What is SAP software for a new user? A mysterious, powerful, unknown tool that understanding is almost impossible and would take centuries to study it – that’s what most beginners think. I used to agree with this opinion in the past. However, today I present a completely different way of thinking that requires nothing else but a change in attitude. What will you say if I compare SAP to a video game? Who of you have never played strategy game?
Most of us, even in childhood, had contact with a game that completely got caught us up. Today, I am going to tell you about the best strategy game I have ever played.
It’s a game that cannot be lost and the gained levels and experience have an impact on the real life. If you are going to start playing this game, you will need to read and check what await you while passing through its levels.
I was trying to figure it out, how the whole production process is maintained in SAP. During my research only more and more questions occurred. Before we had started production, we needed to pick up the components based on the list contained in the transfer order. But why do we pick up the parts for production from these specific storage bins, since they have been also in the other, closer bins? Why it’s necessary to pick up the same material from two different storage bins when there is another bin with the full available amount? Who inputs the transfer orders into the system, who defines the source storage bins from which the material has to be picked? I was looking for answers from production and logistics planners. It was not easy to get the answer because everyone was talking about a different document, thinking that both departments work on the same. For them: the order is the order – what’s the difference what we call it? But the order looks completely different for the warehouse employees and production department. So why the employees were talking about completely different documents, thinking that it’s the same one. For them it was just an order. It caused lots of misunderstanding from both sides. I couldn’t understand who was responsible for the rules based on which the transfer orders were created. The answer was only one. It happens by itself. But how? Nothing can happen by itself!
Solving this puzzle was the first mission in the game. That and many other questions have been bothering me. I decided to look for answers on the internet. It was a very hard task because I didn’t’ know the SAP’s vocabulary. I finally came across the most popular polish center of knowledge about SAP (polish SAP forum).
After a successful registration, I’ve entered into new territory, which was for me completely unknown and undiscovered. The level of the information, which I found out there was enormous.
This is also the place, where I’ve entered into second level
Exploring the forum and asking questions gave me the answers. The materials shared by friendly users, allowed me passing that level a lot easier. However, during exploration of the system, I noticed that the more I know, the less I know (the more you get into it, the more complicated it becomes). Every day, more questions appeared regarding the system. During my learning, I came up with some ideas how to use my newest knowledge to improve SAP in daily work. As it happens in every game, at the end of the level, you have to came across the Boss – a challenging threat, who scares you to death. However, in this case, facing the Boss gave me a powerful motivational kick!
Once, I was looking through the forum for solutions related to the picking strategy from fixed storage bins. I would have never expected that one of the forum users is the director of the plant in which I’m working. Although the information I have written did not contain any details, I was identified by the company’s management. On that day, during my daily work as a forklift operator in the warehouse, the Director (Mrs Agnieszka Stefańczuk) pays me a visit. I was asked if I had been registered in the forum and looked for solutions to systemic problems which happened at work. Full of stress, I found out that there is nothing to hide, they tracked me down and I would probably lose my job. To my surprise, it turned out that this was not the purpose of Boss’s visit. There was no trouble, just a handshake and congratulations on my attitude. And the best thing – the promise of support and access to the test server where I could play my favorite game (SAP) and explore other unknown areas. It can be said that I completed this level with more skills and a bonus in the form of access to the test server.
Along with the access to the test server where I could continue playing and conquering an unknown empire I began to understand more about it. I’ve learned about new transactions and relations between modules and the influence of master data on specific areas. It seemed to me that I was indestructible and known everything. However, as it happens in strategy games, soon I have found someone better than myself. Bragging about known transactions and their possibilities, which I did not use anyway, my confidence increased, which sometimes seemed to be ordinary boasting about. Everything changed when the company hired an outside consultant to make some changes to the system. I watched as this consultant navigated the system. Initially, I had a lot of fun looking at how he was searching the transactions in the SAP menu. I was pretty sure that he did not know the transactions, which further strengthened my belief that he was not good enough. It didn’t take long for him to bring me down to earth.
This man had the knowledge I could only have dreamed of. It was then, when I realized that it is not about the knowledge of the transactions in this game. The most important thing is to understand and be aware of what is being done in the system. Understanding is the most important thing! This gentleman simply knew where to look and only took two days to understand the key business processes in the company. After a few years I did not understand them. It taught me a lot of humbleness and at the same time made me realize that I’m still at the beginning of the game. I was playing the wrong way, and I couldn’t do nothing with my knowledge about transactions, so I knew that I stuck. I had knowledge about something I didn’t understand. It was time to face the truth and politely and humbly return to the level one, with my head down.
