My journey so far (Part 2)
Thank you for the warm and lovely feedback to the part-1 of my blog. Few of the comments made me feel special and all of them encouraged me to the core.
Here I go with the part-2 of my blog. Well, there is no particular strategy I followed to come out of that situation. I was in a situation where in the responsibility to do justice to the investment and faith made by the client in my employer was gigantic, I was not technically capable and the rest of the team of consultants, except my wife (Fresher FI consultant), were all stalwarts. That was enough to create a peer pressure. Honestly,I was not in a position to strategize. Couple of times, both of us (and especially me) were scolded by the project manager, because we were not taking the deliverable enough seriously. But the fact is, we were not sure what we were supposed to do. The team of stalwarts was very down to earth and they guided us well through the process
I had no idea whatsoever that first of all, the enterprise structure had to be frozen, what is the criticality of it and how costly it can prove to be, if the same is designed wrong. To add to the complexity, New GL was a new product then and not much of expertise was available. Apart from regular FICO, we had to learn New GL and evaluate whether it is fit for the client. The only thing I decided was at each stage, I would closely watch the peers, ask them what is to be done in each stage and give heart and soul to that deliverable. They guided me through the process of freezing the enterprise structure, preparing the BPML (Business Process Master List), deciding whether BBP would be made at Level 3 or Level 4 of BPML and the template of BBP. I borrowed from them sample BBPs of their module and I had with me the BBPs of CO module of my 1st employer. That was all my basis to begin. Apart from that, SAP TOP JOBS fico configuration pack was my Guru, which I used to refer rarely and that was the only help I took during that course of 9 months.
It was a real fun to go through the whole process of it. For me, it was like learning something new each day, just like a child who looks at everything and anything with great curiosity and produces a sweet smile expressing happiness. Believe me friends, that was the only thing I did. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, kept good rapport with the core team of client, good rapport with my peer consultants and applied all the accounting knowledge I had to ensure nothing big is missed out.
My only contribution to the SAP enterprise structure designing, was to design the controlling area and company code. It was a tough one for me, because we had to decide between single controlling area and dual controlling area. I had no knowledge to ensure whether the enterprise structure designed by MM, SD and PP is compatible or not. I assumed they will do their job well, which they did. But, it is at the end of project, when I successfully delivered COPA and all MIS reports out of it, I realized that my success was actually a subset of the success of other modules. I realized that If I have to be successful, I have to have strong cross modular knowledge and ensure that what others are designing, is compatible with what the client wants from FICO.
Most of the BBPs I made were a copy paste of the BBPs I had from my 1st employer. I just ensured that the variations needed as per the client’s business process are captured in it. I was absolutely careful during the BBP phase, not to miss anything significant. It was in the BBP phase that I got scolded twice for screwing up the PP-CO design. The PP guys chose something which was not compatible with CO and poor me I had no idea what was going on. Fortunately, SAP OSS helped us and we ended up choosing proper design. I knew that after BBP, it’s my time. I can realize the configuration on my own, with trial and error. The stalwart peers had a ready list of the scenarios to be tested during integration phase. Our PM was very clear that every integration
test scenario will be deemed complete, only when FICO core team and consultant signs it off. That put a great burden on me, but at the end I realized there
was no other way I could have learned so much.
My way of learning, I still remember, what I call it as simplified learning. Of course, I did mistakes in configuration, and sometimes SAP reminds you of the missing configuration, which I call as “Ok to miss” and in some cases SAP does not remind you, because technically the system is OK, but the process takes a hit. Such misses I call as “costly to miss”. I never lost my confidence due to the ” Ok to miss” mistakes, because the system reminds you of them anyways. It’s the other ones which I used to be careful of. And while learning, it is important to allow the new things to sink in. Read the material twice, and give a gap of 2-3 days. While learning anything new, I emphasize upon What feeds into anything -> the process -> the final outcome, and why the final outcome is needed. The same approach I consider while discussing any business process or any custom enhancement.
I specifically laid emphasis on learning how to execute the basic transactions in each module and today I can demonstrate a complete system flow ranging from making a purchase requisition, purchase order to manufacturing cycle to making a sales order/PGI and billing. I believe, it’s very important for every SAP consultant, and especially for a FICO. This interest further went to the level of learning which tables are updated for each of these transactions and later on went to the level of what enhancement options (user exit, BADI, function module) are available at each of these transactions in case some enhancement is to be done. After the first 3 years, I realized I had a sound knowledge of SAP tables and enhancements of all the modules, except my own module (CO). I did not even know the basic table name COEP of my own module, but honestly, that never hurt me in anyway. The day I realized this knowledge gap, I started working on it and filled it.
The only project I got harassed was my 3rd project, wherein the PM was erstwhile FICO. Only difference was that my 1st PM was also FICO, who said he won’t interfere in my deliverables at all. I realized how divine a soul was my 1st PM, only when I got to work with the 3rd. All other fellow consultants were his friends and that added to lobbyism. My only partner was the FI consultant who continued with me till my 3rd project, right from the 1st one. After that, destiny had different paths for us, however, in a scaled manner. The 4th project we worked was not together, however, in the same city and after that I continued in India, and she went on to Denmark. This is the time I realized how important she is for me and it was real fun to talk to her each day over Yahoo messenger!
Maturity started coming in me from my 4th assignment and this is when I started harassing 🙂 . I raised 50+ OSS messages in this project and hit 2 on the bulls eye (got SAP notes released). Along with this project, I was handling 2 other assignments, in different city. Weekdays I was in Mumbai and weekends in Pune. In all these 3 projects, I was the only CO consultant and the responsibility to deliver was on me. It was a real trying situation, but I enjoyed it, as I got to travel and meet different people, meet old friends
there and make new ones.
