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How to bring new technology into our own company

In 2010 I attended the SAP Teched 2010 in Berlin – it was the first time for me to attend such an event. To be well prepared I designed my agenda and had no idea what “lectures” or “hands on sessions” really are. During SAP TechEd 2010 in Berlin I had a really great time – met a lot of people and learned about many things like “new ABAP language features”, “Forward Error Handling (FEH)”, “ABAP Performance Analysis” and so on. I heard about SAP HANA the first time and about such things like mobility (by the way: Vishal Sikka told the Berlin audience that in two years everybody will talk about HANA). As I came back to my office I told my colleagues about the stuff I heard – but we had no AS ABAP 7.02 to show resumable exceptions or the latest features of the ABAP debugger. So I went back to reality and the glamour, the motivation, all the ideas I inhaled at Teched faded away…. but everytime someone asked me what SAP Teched was, I answered “The Woodstock for SAP developers”.

In 2012 we recognized the need to renew the SAP development (I don’t know if it’s correct to say the development “culture”) in our company. At that time lots of guidelines had already existed: naming conventions, style-guides for commenting code (and even the specification to not delete old coding but rather to comment it), how to do modifications and so on. Most of the guidelines were out of date or even out of technology and I do not know if everybody kept them in mind.

So our line manager founded a research group to define company wide standards for developing within the SAP NetWeaver environment at the beginning of 2012. The primary aim was to define obliging guidelines for all SAP IS-U developers (the energy specific SAP solution). We started to rework the existing guidelines by giving a suitable structure to it so that developers find themselves in their development process. After that we tightened nearly all existing rules – from package hierarchy (we introduced that in 2012), consistent naming conventions for all our development artefacts, usage of remote interfaces (web services as standard) to obliged usage of ABAP Objects.

During that we tried to assure our line manager that attending SAP Teched 2012 in Madrid would fit into our current activities very well. I still remember the moment when our boss told us that we can go (yeah) – it was Hanspeter Gruenfelder, Carlos Aceves and me.

Attending SAP TechEd 2012 in Madrid

We were very glad to get the opportunity to go to Madrid because I didn’t stop talking about “Woodstock” all the time. But we knew that we have to bring all the impressions, lessons and experiences back to our company. So we had a very very close look at the agenda – that agenda that seemed to be 10 times bigger than in 2010. Based on the experience of SAP Teched 2010 I was able to tell my companions how to come around at that event. Everyone of us had his own focus – ABAP development, SAP HANA, Custom Code Management, ABAP Development Tools…

A new amazing SAP environment

Arriving at Feria Madrid for the first time showed me a much bigger TechEd than I saw two years before. Everyday we tried to get as much lectures, hands on sessions and information as possible – it was quite exhausting. I still remember when we met between the sessions to synchronize each other – cannot imagine that a half year has passed already. My special focus was the ADT – at that time it was already clear that we want to roll out ABAP in Eclipse in 2013 so I took the chance to attend the hands on sessions. We met lot of interesting and funny people and had a lot of fun.

We liked the concept of “Lectures” and (corresponding) “Hands On Sessions” very much. You attend the lecture to get familiar with new subjects and afterwards (in some cases the sequence was vice versa) get in touch by the hands on session. During our stay in Spain we thought about how to bring that all into our company – we saw so much pretty cool applications (FPM, WD ABAP, SAPUI5, NetWeaver Cloud – the first NW Cloud application, it was a awesome moment with Carlos while Hanspeter took a deep dive into SAP HANA) and of course we want them to have in our own environment! So we decided to adapt the concept of “Lectures” and “Hands On Sessions” to bring that in our company.

Coming Home

A couple of days come and go – and the next Monday we entered our office again. We thought about how to keep the spirit of that event – that drive, that emotions. So we (the Teched attendees) started to meet every second day in order to collect all that subjects and emotions, innovations and ideas. In the end we had so much items that it might need a whole live to get through.

From then on we had two parallel tasks: completing the guidlines and preparing a lecture as an overview about the innovations and technology updates in the SAP NetWeaver environment. We are lucky that our employer provides “time” for such activities but even then it’s quite difficult to get along with the daily business as well. And we started to introduce a new way of code analysis – but that’s another story. So we got much to do.

Meanwhile we took next step on our guidelines to define new programming standards – we want to use new technologies like “Floorplan Manager (FPM)”, we see the need to have a closer look at “NetWeaver Business Client 4.0 (NWBC)” in order to delight our users with the brand new side panel – but at first we have to provide an overview to our IT colleagues about the technology updates we saw in Madrid.

