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Introduction:

The idea for this blog, comes from what I preach to young ERP professionals in my organization.  I am a functional person and my module is Plant Maintenance. We have been there since procurement of SAP software to Go-live and then issue resolutions all these several years. Most of the issues are related to non availability of required reports in standard.  Many times they are Enhancements related.

All these are technical requirements and hence solutions were depending on Technical resource (an ABAPer). Based on the degree of integration levels, often my module could not attract priority to get an ABAPer timely.

The Experience:

And, whenever we got a technical person to work on specific report needs, a big communication gap in Functional Specifications used to occur. The situation was just like communication between two persons, each of whom does not know the other’s language.  Though the jobs could complete, the amount of time consumed was enormous.

Because of these multiple difficulties amid pressing needs, we have started entering into table knowledge, and started developing reports with Quick-viewer. Months passed on.  Very useful reports started coming out from our team through Infoset Queries.

Then the limitations of report developing through these tools started surfacing. This forced us to enter into ABAP field for report development.  There were several failed attempts. But one fine day the first report based on ABAP code has seen light. After sometime Smartforms and then Enhancements etc. Now there are 100+ reports to the credit of our functional team made by themselves.

Now we are self-sufficient for all development needs and definitely different from other modules.

During complex needs, we are able to very easily communicate about the requirements, to the expert ABAPers or to SCN discussions.

One thing we wouldn’t miss to mention that the teacher who stood by us 24X7X365, has been the SCN.

Now we feel like complete SAP professionals. And often recall the state when we used to be only Functional people.

This reminds us a saying often heard in the name of a Great Scientist:

I am thankful to all those who said no. It’s because of them, I did it myself

Also we strongly believe that:

Functional + Technical = Complete SAPien

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52 Comments

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  1. Steve Rumsby

    I’m a big believer in functional people developing some technical knowledge. From my side as a technical person it helps enormously in the situations you describe (specifying reports) and in other ways too.

    The reverse is also true, though. Developers need to be prepared to acquire some functional knowledge, but so do Basis people. In my experience as a Basis administrator, i always felt I was better able to support an SAP system if I had some understanding of how people used it. Being able to post a purchase order or a service notification makes debugging much easier, for example. This was especially useful during our initial implementation.

    Steve.

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Well said Steve!

      My technical colleagues envy us and express same opinion of learning functional aspects.

      But in any direction, the difference maker is the ‘obsession’ to do it.

      Thanks for going through my post.

      Jogeswara Rao K

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      1. Steve Rumsby

        Yes, there are people motivated to learn “the other side” and people who aren’t. I’ve met both sorts on both sides. The motivated people are a joy to deal with (well, generally!) and the un-motivated people are frustrating to deal with.

        I’m glad you’re discovering the benefits of being eager to learn. There’s so much to SAP that you’ll never run out of new stuff. Keep going 🙂

        Steve.

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  2. Ibrahim Do Rego

    Hi Jogeswara,

    Interesting discussion. I truly admire the learning efforts of your functional team diving into ABAP and delivering all these reports.

    I however feel that working on the actual problem, namely the translation of actual PM requirements onto paper could have done the job. It seems that the end user’s responsibility  is left out in the discussion. The functional SAP Consultants should be more than able to act as an interface in finalizing the specs. The phenomena of endless discussions with ABAPers is not always the fault of the developers. After all they just execute the job. To my experience it is more to be found with the functional consultants who for various reasons do not conclude the discussions with the end users leading to a back and forth situation between end users and ABAPers.

    While it is a huge accomplishment of your team to have mastered ABAP reports I feel it is also a luxury to explore a completely different technical area. Not all companies would support this approach. Of course I agree that a techno functional consultant is more complete, but being “Only Functional People (and mortal) ” as you call it, can also be an achievement.

    Regards,

    Ibrahim

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    1. Dee Cee

      Hi,

      Good wisdom sharing! Nice story of evolving and becoming better.

      One thing though Ibrahim, I have seen all sides being in this field for quite sometime in all kinds of projects.

      If we live in silos, problems occur. Many a times these scenarios occur:

      -> User is not clear completely on the requirements;

      -> Functional Consultant not understanding the user requirements;

      -> Functional Consultant is not able to articulate the requirements correctly;

      -> Technical Consultants[read ABAPers] not being fully aware of how to translate the specs to code – it happens too;

      -> Sometimes things evolve when User is testing the requirements with Functional Consultant hence there is rework – iterations happen;

      -> Etc.

      I have been part of best process / other SAP solutions whenever Users, Functional and Technical people work together as a team without finger pointing and politics.

      The ultimate objective of all of us working together is to make the Company we are working for become as IT Savvy as possible so that this translates to better customer service through improving operational and strategic efficiencies and better business results.

      My two cents.

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  3. Shiva Vasireddy

    Hi,

      Its Really a Tremendous Job and thanks for sharing which is a Inspiration to many Functional Consultants

    we call your Team as Gladiators as when iam reading your post iam able to Recollect this Movie.

    Shiva

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  4. sriramula kishore

    Sir ,

    Being a functional consultant your guts to take on  abap is remarkble.Not only excelling in ABAP you contributed some knowledge on abap development(images in selection screen etc) which is very much appreciated.

