SAP and Enterprise Trends Podcasts from Jon Reed (@jonerp) of
Free spirited, old school podcasts on all things enterprise with Jon Reed of, along with troublemakers and/or special guests
Need iTunes feed? Jon's iTunes podcasts


Need iTunes feed? Jon's iTunes podcasts

Catch Jon on Twitter

Jon's diginomica latest
The story of SAP HANA is unfolding so rapidly that it's hard to keep up - even if you are following the developments closely. Too often, there seems to be a gap between the HANA buzz and the reality on the ground. Before the SAP TechEd season kicks into high gear, now is the perfect time to take the HANA pulse. Fresh off of several sessions with the SAP HANA team, including blogger and Mentor meetings, Jon Reed pulled together three SAP Mentors for an international call to get their views on HANA as it stands today.
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_sapmentors_hana2.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:39am EST

At Sapphire Now 2011, the central importance of HANA to SAP's vision was made abundantly clear. But as a result, that made the questions raised by HANA's ascendancy that much more important to answer. The SAP Blogger Relations team proposed the idea of doing a HANA podcast with me as the moderator and referree and I agreed.  During this 40 minute podcast, you'll hear SAP Mentors John Appleby and Ethan Jewett pressing SAP on some of the key HANA questions they have been hearing from SAP customers. I jump in once or twice with thoughts of my own - otherwise, after my intro, this is a free-flowing discussion with SAP's Jake Klein and Thomas Zurek providing in-depth answers and a good deal of useful context to the HANA discussion
Direct download: pcast_hanaqandajonerp.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:29pm EST

For this pre-Sapphire return of our semi-regular SAP BI podcast series, fellow SAP Mentor and co-host Vijay Vijayasankar and I talked with special guest James Taylor of Decision Management Solutions about some of the tougher BI questions SAP - or any other vendor for that matter - must tackle. During the 50 minute podcast, we move from a look at 4.0 to a discussion of the importance of business rules and the issues SAP needs to address with separate rules engines for operations and analytics (including two for operations, BRF Plus and NetWeaver BRM). We talk about why predictive analytics matter to companies, and why vendors struggle to deliver meaningful predictive analytics solutions. A lively discussion of the importance of unstructured data catches the three of us jousting a bit on the relative importance of text analytics versus other BI priorities. We veer into a HANA discussion before wisely saving most of that one for a different podcast down the road.
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_biquestions.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:59am EST

To get a better handle on the issues with breaking into SAP in today's market, I had the chance to tape a unique podcast with Tom Michael of Michael Management. The podcast includes two "students" from Michael Management's Pay it Forward SAP Training Program (PDF), which sponsored SAP training for five job seekers to help them move into SAP during a challenging SAP job market. We begin the podcast with Tom posing some questions to me about breaking into SAP in today's market. Then we enter into a free flowing discussion, with Tom and I taking any and all questions from the two aspiring SAP professionals who joined us on the call and shared their stories with us.
Direct download: pcast_intosap_jonerp_michaelmgt.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:54am EST

Since I had SAP Mentor Leonardo De Araujo of Beyond Technologies on the line, I figured we should go ahead and tape a spontaneous podcast on some topics of interest. The end result is a very informal chat that covers a series of topics, most of them SAP SME related. During the 20 minute podcast, Leo and I discuss his pending attendance as a Mentor at SAP DKOM, what he's learning about Business ByDesign as a potential future Canadian partner, and his take on the SME market and SAP All-in-One.  
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_leo_smechat.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:51am EST

For several years, SAP professionals have looked forward to SAP Mentor Vijay Vijayasankar's annual blog post, "The Road Ahead for SAP Consultants." In honor of this always-provocative blog post, Jon pulled together fellow SAP Mentors Vijayasankar and Leonardo De Araujo for an in-depth discussion/debate about Vijay's skills rankings for 2011 and beyond.

The result? An hour long talk that goes into detail on emerging skills in BusinessObjects, HANA and Business ByDesign, as well as how core skills like ABAP development are evolving.
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_sapskills2011.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:12am EST

Few events in the SAP space take me by total surprise. The launch of, with Thomas Wailgum and Courtney Bjorlin at the helm, was one of those rare exceptions, forcing me to set aside those "industry assumptions" and take a fresh look at a new player in the ecosystem. To get at the editorial motivations behind, I got on the phone with Tom and Courtney for this 24 minute podcast. My goals? To ask them a few questions that had been bugging me, to get a better handle on what they have in mind for the site, and to get their takes on SAP in 2011
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_asugnews_tomcourtney.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:40pm EST

Podcast Structure: I. Intro chatter, II. (2:40) SolBros reader questions, III. (21:55) SolMan - "A mile wide and an inch deep?" - discuss! IV. (36:05) Individual updates: Jim Spath - SolMan and ASUG, Phil Avelar - CHARM lessons learned, Tony D - SolMan consulting, customer value and learning tools.
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_solbros5.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:10am EST

What is SAP's hottest, sexiest new technology? No, it's not HANA, it's not ByDesign. In this humorous-turned-serious podcast, Jon Reed and special guest and SAP Mentor Thorsten Franz talk about a hype-worthy technology known to insiders as "SAP Business Workflow." After 11 minutes of satirical riffing, Jon and Thorsten turn their attention to more serious matters as Thorsten talks about the overlooked power of SAP Business Workflow and what the Workflow Influence Team is doing to impact SAP Workflow's production direction
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_thorsten_workflow.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:15am EST

What did we learn from the SAP Influencer Summit that we can apply to SAP in 2011? Why is the meaning of "Influencer" changing and what was the controversy around that definition? How are Mentors impacting the definition of Influencer and the blurring of lines between bloggers, analysts, and SAP experts? What did we make of SAP's on-demand, mobility, and StreamWork strategies? To get at these questions and more, I pulled together fellow SAP Mentors John Appleby of Bluefin Solutions and Dick Hirsch of Siemens IT Solutions and Services. We taped an end-of-year/new year kickoff podcast that spanned 60 minutes. We balanced some funny conference anecdotes with more serious talk on how SAP is banking its future on these new initiatives. Since Skype was down, we reverted to a backup taping option that impacted sound quality. If you missed any comments on the audio, check the detailed podcast highlights on
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_sapsummitreview.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:18am EST

It all started with a blog post. After TechEd 2010, SAP Mentor John Appleby of Bluefin Solutions posted a blog on his take on SAP mobility. Natascha Thomson of SAP read the blog and some of it didn't make sense to her. It was a clear case of buzzword alert! Seeking clear answers, Natascha and John asked me to referee a discussion between them on "FAQs on SAP Enterprise Mobility."

During this thirty minute podcast, Natascha grills John on SAP Enterprise Mobility. Buzzwords are defined as we dig into everything from the impact of consumer technology to Project Gateway to the implications of HTML 5. Those listeners who make it towards the end of the podcast will be treated to some comic relief as once again a cellular caller (John) drops off a podcast on Enterprise Mobility, proving once and for all that "Always Connected" is a modern myth.
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_sap_mobility_faq.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:07am EST

Why did SAP mobility experts leave SAP TechEd (Vegas and Berlin) with more questions than answers? How has the enterprise mobility space evolved since Sapphire 2010? And what does SAP need to accomplish in mobility to win the confidence of customers and partners? To get at these questions and more, I was approached by fellow SAP Mentors John Appleby of Bluefin Solutions and Kevin Benedict of Netcentric Strategies, who asked me to DJ an open discussion on SAP moblity. The result was a forty minute podcast, which I felt was of the caliber and depth I look for in ERP Lounge podcasts, so I've added this to the series.
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_benedict_appleby_sapmob.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:01am EST

What went down with SAP BusinessObjects and BI at TechEd? What questions were answered from our last podcast? What is coming with BusinessObjects 4.0 - will it live up to the hype? What the heck is the new Semantic Layer anyway? And how did Vijay end up with 200 people at a BusinessObjects session? What feedback has SAP taken into account, and what burning questions still remain?
Direct download: pcast_teched10_bi_review_jonerp.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:33am EST

What are the burning questions about SAP BI as we head into SAP Teched season? Will the keynotes answer questions about in-memory and accelerated data access? And how do you get the most out of the show and justify your attendance when budgets are tight? As we continue our "sporadic SAP BI podcast series," which is part of the ERP Lounge podcast editions, I dig into these questions with two fellow SAP Mentors: Vijay Vijayasankar of IBM and newly-named SAP Mentor Greg Myers, who is a Senior Business Intelligence Engineer at SEI Investments in Oaks, Pennsylvania, and who is also the Chair of the ASUG BusinessObjects Security & Administration SIG.  
Direct download: pcast_erplounge13_techedbi2010.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 11:10pm EST

There are many unanswered questions about SAP Business ByDesign. Some of them can be answered by documenting the experience of the 100 or so pilot customers who have been through a ByD install and come out the other side. In my second podcast with an SAP Business ByDesign pilot customer, I talk with Judson Wickham of Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt  about their ByDesign implementation process. During this 22 minute podcast, Judson explains why Pinkberry chose ByDesign and what issues they overcame along the way.

Judson is an ideal interviewee for my JonERP podcast series because of his background in on-premis ERP, in his case, PeopleSoft. During the podcast, Judson speaks to the skills transitions he needed to make and what SAP professionals interested in ByDesign work are up against in terms of skills evolution. Judson also shares his views on how SAP can improve ByDesign from here, and why the upcoming Software Development Kit (SDK) interests him from a customer's perspective.
Direct download: pcast_0910_jonerp_byd_pinkberry.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:26am EST

What it the future of SAP BI consulting? Why is there still lingering confusion over the SAP BusinessObjects tools amongst SAP users? And why is BI strategy an afterthought when it should really be incorporated into the core ERP implementation? To get a fresh take on these questions, I taped a podcast with Vijay Vijayasankar of IBM and Kevin McManus of McManus Consulting. Both these guys have deep SAP BI experience, and Kevin brings hands-on expertise in BusinessObjects tools into the conversation.  During the 55 minute podcast, we take a close look at which SAP BI skills are in demand.

I ask the guys what separates a mediocre SAP BI consultant from an outstanding one. We talk about whether there are functional BI roles emerging, and why BI is becoming a skill that all SAP professionals need to reckon with. Is BI the "holy grail" of value realization for ERP projects? And is in-memory for real? Vijay and Kevin have answers to all these questions.
Direct download: pcast_erplounge12_bi_jonerp.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:57pm EST

The SAP consulting market is primed for change. Staffing layers with questionable value place obstacles between enterprise buyers and the best SAP consultants. While "big box" consulting models still have their place, SAP customers want to see alternatives that allow them to source subject matter experts directly, even sourcing them "on demand" for short term engagements. Internet technology and SaaS-influenced approaches create a fertile ground for SAP staffing innovation.

To better understand the problems with the current SAP consulting model and the changes that are afoot, in this edition of The ERP Lounge, I invited three pioneers of new models to join me in a frank discussion. The result of our international teleconference was a 70 minute podcast that takes a hard look at the problems and offers up solutions that forge new ground for both consultants and SAP customers.
Direct download: pcast_erplounge11sapconsulting.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:02pm EST

During this 20 minute podcast, Jim Link of Forest City gives me the project-tested scoop on many key BPX topics, including: how does a BPXer justify their value to the business, who do they report to, what role do process modeling tools play, and what SAP technical and functional skills do they need to succeed in the SAP Business Process Expert role. Obviously, there are no universal answers to these questions - they are still being sorted out on a company to company basis. But for those listeners who want to understand how the pure BPX role can fit into the existing SAP personnel structure, and interact with Enterprise Architects, I trust you'll find this conversation as interesting as I did.
Direct download: pcast_sap_reed_link_bpx01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 9:59pm EST

Recently I taped a two-way discussion on careers in SAP sustainability with fellow SAP Mentor Jim Spath. Although Jim does not work in sustainability on a day to day basis, he's one of the most influential community voices in this area and has a 20 year background as an environmental engineer in his pre-SAP life. When we taped this thirty minute discussion, Jim and I were fresh off an SAP Mentor session on SAP's sustainabilty strategy with Jeremiah Stone of SAP. We wanted to react to that session - though some of it was "not bloggable" and we kept that content out. There were other SAP sustainability events to react to also, but mostly, we wanted to riff on SAP careers in sustainability and talk about the skills and the impact we can have by greening our SAP careers.
Direct download: pcast_0710_greensap_reed_spath.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:48am EST

