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Author's profile photo Alexandra Partovi

Enhancing the BIP Admin guide: A collaborative effort between the Product Support and the Knowledge Management teams

Another regular day at work. I log into the Customer Support System to see if there are any Customer Incidents assigned to me. I see one new Incident. One customer created the incident to clarify some confusing piece of information in the BIP Administrator Guide. Of course! This is not surprising to me. More often than not I find that customers are unable to understand a crucial step or find that some information is missing in our Admin Guide. Being a part of a Support team, it bothers me more and more to see you – our customers – struggle to understand our Product Documentation. That means our documentation essentially isn’t serving its prime purpose.

Since I know this is not the first time someone needed help understanding our documentation, I find a KBA with a solution. But then something occurred to me:

“What if we could fix our documentation by rewriting the steps from the point view of the customer and by adding screenshots and graphics?”

“Could we collaborate with Documentation team to make our Admin Guide better which as a result would reduce these types of Incidents?”

I talked to my team and found that they had similar frustrations and expressed the same interest in fixing Documentation first hand. That’s how we got working on a project to enhance our Admin Guide. The first call of action was to get the buy-in from Knowledge Management team who create the Admin Guide. I connected with Priyanka and Malavikha and presented our ideas to them. I was so happy when they were on board with us. They appreciated our involvement and we worked on a plan of how we were going to work on the issue. We had great collaboration between the Product Support and the Knowledge Management teams since the beginning of 2015!

Here’s what we did to address our problem:
1. We identified sections of the Admin guide for which the most number of how-to Incidents were created. Naturally, it seemed like a good place to start. We also looked at the most viewed Knowledge Base Articles which were also covered in the Admin Guide. If you were looking at KBAs instead of the Admin Guide for instructions that meant we can write our documentation better.
2. We then tried to test all the documented workflows in the identified sections to see if there was some incorrect or missing information.
3. We also worked with most experienced Support Engineers to re-write the instructions in documentation for the frequently asked how-to questions.
4. After validating all the workflows, we tried to reword the steps to make it clearer and more complete, added images and screenshots to support complex workflows and also linked any related videos or KBAs to the relevant sections.
5. Also, we create HTML versions of the Admin Guide. This way you can view HTML version and go directly to the chapter they need without downloading the entire 20+ MB file.

Here is an example of how the KBA with a video would appear in Admin Guide:


And when you click on the link, you will get this:


As I have also learned, Knowledge Management team is working on some exciting projects to make our documentation even better. Here Malavikha will share some of them with us.

“Working with the Product Support team to enhance the quality of documentation in the BIP Admin guide, I believe, was a much-needed first step towards helping you understand the workflows better. But, that’s not the only thing that the Knowledge Management team is working on in terms of enhancing the documentation.
Here are some of the Initiatives that my team is driving:
1. New-feature demo videos: Well, as they say ‘A picture speaks more than a thousand words’ and a video can only mean more! In order to aid you better, we decided to deliver documentation through a new channel – through videos. We have created new feature how-to demo videos for BI 4.2 release. These videos explain the concept and also demonstrate how users can complete a particular task. It will certainly help users consume documentation better. All these videos are hosted on SAP’s YouTube channel and referenced in the What’s New guide. We plan to continue this initiative for our future releases as well.
2. Error Message Improvement Initiative: Most often, we notice that our error messages go ‘Contact your system administrator’. This doesn’t help you much, as it does not really state the cause of the error or some basic actions that the user can take. Also, what if the user is the Administrator?! So we reworked some error messages in the Error Message guide – identified the cause for these errors and also the immediate actions that the users can perform by self, without actually reaching out to the administrator. This will surely help you to resolve issues faster.
3. Conducting Customer Interviews to obtain feedback on Product Documentation: We are also trying to reach out to you to obtain detailed feedback on product documentation to understand what their pain-points are, and also to hear first-hand from them about what they would like to be improved or enhanced in documentation. Simultaneously, we will collate feedback, analyze them, and work towards incorporating the feedback comments.”

We really hope that you will find our Product Documentation easier to read and understand. This way you can find the answers yourself without having to log an Incident and wait for the answer from us. Our job is nowhere near to be complete as we continuously look for ways to improve our documentation.

What can you do?
Do you have suggestions on where the Admin Guide may be improved/clarified? Please let us know. Add a comment to this blog. We value your input.

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      Author's profile photo Arun Chanda
      Arun Chanda

      Hi, i would really appreciate if you can make it more easier for referring KBAs. For example i open a KBA and it refers to another KBA and so on, finally i end up opening 20+ tabs and loose the track of the whole purpose. If a complicated process is involved in achieving, a video might be more helpful rather than each KBA referring to other. Most of the times the KBAs are straight forward in Business Objects but considering any other product in SAP are too complicated (for eg., HANA, Solution Manager)



      Author's profile photo Arun Chanda
      Arun Chanda

      The pattern books are not clear enough to understand sometimes even though they have screenshots describing each step. It also needs to be revised and you can include in the BIP admin guide to refer to the pattern books for detailed step by step procedure.

      Author's profile photo Ajay Gupta
      Ajay Gupta

      Some suggestions to improve the Admin Guide:

      • More details on the Monitor and probes set-up, maintain, schedule and alerts
      • More details on the Audit / Monitor / Comment  Db tables, views and other look-up tables.  Also how to merge the 3-Databases for cross reporting.
      • Update the BI 4.2 w/ SP2++ overall architecture model
      • More details on each features / functions in details when implementing the Access Rights.  Also changes / enhancements since BI 4.0
      • Incorporate starter sizing guide and most import maintain as new enhancements and BIP's are introduced.

      I worked last with Radim back in 2013 when he owned the BI Platform Influence council. If you require any further details please let me know.