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Last week a colleague asked me if I could provide detail or recommend someone who could give some insight into the integration challenges for SAP CRM and R/3 4.6. This was in the context of a competitive bid that might involve a SaaS provider. I decided to set this as a Mentor challenge...a thought experiment if you like. My colleague provided a good amount of detail so there was enough with which to assemble a reasonable answer. Since this was commercially sensitive I laid down a few rules, the principle one being 'no blog.' Don't worry, I'm not going to break my own rules!!

First up, it is fair to say I have a reasonable amount of invested capital among SDN'ers and Mentors. The likelihood of them failing to respond is small. To that extent I have an advantage and won't claim the results are representative of any trends. 

Setting aside the end of (SAP support) life issues around 4.6 the exercise was interesting at multiple levels. 

  • I gave respondents 3 working days to supply an answer. They all got back within 36 hours...on a weekend.
  • All gave solid answers with varying levels of detail.
  • Some addressed the competitive issues alongside the technical take, adding value beyond that which was originally expected.
  • Where there was uncertainty or ambiguity, respondents posed fresh questions. 

One respondent made an excellent point that is worth the repeating: "I can't believe that in the current climate customers don't make more use of people like us (mentor freelancers). I mean, no offense, but you basically had massive consulting advice there. From an SI you would have had to wait ages and pay ££££ for it. That's the sad truth."

Which raises some interesting points. 
  • If SAP Mentors are willing to freely give of their time in such a manner then does this signal some sort of shift in consulting or was I simply able to trade a bit of goodwill? 
  • Does it mean that consultants need to think about pre-qualifying themselves by giving something away first?
  • Can the independents steal a march on the Big Boys by offering this type of service?

What do you think? Did I strike lucky or do you think that the consulting game is changing? Has commoditization reached into the otherwise premium world of SAP? 

Side note: When I set the challenge I didn't mention any reward. However, the answers were so impressive I asked my colleague to select the best and then roped my buddy Vinnie Mirchandani into donating a copy of his book: The New Polymath. It seems wholly appropriate.

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