University Alliances

2 Posts authored by: Tammy Powlas

Day 2 of the SAP Curriculum Congress 2011 featured several keynote speakers and sessions.  Mark Finnern and I attended with the hopes of bringing SAP Mentors and Universities closer together, at the suggestion of Paul Hawking.  Below is a review of each one I attended.


Helping the World Run Better

Peter Graf, SAP's Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President of Sustainability Solutions, SAP, provided a presentation on his IPad.  He said universities sit at the source of innovation.  He said with sustainability the conversation usually revolves around feasibility and risk; he said we react better at opportunity.

He explained that HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance) in-memory solution will save energy; a disk-based solution consumes 4 times as much energy.  He encouraged us to view the 2010 Sustainability Report, available 3/24 at

SAP uses their own products such as BusinessObjects Explorer to measure their sustainability Key Performance Indicators, such as reducing CO2 emissions.  He demonstrated several of these on the iPad.


Innovations in Producing a Business Ready Student

John Dean, member of the SAP Independent Executive Advisory Council (IEAC), then spoke about creating a “business ready student”.  He explained that students need communication skills, business knowledge, functional knowledge, problem solving, leadership, coaching and mentoring, team player, and customer service skills.  He had an acronym “S2B” – student to business. 

He mentioned 3 levels of creating a student ready for business.  Level 1 is the foundational elements of business and technology, such as using the Global Bike case study.

Level 2 is expanding the foundation by incorporating real world business problems.  Real world cases can be used as a class project with business mentors for the students. 

Level 3 is cultivating a business field experience through direct internships, fellowship programs.  What is the measure of success?  More business ready students.

Grand Valley State used the Global Bike case study with students from multiple disciplines.  Cross functional teams drive change.  He said to engage business in IT education process.  Another great quote from Mr. Dean: “If you are not changing you are getting worse”

What is needed for success?  University leadership as a sponsor and broad adoption of S2B (student to business). Mr. Dean wants to see the SAP University Alliance as a collaborative system to support S2B.

According to John Dean, SAP University Alliance is a great resource.

Accounting Information Systems - Nancy Jones, California State University, Chico

Session Summary: "Overview of SAP University Alliances curriculum focused on how SAP ERP enables the accounting cycle and financial reporting. Example syllabi, course materials, and lessons learned in enhancing student understanding are shared."

Nancy Jones is a Certified Management Accountant and is TERP10 certified.  She said “Accounting does not exist in a vacuum”.  She said it helps to understand when the documents post to the general ledger it is good to know where it is in the financial statements.  “It is not an accounting-centric world”. 

She explained that the class first does their journal entries using Excel and then compares it with document posting in SAP.  The class illustrates internal controls, segregation of duties to mimic risk.  When you see the infamous red light in JE posting, what internal control did you just violate?  A red light, according to Ms. Jones, is a “learning opportunity”.  She said they use customized menus – if a user has no access, they should not see it on a menu.  She mentioned using an Auditing Alchemy case study.

They will be working on a GRC under EPM curriculum soon.  She uses SDN to save time and has RSS feeds set up from it.  They are introducing Sarbanes-Oxley in to the class.  She said IDES is SOX-compliant. 

She said in class they explain that the SAP trial balance is really the financial statement and they review key concepts that the Goods Receipt/Invoice Receipt account is a temporary account.  She plans to use Xcelsius and Crystal for more reporting and not the SAP Report writing tool. 

She feels there is great potential in sustainability accounting in the AIS curriculum, along with activity-based costing.  She feels that project management should also be covered as that is needed for audits.


This  event  last weekend really highlighted a tab on the SAP Community Network (University Alliance) that has a lot of activity, I just didn’t know it was happening.   I want to personally thank SAP Mentors Paul Hawking and Mark Finnern for asking me to attend and Gail Corbitt, John Baxter, Bob LoBue of the SAP University Alliance for hosting.


Mark Finnern and me at the SAP UAC Student Curriculum Congress  - Source: John Baxter, SAP

Mico Yuk, fellow SAP Mentor, recruited me to assist a pilot for the SAP University Alliance Student Dashboarding Club.   I explained to both her and Kirby Leong that I am new to Xcelsius, but they encouraged me anyway.

Last week I attended Mico's orientation with graduate and undergraduate students from University of Texas-Dallas and University of British Columbia, and then as Mentors we received our assignments.  Because I am new, I was assigned the first lecture, "XCelsius Dashboard Design Basic Concepts".  

The SAP University Alliance prepared the slides, I just needed to prepare for the lecture.  I just found out last Thursday (9/23) from Kirby that he wanted me to lecture today (9/25) off to work I went.  I needed to come back up to speed on Stephen Few's Dashboard design concepts, and even though I knew how to use what we were discussing in today's session, it's one thing to know something, and yet another thing to explain it.

Here's what I did to prepare:
1) Reviewed Ingo Hilgefort's Dashboarding chapter in Reporting & Analytics using SAP BusinessObjects; it has general best practices in this book
2) Reviewed Stephen Few's book on Information Dashboard Design
3) Reviewed Wayne Eckerson's book on Performance Dashboards

The topics I covered in today's lecture/session were dashboard design, designing spreadsheet models, basic components, alerts, selector components, and dashboard layout.

I haven't officially "taught" a college class since my senior year at the University of Kansas when I was an accounting undergraduate teaching assistant! I forgot that teaching is a great deal of preparation and work.  "Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance".  So how did I do?  Here's an e-mail I received after the session: "I liked your presentation. Excellent. Very crisp and clear.... "

Before I forget, I want to thank the students for giving up part of their Saturday to participate, Kumar Subramanian, EverythingXcelsius, for being there to demo and Kirby Leong for being so encouraging and flexible with our schedules.

I look forward to Kumar's session next week on "What-if" Analysis.  I am glad SAP is sponsoring this, we really need college students who come into the workforce with the needed SAP skills, and it is a great item on the students' resume to be a member of the Student Dashboarding club.




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