With the release of his book - one of the most important business books in recent years (see my review on Amazon) - and with the reverberations of SAPPHIRENOW/ASUG Orlando still lingering, the timing was right to have Vinnie Mirchandani in The ERP Lounge to talk about his blogs on enterprise software and innovation. I wanted to dig into his opinionated takes on SAP and his critique of what he has dubbed the SAP "egosystem." I was especially looking forward to asking Vinnie about how the "polymath" practices he describes in his book can be emulated by individuals in their own skills development. I wanted to ask Vinnie how you reconcile the need to have broad expertise with the problem of becoming a "jack of alll trades, master of none."
Direct download: pcast_erplounge10_reed_mirchandani.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:53am EST

I reported on the PAC Feeding the Ecosystem blog that the SAP Business ByDesign (ByD) conversation has shifted from technology debates to product rollout. A key part of that shift is taking a closer look at the skills needed to support ByDesign implementations and the different economics of SaaS consulting. One emerging voice in that conversation is Ray Tetlow of Skyytek. Ray spoke as an early ByD partner at SAPPHIRENOW Orlando. During this forty-seven minute podcast, Ray hits me with some rapid-fire answers to a slew of key ByD questions, such as how he intends to train ByD professionals, why SaaS consultants are easier to bring up to speed in ByD than "on-premise" SAP consultants, and the appeals and drawbacks of the SaaS consulting model.
Direct download: pcast_erplounge9_sap_reed_tetlow.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:06pm EST

In this thirty-five minute podcast, Jon Reed and Andy Klee have their second two-way conversation. Andy starts by putting Jon on the JonERP hot seat and getting his conference reactions to SaaS/Business ByDesign, Sybase, and certification, then Jon returns the favor with questions to Andy on his conference takeways. Jon also surprises Andy with a question about how Oracle/JDE and SAP consultants compare.
Direct download: pcast_0610_sapphire_jonerp_klee01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:29am EST

What's the latest on SAP certification? How did the Mentors fare on the SAPPHIRE floor and what did they learn in their conversations with SAP executives and ASUG members? And what are the keys to navigating a successful SAP career in the midst of technical change and skills commoditization? That's a meaty menu for a podcast! For this live SAPPHIRE NOW taping, four SAP Mentors, including three members of the "Certification Five" gathered in the Mentor meeting room to give you their best ideas (and a few off color comments) on SAP skills trends.
Direct download: pcast_sapphire2010_certificationfive.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:01pm EST

When you begin a podcast, you never know how it will turn out. I had high hopes that the combined voices of Jim Spath, Tony de Thomasis, and Phil Avelar would advance the Solution Manager conversation with new insights and a clash of perspectives, but you never know. The end result exceeded my own expectations. With good humor but a frank style that underscored their different perspectives, these guys nailed it. We taped this four way, fifty minute podcast on Skype, and while the sound quality is solid, there is the occasional piece of background noise. I think you'll find that any occasional sound blips are more than worth it for the caliber of the content.
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_SAPsolman_roundtable01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:39pm EST

How is the SAP consultant skill set changing? Do companies really want "SAP Business Process Expert" skills or is it a top-down invention? And why are "soft skills" becoming more important to SAP professionals? And what does "soft skills" mean anyway? To get to the bottom of these topics, Jon talks with Guy Couillard, President of OTA. During this 40 minute podcast, learn why Jon thinks OTA is one of the best kept secrets in the SAP consulting space. Hear Jon and Guy talk about what customers are looking for from SAP consultants, how they fall short, and find out what to do about it.
Direct download: pcast_0510_sap_reed_guy_skills01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:31pm EST

Podcast guest Jim Spath is a fan of the Bengies Drive-In Theatre.  And just like the drive-in, we've got a podcast double feature for you. In part two (the part in this description), Jim and I talk about our shared interest in improving the public discussion on SAP Solution Manager and why we think this public airing is important. In part one of our double feature, we talked about getting the most out of ASUG 2010.  
Direct download: pcast_0510_sap_reed_spathsolman.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:24pm EST

Podcast guest Jim Spath is a fan of the Bengies Drive-In Theatre.  And just like the drive-in, we've got a podcast double feature for you. In part one (the part in this description), Jim and I talk about ASUG 2010 Orlando and why the ASUG part of the show matters (Jim is presenting at ASUG 2010 on compressing database objects).
Direct download: pcast_0510_sap_reed_spathasug.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:13pm EST

In a milestone podcast for - the first about a small enterprise SAP solution - Jon Reed of interviews Eric Brown, CEO of Johnson Products, about his company's experiences as an early Business By Design (ByD) customer. During the thirty-five minute conversation, Eric gives the background on the Johnson Products story that captured the audience's attention at the SAP Influencer Summit in December 2009.
Direct download: pcast_0410_sap_reed_brown_byd.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 11:49am EST

Establishing yourself as an independent SAP consultant is no easy project. Today's interview subject has pulled it off. Matthias Liebich, senior SAP Pricing consultant, has expertise in SAP Pricing that dates back to the R/2 days. During this special 16 minute podcast, which I recorded live with Matthias in his home office in Atlanta, Georgia, I ask Matthias about why SAP Pricing consultants are necessary and how he has managed to keep himself marketable over the years.
Direct download: pcast_0310_sap_reed_liebich01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:00am EST

Join Jon Reed and special guest Craig Cmehil of SAP for this 70 minute seventh edition as they take on reader questions on whether SAP community involvement has a real career impact (or not), and the right approach SAP job change. Then the guys head into a market discussion on social media hype and whether the enterprise should be more like Facebook. The feature discussion looks closely at the topic of SAP community involvement, with Craig spicing up the podcast with an honest, personal take on his own career transitions.
Direct download: pcast_jonerp_erplounge7_cmehil.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:48pm EST

Join Jon Reed and special guests Johannes and Vijayasankar for this 65 minute sixth edition as they tackle reader questions on the CRM-Solution Manager connection, and whether SD or CRM is a better career path. Then the guys head into a market discussion on the state of CRM in an on demand world, how SAP can improve its CRM strategy, and most importantly, the keys to success as an SAP CRM professional.
Direct download: pcast_erplounge6_jonerp_crm.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 1:27am EST

Welcome to the fifth edition of The ERP Lounge: Misadventures and Opportunities in SAP Consulting, the new podcast series from! The ERP Lounge is the new "long form" podcast series that features uncensored, in-depth discussions on the hard truths and real opportunities in the SAP skills marketplace. All ERP Lounge podcasts kick off with reader questions from listeners like yourself!
Direct download: pcast_sap_reed_brennan_erplounge5.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:12pm EST

What business trend will SAP have to tackle in 2010 to stay relevant? And what is the future of ERP training amidst all the virtual training hype? How does SAP certification impact the SAP hiring process and, and how are new "social networking" sites like LinkedIn making their presence felt when consultants are evaluated? Oh, and how does Jon Reed make money anyway? What exactly is the business model?
Direct download: pcast_1209_sap_reed_klee01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:10pm EST

What is the future of SAP consulting? Why do SAP customers struggle with SAP after go live? Where are the gaps in service that traditional Systems Integrators can't fill? To get to the bottom of these questions, I asked Greg Tomb, founder and CEO of Vivido Labs and former CEO of SAP North America, to join our podcast series and give us his take on how SAP consulting is changing.
Direct download: pcast_1209_sap_reed_tomb01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:06pm EST

Welcome to the fourth edition of The ERP Lounge: Misadventures and Opportunities in SAP Consulting, the new podcast series from! The ERP Lounge is the new "long form" podcast series that features uncensored, in-depth discussions on the hard truths and real opportunities in the SAP skills marketplace. All ERP Lounge podcasts kick off with reader questions from listeners like yourself!
Direct download: pcast_sap_reed_doane_erplounge4.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:03pm EST

At SAP TechEd, I was involved with numerous video shoots and podcast tapings. But my favorite from the conference stands out clearly: this live SAP tech skills chat with the Enterprise Geeks. What stood out about this taping? It was live, without a net, talking without any script or planning on the future of SAP technical careers - with a live audience asking us questions and watching to see if our material and views were credible.
Direct download: jonerp_tech_skills_chat.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:07pm EST

Too often, realizing SAP career dreams is seen as a process of seniority: until you have paid your dues for many years, you won't see the payback. While hard work is never a bad thing, Brian Dennett of Colgate-Palmolive has a different story: just two years into his SAP career, he was a Demo Jam finalist at SAP TechEd Phoenix 2009 (link to full SAP DemoJam replay). This was a powerful reminder that SAP career success in today's market has as much to do with late night bursts of content creation as it does with cubicle-based dues paying. To find out more about Brian's great story and get a view into his own career path, I had the opportunity to tape a live podcast with him at SAP TechEd 2009.
Direct download: pcast_1009_sap_reed_dennett01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:03pm EST

Many still think of SAP BPM as futuristic stuff - images of "business users putting on propeller hats" might be one way to dismiss these trends. That's why I was excited to do a podcast with SAP's Greg Chase, who had approached me prior to SAP TechEd Phoenix to tell me about the customers SAP was hearing from who were looking for a type of SAP BPM skill set that was not readily available.
Direct download: pcast_1009_sap_reed_bpm01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:56pm EST

One of the most controversial issues in the SAP community today is the question of SAP Enterprise Support and whether the support justifies the cost. In the flurry of blog posts on this topic, an important viewpoint can get overlooked: the day-to-day experience of SAP customers. Recently, Panaya, an SAP third party solutions provider, released their 2009 SAP Support Costs Survey. This survey put some meat on the bone of the hot topics in SAP support, such as the cost of support per user, the attitudes towards Enterprise Support, and the key support challenges that SAP users face.
Direct download: pcast_0909_sap_reed_bendov01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:44pm EST

SAP is at a serious crossroads. The ERP market is in a state of significant disruption. The down economy has not only slowed sales; it's created a fertile ground for Software as a Service business models. As I say in the podcast, how SAP responds to these market challenges is going to have a lot to say about its future. Those of us who work in the SAP community have a lot at stake as well. On the consulting side, the commoditization of basic ERP skills is challenging consultants to find a "higher skills ground."
Direct download: pcast_0909_sap_reed_nenshad01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:41pm EST

Welcome to the third edition of The ERP Lounge: Misadventures and Opportunities in SAP Consulting, the new podcast series from! The ERP Lounge is the new "long form" podcast series that features uncensored, in-depth discussions on the hard truths and real opportunities in the SAP skills marketplace. All ERP Lounge podcasts kick off with reader questions from listeners like yourself!
Direct download: pcast_sap_reed_trout_erplounge3.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:10am EST

A handful of people in the SAP industry are distinguished by their truly outstanding contributions to the SAP community. Kevin Wilson, co-founder of and partner with Qdata USA, Inc, is one of those people. has supported the skills growth of thousands of SAP professionals. So what is the philosophy behind ERPGenie's success? And how has Kevin Wilson used those same principles to build his own SAP consulting career? What are his keys to finding a marketable niche in the SAP market and becoming a thought leader?
Direct download: pcast_0809_sap_reed_wilson01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:32pm EST

Welcome to the second edition of The ERP Lounge: Misadventures and Opportunities in SAP Consulting, the new podcast series from! The ERP Lounge is the new "long form" podcast series that features uncensored, in-depth discussions on the hard truths and real opportunities in the SAP skills marketplace. From this point forward, all ERP Lounge podcasts kick off with reader questions from listeners like yourself!
Direct download: pcast_sap_reed_trout_erplounge2.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:04am EST

What are the keys to becoming a successful SAP developer? Why is SAP MII becoming such an important piece of functionality? And what do technical SAP folks need to learn from functional specialists and vice versa? In this podcast, Jon Reed of gets the answers to these questions with SAP Mentor Abesh Bhattacharjee of SAP Labs. In the debut of a podcast Jon and Abesh have been plotting since last December, Abesh shares the good news of the release of his new book on Implementing and Configuring SAP MII from SAP Press (co-authored by fellow SAP Mentor Dipankar Saha) and gives his insight on the importance of SAP MII and shop floor visibility to SAP users.
Direct download: pcast_0809_sap_reed_abesh01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:37pm EST

Thomas Wailgum, Senior Editor of and the man behind the "Enterprise Software Unplugged" blog, is a self-described "wiseass." Those who follow his blog know that he isn't afraid to mix it up a little bit and poke a little fun at ERP heavyeights. What you might not know is that Thomas has been at for 13 years - an amazingly long time given the ups and downs of dotcoms and online media. I wanted to get Thomas on a podcast and ask him how the ERP market has changed over his years at, what he has learned from his interviews with CIOs, and get his take on the pros and cons of SAP in today's market. Thomas is also a fun ERP presence on Twitter, so you may want to follow him there.
Direct download: pcast_0809_sap_reed_wailgum01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:29pm EST

