An Independent’s View of the New SCN
My first issue is going to be to figure out where this blog should reside. And what tags to add. After all, a blog is no good if it’s not read. So since I can only pick one now, it’ll be a bit more challenging!
This conversion to SCN has been interesting. I heard an interesting take by another independent on line. Petr Solberg said in a comment that he loves the new SCN mostly because it makes it so hard now for members to find answers and he hopes it continues. It would thus make the consultants more valuable to clients as clients might have a diminished ability to get answers to often times, fairly simple problems. Now I’m sure Petr’s comments were somewhat tongue in cheek and probably posted with a certain amount of frustration.
Do independents really think that way? Do we really think a bad SCN is good for us? No. I don’t’ think deep down any of us really do. We want SCN to be good ultimately. Independents need SCN as much as SAP and consulting houses need independents. I know many of them think of us as leeches and opportunists.
I’d like them to think of us more as relief values. It’s rare that a project is done without a consulting partner. When times are good, these partners, including SAP, use independents to plug the holes when they run out of internal resources. When times are bad, we are the first to feel the affect and as a result help to protect internal employees from layoffs. Ideally project demands always match available resources but we all know that isn’t always the case. So independents play a crucial role in all project work whether it be an SAP project or a construction project.
When it comes to SCN, a good SCN is important. Independents can’t participate in many SAP events because they are not a partner. They have to pay for their own SAP classes and events. They cannot get an “S” service number account to cruise OSS. We often don’t have a sandbox to play in and can’t test or experiment with new releases of SAP. So SCN is a great way to keep up with the pulse of SAP. We can learn about new things and new approaches by participating in discussions (forums). But time is money for us and an inefficient and ineffectual SCN is very detrimental.
But what does a bad SCN do for us? For an independent a strong SAP market is critical to making sure our skills are in demand. Anything that detracts from SAP’s strength in the market and ability to compete is detrimental to us. SCN is now one of the key faces of SAP. New customers are going to be cruising through it. Companies planning an expansion of SAP functionality will do research in SCN. What does a bad experience in SCN say to a customer? What does a bad conversion say to a customer?
As an SAP customer, I need my new systems to be converted over in a short time with as little disruption to my business as possible. The project team needs to deliver on time, under budget and with no, to little impact on customers and vendors. That’s what we are all charged with, whether a consulting partner, SAP, or as an individual member of a team.
I know that SAP will get SCN running. It will be a good system at some point and people will use it and learn it. And maybe even get to like it if not love it. Have you ever heard the same thing said to a group of users or power users being trained on their new SAP system prior to a go live? I have! It’s new, it’s different, change is hard… etc, etc.
But that’s not a good thing!!!
We’re expected to convert to an SAP system over a long weekend and come up running Monday morning with little to no interruption. Users are to be trained and ready. The system is sized and running. Security and user profiles are good and ready to go. Data is loaded and correct. Open orders and transactions have been loaded. Financials are correct.
Do we always get it right? Nope. There are scores of horror stories out there about bad projects and businesses almost brought to their knees by problems. And most of us have been involved with one or two of these projects over the years. On the other hand there are many, many other projects that do come in on time, under budget and with little interruption.
With almost everyone in SCN having been involved in these projects why would we, as a community, expect anything less from an SAP run project? We have high standards and high expectations. If SAP can’t deliver their own conversion project on time and with little interruption to their clients then who can? If I’m a customer or potential customer and I see the types of problems we have seen with SCN this week it would make me think twice about an SAP project, or at least using SAP to manage the project. It’s kind of going to a new dentist and seeing he/she has bad teeth. Or having an obese cardiologist.
So are we being overly hard on SAP? Maybe we are. But SAP’s success is crucial to all of us. Our livelihoods depend on it. We expect them to set the bar. At three days and counting the bar is dropping.