My last implementation assignment, in 2010, was the toughest. A client already on SAP, escalating on anything was in their DNA. That was the only place, our attendance was monitored, registers at the entry point were checked to know when each consultant is coming, when he/she is leaving, a minute delay to attend a meeting can trigger an escalation mail right to the country head, and tearing apart the PM and consultants was a daily affair. They even dictated what we should wear. But, my agenda was – Don’t care!! That was the project, I would say, was a process for me to come out as a matured consultant. That was the project, we made maximum friends, friends for life. The tough times with the client brought us together and lunch time was real fun, reminded us of our college days. We all decided we would enjoy that phase, and started exploring the eateries around our office. It was one of the happening places of Mumbai for foodies. The short walks post lunch, exploring the shops around, trying to find a new eating joint each day, was a real fun. Probably, I was the only consultant in that project, who followed his own timings in and out of the office, but they could never touch me for the quality of my work. After all, we work in a project based industry, where timings in and out of office should not matter. And I was the only consultant in that project who managed to get appreciation from the client.
After this assignment, I shifted my career path with in IBM,towards global assignments. Since then, managing the support assignments, it has been a different experience altogether. Having seen end to end business processes out of 7 implementation assignments, I could produce remarkable productivity and output in support assignments. I was fortunate to be part of so many implementations, and then moved towards support. It was not a choice that I made, but that happened to be the right choice for me. That’s how I believe a company should manage its talent pool, putting the fresh faces on implementations and then moving them towards global assignments. But, I am no one to dictate how companies should manage that, and they know it better than me. All I know is, most of the people end up getting deployed onto the support assignments and they never get to learn the end to end business processes. To
some extent, the responsibility to learn lies, of course, on them too.
Finally, in Nov 2012, after 6 yrs of stint with IBM, I joined Infosys, the founder of which does not need an introduction. Working in the company founded by Mr. Narayan Murthy, is a matter of great respect & pride for me and he is someone who has shown to the world, what one man can do!! The opportunities so far, have been very enriching and enjoyable and above all, the team I am working with is just wonderful.
Before I wind up the blog, I would like to share few things, which I feel are very important
One piece of advice for the FICO guys, is not to call yourself an FI or CO exclusively. While both are two separate career streams, but the clients look at the them together. While you may choose any one career path, do have basic process knowledge of the other – for two reasons. One, you never know what your next assignment would be and second, when you become a TL, you will anyways have no choice and have to look into both. I handpicked few areas in FI like asset accounting, New GL, Withholding taxes while focusing on my core stream CO module. I could configure these FI areas in the system and I could face the client for the rest of the areas to discuss the business process, while I may not be able to configure them in the system. To be honest, If you ask me to set up a house bank in the system, I will, but with trial and error, and any Jr. fico consultant will do it more efficiently than me. But, I know the complete process of it and I can discuss with the client on the proposed business process, the BCP (business continuity plan) for payments, interacting with the bank, how the file gets transmitted to the bank, etc. If you can talk business process, that’s what the companies want. Because they are not technology folks, they are business folks!!
Few things I would like to share, on how I managed my work, all through my career.
SAP OSS messages – I have saved a PDF of all the OSS messages that I have raised in my career. This came handy many a times – to refer the solution provided by SAP or to tell the client with confidence that something is not possible in the system
ABAP developments – In my 2nd assignment, I had a requirement to do the same enhancement I did in my 1st. And unfortunately, it was a new ABAP consultant I was working with. I had to again redo it from scratch, and this is when I promised myself, I won’t repeat this mistake again. I made it a point to save a copy of every abap code with me. There is a nice tool (program REPTRAN), which can help you download all the ABAP objects (user exits, reports, BADIs, etc) in a single shot. Google has an enhanced version of this program which can download a html of the Z tables involved in your ABAP
objects. I have saved many man days in my subsequent assignments due to this habit
User exit finder – Google also offers a program to find user exits, though not 100% correct. I always made a point to have this in the DEV client.
Knowledge repository – I maintain an excel file to record anything new that I learn. I kept on adding to it since 7 years and today it is a rich repository. Anything that I learned and I want to refer at any point of time, I know where to find it SCN links – Contributing in SCN, I learned many new things. I realized the importance of organizing this knowledge. I made many folders and sub folders in my IE favourites to manage the SCN links, which I can easily refer to, depending on the topics
SCN links – Contributing in SCN, I learned many new things. I realized the importance of organizing this knowledge. I made many folders and sub folders in my IE favourites to manage the SCN links, which I can easily refer to, depending on the topics
Few last words from me, before I sign off –
1. Please don’t label me as a pessimist – Irrespective of whatever heights and reputation you may earn, as long as you are an employee, you are an employee only. You will be governed by the same processes of pay scale to retirements, that govern others. So, save time out of your efficiency, and give that time to your family. At least, you would earn out of it, that can’t be valued
2. I have seen people who are conservative in sharing knowledge, thinking they can stand apart with the knowledge they have. But remember that, if you don’t share knowledge, people won’t know that you have knowledge. I believe there are many consultants greater than me, who never came to SCN. But only because I came to SCN and shared knowledge, I could earn respect
3. Lend your hand whole-heartedly to those who approach you for help. May be they are your peers, but never be afraid that they will drive ahead of you. Remember that a good deed triggers a good deed. Those who thank you, ask them to show the same helping gesture to someone in need. These are
the words from my senior in IBM, that can never leave my heart.
4. Live your passion with passion to achieve success. The success – which means not the achievements alone, but the quality of one’s journey, the
lives changed and hearts touched. And the success, which can’t be achieved only when you alone grow, but when all those around you grow
Thank you SCN for being one of the enablers of my career. And Thank you all the wonderful folks for encouraging me all through this journey.
A SCN & SAP Enthusiast!!