Mon, 6 August 2007
In this interview with senior SAP consultant Suresh Sreenivasaiah, Jon and Suresh get to the roots of the opportunities in the SAP Retail consulting arena.
Co-sponsored by B2B Workforce, this podcast takes a closer look at why SAP Retail consulting is picking up steam and the skills that companies need to achieve success in their SAP Retail implementations.
Jon also asks Suresh to give his perspective on why SAP’s Retail solution has become so successful after a rocky start. Suresh shares with JonERP.com members the "best practices" he has seen on multiple SAP Retail installations.
In this thirty minute interview, Jon and Suresh cover key topics including:
- How Suresh got his start in SAP and how he was able to break into SAP Retail consulting in the late ‘90s.
- How SAP Retail triumphed over its rocky beginnings through developing industry best practices. Suresh’s "keys to successful SAP retail implementations," including the importance of quality resources, master data, user interfaces, application integration, and best practice reviews.
- The main consulting roles on SAP Retail projects and the skills consultants need to have to make a contribution to Retail projects. Factors such as retail industry experience, SAP Retail solution skills, finance, procurement, and Retail ABAP are considered. Suresh notes the various "entry points" into SAP Retail consulting.
- Jon gets Suresh’s take on why there is more emphasis on industry-specific SAP skills by hiring managers than ever before, why companies are emphasizing this point, and why there is a tension between what companies are looking for and the availability of qualified consultants.
- Why an industry focus has helped Suresh to succeed as an SAP consultant.
- How Enterprise SOA and NetWeaver are impacting SAP Retail consulting, including issues pertaining to BI, Portals, and reporting.
- The importance of quality master data for SAP Retail installations and how SAP’s own Master Data Management (MDM) solution might fit into a Retail solution environment, and whether you must have MDM installed to have an effective SAP Retail installation.
- What skills Suresh is looking to acquire next and why the RFID skill set is compelling to him in the context of his retail specialization.
- What "scommerce" is and why Suresh is excited about its potential in the SAP marketplace in terms of visibility and point-of-sale solutions.
- Given that there are limited training and certification opportunities in SAP Retail, what are the entry points into SAP Retail consulting and how can consultants get involved? Suresh answers that question and explains how retail experts without SAP background can also break into the field.
Direct download: pcast_0807_sap_reed_suresh01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:24am EDT
Fri, 20 July 2007
In the kick-off to his new podcast series hosted by SearchSAP, Jon interviews Dan Lubin, Director of Information Technology at Abiomed, about the lessons learned during Abiomed's SAP All-in-One implementation.
Hosted by Jon Franke of Search SAP, this podcast is a straight-talking review of the "human side" of Abiomed's SAP implementation.
Listen in as Jon Reed asks Dan Lubin how Abiomed managed to implement SAP in 28 weeks, overcoming team burnout and hitting all their milestones.
In this thirty minute interview, "the two Jons" and Dan cover key topics such as:
- The scope of Abiomed's SAP implementation and how this Danvers, MA company leverages SAP for its international medical device business.
- The winning formula Abiomed used to staff its SAP project, and how it combined external consultants with internal team members.
- Why offshore resources are important for Abiomed and other midsize companies to fill skills gaps on their SAP project, and how Abiomed used an onshore/offshore mix to meet their "blended rate" cost targets.
- Why the typical functional consultant tends to have too narrow a skill set for Abiomed's project and what the skills profile of their ideal functional consultant looks like. The importance of understanding the integration points between modules is emphasized.
- How users honestly responded to the new SAP environment and what Abiomed did to ensure that users were on board with a more standardized and structured approach to handling their business processes via SAP.
- What the Abiomed team did to overcome burnout and help users get through the most labor-intensive parts of the implementation cycle.
- What types of SAP full time employees were recruited to the project and what kinds of expertise they brought with them that rounded out the Abiomed team in areas such as security, validation, and testing.
- The "lessons learned" from the SAP implementation and why internal investment in project management is crucial. The results of following (and not following) SAP best practices, the impact of training and why the mundane but vital task of user documentation is of critical importance.
- Tips for success: Dan clarifies the difference between knowledge transfer and training and explains how to approach both from the standpoint of managing a budget and making sure that knowledge transfer is an organic result of a well-run implementation.
- Would Dan implement SAP again? Dan clarifies a quote Jon cited from SAPPHIRE, challenging Jon on its accuracy, and explains why he would absolutely do the SAP implementation over again and why Abiomed has gained so much from its SAP install and the user community "ecosystem." Dan closes by noting the anticipation for the pending Abiomed European implementation.
Direct download: pcast_0707_sap_reed_lubin01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:20am EDT
Tue, 24 April 2007
This is Jon Reed's "roaming podcast" from the floor of SAPPHIRE 2007, Day 2 and Day 3. Follow Jon's unscripted, instant reactions to the press briefings and executive interviews he conducted on the final two days of the conference.
On these last two days, Jon talked with a number of industry insiders and SAP executives and consolidated what he learned onto this podcast wrap.
