In August 2010, Nakisa announced that it was starting a certification program to differentiate consultants from their peers, increase expertise, obtain recognition and enhance the relationship with Nakisa.
The path to certification involves both training and demonstration of practical experience before you obtain official certification from Nakisa. Nakisa have some FAQs which clarify.
A year on there is a very low number of consultants who have gained certification and if you’ve seen “lone dancing guy”, then you’ll realise that to start a movement you need followers. The number of 3.0 trained consultants (i.e. step 1 completed) is growing steadily as Nakisa offer training throughout the world.
So, having implemented Nakisa’s products since 2007, including numerous 3.0 (and recently 3.0 SP1) installations, I found myself needing to attend a 5 day course in order to obtain progress my certification. Somehow I seemed to be doing this back to front … however I first attempted to attend training in Dec 2010, but due to an imminent global SAP Succession Management go live (including Nakisa’s SuccessionPlanning and JobArchitecture modules), I had to duck out.
So here I am, in Walldorf on a warm July day … this blog is a diary of my experience.
George, our trainer from Nakisa’s Professional Services team in Montreal, and 13 attendees from 8 countries gathered in the Partner Port building. The attendees ranged in experience from having “never seen it”, to those who had implemented, and from small to large organisations including several from SAP country practices.
The first day consisted of some basic introductions and an overview/demo of each of the modules in OrgVisualization followed by those in TalentVisualization. We are using 3.0 SP1 (build 0701034500, for those of you who like detail), which is the latest product version generally available at this time.
There was some healthy debate in some areas;
OrgChart: The Live vs. Staged debate, management of global employees and rumours of extending SocialLink to integrate with Twitter. Also some talk of the forthcoming iPad application.
OrgModeler: When will it “write back” changes to SAP? I think this will definitely come in the future … and I hope is that it will be available in VSN 4.0 (but I think, like OrgManager, it will have a dependency on EhP5).
OrgManager: Will the principle be extended to administrating Org Unit, Jobs, and other objects? Again, no product development is confirmed at this stage but this seems a logical extension of the product.
SuccessionPlanning: We briefly discussed the complexity of the environment, range of data and processes required in order to support this VSN application.
Each of us has our own virtual Nakisa machine with the applications installed on it which we connect to for the purpose of training and performing exercises. Each of these machines is running Tomcat to run our own Java applications. So there is a difference to the SAP (NW CE) environment customers would deploy onto. We are all connecting to the same SAP IDES server (at Nakisa’s office).
To end the day, we did some exercises involving using OrgChart as an end user; so nothing too mind boggling so far!
Several people shared their own experiences which helped us all learn something new and I think people are keen to push on with more hand on experience in the coming days …
Day 2 started with some more end user exercises, this time on SuccessionPlanning. Then we moved onto looking into some details of the application environment … understanding SAP, NetWeaver CE, the installation, master and field mapping guides, deploying multiple instances, landscape requirements, as well as the ABAP Add On and transports that are provided as part of the product.
Interestingly one attendee believed that NetWeaver 7.3 will contain the ability to install VSN applications directly onto it. To my knowledge the original restriction to use NW CE (as opposed to NW) was the dependency on the Java version, so this added weight to the theory. Since returning from the course, I have been able to confirm that from 3.0 SP2 then NW 7.3 will be supported.
Also, I picked up that if you upgrade your 3.0 or 3.0 SP1 build after installing the language pack then you will need to re-apply the language pack. There will be no need for a language pack from SP2.
We also discussed the sizing of staged DB and effect on capacity planning for NW CE, how multiple instances of NW CE can be hosted on one server but not multiple instances of the same application on the same NW CE instance (without Nakisa’s help - due to the restriction on the application name based on how the SCA package is supplied).
We started today by covering the environment checklist which is a useful reminder of all the landscape and environment information that should be collated before starting development; saves a lot of questions later!
