Phil Cooley — Member of the Month, August 2018
The Member of the Month for August isn’t a new face to a community. He’s not new to anything SAP-related, period. In fact, he joined the community in 2004, and per his profile page, he is an SAP veteran with more than twenty years of experience.
Since he’s been around for so long, you might be wondering why he’s only getting recognized now. It’s because he has really stepped up his blogging game recently, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. Responses to his posts have been full of praise. As one member told me: “In the last year or so, he has started publishing some really really quality blogs on contemporary subjects including Cloud Platform.”
That particular comment brought our latest Member of the Month to my attention, and now it’s my pleasure to bring him to yours.
Wow, really honored to be a recipient of this award and really thankful for the recognition. Thanks! I’ve been amazed and seriously chuffed by the comments on some of my blog posts and overall glad I’ve had some positive impact within the community.
Your profile bio is pretty specific, and I have all kinds of questions about your areas of expertise. But let’s start with the area where you are…literally. Your bio lists your company as Business Process Solutions, located in Melbourne. Are you from Australia originally? Or did your career and travels bring you there?
Yes, I was born in Sydney, Australia where I finished a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Information Systems, but as fate would have it, actually moved my whole life to Melbourne to join one of the first SAP projects in Australia back in 1996. So, believe it or not, I moved because of SAP – well, to get an opportunity in the SAP world! While I moved to progress my career, it was also a massive personal challenge for me moving states but overall a great one for me. So, in actual fact, SAP and my career brought me to Melbourne and I have been here ever since.
Phil Cooley, Member of the Month, August 2018
What’s it like having Melbourne as your home?
Definitely one of the most livable cities in the world and some say the sports capital of Australia with AFL games at the MCG (with over 95,000 people), the Melbourne Grand Prix, as well as the Australian Open – seriously major sporting events. I live on the edge of the bay in Mentone – a great part of the world and right near the beach in Port Phillip Bay. I feel very fortunate and blessed to live where I live with my family – my wife and three kids. Along the peninsula are some fantastic wineries – that is another part of Melbourne that is seriously great. Plenty of other activities to do as well.
Phil lives in Melbourne, in Mentone near Port Phillip Bay. (Notice how I got the maps right this time.)
Tell me a little bit about Business Process Solutions. What does the company do and what do you do there?
I’m actually the founder of Business Process Solutions. That offers specific consulting services and subcontracts to businesses in SAP and MYOB and has also recently dabbled in developing an iOS application (not SAP-related) called Faves. I’m the Director and am the main resource providing the SAP consulting services. I was the Technical Lead on the iOS application and worked directly with a development team to get it on the App store. I also have a number of ideas for additional iOS/Android apps that I am currently designing and working to bring to market so definitely busy and exciting times ahead.
Now let’s dive into your bio. Wow…where to begin. Let’s start with your overall experience. As I noted earlier, you describe yourself as an “SAP Veteran of 20+ years.” How did you get started?
Interesting story that. So as I said I moved to Melbourne to join my first SAP project and one of the first in Australia and my role initially was to create security roles…and not using the old PFCG either – I’m talking about creating them from scratch. This enabled me to get a deep level understanding of business processes right across multiple modules and back then it was the SAP R/3 3.0D version. At the same time I got to work with key SAP consultants across Sales and Distribution and CO-PA areas – needless to say I learnt heaps and gained a very detailed understanding of the key elements of the SAP landscape and the way it all worked.
I’ve always wanted to fully understand what I am doing rather than just carrying out configuration steps so this has enabled me to gain a lot of experience and knowledge across a lot of SAP modules. So, for the main part I consulted for a large amount of time in SD, MM, LE and gained a lot of experience in the integration space with EDI and interfaces. In recent times I have moved across to Cloud with a lot of experience in SAP Cloud Platform related projects and with managing teams to build enterprise grade SAPUI5 applications.
What else…you have a lot of experience in…wait a sec. TechnoFunky?
Yeah, these days I’m handling a lot of the technical side – installing of SAP Cloud Connectors as well as handling authentication activities between SCP and iDP’s including SAP’s own SAP Cloud Identity Authentication Service. I’ve also been doing a lot of architecture work of not only landscapes but backend SAP Fiori application architecture as well. TechnoFunky comes from my Functional Consultant background and while I understand the business processes deeply I also understand the technical side of things and how it all works and fits together so comes the term TechnoFunky!
Interestingly, others have found it difficult to place me in specific roles or found it difficult to align my skills to some sort of grouping as I have always had a really broad range of skills, right through from design, testing, and build to architecture, project management, and delivery.
OK, thanks for explaining that. I’m not the brightest, tech-savvy bulb in the drawer, so I thought I was missing something. I feel bad enough that I had to look up “chuffed” while you were talking. Anyway, enough about my poor vocabulary and back to the stuff I do recognize. You’re into CRM and Sales and Distribution. While those aren’t your go-to topics for blogs – I’ll get to that in a sec – you do seem to keep an eye on S&D questions. Why is that?
Sales and Distribution is one of the key cornerstones of most businesses out there and in SAP the functionality is broad and rich. I’ve had a lot of experience over the last twenty years in this space so I figure I can provide a lot of assistance to others – especially newbies – in this area. When I respond, I try and provide a deeper explanation rather than just stating steps to perform to try and get the requestor to gain a better understanding of why the error occurred, so they can take that into their next problem solving activity.