What's the best way to overcome inaccurate perceptions? By gathering comprehensive data. And what's the best way to put a vendor in context? Study the broader market. Eric Kimberling, President of Panorama Consulting, does both of these things in the ERP space. To get a better handle on keys to SAP project success (and how to avoid failure), as well as the impact of SaaS and the key skills ERP users should be cultivating, I invited Eric to join me and to share Panorama's findings with JonERP listeners. I also put him on the JonERP hot seat and asked him to make his own recommendations for SAP's future direction.
Direct download: pcast_0709_sap_reed_kimberling01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:21pm EST

Welcome to the first edition of The ERP Lounge: Misadventures and Opportunities in SAP Consulting, the new podcast series from! The ERP Lounge is the new "long form" podcast series that features freewheeling, in-depth discussions on the hard truths and real opportunities in the SAP skills marketplace. Join Jon and Brian for this 55 minute inaugural edition as they take you inside their vision of The ERP Lounge. Learn why they decided to create this new podcast series, what the structure of the series will be, and listen in on the regular features like "SAP Skills that are Hot/and "Not." This first edition also includes a tribute to the SAP independent consultant, and a hashing out of the differences between a "do as you're told" SAP contractor and a "tell the truth" consultant. And yes, this special series gets its own rockin' musical intro!
Direct download: pcast_sap_reed_trout_erplounge1.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:59am EST

Michael Doane, the subject of my first podcast, joins me again for number 50 (though it's the 49th loaded in the system). We celebrate with a new JonERP musical intro(!) as well as an in-depth conversation with the inimitable Michael Doane, author of the classic New SAP Blue Book and the upcoming SAP Green Book: Thrive After Go-Live.
Direct download: pcast_0709_sap_reed_doane02.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:19pm EST

Usually I am the one doing the podcast interviews. But this time around, Muhammad Shaamel, podcaster, blogger, and SAP ERP consultant, turned the tables on me. During this twenty-six minute interview, Muhammad asks me for my take on what's hot and what's not from an SAP skills perspective. He had some excellent questions for me, including the value of certification and whether or not BPM skills can help an SAP consultant.
Direct download: An_Interview_with_JonReed01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:16pm EST

In this impromptu podcast, inspired by a Twitter conversation thread, Jon Reed interviews Marco ten Vaanholt, VP of the SAP Community Network and the Global Head of the SAP BPX and Business Objects Communities, on how individuals (and project teams) can make a "BPX business case" for SAP TechEd. (Follow Marco on Twitter, and follow SAP TechEd on Twitter.
Direct download: pcast_0709_sap_reed_vaanholt_teched01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:56pm EST

Sometimes in the glitz of Sapphire announcements, the ASUG part of ASUG/Sapphire gets less attention. To learn more about why the ASUG part of the conference matters - not only to SAP users, but to industry analysts - I invited Gretchen Lindquist, SAP Mentor and stalwart ASUG volunteer, to share her views on ASUG/Sapphire 2009 and the pros and cons of co-location. I also had the opportunity to ask Gretchen about trends in SAP Security from the vantage point of her work as chair of the SAP Security Interest Group (SIG) for ASUG.
Direct download: pcast_0609_sap_reed_lindquist01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:45am EST

In the first installment of his "Sapphire in Review" podcast series, Jon Reed of welcomes special guest Michael Krigsman, President of Asuret and popular ZDNet blogger and Tweeter. Michael's focus is evaluating the keys to IT project success and failure, so during this twenty-eight minute podcast, Jon gets Michael's take on how project failure applies to ERP vendors and SAP specifically. Jon also gets the skinny on Michael's investigations of Business ByDesign at Sapphire, and why he sees SAP's focus on UI improvements and BI enhancements as important to ERP project success. In closing, Michael shares an inside view on what it's like to be part of SAP's Blogger Relations Program, mixing it up with SAP executives.
Direct download: pcast_0509_sapphire_reed_krigsman01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:58pm EST

In the second of two live Sapphire podcast recordings, Jon Reed of interviews fellow SAP Mentor Dick Hirsch to get his impressions of Sapphire 2009. Listen in as two self-described "BPX geeks" discuss the themes of Sapphire from a BPX perspective. Jon gets Dick's reactions to the Sapphire keynotes, and also gets his view on how Twitter is changing the experience of live events, both for virtual attendees and the actual participants. Dick also offers tips for how SAP professionals can move their skills into a BPX direction.
Direct download: pcast_0509_sapphire_reed_hirsch01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:56pm EST

In the first of two live Sapphire podcast recordings Jon will issue this week, Jon Reed of sits down with Ajay Vonkarey of Alpha Sirius to discuss his views on Sapphire, his impressions of the SAP market, and in particular, his views on Solution Manager - a topic you could not get away from at Sapphire where Ajay has deep expertise. In this 24 minute podcast, taped in a classroom as Sapphire closes out, Jon asks Ajay for his views on the pros and cons of Solution Manager from a customer perspective, how Solution Manager fits into BPM, and how SAP skills needs are evolving in the era of BPM and "end to end process" management.
Direct download: pcast_0509_sapphire_reed_ajay01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:37pm EST

On March 20 of 2009, I spoke with Vijay Vijayasankar, Senior Managing Consultant at IBM and fellow SAP Mentor, and conducted one of the most important podcasts I have done since I started doing them almost two years ago. On my mind during the taping: my theory that SAP consulting is not just being impacted by the economy and will come roaring back later. I believe the changes in SAP consulting that are underway now are permanent in nature, and have implications for all SAP professionals. There was no one better to ask about these shifts than Vijay, who has broad market experience and has seen many of the changes I am talking about. Disclaimer: please keep in mind that the opinions Vijay expresses during this podcast are entirely his, and do not represent the view of his employer, IBM.
Direct download: pcast_0309_sap_reed_vijay01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:30am EST

In this special SAP community podcast, Jon Reed of speaks with an expert team assembled by SAP's Ecosystem Workforce Group to assess the SAP skills trends that are relevant in today's economy. Joining Jon on the call are: Peter Russo, leader of PAC's SAP Services Research Practice, and Rob Fiddaman and Deepak Jaiswal of K2 Partnering Solutions. Rob is K2's North American Partner and Deepak, who called in from India to participate in our global call, is the CEO of K2.
Direct download: pcast_sapskills_0209_jonerp01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:29am EST

In a sluggish economy, SAP professionals want to know where the action is. One area that looks promising in 2009: RunSAP and Solution Manager. But there's a problem: many SAP consultants (and project teams) are not yet clear on how the two products relate, nor are they clear on the skills needed to implement them. To shed light on this topic, Jon interviews Ajay Vonkarey, President of Alphasirius, a company with deep experience in both RunSAP and Solution Manager. Jon specifically invited Ajay to do this podcast because of Ajay's innovative thinking around RunSAP and Solution Manager skills trends.
Direct download: pcast_0109_sap_reed_ajay01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:25pm EST

What's the latest on the SAP Business Objects roadmap? How can BI have a positive impact for SAP customers in a difficult economy? And what are the skills needed to implement NetWeaver BI products? To get to the bottom of these questions, I had the opportunity to interview Franz Aman, VP of Intelligence Platform Product Marketing for SAP Business Objects. In this podcast, Franz speaks frankly about the challenges SAP customers are facing and how BO tools can help.
Direct download: pcast_0109_sap_reed_aman01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:08pm EST

In Jon's first podcast ever on SAP MDM, Jon interviews Mike Kerrigan, Vice President of Business Technologies with Laurus Technologies, on SAP Master Data Management (MDM), SAP Analytics, and the skills (and management approach) needed for SAP project success in a down economy.

In this twenty-five minute podcast, Jon and Mike touch on the following topics:

- How today's SAP market compares with other down cycles Mike has seen during his fifteen years in the SAP field, including comparisons to the pre-Y2K and the post-9/11 markets.

- The relevance of analytics to today's SAP implementations, and why ERP customers expect more from SAP now than transactional efficiency. The SAP Business Suite is full of systems (CRM, SRM) etc with data that must be cleaned and managed before it can be utilized. leveraged.
Direct download: pcast_1108_sap_reed_kerrigan01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 4:34pm EST

In the last installment in Jon's "Tech Ed in Review 2008" podcast series, he speaks with Dennis Howlett, SAP Mentor and "Enterprise Irregular" ZDNet blogger. During this trans-Atlantic podcast session, Dennis shares his experiences at TechEd, his views on SAP's co-innovation strategy, and how he balances participation in the SAP community with his role as an independent analyst. One highlight of the podcast? Dennis' take on an important TechEd Berlin meeting between the SAP Mentors and SAP executives regarding the future of SAP development.
Direct download: pcast_1008_sap_reed_howlett01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:29pm EST

Recent SAP TechEd Shows have emphasized NetWeaver BPM and the importance of the Business Process Expert. To get a sense of why SAP is so committed to building a true "Business Process Platform," and whether or not BPX skills are still relevant in this struggling economy, Jon Reed spoke with Puneet Suppal, the SAP SOA Solutions Leader for Capgemini North America. (Puneet also writes on SOA trends in his "Cafe Innovation" blog for SAP SDN/BPX.)

At the time of the podcast taping, Puneet had just returned from giving a presentation entlitled "The Business Process Imperative" with Global BPX Head Marco ten Vaanholt at TechEd Berlin. He also shared plans to head out to TechEd Bangalore to deliver a similar talk. Having done this presentation at TechEd Las Vegas as well, Puneet's views on this podcast are informed by his recent SAP Community experiences. The result is a focused conversation on how project teams and individuals should approach "BPX skills innovation" during challenging economic times.
Direct download: pcast_1008_sap_reed_suppal01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:18pm EST

In the second podcast in the "All About SAP Training" series, Jon Reed asks Tom Michael of Michael Management  about the state of SAP training and the range of training and certification options available to SAP professionals.

Picking up where the last podcast on SAP training left off, Jon and Tom jump right into the topic of SAP online training:

- Tom goes back to the beginning: 2-3 years ago, Tom began to get more and more requests for online SAP training. In the past, there were very few options, and while sending folks to the SAP Academy can be very effective, it's not always an affordable option when you are continuously tweaking people's job roles. Meanwhile, the project documentation is useful to a degree but is not really the perfect training tool ("you can't learn SAP from a few screen prints and a PowerPoint presentation.")
Direct download: pcast_1008_sap_reed_michael02.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:26pm EST

In the first podcast in the "All About SAP Training" series, Jon Reed asks Tom Michael of Michael Management  about the state of SAP training and the range of training and certification options available to SAP professionals.

The podcast begins with an overview of Tom Michael's background and his role with Michael Management's SAP training and consulting practice. In addition to Michael Management's consulting work in Asset Management, Project Systems, Investment Management, and related areas, Michael Management has become one of the largest online SAP training sites today. As Tom explains, this was an organic process where clients asked Michael Management about the training side of their implementations and Michael Management began rolling out more and more online SAP training courses.

In this first podcast in their "All About SAP Training Series," Jon and Tom dive into the hot topic of breaking into SAP. Michael reviews some of the free options available online, such as SAP's own help documentation which covers basic functionality. Then there are useful SAP books that can further the education process on an affordable basis. But documentation can only take you so far, so what are the other options?  
Direct download: pcast_1008_sap_reed_michael01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:22pm EST

In the second podcast in my TechEd in Review 2008 podcast series, I spoke with BPX Community Evangelist Marilyn Pratt and got her honest take on TechEd Las Vegas 2008. This podcast has an interesting interactive twist - at a few points in the podcast, Marilyn turns the tables on me and gets my own reactions to what we saw in Vegas. Themes of this podcast include: the increasing importance of BPX themes at TechEd, an assessment of BPX Community Day, and the "greening of SAP," one "bottom up" idea at a time.

In the first section of this thirty five minute podcast, we get into what a "BPX Community Evangelist" is all about and why authentic conversations are so much more powerful than "marketing messages."
Direct download: pcast_0908_sap_reed_pratt_01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:15pm EST

There's a lot of talk about "SAP Business Process Experts." SAP even has an online "BPX Community" set up around this emerging skill set. But what does this really mean to the individual consultant?

For the first time ever, Jon speaks in-depth with a senior functional consultant, Samantha Gammill, President of Osiris ERP Consulting, about her pursuit of the "SAP BPX skill set."

In this podcast, we get the story of why a certified MM/PP functional consultant with a broad SAP background and 14 years of SAP consulting experience decided to pursue the BPX skill set, how she went about doing it, and what the reactions of her team members were to this skills transition.

