Welcome to a very special edition of Member of the Month. I say that because SAP Community happens to be the Topic of the Month for December, so our latest entry into the Hall of Fame is joining at the best possible time — when we’re shining an even brighter spotlight on everything that makes SAP Community fantastic.
And that of course includes our latest Member of the Month.
I wish I could tell you that I pondered and paced and debated and spent endless hours finding the right candidate for this very special month. Truth is…I didn’t have to. Someone else nominated December’s Member of the Month, and I’m glad too — because I love when members step up to honor each other and bring great contributors to my attention. I mean, what better way to celebrate a Member of the Month during the month when SAP Community is Topic of the Month — by having a community luminary send me an unsolicited message to make me aware of a community up-and-comer who is making a difference.
In this case, the message came from someone who is an SAP Mentor, multiple Topic Leader from the SCN days, event speaker, and prolific blogger. He’s the kind of guy who when he speaks, I listen, and here is what he had to say (write) about our latest Hall of Famer: “Raffael Herrmann has been coming up with nothing short of really excellent, top-class blog posts for a few consecutive months of late. I’ve engaged with him in the community the past few years, but he has really upped his game significantly in the last few months. The engagement levels on his posts speaks for itself.”
That’s good enough for me…and Raffael is more than good enough to deserve the honor of December’s Member of the Month. So before we ring in the New Year, let me ring up Raffael and ask him some questions…
Welcome, Raffael Herrmann, to the Hall of Fame for Members of the Month !
Congratulations on becoming the final Member of the Month for 2019, Raffael!
What a surprise! The award really honors me. At this point, I’d like to say thanks to the (unknown) mentor who nominated me as Member of the Month.
I’ll make sure to let him know…in case he’d like to take credit in the comments. But back to you — according to your profile, you work at RealCore. Can you tell me a bit about your company and what you do there?
RealCore is an established and rapidly growing company — with currently around about more than three hundred consultants — which mainly deals with the consulting and development for SAP products and SAP technology. Our roots are in the retail sector, but today we serve customers from all industries, especially in the field of SAP integration with our expertise in SAP PI / PO, BPM, and SAP CPI.
In my responsibility at RealCore, I manage the business unit responsible for SAP Integration Services in order to take care of the unit’s growth, train, teach, and motivate my team. In my passion for SAP technology I am still actively involved in customer projects to be sure to stay up to date and understand our customers’ needs.
And you’re based in Essen. Are you from there originally?
No, originally, I come from Goslar near the Harz mountains, a small, medieval town with World Heritage status. However, lacking the opportunity to study there, I left my hometown. But if you ever travel to Germany, I highly recommend a stay in Goslar – you won’t regret it.
You had me at “medieval.” I’d love to visit one day. What about your career, education, and other travels prior to RealCore?
As I said, I left my hometown for my education. That was in 2011. Afterwards I began an apprenticeship as an IT specialist for application development and studied business informatics at university in the evening after work. At that time, I was employed at a telephone book publisher and had my first experiences with SAP, more precisely with SAP ISM / AM and ABAP programming. My first project involved building an interface between SAP and Sage in collaboration with a consulting firm.
After completing my B.Sc., I changed to RealCore in 2015, slipped into the role of consultant myself, and learned SAP PI / PO and later also SAP CPI. Since learning is an important topic for me, I challenged myself in co-writing a German SAP Integration book and also started another evening study, so that I finished my M.Sc. in IT management this year.
In sending me this picture, Raffael named it “trying to debug cats in cappadocia, turkey 072019.JPG.” I really can’t think of anything else to add.
It sounds like you have fairly broad experience, but looking at your contributions, I would have guessed that your focus is on SAP Cloud Platform Integration.
If you only look at the blog articles, you could actually get that impression. In fact, I would say that my experience in SAP PI / PO is at least as great as in SAP CPI. However, there are a lot more (very good) blog articles for SAP PI / PO, which made it much easier for me to find exciting new article topics for SAP CPI.