A couple of major highlights included the backgrounds needed for consulting success in BI and RF/RFID, and the emerging NetWeaver "jobs roles of the future."
Highlights from Jon's uncensored and unscripted conference reactions included:
- Jon's reaction to the key themes of the big SAPPHIRE keynotes, including the shift from "disruptive innovators" to "innovation without disruption."
- Jon documents which SAP terms are in and more notably, which SAP terms are on the way out. Terms on the way out include: ABAP, Basis, and R/3, but also more surprising departures such as XI, mySAP, and ESA.
- Jon tracks the hot consulting areas emphasized during the conference, including emerging activity in the retail industry as well as xApps and selective SOA implementations.
- Jon's detailed review of a NetWeaver executive's review of the SAP job roles of the future. Jon describes the roles of "Composer," "Consolidator," "Repository Keeper," and "SAP Developer," and notes the skills and backgrounds that will be necessary to move into each of these new roles.
- Jon documents a couple more public admissions by SAP executives of pending skills shortages and Jon speculates on whether the skills gap is as big for SOA as the skills gap once was between mainframe and client-server technologies.
- Jon details the emerging RFID consulting role and the kinds of skills profiles that will find success on an SAP RFID implementation.
- Jon looks more closely at BI consulting and which types of functional and technical SAP consultants will succeed in BI and BW consulting going forward.
- Jon describes a rapid mySAP ERP 2005 xApp implementation, how it was accomplished and what kind of skills were needed to complete it.
- Jon also predicts how long the SAP upgrade wave will boost consulting and when we will return to a "winners and losers" consulting market like we had for most of this decade before the upgrade wave hit.
- Finally, Jon wraps the podcast with another review of the hottest areas of SAP going forward (BI, Retail, SOA, functional and technical skills convergence, and HR and FI (but not classic back office HR and FI).
Editor's Note: at the 6:25 time stamp mark on this podcast, Jon Reed says that SAP now uses PI as the abbreviation for "Process Industries." In this context, he actually meant "Process Integration," the replacement for SAP XI.
Direct download: pcast_0407_sapphire_reed02.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:09am EDT
Mon, 23 April 2007
This is Jon Reed's "roaming podcast" from the floor of SAPPHIRE 2007, Day 1. Follow Jon's unscripted, instant reactions to the press briefings and executive interviews he conducted on Day 1.
On Day 1, Jon conducted numerous interviews with SAP product managers. He also sat in on several press briefings including a CIO panel of SAP customers.
Jon reported back his insights from each event, and took an honest look at how the latest developments will impact consulting demand.
Highlights from Jon's uncensored and unscripted conference reactions included:
- Why mid-market companies are looking at outsourcing and why they find that some SAP consultants are too specialized for their needs.
- How SOA has evolved from a "good idea" to a product that SAP's partners can truly sell and therefore truly endorse.
- Why "On Demand" Solutions like CRM On Demand are not as appealing to mid-market companies as one would think.
- The significance of leveraging "unstructured" data and how partnerships like Duet are focused on this area.
- Which SAP consulting areas seemed hot based on the day's interviews and why (hot areas included CRM, SOA, and BW/BI).
- Why functional and technical skill sets are converging.
- A NetWeaver executive who admits on the record that there are not enough of the "new wave" of techno-functional NetWeaver consultants to meet customer needs. Jobs like Composer and Repository Keeper may not have emerged yet, but the demand for those skill sets has.
- The need for consultants with more industry-specific know-how and more business process knowledge (and why the BPX community is a factor here).
- The problematic Microsoft partnership...all smiles at SAPPHIRE, but what happens when Microsoft wins a bunch of SMB business from SAP? Will Microsoft partnership ever deteriorate like the Oracle partnership has?
Direct download: pcast_0407_sapphire_reed01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:04am EDT
Tue, 10 April 2007
SAP is at a crossroads. This year's combined SAPPHIRE/ASUG conference was a significant event in terms of how SAP positions itself for the next five years.
In this podcast interview with ASUG President Rod Masney, SAP Career Expert Jon Reed talks to Rod about this year's combined ASUG/SAPPHIRE conference. He also asks Rod about the biggest challenges SAP users are facing and how ASUG impacts SAP's product evolution.
In this 23 minute podcast, Rod speaks about these topics and more, including:
- How to get the most out of the upcoming ASUG/SAPPHIRE conference: Rod shares his thoughts on the advantages of the combined format and how attendees can benefit.
- The biggest challenges SAP users are facing: Jon asks Rod what he's learned from ASUG's own user surveys and discussions.
- How ASUG is helping SAP customers address upgrade issues: Upgrades can be massive projects with plenty of misfires. Learn how ASUG is helping customers share information and lessons learned.
- Making sense of SAP lingo and version releases: Jon wants to know if Rod can clear up the confusion regarding version releases. Rod explains how SAP is settling on mySAP 2005 as its foundation release.
