Enterprise Geeks Podcast – Transparency can be a Bitch


Can SAP leverage their newfound transparency or will it just come back to haunt them?

Can SAP leverage their newfound transparency or will it just come back to haunt them?

The hits just keep on coming! This week we pulled in another great guest, Jon Reed. Jon is a fellow SAP mentor and popular blogger from JonERP.com. Listen in to hear his great perspectives on the current and upcoming SAP job market trends, as well as some more thoughts on the future of SAP certifications.

If you have questions, suggestions, or topic ideas for future episodes, give us a shout here. Enjoy!

Running Time: 65 minutes

Talking Points

  1. Jon Reed intro
  2. Dennis Howlett – SAP Mentors will crush it for SAP
  3. Trends of SAP Job Skills market and the roles of Business Process Experts and Solution Architects
  4. What is the best project team structure to leverage these “new” roles?
  5. Are Solution Architects the Chief of the Surgical Development Team?
  6. SAP Mentor Webinar on SAP Certifications and the continuing controversy
    • What was it all about?
    • Transparency can be very helpful, but it can also be a bitch
    • Job postings requiring certifications are still very low
    • Can a multiple choice test accurately measure leadership, experience, and reputation?
    • The answer may be the integration of complimentary programs like ASUG EDGE
    • Could Certifications utilize an online college course format in a group environment?
  7. Is there an increase of jobs allowing telecommuting and remote work in a tough economy?
  8. Random thoughts on the Kindle 2

9 responses to “Enterprise Geeks Podcast – Transparency can be a Bitch”

  1. dan mcweeney says :

    +1 for the TechEd hook up, before / after the actual conference. With the shrinking of the global economy and travel budgets tightening, why not do a long term TechEd course using some open classware ( moodle, LRN ) that either feeods into or expands on something frm a hands on. Wouldn’t a more in depth class be worth even more money then the TechEd conference fee? At least worth the hotel and airfare.

  2. Graham Robbo says :

    So long and thanks for all the fish.

  3. Jon Reed says :

    Guys that was fun to geek out with y’all on this podcast. The unscripted format was everything I had hoped. If I ever have the opportunity to come on again, maybe I’ll share a few SAP “resumes from hell” that made the cut for my Resumes from Hell book. Here’s one: “As always, I walk on water and bill at obscene rates.”

    I wanted to offer up two clarifications to things that were said that may be useful to listeners.

    First, when Ed quotes the Dice.com stats that I posted in the Mentor certification webcast chat, the one he refers to is the one I did for “SAP Certified” in the job title itself:

    #of dice.com jobs with “SAP” in job title: 2,700. # of SAP jobs with “certified” in job title: 2.

    I thought this was significant because when you put “certified” in the job title, it signifies the importance of that to the hiring manager.

    However, a full search on the phrase “SAP certified” does yield a larger pool of results: 24 of 2748 SAP jobs currently listed on Dice contain that phrase in the job description. These kinds of real-time results are the closest thing we have to “real world benchmarking” on SAP certification – hopefully we will have some more data soon, I certainly have encouraged SAP along those lines.

    Ed also expressed some concern about multiple choice on the Master level certification. To the best of my knowledge, the focus of the Master level test is on free text entries that have to be hand-graded. But we’d have to get that verified from SAP Education. A number of Mentors, at least in their first response, would like to see all the certification levels have open text responses for many of the questions, but this gets into the nitty gritty of testing methodology and I’m sure there will be a LOT more discussion about that going forward.

    OK, I gotta run, Ed, I’m gonna stay on the lookout for a cow pasture out here in Western Mass we can turn into “Enterprise Geeks University.”

    – Jon Reed

  4. Leonardo De Araujo says :

    Hi Guys! Great job.
    Just let me add a couple of things…
    I was always very interested in the BPX initiative since I am half half functional/technical. Also, in our company we have a set of functional guys so it is very important for me to understand what is the future for them.
    The problem is that I found, via research, that SAP is leaving a hole in this…
    LET ME EXPLAIN: There is a big support for BPX in the SAP community, but that is a different guy from our functional. In fact I remember a presentation at the SAPtechEd where SAP was selling this position (BPX) as a liason guy between BUSINESS and IT. I specifically remember seeing the FUNCTIONAL guys as “simple” IT representatives that are responsible for making the BPM design work. For example, in a BPM design, a BPX would be responsible to design the business process. The developers and functionals would then be involved to make the BPM design work (ex: ABAP code or config changes ).
    All this to say that I don’t see SAP REALLY supporting 200% the functional guys out there. There is this far fetch BPX role that not everyone understands.
    For me BPX should be the evolution path for functionals, so it is time to embrace this community that is simply NOT INVOLVED. How many functional guys you know that are members of the BPX community??? Got my point.