During the podcast, Samantha talks about her efforts to move into her role as "future functional business process expert." In the process, she gives listeners a view into her approach to self-education. Samantha funded her own attendance at the TechEd 2008 Las Vegas BPX Community Day, and brought what she learned about that day back to her team.
Direct download: pcast_0908_sap_reed_gammill01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:13pm EST

SOA is having a major impact on how SAP professionals look at the skills they need going forward. But why does SOA matter to SAP in the first place? Is SOA SAP-manufactured hype, or is SOA going to be a real factor on SAP project sites. What skills will be needed in order to succeed in the NetWeaver and eSOA era? And how does NetWeaver BPM fit into the picture? In this SAP-SOA skills podcast, Jon Reed shares his take on these issues with Demir Barlas of
Direct download: pcast_0908_sap_reed_searchsap01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:06pm EST

In this thirty minute podcast, David Foote of Foote Partners reviews his firm's latest 2,000-employer benchmark survey data on trends in pay and availability of SAP enterprise application skills. Hear what's hot (and by how much), including which SAP skill has seen a 57% increase in market value over the last 12 months.

Also included: strategy advice for employers deploying SAP applications, and career advice for IT professionals building SAP careers over the next two years.

Kicked off by Demir Barlas of, this podcast begins with David Foote's overview of his latest SAP skills findings, including what's hottest in 2008. Jon Reed of weighs in toward the end of this podcast, asking David several questions about how SAP professionals should apply his findings to their own skills transitions.
Direct download: pcast_0908_sap_reed_barlas_foote01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:09pm EST

Gas prices have been flirting with $5 a gallon recently. But as Krishna Kumar of Enterprise Horizons points out in this podcast, when most SAP customers implemented their first SAP systems, prices were closer to $1 a gallon. This massive change in the cost of energy has created both a crisis and an opportunity. On this podcast, we look at the opportunity side of the equation. Jon and Krishna are joined by Paul Kurchina, Director of the Kurmeta Group, and author of the recently released book In Pursuit of the Perfect Plant.

The three of us take a closer look at the intersection between the corporate "Green Movement" and eSOA, and how these converging technologies are having a beneficial impact on the bottom line, while charting a better course for global energy consumption. Paul and Krishna also explain how SAP professionals can get more involved in the Green/eSOA space - a potentially great way to mix skills expansion with purposeful work.  
Direct download: pcast_0808_sap_reed_kumar_kurchina01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:02pm EST

What is at the root of the customer frustration with SAP's maintenance fee increases? And what does RunSAP and Solution Manager have to do with it? To get at these questions and many more, listen in with Jon Reed and Site Editor Demir Barlas as they interview Robert Max, ASUG Evangelist for ASUG, Americas' SAP Users' Group. Formerly the SAP Infrastructure Manager for a Fortune 500 Company, Max has played a leadership role in many ASUG groups, including serving as as the Chair of the ASUG Solution Manager Community.

During this podcast, Robert explains how SAP customers can achieve a greater value from SAP support by maximizing the use of Solution Manager, RunSAP, and end-to-end process optimization. He also talks about the skills needed by project teams (and individual consultants) if they want to take advantage of these emerging post-go-live opportunities.
Direct download: pcast_0808_sap_reed_max01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:58pm EST

In this landmark podcast, Jon speaks with Kent Sanders, Senior Technology Architect for CSC Consulting, about the beginning of the end for the traditional R/3 Basis Consultant, and how to make the skills transition to "NetWeaver Engineer." Kent explains why mastering NetWeaver is essential for getting involved with eSOA, and why eSOA has moved from hype to reality. Loaded with practical skills tips for consultants and project teams, Kent SAP professionals an inside view on how they can round out their skills, avoid being outsourced, and stay marketable in the NetWeaver era.

During the interview, Kent talks about the differences between the classic Basis skill set and the emerging "NetWeaver Engineer" skill set. He goes into the specifics of the tools that SAP technical professionals need to master in order to remain marketable instead of becoming obsolete. Drawing on his own experience, Kent explains how project teams should approach building NetWeaver and eSOA skills sets internally. Kent also talks about how the business process orientation of SAP is impacting all SAP skill sets, and most importantly, how SAP professionals can educate themselves for these transitions - in particular by leverage the SDN and BPX communities.
Direct download: pcast_0808_sap_reed_sanders02.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:54pm EST

The value of SAP certification for SAP professionals might be the most frequently asked career question of all time. In this special edition podcast, co-hosted by Demir Barlas of SearchSAP, Jon discusses the key issues in SAP certification with Sue Martin, Global Certification Portfolio Manager for SAP.

During the podcast, Jon poses the "hot button" SAP certification topics that he always wanted to ask, including Sue's take on the relevance of SAP certification to hiring managers, and the value of SAP certification for those trying to break into SAP. Sue also explains the new three-tiered SAP certification program, the latest efforts to make SAP certification exames more location-accessible, and what's coming up for SAP certification at TechEd 2008.

By the time the podcast is over, Jon and Demir get Sue's take on many of the questions readers have posed about SAP certification - including Sue's news that more than 80 percent of SAP hiring managers surveyed say that certification factors heavily into their hiring decisions.
Direct download: pcast_0708_sap_reed_martin01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:51pm EST

Jon Reed interviews Jim Spath, Technlogy Architect for Black and Decker, and gets his frank views on ASUG 2008, including the Business Objects acquisition, SAP for the Blackberry, and the impact of social media on SAP professionals.

In this thirty-five minute podcast, Jim addresses some of the major themes of ASUG/Sapphire 2008 from the vantage point of how SAP's technology impacts the user community. An active blogger on the SAP Developer Network, Jim is also an SAP mentor, as well as an ASUG conference planner.

Join Jon and Jim as they peel back the conference hype and look at the issues that mattered to SAP users.

Topics covered in this podcast include:

- Jim's SAP's background and his current role at Black and Decker.

- The Business Objects acquisition and Jim's views on how the Business Objects purchase is impcating SAP customers. Jim discusses the importance of SAP customers developing a new Business Intelligence Roadmap that incorporates BO, and what ASUG is doing to help with that.

- The "SAP for the BlackBerry" announcement, Jim's own involvement with the ASUG Mobile Technology sessions and why he believes SAP needs to expand its focus beyond the BlackBerry to other mobile devices, in keeping with its platform-agnostic approach.

- Jim's take on the lessons learned from Sapphire/ASUG co-location and how companies can take better advantage of co-location when they send their user teams to these shows.

- Jon expresses his skepticism about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for big businesses, and Jim explains how his background in environmental engineering has given him a different take on CSR. He talks about his research on SAP CSR and how there may be some positive eco-friendly changes in SAP's own production processes that are possible.

It fits in with his goal of fostering transparency in business and supporting SAP in its commitment to greater transparency. Jim also takes pride in Black and Decker's own commitment to socially responsible business, and after the podcast, Jim sent along a link to Black and Decker's corporate citizenship practices.

- Jim's experiences as a blogger on SDN, how it has impacted his career growth, and his advice for those who are just getting involved in SDN and may be a little shy about starting their own blogs.

Jim talks about how writing publicly means learning how to handle and incorporate criticism, and how SDN/BPX leaders like Marilyn Pratt encouraged his own emergence as a blogger.

- Jim's take on the BPX Community Day and how social media is impacting the SAP professional. He talks about how Black and Decker has been very supportive of his efforts to involve himself in the SAP community, and speaks to the tensions some companies and managers may have around the question of "is this social media stuff you're doing wasting our time or helping our bottom line."

Black and Decker sees how the community involvement of employees like Jim pays off. Not all companies feel that way yet, but things are changing.

- On the BPX Community Day panel, the question of "how do you find time to interact online?" came up. Jim shares his secret to beating the time crunch: getting up a half hour early each day to blog.
Direct download: pcast_0608_sap_reed_spath01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:13am EST

In this Sapphire in Review mega-edition podcast, Jon Reed Interviews Kent Bettisworth, President of Bettisworth and Associates, and gets his take on the key themes of Sapphire 2008.

Kent is a senior Project Systems snd Fixed Asset consultant whose company also offers SAP System Access in conjunction with Michael Management. After you listen to this podcast, you will understand why Kent is one of Jon's "go to" people when it comes to analyzing SAP skills trends and staying ahead of the skills curve.

During this back-and-forth discussion, Jon asks Kent for his reaction to the SAP keynotes and the trends Kent noticed in terms of SAP-for-the-BlackBerry, Business by Design, Role-Based Portals and beyond, and the emphasis on personalization and useability of SAP - not always SAP's strongest aspect historically. A major focus of the podcast is a closer look at the so-called "SAP Skills Shortage" and how SAP professionals should respond.

Topics covered in this podcast include:

- Kent's take on the keynotes, and why he was struck by Hasso Plattner's emphasis not only on Role-Based Portals but even more personalized user experiences, leveraging the technology being developed for Business By Design. Kent also talks about the SAP-for-the-BlackBerry announcement and which parts of the enterprise should be most impacted.

- Jon asks Kent for the key trends driving SAP staffing, and Kent explains that at the conference and in his own client work, the major driver is still core upgrades as well as merger and acquisition implementation activity.

Kent does make a distinction between the type of SAP consulting activity we see today versus what we saw in the mid-90s. He talks about the focus on technical upgrades, but that his clients are also doing functional enhancements in targeted areas. Business Intelligence is also a factor now.

- The so-called "SAP Skills Shortage" was a major talking point at the SAP press conference. Jon asks Kent for his view, and Kent agrees that the skills shortage is not so much across the board as targeted in specialized areas of higher demand.

He also thinks that part of the issue is that SAP customers have a harder time leveraging the skills of less-experienced SAP folks (under five years). Kent shares some ideas around a mentoring structure that would allow clients to take better advantage of less experience talent in conjunction with senior mentors such as Kent.

- Jon asks for Kent's take on how specialized an SAP consultant needs to be in order to be successful, and gets Kent's take on a situation where his work was balanced on a project by another expert in the product costing area.

- Kent delves into the Project Systems area of specialization, and related skills in Fixed Assets and Portfolio Management. He shares the latest trends in Project Systems consulting in areas related to capital management, revenue, and investment management.

Kent also tells Jon what the value is in the xRPM xApp and how it fits into the landscape of SAP functionality. xRPM is different from classic PS work in that it involves more technical skills in BI and Portals work in order to implement it.

- The talk then moved into a discussion of how SAP system access can help a consultant get a better feel for these emerging areas in PS and Investment Management, as well as other new areas of SAP. Jon and Kent talk about how the SAP ecosystem can be a great source of self-education for the SAP professional in transition.

- Last but not least, the last segment of the podcast gets into Jon and Kent's debate about the Business Process Expert skill set. Kent has maintained that the best SAP consultants have always had a business process focus.

But Kent also agrees that today's BPX world has new communities (like the BPX community) and new tools to master. Kent talks about how he always saw the value of business process management expertise, whether it was Six Sigma or Total Quality Management.

- Jon and Kent talk about the pieces Jon has done on SAP configuration skills and whether they are going away anytime soon. Jon and Kent talk about the ideal skill set for the SAP consultant - a combination of focused specialization in a marketable niche with a broader (but related) business process and industry expertise.
Direct download: pcast_0508_sap_reed_bettis01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 3:31am EST

Foote Partners conducts some of the most extensive skills-based SAP (and IT) salary and skills/modules pay surveys on the market today.

In this podcast, hosted by, Jon Reed interviews David Foote of Foote Partners and gets David's views on the extent of the SAP skills gap, which skills are in demand (and which are not), the value of certification, and other SAP skills trends after Sapphire 2008.

The so-called "SAP skills gap" was one of the biggest topics of discussion at Sapphire again this year. David Foote was at the center of this discussion, asking SAP executives about the extent of the skills gap and how they plan to respond.

During the podcast, David details his concerns about SAP's ability to meet the skills demand caused in particular by midmarket expansion. He also gives provides insight into how larger economic trends impact SAP skills demand, and he also tells us why the best SAP professionals have a narrow, rather than a broad, skills focus.

During the discussion, Jon also gets David's take on how SAP project teams can attract (and retain) the best SAP talent. David shares how the data he gathers at Foote Partners ties into the overall trends he observes in terms of the value of IT certifications.

The limitations of certification when it comes to measuring the emerging "business process expert" skill set are also discussed.

In terms of which SAP skills are most in demand, David cites the following areas as trending towards "hot":

SAP ERP 6.0 upgrade skills (Financials, HCM, Materials Management)

NetWeaver Master Data Management (MDM)

NetWeaver Application Server

NetWeaver Business Intelligence (BI)

Areas that are getting a bit colder in Foote Partner's latest findings (which are issued quarterly):

ABAP Development


NetWeaver Process Integration (PI, formerly XI)

Sales and Distribution (SD)

By the time you're done listening to this thirty minute podcast, you'll have an excellent feel for how Foote Partners views the skills trends in the SAP marketplace, and how SAP professionals can best respond to these skills trends.
Direct download: pcast_0508_sap_reed_foote01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 2:57am EST

SAP HCM is one of the hottest areas in SAP consulting, but the skills you need to succeed in SAP HR are also changing. To get to the bottom of what's hot and what's not in SAP HCM consulting, Jon Reed sat down with Ralph Williams, Director HCM Solutions, B2B Workforce.

