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Writing to make difference – story of SAP Activate book

It’s been almost a year since Sven, Sri, me and twelve contributors finished working on a manuscript for the book about SAP Activate. It went on sale under the title SAP Activate – Project Management for SAP S/4HANA in May of last year and in this blog post I want to talk about its journey. I also want to thank all our readers and share how your purchase helped make the world a better place.

The project started, just like most creative work in a small meeting over a beverage. In this instance it was a morning cup of coffee. Emily Nichols from SAPPRESS and I met in the morning, before the show floor opening at SAPPHIRE 2019 in Orlando. We started discussing ideas of how the book could look like, who it is for and what could be the structure of it. That was the inception of the project.

It excited me to have an opportunity to be part of a project that makes difference for all people implementing SAP S/4HANA solution in their business or organization. I knew I can’t do this by myself and that it will be a large undertaking. We talked about a full-size book and while I was part of several projects on full size books, I only lead one for e-bite few years earlier. I started to enlist help of my co-authors with Sven and Srini being game right from the start.  But I was still at SAPPHIRE and needed to focus on the program of the day and the many customer and partner meetings that are setup each day.

I kept thinking about the book in breaks between meetings and jotted down few ideas in my phone as I moved around the show floor. After the event, on the flight home I took all these small notes and started to create mind map of what the book could look like and thought a lot more of the expert contributors that will be excited to get involved in the project and work on specific areas or topics. It ended up being a dozen names which sounded like a lot. Over the few weeks after SAPPHIRE there were many calls and e-mail exchanges to bring together the team and confirm the structure of the book. I found it stimulating to have so many people offer their help and share ideas what the book could accomplish.

Putting together a book outline is in many ways similar to assembling a work breakdown structure in a project. You need to think about the right sequence of deliverables (in our case chapters) and what should be the outcome of each and how they fit together – what comes first and what comes second. It is like a puzzle with many pieces that may be frustrating at times to put together, but once you get the key pieces together it starts to flow. Once we had that part ready, we split the responsibility for each chapter to a lead or pair of contributors and defined the timeline for delivery of first draft.

What followed was hours of writing the text and thinking about the audience and their interests. I’m sure each contributor has their own story about how they found time and focus to write. In my case I would use my trusted iPad and simple text editor to draft the chapter text – often on the plane or in a corner during my son’s Kung-fu lessons. That draft would then later find way to the template that SAPPRESS uses, and I would add screen shots and figures providing visual support for the reader. Once the chapter text was ready for review, it would go to our editor at SAPPRESS for her review and usually would come back with few annotations, remarks and feedback. This feedback cycle was critical, and I was happy our editor was flexible and willing to review individual chapters even if they came out of order as contributors finished them. This part is the grueling march that makes the book what it is and it is a long process, especially when you are writing 600+ pages of the book.

The final push came over the Christmas break and into January as we finalized the last few chapters and appendixes. It felt like a Food Channel cooking show when the host comes in the last 30 minutes with a twist to incorporate special ingredient to the meal. In our case the special ingredient was to add certification preparation questions that readers can use to test their knowledge of SAP Activate before they take official certification exam with SAP (Colin wrote about the certification here). That was an interesting twist, and in my opinion, it was worth the effort, plus it made the book a lot more useful to many readers.

During the following months, we had few more cycles of review with the authors and contributors to make sure the manuscript and final formatting came together well. The last thing for us as authors was to talk about what we will do with the royalties. We considered few options, but ultimately, we felt that the best way to use the money will be to donate it to charitable cause. We chose St. Jude Children’s Hospital that does outstanding work for children and families that are fighting children cancer. Thanks to our readers we were able to contribute over 13 thousand dollars to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in the last 12 months. That is only thanks to our readers that found the book and bought it and thanks to my coauthors and all contributors. And for that I want to thank you! You helped make the world a better place!!!

You may be asking what is next, well let’s say that we all need some time before we embark on another large book project. In the meantime, you can read blog posts from many of the authors and contributors in this community (list of folks in the community is below). You will find many tagged with SAP Activate community tag. You can use this tag to also to ask questions or post your own experiences with SAP Activate. We are all looking forward to your posts, questions and feedback.

Sven

Jan Musil

Sri

Former Member

Jitendra Bhandari

Bob Byrne

Dan Ciecko

Christina Galbreath

Amin Hoque

Adnette Kamugisha

Michelle Otun

Reshmi Paul

Jagamohan Singh Chawla

Kelsey St. Ledger (Lapczynski)

Christian Vogler

 

We invite you to share your experience with SAP Activate in comments to this blog post or in the SAP Activate JAM (request access here). You can explore more resources in SAP Community using tag SAP Activate. 

Inside SAP S/4HANA Podcast

As always, I would like to encourage you to subscribe to our new podcast “Inside SAP S/4HANA”. This podcast leverages the unique knowledge and expertise of SAP S/4HANA product experts, partners and customers to address your needs by sharing product insights and project best practice. There is no customer success without product success and project success; we help you get to the next level and make your SAP S/4HANA projects a success. Subscribe now and benefit from the shared knowledge.

openSAP microlearning’s for SAP S/4HANA

Just a couple of months ago, we launched openSAP microlearning’s for SAP S/4HANA as an exciting new learning opportunity. What began with a small batch of 20 videos, has now become a channel with more than 50 microlearning’s that have generated over 20,000 views since then. Today we cover multiple lines of business, like Finance and Manufacturing & Supply Chain, and key technology topics like Master Data Management, Extensibility, User Experience, and Upgrade Management. We are continuously adding new microlearning’s to the SAP S/4HANA channel, so make sure you check them out.

Your voice matters!

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