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Goals vs. Resolutions

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Hitting your target isn’t all that matters.

Goal-setting pervades SAP consulting. Many individuals set career goals for themselves, team leaders set targets for their teams, and managers set project-wide goals. Management consultants adore goals. In particular they love applying the SMART  criteria for goals:  Is the goal, S: Specific, M: Measurable, A: Attainable, R: Relevant, T: Timely?

But what happens when we achieve a SMART goal? Do we simply move onto the next? Can achieving one goal help us achieve another? I think so, when you frame it not as a goal but as a resolution.

I recently finished “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin in which she describes the difference between goals and resolutions, “You hit a goal, you keep a resolution” (288). And I think for SAP consultants the resolution, the how you accomplish a goal, is more important both in the short and long terms.

Consider some common goals on SAP projects, i.e. finish integration testing by the end of the month, finish knowledge transfer (KT) activities by the end of the quarter, or gather requirements for xyz from the business stakeholders by Friday. What’s missing from these goals is the how — the resolution. Sure you can finish your testing, KT, or requirements gathering according to a timetable, but will the product be any good?

Don’t get me wrong, I think goals can be helpful. I just don’t think they can stand alone.  You need to set in place some resolutions too. Resolutions might include: maintain open lines of communication with the business stakeholders through weekly meetings, document and upload all testing scenarios and results as I complete them, before clicking “send” on an email, always ask yourself, “Is there anyone else that should know about this?” and cc them.

From a project standpoint, resolutions can be great, but they also have tremendous power on an individual level. Maybe you want to set a resolution to leave work at 5:30 pm like Sheryl Sandberg, not answer work emails from home, to get to the office at 7:00 am, maintain a better filing system for your email. If you frame these as resolutions instead of goals, you will never accomplish them.  Instead you will keep getting better, and they will eventually help you achieve whatever goal your manager wants to throw at you this week.

Interview with SAP’s Jason Rose — VP Marketing BI

SAP´s SAPPHIRE 2012 took place last week in Orlando, and there were three overarching trends which kept cropping up in speeches, interviews, and the blogosphere.

  1. Mobility
  2. The Cloud
  3. Big Data

Jason Rose, VP Marketing Business Intelligence at SAP, weaves all three of these ideas together in an interview with SiliconAngle.tv (link)

A few points of note from the interview:

      • SAP views mobility as a key driver to the adoption of BI solutions — solutions which are still underutilized by the vast majority of SAP customers. This will be possible with, for example, improved data visualization tools available on mobile devices. Less tech-savvy sales professionals in the field will have easy-to-use data at their fingertips.
      • With the growth in big data and business analytics, college students should consider pursuing a degree or some certification in statistics. There are simply not enough data analysts in the marketplace.
      • The cloud is on the rise and SAP promises to be a big player with solutions like SuccessFactors. Core, on-premise solutions have not been forgotten altogether, and according to SAP, the future will consist of a dynamic combination of both.

Full interview available here.

Networking with Other SAP Professionals

So much of your success as an SAP consultant is not based on your technical or functional know-how. Rather, the road to your next project may be paved by personal connections. If you’re sitting at home or work saying, “Yeah, but how do I meet these people?” We’d like to propose a few locales for you to consider.

  • Your current project: People want to recommend consultants who they have worked with in the past. Even if you’re not the most expert consultant, if you are easy to get along with and produce satisfactory work, other consultants will love to recommend you to their next client.
  • The SAP Community Network: More and more SAP professionals are turning online to build their networks. A good first step to developing your online reputation is to join the SAP Community Network. Complete your profile and post both questions and answers regularly. SAP has a great video for users just getting started. 
  • Recruiters: Recruiters know a lot about local projects which are hiring. They work hard to develop relationships with project managers who may be looking for a consultant just like you!
  • SAP Certification Classes:  You’ll be a in a class with many other students who likely live or work in the same general geographic and professional vicinity as you — you should talk to them.
  • SAPPHIRE: SAPPHIRE is SAP’s annual customer conference. Tens of thousands of people attend, many just to network. If you’re not able to make it to the conference in person, you might want to check out the live videos (starting tomorrow, May 14th) of the speeches and break-out sessions here.
  • ASUG: Join ASUG (Americas’ SAP Users’ Group) and see if there’s a chapter meeting with other SAP professionals in your area.
  • Meetup.com: Join Meetup.com, a site for organizing local get-togethers of individuals with a common interest. If an SAP  group doesn’t yet exist in your area, start one!

Please tell us in the comments other avenues you use to network with your fellow SAP professionals.

So you want to be an SAP consultant.

Here are some things you should consider: 

No shortcuts: To be a consultant means that you know the product at an expert level, have helped other companies implement the product, and know industry best practices. There is simply no shortcut to getting real-life experience. Training can help you make the most of your on-the-job experiences, but it will never be a substitute.

Take the first step: Work for a company that uses SAP. Get to know the support team and mention that you would like to be considered for a super user role. If the company does not have formal super users, consider asking your manager if you can start to make training documents for current and future teammates. Your work will get you recognized and provide you with great experience too. Another option to get started in SAP is to get hired by a larger consulting company who will train you (i.e. any of “the big four”).

Specialist or generalist: Consider whether you want to be a specialist with in-depth know-how in one SAP module or a generalist with experience in many. Though specialists tend to earn higher rates, they have limited job opportunities compared to a generalist and may have to travel longer distances for engagements.

Focus on skills you already have: Unless you are a new college graduate, you likely have some skills you can bring to an SAP role. Do you have industry experience (i.e. manufacturing,), professional experience (i.e. accounting, HR), or technical skills (i.e. programming)? If so, make these skills known and leverage them as much as possible.

Forget about the money: High hourly rates will come one day. Don’t expect them today, tomorrow, or even a year from now. Take positions that may not offer the best pay but the best experience – they will pay for themselves later. 

New Site for SAP Experts: ExpertPlug.com

ExpertPlug

I came across a very interesting site for SAP consultants this morning: ExpertPlug.com. Founded in 2011 by three SAP professionals, the site has about 1,000 members so far. Cool features of ExpertPlug.com include:

  • SAP training materials’ repository: Users can upload, purchase, and sell training materials.
  • Expert profiles: Profiles highlight areas of expertise, dates available for work, and links to each expert’s uploaded materials.
  • Classifieds: Job seekers and recruiters alike can post classifieds for FREE.

Has anyone joined ExpertPlug already? Or would you in the future? 

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A Beautiful Description of SAP HANA

The vision, then, is to do for data and knowledge what Moore’s Law has done for computing hardware — that is, quantitative changes become qualitative transformations. Speed opens the door to new possibilities. You start out just crunching numbers but you find your way to “Toy Story.” It’s all just 1’s and 0’s at one level, but ever-faster computing and clever software make possible that new thing — a computer-animated movie, for example.

Steve Lohr of the NY Times Bits blog describes the potential impact of SAP HANA. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/sap-and-the-data-analytics-speed-race/

End Users & Workarounds

 
You’ve seen it. Managers fear it. Employees hide it. What is it? A manual workaround. You know, those spreadsheets stored on the desktop of the employee too frustrated with the new ERP system to use it. I found an excellent blog post by Brevard Neely on the site of Panorama Consulting Solutions which addresses this all-too-common phenomenon.
 
Here are the three tips they recommend to prevent users from depending on Excel spreadsheets:
1. Organizational change management . . . and lots of it.
2. Communicate the benefits of the ERP system. 
3. Revisit user experiences with the system after the switchover.
 
The whole article can be found here.