SAP HR is changing from a back office product to a strategically important "HCM" solution that includes cutting edge Talent Management components. But what does that mean for the SAP HR professional? What skills are in demand now?

In his role at B2B Workforce, Ralph has the opportunity to see firsthand which areas of HR are hot, and which are not as hot. In this thirty minute podcast, Ralph shares with Jon the specific areas of SAP HR that are heating up, and what he looks for in the HR/HCM consultants he and his team place on B2B Workforce projects.
Direct download: pcast_0308_sap_reed_williams01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:15am EST

What skills do you need to perform an SAP Logistics upgrade to ERP 6.0? And what does it take to thrive as an independent SAP consultant? To get a better feel for the functional skills needed on the ERP 6.0 platform in the SAP Logistics area, Jon spoke down with Thomas Woelfel, a veteran SD consultant, and got his take on how the SD module is evolving.

During this thirty five minute podcast, Thomas gives his view on what SAP Logistics consultants need to know in order to keep pace with SAP. A major focus of the podcast is on the role of the independent SAP consultant on project teams, and Thomas' recommendations for success as an independent.

In this frank look at the challenges of independent consulting, Thomas explains how he has found a way to thrive as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on SAP projects, balancing his relationships with the end client and the outside consulting partner.
Direct download: pcast_0308_sap_reed_woelfel01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:02am EST

SAP development is changing rapidly, and this technical evolution is impacting both technical and functional SAP professionals. To get an inside look at the future of SAP development, Jon interviewed Thomas Jung, NetWeaver Product Manager with SAP Labs and an influential blogger on the SAP Developer Network.

Jon asked Thomas about a number of "hot button" topics in the SAP development space, including the innovations of the CE environment and the modeling tools needed for eSOA-driven development, the impact of outsourcing and how to make your skills "outsourcing proof," why ABAP development is alive and well, and how's SAP's SDN and BPX communities are affecting how SAP professionals interact with SAP and enhance their skill sets.

In this thirty-three minute interview, hosted by Jon Franke of, "the two Jons" and Thomas cover the following topics:

- Thomas' role at SAP Labs and how his NetWeaver Product Management team is involved with the rollout of the NetWeaver product line and the interaction with SAP users at events and seminars.

- Why the online communities have had such an effect on SAP development and how knowledge about SAP products and skills trends is disseminated.

- Jon asks Thomas to explain why his presentation on "Updating Your ABAP Skills to NetWeaver 7.0" has been so well received at SAP conferences, and what the key adjustments a 4.6 SAP developer has to make to be effective in NetWeaver 7.x and eSOA environments. Thomas points out that one key aspect of the "SAP developer of the future" is simply mastering object-oriented programming and ABAP Objects - something you can get started on even while working on 4.x projects.

- Frequently, Jon his from readers who ask him "is ABAP dead?" Thomas puts these fears to rest once and for all by explaining that ABAP is still very much a part of the NetWeaver development environment. He describes some of the situations where ABAP is more useful and some where Java-based tools are more relevant. ABAP works best for powering high-volume, core transactions and Java is ideal for "edge programming" where SAP is extending its functionality via Enterprise Services. But ABAP can be "opened up" as well, and many new SAP components are built partially or fully in ABAP.

- The impact of offshoring - Thomas gives his take on which SAP projects are better suited for outsourcing and which development projects are more effective to have in-house. Thomas doesn't believe that it makes sense to outsource all SAP development projects, and he goes on to describe some of the ways that SAP programmers can make their skills "outsourcing proof": don't build a "wall" between you and the rest of the team, keep up on your knowledge, stay visible, and become known as the person who learns the latest SAP technical tools and shares them with others.

- Thomas shares the highlights of the SAP Composition Environment (CE), including the integration between CE and the Enterprise Services Repository (ESR), Visual Composer, Guided Procedures, and the other bells and whistles of this EE 5 environment.

- What is the makeup of the ideal SAP project team? Thomas puts on his CIO hat and talks about the kinds of people he would put on his SAP technical project team. More than anything, he'd be looking for self-starters who aggressively educate themselves through their involvement with SDN and other learning communities. He'd want to see a mixture of Internet, Java, and ABAP skills on the team, but more important than specific tools is an SAP technical team that can adapt to the pace of innovation.

- In terms of "soft" business skills, Thomas places a high value on those who get outside their cubicles and interact with the project team, making an effort to transfer knowledge to other team members. Thomas believes that you can't get away with being a "cubicle coder," anymore. If you aren't needed on site, then you run the risk of being outsourced. One way to differentiate yourself is to know enough about the business to be able to help business users define their requirements and what they want to accomplish technically.

- Thomas explains why the latest batch of modeling tools are catching on and why modeling is having such an impact on SAP development. There are two types of modeling tools: those that help business users model processes on a higher level without needing to program (Visual Programmers), and those that help programmers reduce repetitive programming tasks (Web Dynpro for Java being one example, and other modeling tools added to the NetWeaver Developer Studio and the ABAP Workbench being other examples).

- Jon asks Thomas about SAP's eSOA strategy and how it is impacting development. Thomas agrees that eSOA will allow companies to build Enterprise Services using the language and platform of their choice, but he also notes that SAP is building some of the best SOA development and consumption tools on the market.

- Jon Franke of SearchSAP asks Thomas about how business users can get more involved in these trends, and Thomas points out the BPX community, and how business users can get involved in a variety of ways, including through BPX's industry vertical communities.

- Jon points out that Thomas' "Update Your ABAP Skills to NetWeaver 7.0" seminar is available on the Virtual TechEd '07 track on SDN (for a fee), and Thomas shares the forward schedule for when this workshop will be held next.

- Thomas wraps the podcast with a compelling argument to avoid career panic in the face of new SAP technologies. He makes the point that SAP developers should follow their passions, and when you are the best at what you do, that's an excellent way "outsource-proof" your skills.
Direct download: pcast_0208_sap_reed_jung01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:57am EST

In this podcast, Jon talks with Peter Scott of Traxion Consulting and gets his take on why the NetWeaver BI marketplace has picked up so much momentum. Jon asks Peter to explain how NetWeaver BI got so hot and the skills SAP BI professionals need to succeed in the BI field. Peter also shares the keys to staffing SAP BI projects and how SAP end users should approach their BI installs and upgrades.

In this twenty-seven minute podcast, Jon and Peter cover a range of NetWeaver BI topics, including:

- The role of Traxion consulting in the BI market and their focus on BI knowledge transfer.

- The changing terminology of BW and BI and the transition from BW 3.5 to BI 7.0.

- Jon asks Peter why the NetWeaver BI market is so hot right now. Peter explains that in a recent survey, 40 percent of all CIOs cited BI projects as their number one priority. Part of the issue is the explosion of data for all SAP customers, and they want to stay on top of this data to improve decision making based on facts. Also, because of Sarbanes-Oxley, companies installed BW and now they are looking for more ways of leveraging the data.

- Part of the growth of BI is about the transition between ERP as a transaction-based system and the new role of ERP has a decision-making platform to extend reporting and business intelligence to users and executives. How to pull the ERP data out and use it has become a top corporate priority.
- Peter explains the keys to BI training and bringing an internal team up to speed, to leave them in a better position after external consultants have left. Peter talks about the importance of custom SAP training with heavy hands-on involvement, and why it can be so much more effective than a standard "out of the box" training.

- Jon asks Peter how SAP teams can overcome user resistance to job changes brought on by BI and how to get them excited about the new technology. Peter talks about the importance of getting management on board to improve buy-in of the system, and to recognize that there will be user resistance if SAP users are not brought into the loop with the changes that are pending.

- Jon's theory is that BI is not just for specialists anymore. BI is a skill that all consultants can and should incorporate into their SAP skill set. Peter agrees, and talks about the how all R/3 and ECC consultants can add value to their clients by understanding the NetWeaver stack, and BI specifically, and how the ECC environment connects to the OLAP environment, in SAP Financials and many other areas. And you can also get a great niche in BI by including a functional focus with those skills.

- Peter gives his take on the kinds of skills you want to have on a well-rounded BI team. A solid understanding of data modeling and data warehousing is key. ABAP is still important, and ABAP for BI is valuable also for writing user exits and function modules for BI. Even in the age of Web Reporting and the Java stack, ABAP is still relevant. HTML and Javascript are also useful for advanced programming and inserting code into the Web Application Designer. Peter also recommends Visual Composer skills, and Web Dynpro skills, as well as Object-Oriented programming skills.

- Peter comments about some of the tools that are emerging in the BI space, including Visual Composer and Web Dynpro, as well as other tools that are extending the out-of-the-box functionality, including customized reports and better presentation options that also increase user buy-in through a better interface. Peter says that with the latest WebDynpro and Visual Composer presentation options, you can almost trick users into not realizing they are using SAP because it's so intuitive.

- Jon asks Peter about BI implementation scenarios and common mistakes to avoid. Peter talks about companies spending insufficient time on design, planning, and user buy-in during the initial project stages. Understanding the company's user requirements is important to be able to identify the limitations of the system and plan accordingly.
- Peter talks about the real ROI takeaways from a successful NetWeaver BI project. Peter shares the example of a project where they were able to identify 7 million dollars in unbilled revenue as a result of the BI tools. Peter also finds that a good BI project helps an SAP customer develop much clearer benchmarks and metrics for everyone understanding the keys to business success in their industry.

- In terms of a real-life example of a KPI, Peter describes previous clients who did not know who their most profitable customers were, and how the BI implementation helped them to identify who those customers were. Or, alternately, a company that figured out that some of their products were too expensive based on the analysis of the raw materials through BI reports.

- Jon asks Peter to talk about upgrade lessons to NetWeaver BI 7.0. Peter talks about the importance, once again, of pre-project planning, and what bugs you might run into during the conversion. Internal knowledge, training, and change management all play a role.
Direct download: pcast_0108_sap_reed_scott01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:50am EST

Jon Reed speaks with Steve Strout, CEO of ASUG, Americas' SAP Users' Group, about the key issues SAP customers are facing in the NetWeaver and eSOA era. Jon asks Steve about the different perspectives SAP customers have concerning upgrades and how ASUG can make an impact on SAP project team education and support during the upgrade cycle.

Steve also talks about how ASUG is impacting SAP's product evolution and he shares his vision for ASUG in 2008 and beyond.

During this thirty-five minute podcast, Jon and Steve touch on key topics such as:

- How Jon first met Steve at SAPPHIRE/ASUG 2007, and right after they met, someone spilled a drink on Steve. Jon begins the podcast by telling Steve he hopes that this initial spill is not permanently associated with talking with Jon. Jon talks about how ASUG has evolved from a "small thorn in SAP's side" to a "true collaborative" partner, and one of the most powerful software users groups in the world.

- Steve talks about how he initially got involved in ASUG with his first event he attended in 2002, why he is so impressed by the passion of the SAP community, and how his role at ASUG evolved until the opportunity to become ASUG's first CEO emerged this fall.

- Jon asks Steve about his progress on developing an ASUG strategy for the coming year, and Steve shares his vision of redefining what a software user group can be. Steve's goal is to reach the point where ASUG is at the center of the SAP ecosystem. Steve talks about how the 50,000 plus ASUG members have had a major impact on SAP's product development through ASUG's expanding group of Influence Councils.

- Jon tells Steve that at TechEd, he ran into a number of SAP customers who were still confused about NetWeaver, eSOA, and how to leverage to eSOA technology to get a true return on investment. He asks Steve to explain how ASUG can help customers sort through their eSOA confusion and come up with a solid roadmap. Steve talks about the way that SOA technology has evolved, and the power of the eSOA architecture due to the loose coupling and the potential to involve customers and suppliers through exposed services. Steve talks about two of ASUG's new SIGs (Special Interest Groups) dedicated to eSOA: one focused on Enterprise Architects, and one on eSOA, and how those SIGs allow ASUG to gather and relay key feedback and influence SAP's approach to eSOA.

- Steve asks readers for feedback on whether it would be helpful to offer regional workshops on getting started with eSOA and developing an eSOA roadmap, and if so, what regions and cities would be best for the sessions.
- ASUG regularly conducts "Voice of the Customer" surveys to identify the key "pain points" SAP users are facing in both functional and technical areas. Steve tells us that the key pain points SAP customers are facing are: 1. upgrades, 2. eSOA and 3. how to get the most out of their existing SAP investment. Steve talks about the upcoming "SAP upgrade symposiums" that will help ASUG members network with other members who are in the same situation or are further along.

