Business Suite on HANA course review (MOOCs are a team game?)
I’ve just finished watching the content for the Course: SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA. Since we’re just beginning to think about our HANA plan, it sounded like a good investment of time. A number of my team, both technical and functional, were interested in the course so we did it as a group, watching the videos and taking the self-tests together but submitting the assignments individually. It turns out this was a really useful way to follow the course and we’d have all got less from it if we had followed the content on our own. More about that as we go on. This blog is a summary of my and my team’s observations about the course content.
The course lasted for 4 weeks and covered a general introduction to Business Suite and HANA, a look a some specific lines of business, a look a specific industries and finally “next steps” – how to get to Suite on HANA from where you are now, whether new customer or already running Business Suite on some other database. It was billed as having a primarily business focus. Despite that billing, week 1 I think assumed a little too much technical background. I said above that we watched the content as a group and I found myself periodically pausing the video to answer questions from my team and explain technical terms that were used without explanation in the video. Even terms such as “OLTP” and “OLAP” should really have been explained but were not. Week 1 also had quite a noticeable marketing tone – “HANA is so much better than all these other not-really-competitors…”. I don’t believe an OpenSAP course is the place for such marketing and I saw on Twitter that some people gave up on the course because of it. Thankfully the subsequent weeks were much, much better.
Weeks 2 and 3 were certainly business focused. They were a little light on detail, but that’s inevitable given the breadth of functionality they tried to cover in a short time. I and my team would have found the content more compelling with some real-life motivating examples rather than generic statements, though.
Week 4 was all about how to get from here to there. There were two tracks, one for existing customers and one for new customers. Naturally we followed the existing customers track, which was all about technical migrations, sizing, HA, DR, deployment architectures (MCOS, MCOD, etc.). It was most certainly not aimed at business people. This was the hardest week for us as a team. There was much more pausing and explaining during week 4 than even week 1. The self-tests were very enlightening. We did them together, and I tried not to prompt answers at all. The first 3 weeks we did get the self-test questions all right first time, although sometimes after a little discussion first. In week 4 we didn’t. I’m not sure how much the non-technical people got from the week 4 content. The scores from the final assignment will be interesting…
I’ve fed these observations and others back to the OpenSAP team directly. I know some of them at least correspond to their observations from the support forums (which I’ve never looked at), and to things I’ve seen people say on Twitter and elsewhere. Hopefully this will result in future courses working a little better?
Separately from this specific course, I will say that the decision to follow the course content together as a team was a good one. MOOCs may allow you to study individually, and that’s great if you have no alternative. If you can study jointly with others, though, I would say you will get more from the course. Even if you can’t discuss the content with the presenter – these courses are recorded, not live, after all – discussion with others still enriches the experience. The self-tests sprinkled through each week’s course content provide useful discussion points, and a good way to gauge how well people are understanding the content. I suggest one person takes the lead and manages the content and discussion for everyone.
When other relevant OpenSAP courses become available we’ll be doing this again, together!