My friend and colleague Tom Wright just released a new book entitled “SAP Integrated Business Planning: How Does SAP IBP Fit into SCM Processes?” (www.sap-press.com/4174) To find out more, we had a quick phone interview that I capture here.
How did you come to write a book? It’s funny, it seems the book came to me. I’ve probably done a hundred IBP presentations over the last few years, and there are always a consistent set of questions posed. And, there are always things I think it would be important for the audience to know that time and format preclude talking about. So to an extent, the book wrote itself, the process turned out to be capturing everything I’d want to know if I were looking at or implementing IBP, and adding some tangible examples to illustrate the concepts. One of my favorite presentation modes for IBP is a “workshop”, where we address the customer’s business requirements with a combination of demo and education about how IBP works to enable a solution. The book aligns closely with that.
Who is this book for? Everyone! OK, maybe not. There is a pretty focused audience. I wrote it speaking from a business perspective to a reader who will be part of or leading a project team implementing IBP. While it does talk about some of the technical aspects of IBP, this is not a book for the aspiring consultant, nor does it replace SAP education. Instead, I try to showcase why it’s important to understand the enabling technology to make the right design decisions. One of my favorite phrases in the book is “Your consultant will…” In the book I want to enable the reader to have that intelligent discussion with the consultant and make the right decisions. I employ use case examples liberally to illustrate the impact.
There’s also a strong focus on the kinds of things one might do with IBP, ideally intended to help the reader map what’s possible to what’s important to their business.
IBP is an evolving product at SAP. Will the book remain current? Great question, and point. Of course IBP is being aggressively enhanced, at the time we finished writing IBP 6.1 was just being released. I have had enough exposure to the 6.1 capabilities to include it in the book, but readers with an eye to detail will notice I’m a lot less specific about the brand new stuff. But there is enough known, and I hope written, to enable the reader to understand what the new capabilities will do and the role they will play. That’s really the objective. If I’d gotten into details of “how” rather than what or why, I think the risk of obsolescence would be much higher. But there’s less need for “how”, that’s well addressed via SAP documentation, education, SAP Services and our SI partners.
What’s your hope for the book? Hmmm… Let me say it this way. In 30 years in the applications software business, I’ve always believed if I could help my customers understand the capabilities of the products I represent sufficiently well, it would be apparent to them how to be successful using it. That doesn’t mean throwing information over a wall, it’s an iterative, collaborative approach with mutual learning. But neither SAP nor our customers consistently have the time for that approach, and it’s not always cost effective. So I hope that the book provides sufficient general information and specific business examples to reach the same result. Put another way, I was recently talking with colleagues about an upcoming delivery of the workshop I mentioned earlier and recommended that the customer read the book first, it will multiply the impact of our time together by helping them form some really interesting questions.
Thanks Tom, and good luck with the book!