- Jon tells Steve that these three pain points correspond well with the results of his own informal survey at TechEd, where he grouped SAP customers into three separate mindsets: the early eSOA adopters, those who were looking seriously at eSOA, and those customers who were much more focused on getting the most out of their existing SAP R/3 systems and distrusted the hype around the new eSOA functionality. Jon asked Steve how ASUG can meet the needs of members with such different agendas, and Steve talked about the different roles ASUG can play depending on the version numbers the member is running on, and that ASUG can do something for all of its members no matter what version of SAP they are on. However, Steve acknowledges that it can be hard to get SAP to make changes to releases that are a number of years old.

- As an example of another way that ASUG can help SAP users, Steve talks about ASUG's new "Best Practices in HCM" report, which gathers HR-related data from SAP customers and puts it into an "actionable" form that ASUG members can utilize, knowing that the data in the report was based on the "best practices" of companies with deep experience managing SAP HCM projects.

- Jon talks about how at TechEd 2007, he ran into a number of SAP customers who were frustrated by the challenge of finding the right consultants for their projects at the right price. As a result, they were focused more than ever on building a good internal team. Jon asked Steve what the training options might for companies looking to recruit and retain their own SAP talent, and how ASUG could help. Steve responded by saying that while formal training is important, that there is sometimes even more value in the simple process of networking at ASUG events and online. Being able to interact with customers in the same situation as you, or perhaps further along enough to share "best practices," is one of the biggest benefits of ASUG. Steve explains that ASUG's goal is to help provide its members with more resources so they are not as dependent on consultants who take the expertise with them when they leave, or cost a pretty penny to keep around.

- Unable to stump Steve with any hard questions, Jon has one more curve ball ready: Jon asks Steve about the new Business By Design (BBD) customers, and how ASUG plans to support this type of smaller customer, one that might have a very different kind of training need. Steve explained that ASUG will soon be running on BBD, and that ASUG is working with SAP to define the kind of support and member services the BBD customer will need. He envisions a combination of virtual support and in-person seminars and conferences.

- Steve closes the podcast by sharing his goals for ASUG for 2008, including improved web functionality and ease of use, increasing involvement of ASUG Associate Members (vendors, suppliers, etc), and the continued goal of bringing ASUG into the center of the SAP Ecosystem.

- Jon and Steve confirm that the way to get more details on items such as the ASUG HCM report, or to learn more about becoming an ASUG member, is to visit
Direct download: pcast_1107_sap_reed_strout01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:54pm EST

The SAP market is changing, but one thing remains a constant: the need for quality SAP professionals with the right skills combinations. In his latest podcast, Jon sat down with Kent Sanders, a 15 year SAP professional who is knee-deep on a cutting edge eSOA project for a major SAP Retail customer.

Sit in with Jon and Kent as they discuss Kent's keys to attracting and retaining SAP talent, how SAP developers can stay relevant on projects and reduce the risk of being outsourced, and how Kent's project team has developed a different way of obtaining "buy in" for eSOA projects, building support "from the bottom up." Kent also talks about the tools SAP professionals need to master to stay relevant, and how his project finds the right mix between outside consultants and internal training.

During this thirty five minute podcast, Jon and Kent cover topics such as:

- How Kent's fifteen year SAP career has evolved into his current role as an Enterprise Architect, and how he has pursued the TOGAF certification and other components of his skill set.

- The importance of the TOGAF SOA architecture and how it applies to the SAP world, in terms of architectural solutions that solve SAP business problems. Kent explains how the TOGAF framework was incorporated into SAP's Enterprise Architecture Framework, and how he was involved in the earlier stages of this process while working for SAP.

- Why ABAP Developers and SAP Java Programmers need to think about becoming SAP Software Engineers, and why SAP Basis Experts should focus on becoming SAP Enterprise Architects.

- The current NetWeaver product suite, including NetWeaver Portals, and how eSOA skills fit into a broader NetWeaver competency.

- How the line is blurring between technical and functional approaches, and the role "offshoring" can play in this process of staffing projects. Kent also notes the communication issues involved in outsourcing that can impact which projects are appropriate for offshoring and which are better handled in house.

- Fresh back from a conference session on attracting and retaining SAP talent, Kent talks about the three keys to building (and keeping) a great project team: provide a well-thought career path for your team members; 2. don't hold back on training your people with the latest SAP skills even if it means you might lose some of them to the SAP job market; 3. adopt a mentality of continuous training.

- Kent also reports that the hardest skills to find, according to the SAP customers at the conference, were: 1. NetWeaver Administrators, and 2. Enterprise Architects. Java developers and ABAP programmers were easier to hire on the open market. Kent mentioned that the consulting firms don't even have many folks that know NetWeaver and Enterprise SOA well. Kent said that many of these firms turn to outsourcing to fill their project needs.

- Jon asks Kent to elaborate on the role outsourcing plays on SAP projects, and asked him to talk about how SAP professionals can make themselves less vulnerable to outsourcing. Kent explains that mastering data modeling and business modeling tools, and emphasizing strategy and architecture was the key to becoming more outsourcing-proof.

- Kent talks about his current SAP project, and how his team has developed a unique approach to building momentum for eSOA projects by working on projects from the "bottom up." Kent talked about how there is natural resistance to eSOA from both high level IT executives and business executives. He explained how his team is gaining support one project at a time by focusing on projects that have a "wow factor" and a tangible business benefit.

- Kent provides an overview of his current SAP environment, and how they are working on eSOA with plans to involve NetWeaver CE, ESR, and NetWeaver PI. He talked about how his team can get projects done within a $50,000 budget and having composite apps up and running in a six week to two month period. Kent's team is using this approach to solve business "pain points" and to develop their own eSOA roadmap.

- Jon asks Kent to explain to listeners how he identifies which areas are the best candidates for early eSOA projects. He lists the main factors that are ideal for eSOA projects: simplification, consolidation, and building new services and composites. Kent talks about which projects can have a "wow" type of impact, such as service-enabling inventory lookups, getting data to customers more effectively, and making user-friendly interfaces for in store employees for quick training and ramp up.

- Jon and Kent go more in-depth into a discussion of the future of SAP development and the future of SAP technical skill sets. Kent talks about the importance of mastering new process modeling tools like Aris for NetWeaver, which is now tied into the ESR. He tells us that it's not yet possible for business process experts to model all their own code without the help of a developer, but this kind of model-driven programming is becoming closer to reality. Kent mentions other hot tools that SAP professionals should know, such as Web Dynpro, Adobe Forms, Solution Manager, and Aris
- Kent highlights the keys his project has used to build a quality internal team and strike a good balance with outside consulting support. He talks about the importance of hiring manager-level folks who are "SAP rock stars," which in turn allows for a more savvy use of SAP implementation partners. Kent says that for the next phase of his project, they are looking to bring in less consultants and train more people internally.

- In closing, Kent talks about how the successful SAP professional understands that technology changes all the time, and that if you view paradigm changes as a threat, you should get out of this particular field, because there is always change. The point is to apply the right forward-thinking mindset towards skills acquisition. In terms of adding real value to SAP customers and keeping your skills in demand, Kent says that the key is to develop a deep understanding of NetWeaver and the ability to help SAP customers harness that technology and break through their NetWeaver confusion. If you can do that, says Kent, you can "write your own check."
Direct download: pcast_1107_sap_reed_sanders01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 12:31pm EST

As part of his ongoing podcast series with SearchSAP, Jon Reed interviews Ori Inbar, Senior Vice President of SAP NetWeaver, for a groundbreaking interview on the SAP skills needed for success in the NetWeaver and eSOA era.

In this frank discussion, Ori acknowledges that SAP faces a significant skills gap that needs to be addressed for NetWeaver to realize its promise.

Ori then analyzes the skills gap, explains how SAP plans to address it, and most importantly, highlights the skills needed for NetWeaver and SAP eSOA project success.

This is the first podcast we know of where a high-ranking SAP executive goes beyond talk of the skills gap and the "NetWeaver jobs of the future" to detail the specific "next phase" skills and roles that SAP professionals can pursue, not in the future, but right now.

Ori also announces a new plan for SAP certification that will be unveiled at TechEd '07 in Las Vegas.

In this twenty-five minute interview, Jon and Ori cover a series of critical topics, including:

- How Ori broke into SAP and how his SAP career has evolved into his current NetWeaver leadership role.

- The significance of SAP Enterprise SOA (eSOA) and why it impacts every SAP product.

- The estimated "SAP skills gap" of 20,000 SAP professionals and how SAP intends to fill it. Ori explains the importance of "the SAP ecosystem" to filling these gaps and how consultants can anticpiate where SAP is going next.

- Ori's take on the four new SAP roles that are emerging on project sites, and his assessment of the skills required for each of the four: NetWeaver Systems Admin, Enterprise Architect, and Business Process Expert and NetWeaver Developer (Enterprise Services Developer).

- Ori explains why the NetWeaver era means the "end of the functional silos" and why SAP skills will be business process driven from here on out.
Direct download: pcast_0907_sap_reed_inbar01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:45am EST

Continuing his ongoing podcast series with SearchSAP, Jon Reed interviews Marco ten Vaanholt, Global Director of the SAP BPX Community, for a compelling look at the changing SAP skill set and what it takes to become a "Business Process Expert."

During the podcast, Marco describes his work with the SAP BPX community, and how BPX is working collectively to help define the skill set that SAP professionals will need to stay relevant on both the functional and technical side.

Jon asked Marco to be on this podcast because during TechEd 2007, Marco's presentation on becoming an SAP Business Process Expert (BPE) provided the most practical "next steps" for how an SAP consultant can evolve their skills that Jon had yet seen.

Marco came through on this podcast with an excellent overview of how the SAP market is changing, how BPX is supporting the SAP skills transition, and what consultants can do to keep their skills in line with the market.

By the time the podcast is over, there is a clearer sense of how the SAP professional of today can involve themselves in the BPX community, honing their own skills while also contributing to SAP's product evolution.

In this thirty-one minute interview, hosted by Jon Franke of SearchSAP, Jon and Marco talk about the following points:

- How Marco got involved with SAP and how he wound up in his current role as the Global Director of the BPX community.

- The origins of the SAP BPX community in 2006, and how it has achieved phenomenal growth (200,000 + members) through a grassroots approach to community building. Marco also shares the vision of BPX, the emergence of the industry forums, and the "horizontal and vertical" areas of BPX built around SAP's Business Suite, core ERP, and GRC products.

- Marco explains why the BPX community has been so compelling to SAP professionals, by tapping into their desire to evolve into BPE (Business Process Expert) consultants and be better prepared for the eSOA era.

- Marco also describes how the collaborative BPX community has also helped SAP partners reduce the "cost of ownership" around educating their consultants about eSOA. SAP customers have also turned to SAP BPX to help support their employees working on the SAP "Business Process Platform."

- The SAP BPX community also influences SAP through its product management cycle. Marco explains how the SAP BPX world can serve as a feedback channel to SAP and also support the launch of new product initiatives going forward.

- Jon asks Marco about the importance of the Business Process Expert (BPE), and why this person is going to be so important to the SAP implementations of the future. Marco shares the BPX community definition of the BPE: "This business process expert has both the business knowledge and IT savvy to make business process innovation happen in real time, by adapting, composing and executing business processes, using best practices, composition software, and enterprise services."

- Marco explains that while there are many different definitions of BPEs, they most commonly describe themselves as having "one foot in IT, and one foot in business." Marco highlights the range of job roles that fit in under the Business Process Expert "umbrella role."

- Jon brings up one of the most riveting aspects of Marco's TechEd presentation on becoming a BPE: the argument that both ABAP jobs and core functional configuration jobs are going to go away. Marco clarifies this point, and reframes the discussion to step back from the "shock value" of Jon's statement. Marco explains that ABAP and configuration jobs are not going to go away, but that it's important for all SAP professionals to acquire composition skills, especially technical consultants.

- Marco talks about the evolving SAP Composition Environment (CE) and why both technical and functional SAP professionals will want to get experience with the CE going forward. He also hones in on the importance of "soft skills" and provides concrete examples of the types of "soft skills" that will be crucial, including industry expertise.

- Marco emphasizes the importance of process modeling skills, and he mentions some of the modeling tools of today (Visio, Visual Composer, ARIS for NetWeaver) and tomorrow that both technical and functional SAP folks will want to get a handle on.

- Jon and Marco agree that the "alarmist" view that the current SAP job roles are going away is not the right mindset. The right attitude is to make a commitment to transforming your skill set along with SAP.

- Marco talks about other key skills of the "BPXer," including Business Process Management (BPM) methodology know-how and BPM tools like Six Sigma. He tells us why Web 2.0 and community-building skills are so important for the BPE, using blogging, wikis, and collaborative forums to "evangelize" your solutions throughout a global project.

