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jonerpdemojam.jpg Jon has been tackling key SAP issues (like SAP certification and HANA) since 1995. Get the latest from his blogs, YouTube channel, and iTunes feed.

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Podcast (and new videos): Enterprise Geeks Guest Appearance on SAP Project Roles Print E-mail

enterprisegeeks_banner_blue.png"Guest Enterprise Geeks appearance on SAP Project Roles, the Impact of SAP BPX skills, and truth/fiction on emerging SAP job roles like 'Solution Architect.'

Podcast Interview Date: January 27, 2010
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In late January, I appeared as a guest on an Enterprise Geeks special edition on SAP Project Roles. My fellow SAP Mentor Leonardo De Araujo was also on the podcast to add his always-opinionated views to the discussion.

I didn't get a chance to post this link on my site until now, but the timing is good because I have now filmed another video that pertains to this topic also. Although our discussion was intended to cover a range of project roles and issues, not surprisingly, we gravitated towards the always entertaining topic of "BPX" flavored SAP roles and whether these roles are for real or driven by hype. To add some new content to this posting, I'll also include a new video I shot on the "SAP BPX skills: what's real and what's hype" topic here as well.

(If for any reason you have trouble viewing the video here, you can see it directly on YouTube as well ). 

During the video, I clarified some of the views I expressed in the Enterprise Geeks podcast. I guess you could say it represents my latest thinking on some of these emerging SAP "BPX flavored" roles like SAP Solution Architect and SAP Enterprise Architect (as well as the less seen "SAP Process Expert.") These are the roles where I tend to recommend more of a 50/50 techno-functional skills mix as opposed to the 80/20 skills mix I recommend for more conventional SAP roles:

 

(direct YouTube link for the above video)

Thomas Jung and Ed Herrmann do a great job of pushing the SAP Project Roles conversation forward, and after the podcast, the conversation on the SAP BPX site spilled over into some other blogs and comments. 

Here's some excerpts from a comment I posted in response to the podcast and some questions I got afterwards about it: 

There were two points I took away upon listening to this. One was Ed's point that we need other fleshed out visions of technical/functional career paths that don't always railroad advancement into Project Management, which is a hat not all want to wear. "Solution Architect" is starting to firm up as such a role in SAP environments, I can only hope the functional equivalent of such a role, Process Expert or what have you, also comes to fruition as I believe it could be important. Right now, as Leonardo says, the closest to that might be functional team leads, but I see those as a bit narrower in scope in terms of understanding SAP configuration (functional team lead) versus overall process/industry know-how (process expert) - including modeling tools, workflow collaboration/web 2.0 tools, and perhaps as Leo calls form, some change management to boot.

Finally, while we geeked out for an hour we left out another increasingly relevant topic: lean process methodology, the companion in some ways to agile and scrum on the technical side. I view "lean" knowledge as increasingly relevant, not in a futuristic propeller hat way, but right now. Dagfinn Parnas, fellow SAP Mentor and eGhead, did an excellent TechEd video on definining Lean, Agile and Scrum.

Note: the Enterprise Geeks have since had Dagfinn on as a guest for a great podcast on Agile and Scrum in SAP environments.

Fellow SAP Mentor Vijay Vijayasankar, a favorite podcast guest of mine, also responded to this podcast with a blog post of his own that raised questions about the validity of the BPX-focused SAP role in terms of today's customer needs. Vijay's point of view is well worth considering because at IBM, he is sees firsthand which consultants get hired by customers and which ones get kicked to the curb. The blog had an excellent comment thread, where I included some more commentary on my latest thinking on SAP BPX roles and skills. Here is an excerpt from that:

"I'm going to limit my comment specifically to the point you raised with Enterprise Geeks about whether Solution Architect is the only BPX role needed? That's clearly your observation on customer sites currently, and to me, that carries a lot of weight, because buyers/users have the final say on what gives them value.

However, just as Ed was talking about how Solution Architect gives technical folks a BPX type role to aspire to, I believe there should be a similar role to aspire to on the functional side. In truth, many technical and functional SAP roles are going to require some BPX flavored skills, which is why what is happening in the SAP BPX community is so important.

But in terms of Solution Architect, I consider that the first "pure" BPX role to have gained traction in SAP client sites, with a close nod to Enterprise Architect, which I see as different for reasons I explained in the podcast.

Solution Architects tend to rise up from the technical side - they acquire functional know how as well but have technical roots. Even so, I see it as a BPX role - however, I believe there is a need for a functional liaison to that Solution Architect - one title for that could be Process Expert. Ed notes similarly in his comment: "The two roles are close, but they should actually work together."

This person might have a combo of SAP functional skills, process modeling and web collaboration skills, enough SAP tech skills to talk intelligently with someone like Ed, and maybe eventually NetWeaver BPM/BRM skills. Does this role exist today? No. Maybe it never will = after all, all functional SAP types are going to have to acquire some of these skills.

Customers, as we know, will have the final say, but I'll be surprised if we don't see some type of SAP Process Expert role emerge at some point, only because functional SAP skills are so often siloed, and I see an emerging need for broader process know-how.

Let the market decide is always a good principle for the final say in these roles, but whether or not such a pure role ever emerges, there's no doubt in my mind that those SAP functionals who acquire some flavors of those skills are going to be in a better career position going forward, which to me is why BPX matters and is not just SAP's hype. But how to make it stick and be relevant and engage functionals as well as SDN engaged technicals - that's another long comment for another time."

I think these comments, videos, and podcast links are a pretty good summary of where I stand on SAP BPX skills and roles at the moment, though with SAP project roles, things are always changing and we can expect my thinking to evolve some more. I plan to line up future podcast guests who can clarify what BPX skills are truly in demand and how to get there from here.

 

 

 

 

 

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