    This post will sure be an example of strong will power and sheer hardwork.You are definitly an inspiration

    Regards

    Kishore Vishwakarma

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      1. Ramesh T

        Hi Jogeswara Rao Kavala,

        Your blog inspires functional people to learn ABAP, that helps to communicate the issues in correct way to ABAPers… it saves time also..

        Good… but I am abaper, so I am using your word like this…. 😆

        Technical +  Functional = Complete SAPien

        Regards,

        Ramesh.T

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  5. Keerthan Kumar

    Dear Sir,

                      It is really a nice blog.

    It inspires me to learn ABAP things which is related to SAP PM.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    regards

    Keerthan kumar

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Your comments inspire me Keerthan !

      Thank you very much. I’m sure this path of learning ABAP will make you expert in tables of other modules also and add  good value to your profile.

      Best Wishes

      -Jogeswara Rao K

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  6. Srinu S

    Nicely explained. thanks for sharing your real time experience which would very much helpful for all. thanks for sharing. Keep sharing this kind of useful documents. 🙂

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  7. Sijin Chandran

    Really Astonished and Appreciate your dedication to Learn and Excel in a  Completely “Out of League” stuff .

    My first employer was a Sugar Industry and there was a Power division as well. Senior Plant Level Heads there ( with Experience same as yours ) never used to Indulge in the development activities neither their subordinates  , they just expected results in a fixed bound of time without understanding the struggle behind 

    a big communication gap in Functional Specifications used to occur. The situation was just like communication between two persons, each of whom does not know the other’s language.

      At that moment I just tried to gather  ample amount of time and support so that I can go through the complete Functional aspects of a Development to be carried out and after that I proceeded . And I must say this Modus Operandi has helped me a lot and made me self reliant to some extent .

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  8. Nitin K

    Hi ,

    Its true that functional consultant should have good knowledge technical side to complete the deliverables on time or before deadline .

    Good experience sharing sir.

    Regards,

    Nitin

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  9. kiran kumar

    I agreed 🙂

    At least by reading this blog, so many sapiens can think of it to learn the cross functional to survival of the fittest in SAP Market!

    Thanks for enlightening me!

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  10. Kamlesh Chauhan

    Dear Mr. Jogeswara Rao


    Currently I am working on SAP PM module from last 2 years I think i should also try my hands on ABAP as basically i am a VB programmer. Currently this ABAP guys cant say me something is not possible as I give them the logic but if i learn ABAP i think I will show them how to do it 🙂


    Thanks


    Kamlesh

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Exactly Kamlesh,

      I can well understand the reasons you incline towards this value addition to yourself.

      Whatever might be the reason for your decision, you are going to be benefited so well, not only that you are going have full enjoyment of being in the SAP world.

      All the very best.

      Jogeswara Rao K

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  11. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Jogeswara,

    I have faced big communication gap between SAP PI Technical vs SAP Basis team. Whenever any issue occurs, we use to inform SAP Basis stating that it is Basis issue after few minutes they will contact us and reply to us “it is SAP PI issue”. After investigation we will come to the conclusion whether it is PI or Basis Issue. Because of communication gap, issue was not resolved on time. Currently, some PI technical consultants updating in Basis knowledge to overcome this difficulties. If we know both functional and technical it is great advantage in our organization and in our SCN community. Thanks for sharing this blog.

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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  12. Madhava Rao Basava

    Hi Jogeswar,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us. I felt greatly inspired by your words. Thank you for being our inspiration. Keep posting..

    Thanks

    Madhav

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  13. Edgar Soares

    Speaking as a functional/technical consultant this is very true. I believe that every SAP consultant should have a technical background and that every ABAPer should have at least a user level training in the modules he is developing for.

    What I notice is that even inside functional realm there is a severe gap of knowledge between modules, like MM and FI or PP and SD. This is somewhat damaging in the final solution since everything is connected. Even in the same area, let’s say SD, the lack of knowledge in other SAP solutions like SAP CRM leads to unnecessary developments and subsequently an added maintenance cost.

    This is even more true in integration technologies like SAP PI.

    Thanks for your sharing,

    Edgar

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Hi Edgar,

      Fully Agree with your observations. I too experience the knowledge gaps between Modules in Integration areas. Thank you for your time to review and for your comments. 🙂

      Jogeswara Rao K

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  14. Markus Vogel

    Coming from a mid-sized company with a rather small SAP team I can only agree.

    What you describe is a very natural environment in smaller companies, simply because you do not have the luxury to separate into functional and technical people due to the lack of staff.

    Unfortunately, the larger a company – or the larger an SAP team-, the less exposure you get outside of your core area.

    And as Edgar described, even a lot of so called functional people are very limited. I do believe that valuable functional consultants should think in processes, not modules. E.g. a quote-to-cash consultant has to know the whole process chain from quote (e.g. in CRM) all the way through dunning in FI.

    The challenge is to find an employer where you are able to get this exposure.

    Markus

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Rightly said. Certainly any views would have their relevance and applicability to certain situations. Thanks for the review and opinion Markus.