- Jon and Marco talk about how SAP professionals now have access to free resources to self-education. Since cost for training is not a barrier, it's more of a mindset shift: (1) getting access to new SAP technical information, and (2) joining communities like BPX to share "best practices" and lessons learned.

- Marco makes some distinctions between sharing processes at "process level zero" versus "process level three," and why there is a difference between collaborating on "commoditized processes" versus working on more "disruptive" or strategic (level three) areas. This latter type of collaboration would likely take place in a closed area and shared with the broader community as appropriate.

- Jon asks Marco about how today's "SAP functional configuration expert" and "SAP application consultant" of the present needs to evolve to become a BPE. Marco explains how the CE and other Business Process Platform modeling tools will change the relationship between functional and technical teams. He also talks about eSOA, and how, alongside the Enterprise Architect, the functional specialist will be working with SAP eSOA resources like the Enterprise Services Repository.  

- Jon Franke asks Marco about how to improve your soft skills, and Marco gives a "big picture" response that starts with how you carry yourself on client sites and work with executives and project teams, and goes on to include various areas of formal and informal education such as organizational change management, process modeling tools, Web 2.0 technologies, and Enterprise SOA.

- Jon tries to put Marco on the spot by asking him to explain how the "disruptive innovation" he is advocating can exist alongside of SAP's customer message of "innovation without disruption." Marco explains that there is not a contradiction because the kind of innovation he is advocating takes place in a closed environment that does not involve disrupting the transactional system.

- Marco also explains that the distinction between commodity processes and strategic processes comes into play when understanding the cycle of disruptive innovation. He uses the example of Nike's product rollouts and the cycle of innovation in the mobile technology space to describe the difference.

- Marco issues a formal invitation for all listeners to get involved with the SAP BPX community. There is a robust "getting started" area to get new members involved quickly with the issues and projects that the BPX community is tackling. Marco also highlights the SAP upgrades area within SAP BPX as a great resource for project teams.

- Jon wraps the podcast by talking about the shifting trends in SAP employment, and how it's easy to end this podcast because the next step is to sign up with SAP BPX and get further involved in your SAP skills transformation.
Direct download: pcast_1007_sap_reed_vaanholt01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:12am EST

To get an inside look at the key developments from SAP TechEd 2007, Jon Reed sat down with Krishna Kumar of Enterprise Horizons. Krishna was a presenter at TechEd 2007, and he is becoming a thought leader in the SAP community in terms of how to get a real return on investment from eSOA and Enterprise Services.

As a technical visionary who has watched SAP's product line evolve for many years, Krishna has a knack for breaking down SAP technology in simple and precise terms. Jon turned to Krishna to help sort through what was real and what was hype at TechEd 2007.

The goal of the podcast was to place the events of TechEd 2007 in the context of SAP's "Enterprise SOA" technology stack. SAP is clearly staking its future on eSOA, but what does that mean to the SAP project team and the SAP consultant?

Is eSOA just hype and if it's for real, what consulting skills will be needed to succeed in the "eSOA era"? And how will SAP's Business Objects acquisition, which occurred immediately following Tech Ed, affect these trends and the future of SAP overall?
In this thirty-six minute interview, Jon and Krishna cover these issues and more, including:

- The focus of Enterprise Horizons and the specifics of Krishna's SAP background.

- Krishna's take on the main themes of Tech Ed 2007, such as: the emphasis on BI and analytics, the surprising level of emphasis on eSOA over SAP's core business functionality, and the obvious absence of Shai Agassi.

- Why SAP has shifted its focus from emphasizing exposing its core apps as eSOA services as opposed to looking at the core business processes such as order fulfillment, financials, and supply chain management. Krishna explains that was what missing was a clear demonstration by SAP on the business value and return on investment of eSOA.

- The Business Objects acquisition, which took place after TechEd and which to some degree dwarfed all of the TechEd news announcements. Krishna shares his thoughts on the BO purchase, including the challenge of integrating the BO code base into SAP, and why the BO acquisition is of "monumental importance" to eSOA. Krishna explains that this will accelerate the trend of exposing analytics as services and leveraging connections to outside partners.

- The SAP BBD (Business By Design) announcement, and why Krishna has a cautious take on Software as a Service (SaaS). Krishna also explains why this current evolution of SaaS may be more successful than the previous ASP models due to the impact of the "Internet Cloud." Krishna also describes how a BBD customer might be able to expose a service through an "on demand" platform, and why eSOA is integral to an on-demand solution.

- Krishna gives his perspective on why the evolution to a "Business Process Consultant" is important to SAP, and why he thinks that the distinction between functional and technical SAP professionals was always a false dichotomy. Krishna tells us why the ideal SAP consultant has always had a functional and technical skills combination.

- Krishna then details what skills functional and technical consultants need to pursue in order to remain relevant to the SAP software of the future. Krishna talks about the end of the silo functional consultant, and why functional consultants need to understand the Internet touch points of service enablement. Krishna also talks about how Business Intelligence and NetWeaver fit into the technical skills picture. Soon, the technical consultant will have to learn to talk business or "become a dinosaur." There is time to act, however, as Krishna believes this will be a "slow metamorphosis."

- Jon asks Krishna about how the SAP customer base should perceive eSOA, given that SAP often hypes its new solutions to the point that customers can become jaded. Krishna has a provocative viewpoint on this: he believe that when it comes to transactional ERP systems, service enablement and SOA is indeed overhyped, almost to the degree of the dotcom hype. Then, Krishna explains why the real payoff for eSOA is through analytics, and that this is where the real eSOA payoff will be.

- Krishna tells us how best-of-breed Internet content "mashups" are the real "killer app" of the eSOA era, and how they can be tied back into ERP-based analytical applications.

- Jon asks Krishna if you truly have to invest in the latest SAP releases and all the expenses and organizational change involved in moving to eSOA, or if you can get started on earlier releases. Krishna explains that SAP customers can dabble in eSOA at almost any point, because it's really just "RFC on steroids," but that to truly build an effective eSOA landscape and consume and publish a range of services, you will eventually need to be running NetWeaver and ERP 5.0/6.0 and beyond.

- In the final segment of the podcast, Jon asks Krishna to use his company's product to illustrate a very important point: how companies can tie in best-of-breed Internet content providers into their BW/BI analytics engine in order to get a powerful visual grasp of key business planning and ROI functions. Jon tells Krishna that Home Depot, one of the most advanced SAP eSOA customers, has used a similar "mashup solution" to take advantage of BI/BW data and content from third parties that would be cost-prohibitive to develop internally.

- Jon asks Krishna about the minimum requirements needed to use a product like his company offers, and we learn that the minimum requirements are simply BW 3.x onward, in a nutshell. This is an example of how there might be a different enterprise services roadmap, that would focus on Business Intelligence, and then leverage that data and mash it up - without worrying about the cost and challenge of service-enabling core ERP transactions.

- Krishna provides a "market demographics" example of how an eSOA service could be "mashed up" for real business value.

- Jon asks Krishna to illustrate why these visually oriented "spatial analytics" can provide a much more powerful business case for eSOA that executives can understand and grasp much more quickly than a detailed white paper. He asks Krishna about the example of using demographic mashups to analyze which neighborhoods are viable for a retail store expansion. As Krishna says, this is the "true power of eSOA," beyond the hype.
Direct download: pcast_1007_sap_reed_kumar01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:08am EST

This is Jon Reed's "roaming podcast" from SAP TechEd '07, Day 4. Get Jon's unscripted reactions to the last full day of TechEd '07, including key info on SAP skills trends, becoming a Business Process Expert, and Jon's conference wrap.

In this podcast, Jon ties together the themes he covered throughout SAP TechEd '07. Recorded right on the spot in conference rooms and hotel lobbies, Jon's TechEd podcast series puts the technology trends of TechEd '07 in the context of the skills SAP professionals will need to succeed.

For the Day 4 podcast, Jon breaks down his "instant reactions" to technical themes such as eSOA, mashups, Web 2.0, BI, and becoming a Business Process Expert, and he comments on the SAP skills gap in these areas and how they will be filled.

Topics in this part of the podcast include:

- Which SAP skills sets are becoming commoditized and what the skills growth areas are.

- A view of the "SAP skills of the future" but also a consideration of the skills needs of the present, and how SAP consultants should balance the two.

- Why Jon is changing his stance from consultants needing to have an 80/20 technical-functional mix (one way or the other) to a 50/50 skills mix, which Jon thinks might be the ideal in the future.

- Jon's reflections on the workshop on "Becoming a Business Process Expert" (BPE) and the tools that technical and functional consultants can pursue to becoming a BPE.

- Jon explains why he divides SAP customers into three distinct groups and what he sees as the project priorities of each group

- The different versions of NetWeaver that are coming out, and the conflicting information that SAP representatives gave Jon at TechEd about when certain releases and features were becoming available. Jon talks about the pending release of NetWeaver 7.1, and the questions about when SAP PI (Process Integration), Enterprise Services Repository (ESR), and NetWeaver CE (Composition Environment).

- Jon covers why ABAP is not dead, and talks about the different conversations he had with folks from SAP Labs about how ABAP fits into SAP's NetWeaver plans. Jon gives his take on why ABAP is still part of SAP's plans, based on facts such as: the ABAP Workbench is still part of NetWeaver, that the PI component is partially built on ABAP, and that while the CE does not have ABAP, there are many ABAP-related tools still supported in NetWeaver, such as WebDynpro for ABAP and MDM for ABAP.

- Jon talks about the different SAP modeling tools that are going to change the nature of SAP development and give business users a greater opportunity to get involved in development using visual modeling tools like Visual Composer, Aris for NetWeaver, and the upcoming SAP Eclipse Development tool. Jon talks about why he thinks this new generation of modeling tools is a big deal, and finally gives some teeth to the "extend the enterprise" ERP movement which actually began in the late '90s, but did not have the technical capabilities to really support it.

- Jon wraps his four part podcast series on TechEd with a review of the conference as a whole and the bottom line implications for SAP professionals.
Direct download: pcast_1007_teched_reed04.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:52am EST

This is Jon Reed's "roaming podcast" from SAP TechEd '07, Day 3. Follow Jon as he tries to get some straight answers on the upcoming NetWeaver releases and looks more closely at the Business Process Expert skill set of the future.

As always, Jon tries to not only identify the key technical trends, but to move the conversation into the question of skills - who will fill these new SAP roles, and what types of backgrounds will they need?

Jon asked SAP executives these questions. Listen to the podcast series to find out the answers he was given and what he thought of those answers.

Day 3 of the podcast series is Jon's review of his attempts to get SAP product reps on the same page with the exact release dates of NetWeaver 7.1 and what functionality will be included in each incarnation.

Jon found more mixed messages than agreement, but he was able to learn some information about the upcoming NetWeaver 7.1 components (PI, ESR, CE) and what their release dates are likely to be. He also asked a lot of questions about the future of ABAP, and found out the ABAP is indeed included in a number of NetWeaver components, and so is far from dead.

Jon talks about the innovations he encountered on Day 3 in the NetWeaver BI space, including the integration of Web 2.0 mashups using SAP BI and best-of-breed content providers. Jon shares some of the tools needed to do this work that might be worth adding to the skill set including MDX and the BI XMLA connector. He also talks about the power of Visual Composer as proven in the hands-on demonstrations he attended in this area.

Fresh off an evening at a hosted bar event where the best conversations always happen, Jon shares what he learned from the SAP customers at the event about where they were at with their implementations and whether they viewed eSOA as real or hype. Jon talked about the kinds of skills these companies are hiring, how much they train internally and the challenges they face hiring consultants on the open market.

Towards the end of the Day 3 wrap, Jon explains his new belief that there are really three types of SAP customers right now: eSOA leaders, eSOA followers, and those who could care less. Jon talks about the challenges a market faces when customers have such different needs.
Direct download: pcast_1007_teched_reed03.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:48am EST

This is Jon Reed's "roaming podcast" from SAP TechEd '07, Day 2. Follow John through his frank reactions to the keynotes and press conferences, and get his quick reactions to the closed interview sessions Jon conducted, such as his group interview with SAP CTO Vishal Sikka.

As always, Jon tries to not only identify the key technical trends, but to move the conversation into the question of skills - who will fill these new SAP roles, and what types of backgrounds will they need?

Jon asked SAP executives these questions. Listen to the podcast series to find out the answers he was given and what he thought of those answers.

For the Day 2 podcast, the longest day of TechEd and the longest podcast in the series, Jon reacts to the executive keynotes and closed interview sessions he attended.

Editor's note: In the Day 2 podcast, Jon expresses some confusion that some attendees had about SAP Business By Design (BBD) and whether it was replacing A1S or was a separate product. It was later confirmed that BBD is in fact the same product as A1S, which is known as BBD going forward.

Reactions to Day 2 include:

- Responses to the keynote by Peter Zencke and friends, including the surprising emphasis on BBD as a big news item of the day.

