I’ve been to more than a few SAP TechEds, but this was my first preconference session. I’ve been tempted in the past, but TechEd is already pretty tough to get approved at most places, I’ve never wanted to rock the boat and ask for more. Also, I’ve always been curious as to whether or not the preconference sessions are unique and distinct from the similar TechEd session or if they just gathered up all the TechEd sessions and presented them at once. This year, however, since we’re about to embark on a fairly ambitious Solution Manager project, I made the extra effort to get the preconference sessions approved. I attended the session yesterday and thought I’d share my experience.
As a blogger, often I find that folks want to know both the good points surrounding topics about which I blog but sometimes folks *really* want to hear the negative aspects. I try to be fair and give enough context so that you can decide if the negative items are just inconsequential picky items or if it’s a serious flaw.
Unfortunately for fans of controversy, I have absolutely *nothing* negative to say about the ASUG preconference sessions. The three presenters were incredibly well informed. The presentations were incredibly well prepared. It was clear that this preconference session was designed and developed as a smoothly flowing whole session and not a collection of one hour sessions designed for a different audience. The demos all worked (with 1 minor exception) and were very informative. One of the easiest criticisms to make about a class is to say that the level is either too high (not detailed enough) or too low (too detailed) for the audience. I can’t speak for everyone in the room, but I certainly felt that the presenters did a fantastic job giving enough overview information to provide a solid basis of understanding for the more detailed bits. They handled clarifications expertly without having to defer too many of the questioners to later answers.
If you don’t know much about Solution Manager, let me say this. Solution Manager is somewhat like ECC in that it contains different modules that are related, but require a different background and mindset to understand well. For Example, in ECC, you may be a Financials expert and understand everything there is to know about FI, but not really understand all that much about Sales and Distribution. Now imagine that you are attending a presentation that needs to go over all of the different functionality at a high level in ECC (FI, MM, SD, PP, etc) and then *also* cover the details about the new functionality in General Ledger in a way that doesn’t lose all of the SD folks in the audience. The presenters of this one day preconference were faced with a very similar task in that they have to cover the Basis type monitoring functionality and lead from that into Business Process Change Analysis and from there into Testing. They’re all related topics, but Testers are not typically all that knowledgeable about Basis and vice versa and neither group is all that familiar with the business processes in the same way that a functional specialist is (and vice versa). Having laid the groundwork for the difficulty of the task, let me say that I am *very* impressed with how they covered both the high level and low level content.
For myself, I will absolutely lobby for preconference attendance in the future. I feel like it was an investment well spent. If there are others who have also attended ASUG preconference sessions either this year or in the past, I’d love to hear about your experiences!