      Jogeswara Rao K

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  15. Johnny Ramaekers

    Nice story but this is only possible if there is no/lesser segregation of duties in place.

    I’ve worked at a lot of customers where the SAP Security aspect is very important and there it’s impossible that a functional person takes up other tasks (like abap development).

    For smaller companies however, who are more flexible, I agree with your approach 🙂

    The more we understand from each other, the better we can help in case of issues.

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  16. Raghavendra Prabhu Mithal

    Truly Inspiring.. For me it is other way round. I being technical was forced to learn functional in some projects and got functionally certified. Now I write some of the FS and I only code. I usually dont back to functional unless there are some complexity. the plus point being I work as technical on only one module or else it is difficult to master every functional subject.

    but to master anything you need some real initiative from self.

    regards,

    Raghav

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Really Raghavendra,

      As you’ve said it is relevant from technical point of view too. Thank you for your review and good words.

      Regards

      Jogeswara Rao K

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  17. Shareeq Hussain K M

    Dear Jogeswara Rao,

    That was a wonderful Initiative.  My view is over  a period of time , the Technical Team should also gain some functional Knowledge.  For Ex. if I have explained them about Maintenance Order  for a Previous Report Requirement,  they should not expect to be explained again for a New Report Requirement.

    Regards,

    Shareeq

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Exactly Shareeq,

      You’ve got the point. Thank you for your time to talk to me and for giving a valuable opinion.

      Regards

      Jogeswara Rao K

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  18. Anjaneya Bhardwaj

    Hi,


    a) I feel/see that we do not have proper  incentive/support for being techno functional in current market.It is still a nice to have thing than a real demand and that is one of the cause we do not see many techno-functional around. The key thing is demand if there is a demand I am sure we will see more techno functional or cross functional or SAP Technical consultant (rather than SAP ABAP Developer or SAP PI developer or EP developer , etc).


    b) I was working as a techno functional in one of the projects for around 9 months, I used to write Functional specs , TS and code.But I was not happy as after a time felt that my way of approach to solution was technical most of the times.I was not able to generate the customer perspective despite being a functional for them. The main reason was “I did not had any domain experience which is a key to be a functional”.If a developer is trying to be functional he should have seen business process either being a client side or should have domain knowledge. Otherwise he might propose the solutions which may not be value add but overhead.


    c) Communication break are usually at at two level. Customer to functional and between functional and developer. The projects everywhere are trying to to kill the break by bringing the people under one roof , so developer are being introduced  from the initial stage of requirements and that helps.


    d) My personal thought is that functional should strive to be cross functional and developer should be better technical resources with in depth knowledge of technology. However knowing things will not harm and it makes work easier.


    At last I will say be a techno functional but be an expert first.At least this statement is true for people who are at beginner or intermediate level of proficiency.

    Anjan

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Good thoughts based on rich experience Anjaneya, In fact this suits to be posted as another blog by structuring the content. You’ve added value to the thoughts so far.

      Regards

      Jogeswara Rao K

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  19. swapnil rajane

    Very Well Said Sir.I will definately try my best to learn Abap since  its really important for Functional consultants to have technically sound knowledge.

    Regards.

    Swapnil

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  20. Karim MANAA

    Dear Jogeswara

    I’am very pleased to meet you on SCN.

    Regarding this topic, I’am about to start this phase !. I’ve found poor what SAP offers as PM standard reports.. and all customers that I’ve met claimed this weak point.

    I will be grateful if you list the KPI that you have made a report for them and which method used to get that (Query, ABAP dev., other) and an example of a report that can be used for the daily management (most needed KPI) 🙂 I’hope it’s not much asked !

    Thank you one more time for what you are providing for SCN community 🙂

    Karim

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    1. K Jogeswara Rao Post author

      Thank you KARIM,

      Let me see how your request can be conceived into a useful topic topic to be posted in SCN. Obviously due to its general nature will take time. In the meanwhile if you have any specific queries on this topic of Reports on practical KPIs, please post it as discussions. You’ll get good information from various angles.

      You might have already gone through these 3 posts

      MTTR, MTBR, Failure Rate, Availability and Reliability

      Hierarchical Equipment Availability Calculations (on Functional Locations)

      Root Cause Analysis through 5-Whys

      For other posts please go though MyPosts

      Regards

      KJogeswaraRao

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      1. Karim MANAA

        Hi again,

        Thank you for your feedback 🙂

        Actually I’am focusing on Equ. Serialization procedure (as reported this morning).

        When I will finish with, I will focus on PM KPI Reports starting with how to get MTBF..

        Concerning your posts… A treasure 😉

        Regards

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  21. Avirat Patel

    Basically some tools are especially developed for functional consultants i.e. queries and lsmw etc. by SAP. you have shown up one topic that communication gap affects the entire report development that is believable indeed but another part of the same thing is logic/content/requirement of some process is also changes very often from functional consultant side when abaper is half of the through of development Too many cooks spoil the broth. For that now days technical consultants are also forced to learn some functional side. And it truly requires now days and that is called “Functional + Technical = A complete SAPien

    -Avirat

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