I started the game again, practically from scratch, leaving the previous methods. Now it wasn’t important where to click, just why the system behaves in that way and sometimes in another way. To understand it, one had to go back to the roots and learn the basics (all the elements of the organizational structure in SAP, type of documents and especially – terminology). Lack of the knowledge about the terminology made it very difficult to search for the valuable informations on the internet, also communication with other forum’s users weren’t easy. It was practically impossible to ask a question in such a way that it would be understood by forumsap.pl users. This level was the hardest for me. I gathered lots of learning materials and practically drowned in the ocean of knowledge. The game seemed even more complicated than before. Wherever I stuck my nose, new questions show up. Thanks to the forum I also received private messages with advices. Thanks to the kindness and patience of Dominik Tylczynski and Piotr Krawiec, I managed to find many solutions, which help me get through this stage of the game. My fascination with the game was noticed by my supervisor and I was promoted from a warehouse employee to a clerk. In the end I’ve become a warehouse logistic specialist (in real life) and my SAP-player’s rank was gradually raising. Interest in SAP playing was beyond the reach of the area in which I worked. I was trying to help accounting, sales and production departments. If I couldn’t do something, I said I could, and I have found a solution in the end, but only a bit later. People gradually began to use my desire to learn and pass the game. Initially, helping other users was a great pleasure, because by helping, I could talk a bit about the system. After some time, however, I realized that some people who asked for help do not want to hear my explanations where the reason of SAP problems were. They just wanted me to solve their problem for them and keep the stories about cause of the trouble to myself. Therefore, I ‘ve started with a new tactic that I would start giving them instructions so that in case of a problem they could solve it without my help. Before I had known it, a really large collection of video-tutorials and click-guides documents were made, which are always there to help. Of course, while I was preparing them I often had to use the documentation from the portal: saphelp which had a direct impact on the rapid obtain of knowledge. It would also be a sin not to mention Dominik Tylczynski’s visit to the company. He is the best SAP Expert in Poland (or maybe in Europe). After short correspondence via the forum, he decided to visit the company where I work and deliver a speech about SAP ERP functionality. I compared this visit almost with the visit of the Pope. Listening to him while talking about SAP, it was like poetry, music for the ear and of course another “motivational kick”.
There was a turning point here. The company’s headquarters (outside the country) decided to implement the SAP EWM system in our plant. Who do you think was involved in the project? Here is a hint, do you know a guy that cannot stop thinking about playing with SAP? Of course, the “freak” that couldn’t stop thinking about playing in SAP – It’s me! This was the chance. I became a Key User. I was sent for a weekly training and later participated in the entire implementation. One could say that this is the end of this level. Time for the next level. Which one in turn? Actually … it doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is the pleasure for the game, not for leveling up. I don’t care if there is anyone better or what I already have known. I just want to keep playing and learn what I don’t know or I don’t understand. The period of testing the new system, fun, creating the instructions and training of other employees has begun. It was no longer just work but pure pleasure. My gratitude for the SAP system went beyond all limits. I really wanted to thank someone, but I didn’t know who. So I asked Dominik Tylczyński if he needed some help with forum administration. Somehow I wanted to help in his social activities in exchange for the answers and hints I received on the forum and in private. In response, I found out about the initiative of founding a Polish SAP User Group. Seeing that this topic is not much happening, I decided to help somehow. I had much more time than the SAP people involved in this initiative. Secretly, from scratch, I created a website proposal for the group and contacted SAP SE, not expecting that the things will go so quickly. After Dominik’s acceptance of the website design, we began working together to complete the Polish SAP users Group website. And now we exist. We finally got it: we have Polish SAP Users Group. (You can read more in that blog post). In work, the things also went quite quickly. The game in SAP has gained a very fast pace. I practically was doing nothing, I was pushed by an avalanche caused by the game. As a tester of system logistics processes and authorizations, I could enjoy access to the configuration guide, which in turn opened the door to further experiences. The hunger for learning about the new system was so great that I began the translation of the book by SAP Press Warehouse Management with SAP EWM (to Polish language) – of course for my use only. Why am I writing about this? Because this is an incredible paradox! The English SAP PRESS book has been translated by a man who didn’t know English! Now it’s history – after this madness reading English texts about SAP doesn’t cause me any difficulties. Doing it with passion, I didn’t even notice that I had learned English.
I wonder how the current situation would look like if I had never come across this game. I do not know. But I can guarantee and with a clear conscience ensure that learning SAP only brings benefits (a few years ago I was warehouse employee and I didn’t know English language – today I’m a SAP EWM key-user, Co-founder of Polish SAP User Group, founder of polish youtube channel for beginners (I’m starting), and I can speak English, maybe not perfectly but I can) If you, dear user, think of SAP as a tool with which you are forced to work – it will be for you only an unknown, difficult system that makes life difficult. However, if, for one time, you will stop for a moment and instead of using the system unconsciously, you will wonder why you do it and how it affects the company you work for, I am sure you will get into that game passionately. SAP is like a really good strategy game – if you will think that way, I’m sure you’ll get caught up in the SAP world and get many benefits that will be a nice side effect of having fun. Thanks SAP SE, thanks SAP-Experts, thanks SAP community! And thanks Adrian for correcting the text and comments – your passion for English language is amazing. Have a nice game for all!!!