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Welcome to the JonERP.com Podcast Directory

This podcast directory provides handy previews, in text format, of all the podcasts available for download at JonERP.com. There are also video podcasts in the SAP Blog section. Note: The JonERP iTunes feed is currently the most complete audio feed of all new audio content, as Jon posts audio of his video podcasts and hangouts in that feed also. If you're a video fan you'll want to track JD-OD.com also.
 
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SAP Podcast: Jon Reed Interviews Enterprise Architect Kent Sanders Print E-mail

Podcast Interview Date: November 16, 2007
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The SAP market is changing, but one thing remains a constant: the need for quality SAP professionals with the right skills combinations. In his latest podcast, Jon sat down with Kent Sanders of innovateITnow, a 15 year SAP professional who is knee-deep on a cutting edge eSOA project for a major SAP Retail customer.

Sit in with Jon and Kent as they discuss Kent's keys to attracting and retaining SAP talent, how SAP developers can stay relevant on projects and reduce the risk of being outsourced, and how Kent's project team has developed a different way of obtaining "buy in" for eSOA projects, building support "from the bottom up." Kent also talks about the tools SAP professionals need to master to stay relevant, and how his project finds the right mix between outside consultants and internal training.

During this thirty five minute podcast, Jon and Kent cover topics such as:

- How Kent's fifteen year SAP career has evolved into his current role as an Enterprise Architect, and how he has pursued the TOGAF certification and other components of his skill set.

- The importance of the TOGAF SOA architecture and how it applies to the SAP world, in terms of architectural solutions that solve SAP business problems. Kent explains how the TOGAF framework was incorporated into SAP's Enterprise Architecture Framework, and how he was involved in the earlier stages of this process while working for SAP.

- Why ABAP Developers and SAP Java Programmers need to think about becoming SAP Software Engineers, and why SAP Basis Experts should focus on becoming SAP Enterprise Architects.

- The current NetWeaver product suite, including NetWeaver Portals, and how eSOA skills fit into a broader NetWeaver competency.

- How the line is blurring between technical and functional approaches, and the role "offshoring" can play in this process of staffing projects. Kent also notes the communication issues involved in outsourcing that can impact which projects are appropriate for offshoring and which are better handled in house.

- Fresh back from a conference session on attracting and retaining SAP talent, Kent talks about the three keys to building (and keeping) a great project team: provide a well-thought career path for your team members; 2. don't hold back on training your people with the latest SAP skills even if it means you might lose some of them to the SAP job market; 3. adopt a mentality of continuous training.

- Kent also reports that the hardest skills to find, according to the SAP customers at the conference, were: 1. NetWeaver Administrators, and 2. Enterprise Architects. Java developers and ABAP programmers were easier to hire on the open market. Kent mentioned that the consulting firms don't even have many folks that know NetWeaver and Enterprise SOA well. Kent said that many of these firms turn to outsourcing to fill their project needs.

- Jon asks Kent to elaborate on the role outsourcing plays on SAP projects, and asked him to talk about how SAP professionals can make themselves less vulnerable to outsourcing. Kent explains that mastering data modeling and business modeling tools, and emphasizing strategy and architecture was the key to becoming more outsourcing-proof.

- Kent talks about his current SAP project, and how his team has developed a unique approach to building momentum for eSOA projects by working on projects from the "bottom up." Kent talked about how there is natural resistance to eSOA from both high level IT executives and business executives. He explained how his team is gaining support one project at a time by focusing on projects that have a "wow factor" and a tangible business benefit.

- Kent provides an overview of his current SAP environment, and how they are working on eSOA with plans to involve NetWeaver CE, ESR, and NetWeaver PI. He talked about how his team can get projects done within a $50,000 budget and having composite apps up and running in a six week to two month period. Kent's team is using this approach to solve business "pain points" and to develop their own eSOA roadmap.

 - Jon asks Kent to explain to listeners how he identifies which areas are the best candidates for early eSOA projects. He lists the main factors that are ideal for eSOA projects: simplification, consolidation, and building new services and composites. Kent talks about which projects can have a "wow" type of impact, such as service-enabling inventory lookups, getting data to customers more effectively, and making user-friendly interfaces for in store employees for quick training and ramp up.

- Jon and Kent go more in-depth into a discussion of the future of SAP development and the future of SAP technical skill sets. Kent talks about the importance of mastering new process modeling tools like Aris for NetWeaver, which is now tied into the ESR. He tells us that it's not yet possible for business process experts to model all their own code without the help of a developer, but this kind of model-driven programming is becoming closer to reality. Kent mentions other hot tools that SAP professionals should know, such as Web Dynpro, Adobe Forms, Solution Manager, and Aris.

- Kent highlights the keys his project has used to build a quality internal team and strike a good balance with outside consulting support. He talks about the importance of hiring manager-level folks who are "SAP rock stars," which in turn allows for a more savvy use of SAP implementation partners. Kent says that for the next phase of his project, they are looking to bring in less consultants and train more people internally.

- In closing, Kent talks about how the successful SAP professional understands that technology changes all the time, and that if you view paradigm changes as a threat, you should get out of this particular field, because there is always change. The point is to apply the right forward-thinking mindset towards skills acquisition. In terms of adding real value to SAP customers and keeping your skills in demand, Kent says that the key is to develop a deep understanding of NetWeaver and the ability to help SAP customers harness that technology and break through their NetWeaver confusion. If you can do that, says Kent, you can "write your own check."

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