- The evolution of Web Services and SOA: from hype to actual case studies: Is SOA the real deal or just "brochureware"? Rod shares his take.
- Debunking the myth that SAP only serves the needs of large companies: SAP's push into the mid-market is discussed.
- How SAP users are impacting the direction of SAP through Influence Councils: ASUG has had a huge impact on SAP's own software in recent years. Find out why.
Direct download: pcast_0410_sap_reed_masney01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:00am EDT
Fri, 30 March 2007
Listen in with Jon as he talks with one of the most influential and compelling voices in the SAP community, Michael Doane.
Along with Jon, Michael is the co-author of The SAP Consultant Handbook, and his recently updated SAP Blue Book has become the industry standard for all business readers looking to get a handle on SAP.
In this in-depth, 45 minute interview, Jon and Michael sit down for a frank look at a changing SAP market full of new opportunities but plenty of challenges.
During this "state of the industry" discussion, Jon asks Michael for his take on a number of key questions facing SAP professionals, including:
- How the SAP market rebounded, and what factors contributed to SAP's market surge.
- Michael's work at Performance Monitor and why Performance Monitor is uniquely positioned to monitor SAP (and Oracle) consulting trends.
- Why Michael updated the SAP Blue Book and what has changed in the SAP market since his first edition.
- The drivers that will push the SAP market forward in the next five years.
- What key skills SAP consultants are lacking now and what skills they will need to add to stay competitive.
- Why "offshoring" has had such a big impact on SAP consulting and why Michael thinks that "ABAP is dead" as a good consulting niche.
- Why Michael is a bit skeptical of "Business Intelligence" hype.
- How SAP and Oracle are positioning themselves as they battle for the mid-market.
- The importance of choosing skills over rates.
Direct download: pcast_0307_sap_reed_doane01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:31am EDT
Sun, 25 March 2007
Sit in with Jon and Brian Trout, SAP Practice Manager at B2B Workforce, for 45 minutes of straight talk on where things stand for SAP consultants in today's market.
Jon and Brian move beyond the NetWeaver hype for an in-depth look at which skills are hot and which are not. Brian's take on the SAP market has influenced many SAP consultants. Check out this podcast and find out why.
Jon and Brian cover themes such as:
- Are the core functional consultants having the last laugh? Why is work shifting away from the previously-titled "New Dimensions" products like APO, SEM, and CRM?
- What are the hottest areas in SAP consulting now, and how are upgrades fueling the consulting demand and the types of opportunities available?
- Why is there so much confusion about SAP product names and version numbers? How do the NetWeaver and mySAP release numbers match up? Which components fit into the new ECC (Enterprise Core) releases?
- Are companies getting the message and upgrading to 6.0, or are they also upgrading to other SPA releases? Which versions of SAP are most marketable for consultants?
- Get Brian's take on why SAP consultants should choose skills over rates. Find out how the elite consultants he knows stay in demand.
- Is ABAP programming "dead" as a career path? Brian offers his take on the type of SAP programmer who can succeed in today's outsourcing-heavy market.
- Find out why Brian thinks that functional consultants need to move beyond configuration skills. Hear Brian's view on why business process and industry knowledge matters more than ever.
- NetWeaver isn't just impacting technical consultants. Brian shares how NetWeaver is changing functional SAP consulting.
- Hear why Business Intelligence is here to stay, and why functional consultants should also be adding BI and BW skills to their profile.
Direct download: pcast_0307_sap_reed_trout01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:25am EDT
Wed, 22 March 2006
In Jon's first-ever podcast appearance, Jon is interviewed on a podcast hosted by SearchSAP.com. (Original version can be heard on SearchSAP.com). This 18 minute "State of the SAP Job Market" podcast features Jon's take on where SAP consulting is headed as we begin the "upgrade era."
The focus of the podcast is an in-depth look at the changing SAP job market. Jon's portion of the interview begins at the three minute mark. During the 15 minute discussion, Jon comments on:
- How the SAP job market has evolved since the year 2000 and how SAP has overcome the challenges it has faced since Y2K.
- How SAP triumphed over the best-of-breed market in CRM and other area and why that's good news for SAP consultants.
- Why the era of "enforced upgrades" should be a good one for SAP professionals and why software markets are at their healthiest when there is a carrot (new functionality) and a stick (fees for extended maintenance).
- The potential impact of SOA and Web Services and how consultants can anticipate these technology trends.
- Why the "death of ABAP" is premature and why SAP is still invested in the future of ABAP.
- What the "SAP Programmer of the Future" will look like.
- What the impact of outsourcing will be on technical (and functional) areas of SAP.
- Why RFID hasn't taken off as an SAP consulting niche and how consultants can position themselves in this emerging area.
- The impact of CRM On-Demand Solutions and whether there will be a good consulting niche in this area.
- Why Sarbanes-Oxley and "Compliance Consulting" has not been especially popular, and how SAP consultants can incorporate compliance and regulatory skills into their skill sets.
Direct download: pcast_0406_searchsap_reed01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:21am EDT