Next was security – a hot topic with everyone. Most attendees took a little while to grasp the difference between the “live” and “staged” approaches. Live is able to utilise SAP’s structural authorisations fully, compared to the role mapping used predominantly in the “staged” approach for OrgChart.
In the afternoon we moved onto an overview of the Admin Console before focussing on the “Data Center”. The exercises involved defining new hierarchies using both HR-OCI and Nakisa’s RFCs (which use evaluation paths).
I responded to a challenge from an attendee to see if we could create a position to position reporting hierarchy using the “live” approach … but without position to position (S A002 S) relationships explicitly maintained in SAP. Within 10 minutes I had used the principle learnt in the exercise to create an indirect reporting hierarchy. Maybe a topic for a later blog!
People seem to be enjoying rolling up their sleeves, making good use of the Admin Console and producing results quickly. Since I started working with Nakisa’s products, the Admin Console has steadily improved and more is coming in 3.0 SP2.
Before we finished for the day, we also looked at creating new data elements to extract further infotype data. This is a relatively new feature and includes a button to “preview” (i.e. test) the results. Included in the output is the time it takes to execute which is helpful.
Day 4 started with slides and then further exercises on how to set up a details panel for each of the objects in our recently created hierarchies. This covered the details panel titles, sections, tabs, collapsible panels and linking in further detail elements to extend the range of data being shown.
Then we moved onto the new “View Designer”. This is an entirely new concept from 3.0 SP1 and separates the view “template” from the view itself. Another exercise made the process a bit clearer and knowing that I would be sure to want to extend the templates in the future, I devised my own extra exercise - to create a new template, import it via the “Add On Manager” and use it to create a new position view. All went smoothly, so I feel I have a good understanding of the view framework now, such as the difference between view templates found in “Templates_Deployed”, to a view definition n “Templates_Generated”.
We then looked at using Custom RFCs and accessing infotype tables, and how these can be defined via the Admin Console.
To end the day we took a look at exporting and importing configurations and discussed the role this plays particularly in moving configuration changes through the environments on projects. My only gripe with this is that I’d like to see a way to import the new build but keeping the current data connections in use in that environment; it would save time and reduce risk when moving through the environments by avoiding the need to reset the data connections in the target environment.
In the evening, Andre, Nakisa’s EMEA Director of Alliances kindly hosted dinner at a Heidelberg restaurant. The evening gave everyone a chance to relax and I will omit the name of the attendee who ate the largest steak I’ve ever heard of … 1kg!!
A few tired faces this morning, but we pushed on through the final few slide decks that covered best practices, how to obtain and install the language pack, key documentation, and the support process.
To round off the course, George, our trainer surprised us with a quiz which we all pretty much agreed on the answers, although a couple split the class’s opinion. Somehow I managed to win a bar of chocolate in the bonus (“fun”) round which was based on the attendees during the week – thanks George!
So after a final lunch together we all started to peel off to make our way home. I think we all enjoyed the course and I felt everyone contributed to that enjoyment.
The course was well organised and I found the course content (and trainer) to be clear and concise on relaying that content to the class. The logistical aspects worked well too; such as location, suitability of the classroom, individual virtual machines for exercises, etc. And lunch was good too … always an important point for training courses!
Judging by the feedback I heard from talking to others, and hopefully that they left on the online course survey, I think the course was, if anything, not technical enough; people wanted to know more. Perhaps by offering some pre-course content for those who are not familiar with the products would mean that the course could go deeper in some areas.
All the exercises were on OrgChart and some attendees felt SuccessionPlanning, which is growing in importance to them now, could have been covered in more detail. In general, people felt the exercises gave them the most understanding and would have liked more of these, perhaps even more could be included, with some optional, for those who either get through the exercises quicker or want to invest more time while on the course.
Good luck to my fellow attendees on your future VSN projects and I hope our paths will cross again someday … even if it is only in the SDN forum!
Goodbye, auf wiedersehn, au revoir, arrivederci, adios, zbogom, and elveda!