints).

    My vision for SCN still is that your SCN ID becomes your CV in the SAP world.

    Frank.

    • I think as the use of social media increases more people will add references and comments to LinkedIn or your SCN ID.

      In theory you could document all of your previous work, and get the client to verify it.

      • Exactly what I was thinking of.

        If you show your SAP knowledge by participating in discussions, writing blog posts or documents, plus you can show off (validated) project experience, certifications and training participation your SCN profile would be a lot more valuable.

        You could even add SAP Notes you helped create and similar stuff as well. A lot of possibilities...

        Of course that would mean a more formal registration process for your identity here, but I think that it would be totally worth it.