    Thanks guys, very good initiative…

    Leonardo

  5. Brian Dennett says :

    I think you guys touched on an important point in this podcast that didn’t get nearly enough attention. The whole concept of the solution architect and its role in the project landscape is definitely worthy of its own podcast. I hope you guys push that discussion in the near future and get other eGheads to discuss their ideas and experiences on the subject too.

    And Jon, I love what you bring to the table and I hope the guys get you back on soon.

  6. Jon Reed says :

    Brian, thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed my appearance on eGeeks. Thomas and Ed had some terrific questions that really challenged me to come up with something worthy of eGeek status.

    I would agree that more discussion of the Solution Architect/Enterprise Architect roles would be great fodder for Ed, Thomas et all for future podcasts. If you want a quick fix on that, I have two relevant podcasts on my site, both with Kent Sanders, one that looks more at Enterprise Architect skills and one that looks more at the Basis-to-NetWeaver skills transition. I really liked what Kent had to say on this.

    Leonardo, I’m not sure if I get all aspects of your comment but I would say that I think SAP is certainly determined to cultivate more functional areas on BPX, that’s the reason for the ERP@BPX launch for example. But much more can be done, that’s for sure, before BPX reaches anywhere near the strength of SDN overall.

    As for BPX roles being distinct from functional SAP work, I can see in the future a “Process Expert” role that is more about BPM modeling and process orchestration, which then fits into what you described. But, I have yet to see such a role on a project site. For now, I think BPX is something for functional SAP folks to take seriously as a way to round out their skills and remain relevant in process-driven SAP settings. I don’t see BPX *ever* being one “process expert” surrounded by traditional functional config roles. I think everyone’s role will evolve, and for now, if you have strong configuration skills, you probably have an advantage over a general BPXer that doesn’t have deep SAP background.

    – Jon

  7. Ed Herrmann says :

    @dan +1 on your +1. With virtual classes with online instructors, one might actually…learn something :O

    @Graham LOL

    @Leonardo I’ve always questioned the value of only being “functional”. I think it’s actually a good thing for functional people to grow into Business Process Experts. Even now where I work, we rarely have people dedicated to configuration; they are usually responsible for tying the business processes together with the development. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but being a, for lack of better term, “configurer”, is just not that hard in itself. I’ve never met a respectable developer that couldn’t run SPRO and throw entries in a table. The hard part to understand is how that configuration affects the business process and ties the application together….in other words, a business process analyst/expert

    @brian agreed! I hope to spend more time in future episodes on BPX, Solution Architects, and team landscape/structures.

    Cheers,
    ewH

  8. Leonardo De Araujo says :

    Ed,

    Let’s not get into the old argument of functional vs technical. First it is not right, second it doesn’t bring us anywhere. Both are dependent of each other and both bring (or should) different skill sets to the table. We all know that incompetence exists in both sides of this equation.
    Thanks for your comment though. It made me realize that I didn’t get my point clear.
    Let me rephrase it:
    Even though Mark Finnern may be happy about the fact that SAPFANS website is dying, but reality is, still functionals don’t use SCN enough. If BPX is what functionals should aim for, good point, but I don’t think we paved the way well enough. It looks like technicals are covered and the Grey area BPX’s too, but what about the middle guy?
    I am strong believer of the functional role and I find that BPX is the way to go. By definition they are the ones that should be the “Business” “Process” “Experts”. They are the ones representing IT facing the Business requirements. They “should” have a very strong technical base, but reality is, the majority of them are very weak in this area. In my point of view, functionals should be able to identify which user exits to use, for example, but that is not what happens in real life.
    All this to say that functionals are not properly represented there (at SCN) and they should. I think it is the best way to get them more involved/exposed to what is “under the hood”.
    We all have wikis at SDN for technical stuff. What about functional side (MM, SD, etc)?

    And please don’t see me from the negative side. I am a true believer in the community and what we’ve all accomplished so far. It is just that there is still work to be done.

    Leonardo De Araujo

  9. Ed Herrmann says :

    @Leonardo – I’m certainly not arguing the value of being functional vs. technical. As I stated previously, functional guys ARE usually very capable business process experts, and using the common term “functional” trivializes their added value. The word functional is too often associated with a guy who only does configuration, whereas in reality, they are usually involved in tying the business together with the technical.

    I don’t consider the business process expert a new role that sits in between the business owner and the functional guy; instead I consider it a better direction and better focus for the already existing functional role.

    Business Process Expert is to Functional as
    Solution Architect is to Code Monkey

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