As far as writing blogs on the topic…it is a really good point. I figured that most of it would have been covered already given it is one of the oldest modules but definitely an area I can add value to. So – watch out, there may be some additional blogs coming to the community near you. I do have a large number of blogs in draft that I am working on, on a wide range of topics so stay tuned…
Great! Sounds like you’re willing to take on more, which is no surprise, considering that, according to your bio, you’re willing to take a “crack at anything.” And I see that you’re also focusing on newer technologies – a fact that other members have also noticed. As I said earlier, quoting someone who contacted me, you cover “contemporary subjects.” First, Fiori. You’re a self-confessed SAP Fiori lover. Again, your words. Why the love for Fiori?
Yes, I’m always putting my hand up to check out new things – I have a thirst for learning new things with the intention of moving from novice to expert over time. The more I know and do, the more I can help my customers and the wider SAP community, which is what I am really passionate about.
As I said earlier, I am a TechnoFunky; however, over the twenty years I have also focused on user experience. Everything I have designed along the way has had the user experience front and center so my love of Fiori stems from that. Being within the SAP world for this long, I have seen the journey from the early days with basic transactions and through the Enjoy screens upgrade to transactions with the constant drive to improve userability of the SAP user base and I love that SAP has revolutionized themselves and strived to provide enterprise grade applications and Fiori is the major part of this which I want to be a part of.
Phil with his son Joshua at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium
On top of that, you’re a “massive SAP Cloud Platform supporter,” according to your profile. I know plenty of people at SAP who love hearing that. Why are you such a huge supporter?
There are a lot of things I love about SAP Cloud Platform – accessibility, extensibility, agility – the list goes on.
I love the fact that I can log on to a customer’s system and perform business functions using wireless connectivity – I could be anywhere literally – rather than the alternative of having to go via VPN and then log in via SAP GUI – just a cumbersome outdated process. I like the ease with which business functions can be extended quickly to provide instant enhancement options, which has often been painful with on-premise systems.
My last positive is experienced-based. While I use a lot of the services available in the SAP Cloud Platform Neo environment, I’ve still got a lot of scope to learn new services – for example, Workflow, Business Services – as well as the Cloud Foundry environment. I’ve had twenty-plus years learning all about SAP ERP systems so figure I have another twenty years to learn all about SAP Cloud Platform.
What else are you planning to take a crack at?
Geez, great question. I think first and foremost I definitely want to get more involved with S/4HANA and C/4HANA projects as I believe I can add tremendous value given my extensive ERP and CRM background. With my SAP Cloud Platform experience I can also provide expertise in extending applications within these systems as well so I feel this would be a natural progression. Still in the SAP space I would like to do more with the Business Rules and Workflow services in SAP Cloud Platform and of course checkout Blockchain, IoT, and Machine Learning.
On the non-SAP side, I want to progress v2 of the iOS Faves application and to spend a bit more time marketing it as well as bring my other iOS app ideas to market. In the longer term would be good to morph both of these together and have a crack at an iOS SAP enterprise application using the iOS SDK – not necessarily developing it but being involved in the design, architecture, security, and delivery of it. So, will definitely be busy over the coming years!
I’m interviewing you because of members telling me that they’ve noticed many quality blogs coming from you recently. Was there any sort of sudden inspiration?
That’s nice – really happy to hear that.
I guess my main inspiration is to be able to help others on a mass scale. While I have been helping companies over the last twenty years in a consulting role, there is an exponential positive impact provided by helping others around the big wide world out there, and helping people is what I like doing. I have seen a lot of things over the years and been placed in a large amount of experiences so conveying knowledge to others in similar circumstances to circumvent hardship I believe is what I can add and provide to the community.
The other reason was to assist in the rebuilding of the SAP Community – doing my part. I have read a lot about the community over the years and comments around it not being as great as it once was, so I guess I wanted to increase my involvement to positively impact on this and given my experience I feel I can do this and add value.
The last reason is that I enjoy the art of writing and the great thing about blogs is that it is not a project deliverable. It is authoring a mini-book if you like so it is a challenge writing something that people will like to read and get enjoyment from – and of course learn from.
You’ve also been no slouch in the answer department. Do you have any sort of process for finding and answering questions in the community?
I guess the first part of my process is the topic the question relates to and then whether I’ve had the relevant experience to provide the person with valuable knowledge. I’m not a fan of just posting a response without adding something significant to the conversation. I will add mostly what my experience has led me through.
The main topics I follow to answer questions are the ones I have the relevant experience in – so SD, MM, LE, FI, Fiori, SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer, and of course SAP Cloud Platform areas. I only add comments if I believe I can add something to the response but I also check out the answers from others and Like them or give them a +1 to show that I agree with the response and that it was a good one. I think this is a really important one – basically providing support for other community members by giving “pats on the back” on a regular basis.
“It is really important to spend time with loved ones,” Phil says. Here he is with his family.
Before I let you go, I’d like to ask you one final question. We’ve covered your career, your skills, your community input. But what about outside of work? Any hobbies or personal interests that you pursue in your downtime?
Downtime, what’s that…
Well, number one is to spend time with my family. With the hustle and bustle of today’s world, it is really important to spend time with loved ones.
One of my absolute favorite things to do is watching movies so I do love going to the cinema to watch new films that come out. I am a massive Oscars fan as well, so much so I nearly take the day off! I will do this one day but not as big an event in Australia as it is in the U.S.!
I love listening to music and love to dance so on occasion I have been known to tear up the dance floor at choice nightclubs in Melbourne – definitely a great release from the day-to-day pressures.
Oh, lastly also love to cook when I can. Making vanilla slices and pavlova from scratch are my signature dishes.
That just about does it, Phil. But before I say goodbye, I wanted to thank you for everything you do for the SAP Community. Congratulations on being such a positive part – such an inspiration – for other members. I hope we keep seeing the blogs and answers coming from you for a long time to come!
Thanks very much for this recognition and yes – will definitely keep my community involvement up. More blogs and answers to come!