SAP has been rapidly innovating and releasing new technologies and products faster than customers can adopt and implement. When an organization does adopt a new technology and implements it, the ABAP team leads and managers find that their support staff don’t have the right skills to support the new solution. Consider a typical SAP Customer running ECC 6.05, CRM and BW 7.01 with BI 4.1. Typically there is a functional support team and development support team. Development team is staffed with some highly qualified ABAP programmers who support the current system. These resources are good at what they do and can build some slick solutions based on ABAP, include ABAP Web dynpro, classical dynpro screens and other tools.
To SAP’s credit, they have built a vibrant community with information to help developers come up to speed on the new skills. They have created training courses and made them available for free on open SAP. There is a wealth of resources for someone who wants to learn the new technology.
But how does a ABAP manager bring up the whole team into the world of new solutions. We used a technique similar to SAP demo jam or bake off. We took our development team and grouped them into 3 small teams using a random grouping process. We challenged each of the three teams to use HANA Cloud Platform trial account and build at least one Fiori App using SAP WEB IDE. One of the many SAP published step-by-step guide was provided to the whole group as a resource. We gave them 4 weeks of time to build the app, create a presentation of the app and lessons learned. This was setup as light weight activity to be completed in addition to the regular work load each of the developers had on their plate. Some of SAPUI5 knowledgeable resources on the team were setup as common help.
After 4 weeks, the teams had completed the basic requirement and presented some interesting starter apps. One of the teams built multiple apps to explore the various Fiori design templates: Master Detail, Master Master Detail and others. The other teams incorporated, CRUD operations in a simple app using Northwind OData service. Another team added some fun Halloween images to their Fiori Launchpad implementation on Hana Cloud Platform. All the teams used the FLP on HCP to show off their work. Overall all the developers were happy to participate in the bake off and get their hands on some of the new tools and technologies. Everyone was amazed that SAP provides access to SAP HANA Cloud platform for free for an unlimited time. Having worked with ABAP Development workbench in SAPGUI for a long time, the switch to SAP WEB IDE was a pleasant surprise for everyone. For once, the limitations of not having the latest products installed on premise, was not a hurdle to the learning process. Learning about HANA Cloud Platform portal and Fiori Launchpad was a bonus for the teams as they had only been exposed to Netweaver Portal 7.01.
The Fiori app bake off did not produce any expert Fiori developers but the entire support team was much more informed about the new SAP tools and technologies. Everyone had heard the terms such as HCP, Fiori and SAPUI5. It was always one of those things that they were planning to look at once the support workload got a little lighter, which as you know never happens. The bake off gave them a reason to jump in and learn. Management was very happy with the results, since the cost was practically 0 and there was no loss of productivity. I would certainly recommend that you try this at your organization.