- Jon talks about how this whole idea of "business network transformation" is really the same "extending the enterprise" talk SAP vendors have been pushing since the '90s, but that eSOA may finally give some technical teeth to the vision.

- Jon covers the latest SAP product innovations pushed during the keynote, including the SAP switch framework, the ES Workplace on SDN, and the ESR (Enterprise Services Repository). He also talks about the modeling tools that were demonstrated and the potential impact of the new Visual Composer, the new CE (Composition Environment), and the Eclipse development environment. Jon also notes the surprising lack of BI talk during the keynote, except for the BI Accelerator.

- Jon shares his reaction to the press conference after the keynote, where he posed the question of how the skills gap acknowledged by Peter Zencke was going to be filled. The executives on the panel noted an immediate demand for SAP Enterprise Architects and Business Process Experts. Jon gives his take on what he thought of these answers.

- Peter Zencke talked about how SAP customers are using SDN for training, and Jon notes the emphasis SAP is giving on training that goes beyond the classroom.

- Fresh back from his interview session with SAP CTO Vishal Sikka, Jon shares Vishal's take on SAP as a development platform, and whether he thinks ABAP is dead. Jon explains why Vishal thinks core functional and technical SAP skills will become commoditized. He shares Vishal's memorable quote on eSOA: "eSOA is a way to explain to management what APIs are." (Vishal was basically noting the eSOA simplifies the integration discussion in a way that management can understand and appreciate as a business case.

-Jon also talks about Vishal's point that "service-enabling" the entire SAP product line is a complex undertaking. For example, the Financials area of SAP is a high-stakes area that can get an executive in a jail cell if the right regulatory and compliance procedures (SAP GRC) are not followed. Jon explains why Vishal still believes in the power of eSOA despite these security challenges.

- Jon wraps the Day 2 podcast with reflections on a presentation from Cardinal Health on hands-on SAP eSOA lessons. Jon notes that the speaker, Brent Stutz of Cardinal Health, makes a good summary of "lessons learned" from eSOA, including doing the work of defining who owns the data. Jon also notes the point made during the session that SAP developed its Enterprise Services roadmap by taking the TOGAF industry standard SOA roadmap and adding some business processes to it.
Direct download: pcast_1007_teched_reed02.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:42am EST

This is Jon Reed's "roaming podcast" from SAP TechEd '07, Day 2. Follow John through his frank reactions to the keynotes and press conferences, and get his quick reactions to the closed interview sessions Jon conducted, such as his group interview with SAP CTO Vishal Sikka.

As always, Jon tries to not only identify the key technical trends, but to move the conversation into the question of skills - who will fill these new SAP roles, and what types of backgrounds will they need?

Jon asked SAP executives these questions. Listen to the podcast series to find out the answers he was given and what he thought of those answers.

For the Day 2 podcast, the longest day of TechEd and the longest podcast in the series, Jon reacts to the executive keynotes and closed interview sessions he attended.

Editor's note: In the Day 2 podcast, Jon expresses some confusion that some attendees had about SAP Business By Design (BBD) and whether it was replacing A1S or was a separate product. It was later confirmed that BBD is in fact the same product as A1S, which is known as BBD going forward.

Reactions to Day 2 include:

- Responses to the keynote by Peter Zencke and friends, including the surprising emphasis on BBD as a big news item of the day.

- Jon talks about how this whole idea of "business network transformation" is really the same "extending the enterprise" talk SAP vendors have been pushing since the '90s, but that eSOA may finally give some technical teeth to the vision.

- Jon covers the latest SAP product innovations pushed during the keynote, including the SAP switch framework, the ES Workplace on SDN, and the ESR (Enterprise Services Repository). He also talks about the modeling tools that were demonstrated and the potential impact of the new Visual Composer, the new CE (Composition Environment), and the Eclipse development environment. Jon also notes the surprising lack of BI talk during the keynote, except for the BI Accelerator.

- Jon shares his reaction to the press conference after the keynote, where he posed the question of how the skills gap acknowledged by Peter Zencke was going to be filled. The executives on the panel noted an immediate demand for SAP Enterprise Architects and Business Process Experts. Jon gives his take on what he thought of these answers.

- Peter Zencke talked about how SAP customers are using SDN for training, and Jon notes the emphasis SAP is giving on training that goes beyond the classroom.

- Fresh back from his interview session with SAP CTO Vishal Sikka, Jon shares Vishal's take on SAP as a development platform, and whether he thinks ABAP is dead. Jon explains why Vishal thinks core functional and technical SAP skills will become commoditized. He shares Vishal's memorable quote on eSOA: "eSOA is a way to explain to management what APIs are." (Vishal was basically noting the eSOA simplifies the integration discussion in a way that management can understand and appreciate as a business case.

-Jon also talks about Vishal's point that "service-enabling" the entire SAP product line is a complex undertaking. For example, the Financials area of SAP is a high-stakes area that can get an executive in a jail cell if the right regulatory and compliance procedures (SAP GRC) are not followed. Jon explains why Vishal still believes in the power of eSOA despite these security challenges.

- Jon wraps the Day 2 podcast with reflections on a presentation from Cardinal Health on hands-on SAP eSOA lessons. Jon notes that the speaker, Brent Stutz of Cardinal Health, makes a good summary of "lessons learned" from eSOA, including doing the work of defining who owns the data. Jon also notes the point made during the session that SAP developed its Enterprise Services roadmap by taking the TOGAF industry standard SOA roadmap and adding some business processes to it.
Direct download: pcast_1007_teched_reed02.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:42am EST

This is Jon Reed's "roaming podcast" from SAP TechEd '07, Day 1. Start out with Jon on Community Day and follow him through the   "eSOA in Action" workshop and guest keynote from Tim O'Reilly on Web 2.0 and its impact on SAP.

For the Day 1 podcast, Jon gives his take on "Community Day" as well as his reaction to the guest keynote by Web 2.0 superhero Tim O' Reilly.

Topics in the day one podcast include:

- Jon's reaction to the Community Day session on "eSOA in Action." Jon talks about the different groups of SAP customers and their different reactions to the eSOA material. He also notes the new eSOA skills certifications SAP will be providing in the areas of Business Expert, Technical Expert, Developer, and Enterprise Architect.

- The general reaction to O'Reilly's keynote and the impact of Web 2.0 on the SAP world. Jon talks about how SAP has responded to Web 2.0 by creating "communities of innovation." He also explains O'Reilly's view that companies who don't get on board with Web 2.0 are going to be left behind. The importance of business intelligence and data as an asset and a "barrier to entry" are also covered.
Direct download: pcast_1007_teched_reed01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:40am EST

To get a closer look at the ERP 6.0 upgrade process, Jon conducted a wide-ranging podcast interview with Rohana Gunawardena, SAP Practice Director of Exium, Inc. Rohana is an SAP Financials expert and a respected speaker on topics such as SAP Global Rollouts.

During the podcast, Rohana gives us the inside take on the ERP 6.0 upgrade cycle, lessons learned from global rollouts, the new GL, and many other vital topics to SAP consultants.

Rohana has an opinionated and well-formed take on the SAP market, and his different takes on the future of SAP outsourcing and the impact of NetWeaver are worth hearing. Rohana also touches on the keys to being a successful SAP consultant, and he provides a memorable look at why cultural issues are so important to address on global SAP projects.

In this thirty minute interview, Jon and Rohana touch on many key topics, including:

- Rohana's upcoming talks on "Successful SAP Global Rollouts: Jump Start" and "Tips and Tricks for Getting the Most Out of SAPNet" that he will be presenting at the co-hosted Managing Your SAP Projects 2007 and Global SAP Environments 2007 conferences from October 22-24 at the Miami Beach convention center.

- How Rohana made his move into SAP and how his consulting role has evolved into his current position.

- Why Rohana made the unusual choice of committing himself to multi-year projects and what he sees as the advantages to working on projects over multiple years. Rohana talks about the way that he has become a more well-rounded consultant through long-term projects, and he explains one of the biggest benefits of a long-term consulting role: being nominated to handle more complex and "mission critical" projects.

- Lessons Rohana has learned from global SAP rollouts, and why the "human side of SAP implementations" is crucial to project success. Rohana shares an example of a cultural issue that flared up on his project and how his team resolved the problem and got a diverse, multi-country team on the SAP page.

- Rohana's experiences upgrading to ERP 6.0, and why he thinks that the overall upgrade process to ERP 6.0 is not as difficult as some make it out to be. Rohana compares the 6.0 upgrade to other SAP moves of the past, including from 3.x to 4.x and from 4.x to 4.7.  

- The impact of SAP's New GL and why it is a significant functional enhancement.

- The significance of grasping the overall business processes that SAP addresses, and why understanding the integration points between SAP modules is so important to SAP consulting.

- How Rohana defines the ideal SAP consulting skill set, and why he thinks an 80/20 mix between technical and functional skills is more marketable than a 50/50 SAP "techno-functional" skills mix.

- Why ABAP programming know-how is important - even to SAP functional consultants.

- Jon asks Rohana why he thinks there could be an outsourcing backlash, and Rohana provides an overview of economic and labor supply issues in India that could make outsourcing more expensive and less appealing than in-house options.

- Rohana explains why he thinks NetWeaver is a bit overhyped in today's market and why many software companies, including SAP, push new functionality for marketing purposes while the real work remains focused on existing releases, and in SAP's case, in core functional processes rather than hot new eSOA technology.
Direct download: pcast_0907_sap_reed_rohana01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 5:15am EST

To get an inside view of the evolution of SAP Business Intelligence, Jon tracked down senior SAP BI consultant and ProKarma SAP Solutions Director Pat Pesa.

Pat has one of the most compelling takes on the potential of BI to transform the enterprise. Listen in as Jon and Pat go through the evolution of the BW product from the earliest releases to NetWeaver BI.

Along the way, Pat shares the reasons that BW projects fail and the tactics needed to make them a success. Pat goes into detail regarding the skills consultants need to be successful in the SAP BI market and how they might break into BI from a range of technical backgrounds.

In this forty minute look at BI consulting trends, Jon and Pat cover key topics such as:

- How Pat broke into SAP and found his way into BW consulting roles.

- How SAP managed to move beyond the criticism from data warehouse experts, who initially viewed BW as a "joke." How SAP made BW a quality product with a proven value to SAP customers.

- Pat highlights how the work companies had to do with early releases of BW, building ETL, Extractors, and InfoCubes, has changed. Now BW is a fully-loaded product with plenty of business content.

- The current applications of BI 7.0, from web reporting to faster analytical environments, from Integrated Planning to Enterprise Data Management.

- Why BI was important to SAP's push to move beyond a transactional system to an "intelligent" program that allowed companies to leverage their ERP data for better reporting and decision-making.

- The keys to a successful BI implementation, which include: assessing your information requirements, understanding where the data needs fall within your organization, smart use of blueprinting, and quality documentation.

- Why the "siloed" BW implementation approach didn't work, and why the BI "enterprise-wide" data management approach is much more effective.

- Pat's take on why most successful BW consultants come from technical backgrounds, and how functional consultants can be effective in their work dealing with the BI team.

- Pat explains why he thinks the convergence of functional and technical SAP skills sets is not the ideal skill set for BI work, and why technical folks are generally better suited to BW project roles.

- How data warehousing experts can fit into BW/BI projects, and the range of SAP technical skills that are applicable to BI projects. Pat also describes the kind of ABAP knowledge needed to be effective in BW. Jon gives his take on the ideal technical/functional skills mix for SAP consultants.

- How the SAP ecosystem makes products like BI easier to implement than SAP projects used to be.

- The impact of NetWeaver on BI, and how BI have moved beyond basic BEx reporting to web-based reporting. How Portals, iViews and SAP MDM tie together to improve the user experience in BI.

- Why eSOA is an "enabling technology" that will allow SAP customers to innovate in ways that will help SAP customers to think in terms of business strategy and not in terms of their technical releases (R/3, BW, etc.)

- Whether BI is effective in more diverse environments where non-SAP data is a key part of a company's data management challenge. How companies can structure their BI data integration around the SAP Financials functionality when SAP Financials serves as the system of record.

- The future of information management in SAP, and why the underlying "source system" that a company's data is on will no longer be the defining factor. Pat explains why this shift allows NetWeaver to flip the "source system" approach on its head and allows business users to define their processes without worrying about which systems their data resides in.

- How Pat balances his own career between practice lead functions and hands-on work, and why it's important to him to remain involved on the technical side of SAP.
Direct download: pcast_0807_sap_reed_pesa01.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 6:08am EST

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 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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

In Jon's first-ever podcast appearance, Jon is interviewed on a podcast hosted by (Original version can be heard on 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 EST