Why did nobody tell me?
An SAP end-user trainer sometimes gets lucky. I’m always over the moon if I find out at the start of a project that there is a dedicated training environment. It even gets better when the client is being refreshed on a regular basis. In that case, it is only necessary to set-up data for the training exercises once. Alas, this is seldom reality, and creating training data over and over again becomes quickly a labour of Sisyphus.
I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent setting-up exercises in my life. I remember a project in the South of France where I had to train the purchase flow. In one particular training, the trainees only needed to know how to create a purchase requisition, and how to do the goods receipt. That’s why I needed to create purchase orders. To be precise, 720 of them. That is one-month training, twelve trainees per day, and – because repetition is the key to mastery – three purchase orders each. So, instead of having lunch under the Mediterranean sun with a French baguette, cheese, and a burgundy wine, I converted PRQ’s to purchase orders like crazy while inhaling my lunch in the training room.
In the past, I heard people talk about LSMW. Moreover, I knew that it was a tool to upload data into an SAP system. However, it was only in #BCO6181, one of the best units at Victoria University that it dawned on me: LSMW can be used to create the right data for exercises for end-user training. There is even a second tool that can be used for that purpose: eCatt. Why did nobody tell me?
After exploring both LSMW and eCatt during tutorials in the unit ERP implementation, and some experimenting at home, I realized that for training eCatt is the way to go. It is very similar to what you normally have to do from a functional perspective, and it takes less time than LSMW. Let’s get a closer look at eCatt.
Using eCatt to get training data into the system
There are four simple steps to get data into the system with eCatt. Firstly, you have to do the transaction once while you record it. Secondly, you have to name each field that you want to be filled in. Those names will become the headers of columns in an Excel sheet. After that, you have to upload the training data. You do this by downloading the data template to Excel, adding the required data, and upload the file again. As a final step, you execute the test script.
Here you can find an extensive explanation http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-8235 of how to work with eCatt, written by Melanie Reinwarth and with contributions of Rakesh Kumar Jain.
To put it to the test, I created ten materials from scratch, first by hand and then with eCatt. As a seasoned material-master-creator, it took me a little over 4 minutes to do so. As a beginner in eCatt, the creation of 10 materials took me nearly 14 minutes more. At first glance, the manual creation is much faster. However, when you need more materials, the manual time will grow linear, while the eCatt time stays constant. Hence, in this case using eCatt becomes beneficial from the moment you need more than 40 materials.
Let’s go back to the 720 purchase orders from the beginning, and let’s assume that creating a material takes the same amount of time than creating a purchase order. By hand, it would take more than 5 hours, with eCatt only 14 minutes. Now close your eyes and imagine, how many baguettes you can eat and how many wines you can drink in 4,5 hours… I rest my case.
To end, I would like to encourage all the trainers to ask for the authorization for t-code SECATT and start trying today. To the security administrator, I would like to ask to say “yes” to all the trainers that want to use SECATT. To all other people out there: if there is something else you are hiding from me, now it is the time to speak up.