What is this all about?

This is the start of a blog series about our try to introduce the technology innovation in our company. It is being written by Carlos Aceves, Hanspeter Gruenfelder, Sven Leipold and me. We want to document our way to technology innovation and encourage you to leave a comment if you have gained experience in this field already. Today we do not know if it will work or how much time it will take… We would like to show our way to multiply the information and experiences gained at SAP Teched to our own colleagues – and also let them participate in the spirit of SAP Teched.

Every month we hold one lecture about a specific subject. First of all is the overview lecture which already has been held at the end of February. We identified the following subjects and provide a lecture about them:

  • ABAP Objects
    • still not naturally
    • required as the base of everything else
    • introducing our own code library (re-usable components, easy to find for developers)
  • ABAP Test & Troubleshooting
    • crucial for all ABAP developers and Basis people
    • leaned on the corresponding hands on session (ATC, SAT)
  • Web Dynpro ABAP
    • base for FPM and side panel
  • Floorplan Manager
    • new standard UI framework for SAP Business Suite

    • we want that 🙂

Two weeks after the lecture people can attend the corresponding hands on sessions:

  • ABAP Development Tools
    • had to be postponed due to unicode trouble (non unicode SAP backend, thanks to the great support by Gregor Wolf and the Michael Schneider, SAP)
    • the aim is to introduce the new IDE to all ABAP developers
  • ABAP Objects
    • core concept and apply it to ABAP every day development
  • ABAP Test & Troubleshooting
    • SAT
    • memory analysis
    • ATC
  • Web Dynpro ABAP
    • introduction for those who aren’t familiar with it
  • Floorplan Manager
    • configure your own application

Our program will take about 6 months (one lecture and one hands on every month). The aim is to introduce those technologies to the IT crowd so they get the chance to get familiar with it and to push knowledge transfer between the colleagues.

We are very excited about all the impressions and experiences during that attempt.

One last note concerning our environment: the energy sector has to be very up to date due to legal specifications – so we are in the good position of having up to date AS ABAP server (7.31, SP5) – so we can use all that new features like ADT, FPM and so on…

What’s your experience?

Last but not least it we would like to start a discussion what other companies are doing in this subject. Do you spend efforts for innovating your development unit as well? If yes, what’s your experience? Which problems appeared on your way to innovation and how did you solve it? How do you manage to bring in new technologies into your own company?

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  • Hi Martin

    This sounds like a good topic for a blog series and I look forward to reading it.

    In my own experience, I've found that new projects often provide the impetus (or excuse? 😉 ) to introduce new technologies as it is easier to break away from the old ways of doing things when you're planning out a whole new piece of functionality.

    Regarding "problems with introducing new technologies", sometimes it is the new technologies themselves that cause problems as there might still be many bugs to iron out (for me, implementing BRFPlus in a NW7.01 system was an interesting challenge but it worked out ok in the end). But more often than not, the biggest challenge is bringing people along on the journey with you. As I'm sure you've found already, some people won't be as excited about change as you obviously are and so will be resistant. Finding ways to lower the barriers to change and to show people the long-term benefits of introducing some changes is often the hardest (but most rewarding) part. It sounds like you're heading down the right path the achieve this. All the best with it.



  • Hi Martin,

    Sounds like a great initiative to get the knowledge transfer rolling inside your company, and I'm looking forward to the blog series just as much as Glen.

    In my own company we're almost forced to go to sapteched and afterwards we always have a session or two in which we share stuff we learned with each other. We also try to align agendas up front, but it's difficult when several people really want to go to the same session (and it's not so bad either if they do). Mind you though, this is lecture type sharing. I like your approach more (shifting between lectures and hands on exercises). Might give it a try next year.

    Thanks for inspiring me, and good luck sharing all the exciting new topics!

    Cheers, Fred

  • Hi Martin,

    Great blog.  I too am a strong believer in companies keeping their knowledge of SAP technologies current.

    A few years ago when I worked in an in-house shop, I shared my own experiences with building knowledge in the internal team.  The blog links are here.  Notice that there is less focus on TechEd, partly because of the cost of travel from my part of the world.

    Hope you find them useful.  Part 2 is probably more relevant to your needs.

    Developing a learning culture in your SAP technology team - Part 1

    Developing a learning culture in your SAP technology team - Part 2