You have a linked profile that shows you joined SAP Community in 2015. As I noted in the introduction, SAP Community is Topic of the Month for December, so I’d love to hear your opinions about community. What prompted you to become a member back then, what do you like best about SAP Community, et cetera?
I can’t say that exactly, but I think I signed up in 2015 to ask a question on SAP Answers (Q&A). Back then, I had been active on Stack Overflow for a long time (which seems to be the brainchild of SAP Answers, I guess), but there has never been such a large amount of SAP expertise there.
What I like best about the community is the helpfulness of the members. If one asks a question in a clear and structured manner, one can assume to receive a reply in shortest time. This unconditional helpfulness always feels to me as if we were all colleagues in the same company. Nobody withholds his knowledge, even if the employers may compete with each other. I think this is not commonplace in our competitive-driven time, but something that makes SAP’s community really special.
Raffael enjoys travel. Here he is trying his first bubble tea ever in Taipei, Taiwan.
Even though you’ve been with the community for years, it seems that your activity really started this year. To sorta quote the intro a little: you really upped your blogging game significantly in the last few months. What was your motivation to start blogging and what has kept you going?
Since 2008, I have been running various own (WordPress) blogs focusing on programming and technology. However, my area of interest has shifted more and more into the direction of SAP in recent years. Thematically this has never quite matched my own / existing blogs, so that SAP topics never found their place there. Feeling the desire to blog again anyway, I decided in the middle of the year to give the SAP blogs platform a chance. The positive feedback that I received for my first articles was then incentive enough for the next articles.
From August to date, you’ve published nine blog posts. Then, starting in October, you began answering questions too. What made you want to get involved in Q&A?
Over the last few months, I’ve made some new contacts, largely through blog articles and discussions. Some of these contacts are role models for me, whose commitment and helpfulness I admire. The more I interact with these people and the more often they share their knowledge with me, the greater my own aspiration of giving something back to the community has become.
(Well…the SAP gamification approach with the badges is also motivating, but was never my main source of motivation.)
Out of the two things — blogging and answering questions — do you have a preference?
Clearly blogging, because feedback is my motivation. And, one has to say that the feedback rate on answers is sometimes really demotivating. You invest time, write an answer, sometimes answer a lot of follow-up comments/questions, and in the end the answer is not even accepted. This will not stop me from continuing to answer questions, but the sense of achievements in blogging just happens more frequently.
I’m sure there are other members out there who have been part of SAP Community for years, but they really haven’t posted anything. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable about blogging or maybe they don’t think they have enough expertise to start answering questions. As a bit of a late bloomer yourself, do you have any advice for members who are hesitant to become more active?
Do not doubt, just write. The first step is always the hardest, but it gets easier from article to article. And even if your first article does not receive hundreds of comments or likes, do not give up. Remember that the first article was also a win, because first of all, you’ll inevitably get better with each article, and secondly, writing an article, you’ll automatically have to reflect on the topic and focus on it, which makes you build up your expertise. So there’s really no chance that you won’t win when investing time in blogging. You could also say: learning by blogging.
At the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines in Moscow. Raffael is a fan of retro gaming.
Time for my last question: What do you like to do in your spare time? I’d love to hear about hobbies, favorite activities, or anything you do for fun…
There are more things to do than spare time available – so, as a positive person, I would say I do not know boredom. I enjoy reading (biographies, financial education, thrillers), programming in C#.NET – I have done it for over eleven years now — and participating in open source projects on GitHub, meeting friends for retro gaming evenings (preferably SNES), and traveling. I probably forgot a few things…
I’m glad we had a chance to chat, Raffael. I hope this interview helps you end 2019 on a high note and I wish you a very prosperous and successful 2020. I’m looking forward to seeing your ongoing contributions in SAP Community next year.
I thank you for the nice interview, Jerry, and the admission to the Hall of Fame. I wish all SAP Community members a successful year-end and a good start into the new year. Keep on learning!