Message Solving in the City of the Tribes
I work in the Enterprise Portal (EP) Message Solving team in Ireland. Message Solving is based in the SAP Dublin office however my situation is a little different from the majority of message solvers in Ireland. I work remotely from the SAP Galway office on the beautiful, but just sometimes, blustery and wet west coast of Ireland. I’m part of a small group of around 12 support engineers all from different application areas who migrated west to Galway over the years for various reasons.
In message solving, we are the first point of contact for any customer messages that are logged with SAP, which means we pick up and provide initial troubleshooting on any reported issues. This can involve checking for previous similar issues or searching SAP notes and KBAs to see if it’s a known issue. If it is, then great, easy fix! However if not, then a bit more in depth investigation is required. This could involve trawling through various logs or traces or reproducing and debugging scenarios on internal test systems. In my own team, we quite often need to logon to a customer system remotely in order to efficiently troubleshoot an issue. All this can be quite time consuming and sometimes even frustrating but there is a great sense of satisfaction in picking up a critical or complicated issue, stopping it getting any further out of control and ultimately resolving it. Of course it’s not always easy to do this and you can’t resolve everything but I think if you put in the effort and do your utmost to help out a customer they are usually satisfied with the end result.
Personally for me what makes it really worthwhile is when a customer takes the time to provide you with some feedback. I know everyone is busy but if somebody takes a few minutes to say that they appreciate the effort and help you provided, it always gives a good sense of satisfaction and encourages me to try just as hard next time. I try to do the same from my side as well. There’s nothing like opening a customer message which has a good comprehensive description of the issue, version information, steps showing how to reproduce it (with screenshots/videos if applicable), relevant logs/traces attached and an open connection. Sure it’s more effort to provide this in every message, but it makes things so much easier, reduces any needless ping pong of replies, usually results in the issue being resolved quicker and is always appreciated.
One of the biggest challenges I find is being always available in the same time zone as the customer. Primarily our team in Ireland cover the US time zones. This involves quite a lot shift work but being based in Ireland we also cover a certain amount of the EMEA time zone as well. You can also encounter scenarios where for example, the author of a message for a US customer is located in EMEA/APJ. So it can sometimes just happen that you are not working in the same time zone as your customer which can be frustrating from both sides.
Within my team I also work as a Nexus consultant (Next Expertise Level Cross Unit Support). The main task here is to deepen your knowledge in a certain product area and through this help generate more knowledge globally among all AGS colleagues. This involves helping colleagues globally in my topic area by providing them with hints or tips to resolve issues and also providing training when required. I also am responsible for solving (or at least trying to solve) the more complex or critical issues that arise in my area. I find that in order to be successful in this role it is essential to maintain a very close collaboration with IMS and Development Support colleagues as well as your own global team.
Additional roles of mine are SCN moderator and SCN Community Master for GSC Ireland. As moderator I’m responsible for the general health of my SCN space and when possible I contribute to the various discussions as well as creating new wiki or blog content to help enable customers resolve certain issues by themselves. The Community Master role involves the coordination of all SCN efforts performed by colleagues from my GSC location. I find these roles quite interesting. You often get to see things more clearly than what you just see in customer messages and you get an understanding of the real knowledge that is actually out there. There are so many experts out there who have a huge wealth of knowledge from their own personal experiences of actually implementing and maintaining a product. I find that SCN is a really good place to learn for both myself and customers. Nobody knows the answer to everything so I find SCN a great starting point.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel a bit in my role. I have been to Germany, Bulgaria, India and the US to either give or receive training. I must say that this has really been one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. It’s always great to meet new people and experience different cultures.
So my job at SAP can vary quite a bit from day to day. I suppose this is one of the things I like most about it as there’s always something different and new to challenge you which helps to keep things interesting.