Frank Schuler — Member of the Month, July 2017
Whenever I introduce a Member of the Month, I typically focus on one thing he or she does particularly well. That’s not so easy for July — because Frank Schuler, our latest Member of the Month, does so much so well. It’s impossible just to focus on one thing!
Don’t believe me? Then check out Frank’s profile. More than 100 followers. Nearly 100 blog posts. Almost double that number of answers.
No doubt about it — Frank’s recognition as Member of the Month is long overdue. So I won’t waste any more time…
Congratulations, Frank! After more than 7 years with the SAP Community, how does it feel to be named a Member of the Month?
Thanks for the kind introductions, Jerry. I feel very honored, but to be honest, equally lucky to have been named Member of the Month of this incredible community of dedicated and resourceful contributors to the network.
Whether blogging, answering questions, or running, Frank is not someone who likes to waste time.
Where even to start… As I’ve said, you’ve done so much! Maybe let’s begin at the beginning. According to your profile, you joined the community in early 2010. By the end of that year, you had published your first blog post. What inspired you to start writing?
Interestingly, it was SAP Mentor Thorsten Franz who inspired me to start sharing my experience and publish my first blog on SCN by helping me with one of his own blogs and subsequent answers to my questions when installing my first SAP CE system in the Amazon Web Services cloud.
Fast forward 7 years, and you’ve written almost 100 blog posts. Why are you such a prolific blogger? Is there something in particular that you enjoy about writing? Any authors who inspire you?
I believe I like blogging because I enjoy to help make things work. In addition, I have a background in knowledge management. Once I figure out some new SAP technology, and documented it diligently anyway, there is only a relatively small additional effort to author this content for broader consumption and blog it. For me, the resulting feedback and community appreciation is more than worth it. Since you have been asking, my model blogger has been Thomas Jung.
In addition to blogging, you answer a lot of questions — nearly 200 as of this interview. Do you have a preference — blogging or answering questions?
Well, I have asked twelve questions on SCN myself, and therefore believe I understand where diligent questioners come from. They read the documentation and searched SCN for answers, but since exploring a new topic, they are missing some of the connecting links. With my experience, I enjoy providing this context especially when it is appreciated. However, I am afraid, that the dissemination of questions answered is not as good as that of blogs so that the similar questions get asked potentially several times. Therefore, in principle, I prefer blogs but will continue to answer questions nonetheless.
When I say that you’ve answered nearly 200 questions — I mean nearly 200 questions since we launched the new SAP Community platform! But you’ve been around for years. In your estimation, how many questions do you think you’ve answered as a community member?
Good question, Jerry. Unfortunately, I have been slightly disappointed with the launch of the new SCN. I believe your question comes from my 26 legacy badges, where I had provided years of experience that mostly disappeared. I am not sure about the actual numbers, but I had hoped more could have been preserved.
I’m sorry we’re not listing your past answers — which, due to the nature of the transition, live on in the archive (and we are taking steps to show archived content in people’s profiles) — but your profile does show your impressive blog numbers, dating all the way back to 2010! And I know your Q&A contributions are greatly appreciated. Your heavy involvement in the answer area is evident. Given all of your activity, I’m assuming that SAP Community is part of your daily routine. Can you share a little about that? How often do you come to the community? When? I’m just wondering about how blogging, answering questions, et cetera, fits into your schedule…
Well, in this respect, I believe I am very much like everybody else, in that I hate to waste my time. Therefore, as soon as there is any gap between meetings, workshops or while travelling, I start checking my voice messages followed by my emails. However, once through those, I also check whether I can answer a question on SCN or when there is more time, author some of my previous work results into a blog. When fascinated by a new topic, I sometimes spend some of my own time as well.
In your profile, you describe yourself as an “enterprise architect.” Looking at your posts and answers, your knowledge seems to stretch across multiple topic areas. Could you tell me a little bit about your education and how you developed and evolved your expertise over the years?
Thank you for asking this question, Jerry, because I have been asked this many times by colleagues and co-workers that wanted to become enterprise architects themselves. It really started with my decision to study computer science combined with business administration at university because I did not want to become an expert in any singe technology but to see it in a business context. Of course, I had to learn some technology basics to start with, but I always tried to be as broad as possible. However, to avoid being everything to everyone and therefore in the end nothing to anyone, I focused on SAP technology, which is a broad enough topic for me. Also, I would consider myself a technology enthusiast. Therefore, as soon as there is something new, I like to try it to the extent that I can explain it, not necessarily make it work productively.
Your profile also indicates that you work for BackOffice Associates in Royal Leamington Spa in the United Kingdom. Could you tell me a little about your company and what you do there?
BackOffice Associates is an enterprise software company focused on Information Governance. We have solutions for Data Migration, Data Quality, and Data Governance, and we are a global services organization as well. I am the lead of our SAP technical architecture practice which includes architectural services like, for example, SAP S/4HANA readiness assessments and SAP BASIS services like HANA migrations. [Jerry’s note: If you’d like to hear Frank’s insights about SAP S/4HANA, check out this video from SAPPHIRE NOW 2016.]
I’m assuming you aren’t from Royal Leamington Spa originally, so I’m curious to know about your travels and how you ended up in your current home town…
You are right, Jerry. Originally, I am from Germany but had already moved quite a bit there and also studied two semesters in the U.S. During my work as an SAP enterprise architect around the world, I got to know SAP Mentor Owen Pettiford, who founded an SAP technology company in Royal Leamington Spa and asked me to join, which I did. Eventually this company got acquired by BackOffice Associates, because our competencies complement each other very nicely.
Frank, on the hunt for a geocache. Geocaching is an activity he enjoys doing with his children.
Talking about travel makes me think of leisure activities. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
To keep the balance between work and life, I love to run, because it is possible to run mostly everywhere without much effort and it just frees my mind. Therefore, my running shoes have always been in my travel bag. At home, I spend as much time as possible with my family. Lately we developed a passion for geocaching that even my kids share, so that we usually spend at least one weekend day every week in the country chasing geocaches.
Before I let you go, any advice for other SAP Community members — especially when it comes to blogging? I think posting blogs is one activity that many people find daunting.
My advice would be to see blogging as an opportunity to always remain on the forefront of the technology frontier. For me, blogging is an excellent way of knowledge sharing. While this might sound threatening to some because of their perceived loss of uniqueness, I have always seen this as an opportunity to avoid becoming a bottleneck and therefore being bogged down with demand for my time of things I already know. I rather share what I know and move on to newer, hotter, and therefore for me more interesting topics. There is of course extra effort in doing so, but in fact not so much in addition to the documentation I usually create anyway.
It was a real pleasure talking to you, Frank. Again, congratulations on your well-deserved recognition. I can see why more than 100 community members follow you!