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Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor

I got the idea to write this article from SAP mentor Nathan Genez  after he made this comment on twitter last week “Now that everyone who works in the SAP industry is an expert, what's next?”  It got me thinking that everywhere you look people and companies are claiming to be SAP experts when in fact only a fraction meets the true definition of the word. I think it is important to keep in mind what being an expert really means and per Wikipedia the definition is as follows:

An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person.


I asked Nathan for his thoughts on the topic and he was kind enough to share the following "I think the key phrase of the wiki definition is the last sentence; “An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person” with the key words being “beyond that of the average person”.  As the SAP industry has matured, the knowledge and sophistication of its customers has matured as well.  To me, the average consultant probably has 5 years of dedicated SAP experience and been through 2-4 go-lives.  Looking primarily at metrics such as those, a true expert would have 2-3x those numbers."

I agree with Nathan that as the SAP industry has matured and the knowledge level needed to be an expert has increased, many people misunderstand what it truly means to be an expert. Most of the true experts I have had the pleasure of getting to know in the SAP industry come from very diverse backgrounds and geographical locations but all share some of the following in common:

  1. They have a very large SAP network and are well known by their peers and public for their expertise.
  2. They are very active on the SAP Community Network or similar platforms as bloggers, moderators and answering questions.
  3. They are presenting at the major SAP or User Group conferences.
  4. They have a strong social media presence on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.
  5. They are involved in SAP Press or the Expert publication as authors or technical editors.
  6. They are actively involved in SAP User Groups such as ASUG or DSAG.
  7. They have a history of being involved in successful projects and ventures.
  8. They have a narrow area of SAP in which they claim to be an expert.
  9. They know all the key people within SAP in their area of expertise.
  10. They are current on the latest and greatest SAP technology as well as what is coming in the future.

The bottom line there is no shame in not being an expert as it can and should be a very exclusive club. It is a great goal for all of us to work towards and hopefully you can use the list above to help you towards your journey of being an SAP expert. Special thanks to Nathan for his help with this article.

90 Comments
clinton_jones2
Active Participant
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I don't know much but I know enough to be dangerous so I will fake it, that's my story and I am sticking to it. I'd add another one here, and that is, if you have something to say and those around you take notice and nod their heads or prepared to challenge you on it and you can have a sensible discussion about the topic then...you're part of the way there...to being an expert that is.
former_member182313
Participant
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Hi Jarret,

I agree with your list to tell if someone is an expert or not in real-world. Should we add one more to this list?
  ... They are compensated the lowest in their teams. (just kidding:)).

I happened to read blog
"How Gamification of the Enterprise can kill the Dilbert-Comics" written by Mario Herger (How Gamification of the Enterprise can kill the Dilbert-Comics). This statement from that blog caught my attention:
"... people who were the best and most reliable contributors were often compensated the lowest in their teams. ...".

Another quote from "The Last Lecture":
"...I'll take an earnest person over a hip person every time, because hip is short-term. Earnest is long-term.
Earnestness is highly underestimated. It comes from the core, while hip is trying to impress you with the surface.
"Hip" people love parodies. But there's no such thing as a timeless parody, is there? I have more respect for the earnest guy who does something that can last for generations, and that hip people feel need the need to parody...".
There are at least two groups of people: One group(let us call, group W) who share some of 10 characteristics you identified and second group(group L) who are the best and most reliable contributors as mentioned by Mario Herger.  Would you agree group L is earnest and group W is hip?
I'm currently working to move from L to W.

Thanks for writing this blog.
Bala
TomCenens
Active Contributor
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Hello Jarret

When I take a look at that top10 what pops out is emphasis on being connected.

I have no doubt that being connected can seriously affect one's knowledge and can create opportunities.

In the same fashion I have no doubt that if Thorsten Franz for example attends DKOM he comes back with information that is of great value since he has seen what is in the making by SAP for the next few years.

Being an expert is relative, from the moment someone else finds you to have extensive knowledge on a topic they might consider you to be an expert. It doesn't neccesary mean that you are the person who knows most on that topic.

Personally I wouldn't like to put expert on a business card as I feel like it is not up to me to consider myself being an expert. It's up to others to consider if they see me as an expert on anything.

I do what I do and I love what I do. I would rather place SAP Artist on my business card than SAP Expert if I had to choose. My business card is stating "SAP Technical Consultant" which is fine with me.

There is no doubt that someone who is considered to be an expert can do well in the SAP world. It will become harder and harder in the future to be considered an expert on anything as more and more information will become available online.

SAP is doing a good job at getting information out there. I really appreciate the fact that an event like Virtualization and Cloud week can be followed live online and it is also very important that one can see the replays since the time zone difference makes it hard for me to follow everything live.

I would have loved to be there which of course beats following from a distance but I have to state SAP +1 in this case and thanks for all those persons involved in making it happen.

Kind regards

Tom


Former Member
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Sap is huge!  There is a very small chance - if not impossible - that you are an expert in it all.

My area is development.  Lately we were asked to rate ourselves in some of the different available technologies.  Have you looked at what's out there?!   Technology alone is constantly changing.  

So am I an expert?  It depends on the area.   Straight up structure ABAP?  Yes.  Objects?  Getting there.  Webdynpro?  Sort of.

Now an expert is very subjective in 98 when we went live an expert could spell SAP.  Now we look for experience, but experience doesn't mean you are an expert.  Webdynpro - well some of the Webdynpro consultants who are "experts" scare me.  But that's a newer technology.

I have a question right back to you.  Is anyone ever an "SAP" expert?  Really?  Does anyone know all areas - the new ones just coming out - all technology?  I don't think so.

Are you an expert in your area?  ABAP??  MMMmmm... What does ABAP mean anymore?  Webdynpro, Objects, Web UIs, CRM UIs, HCM... I'm sure there are more.

Are you an expert in PP??  What's new?  Do you know all different levels of ECC releases?

Expert is subjective to who you are talking to.  How do you really know?  I'm not sure that you do.

I think I'm always learning - even in the things that I think I'm an "expert" in.  There are 10,000 different ways to do one thing in SAP.  Are you 100% sure your solution is the right one?  I would say I'm only 99.9% sure.  Because once I hit 100 - something new will come out that will blow my mind.  I love it!

Michelle
uladzislau_pralat
Contributor
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You do have to prove to wide public that you are an expert to be actually one. I think, many people read SND, SAP Expert and other sources to get educated, but do not contribute because they value their time or do not have ambitions to be "experts". There is a proven way to show that you are an expert - on the project.
Former Member
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I am not sure all of your 10 points are valid. To me the way to identify an SAP expert is around their experience.

There are numerous types of SAP consultants, functional, technical, ERP, CRM, BI etc and so not all of your measures will stand.

I have come across many SAP experts, who may have worked in a single functional area for a single customer for over 12 years. They live and breath the system, and know their area inside out. However what they wont do is to use social media, attend conferences, write blogs etc.

What they will do is be passionate about their subject matter, and in the most will want to learn the latest and greatest in their area. Some may have relationships with SAP, but this is rare.

I would say your list was aimed at identifying a "SAP Influencer" and not a SAP Expert.
Former Member
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Don't know, but I got a shiver when I read your article...
I know some of these so called "SAP Expert", and except being good in producing Social Hype and Hot Air, there is not much left when it comes to the hard facts.

In my opinion, a SAP Expert is someone who has got a second home - for example "SE80" for an "SAP Expert in ABAP" or "RSA1" in my case 🙂

Greets
Former Member
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And here is where I HAVE to comment.

You don't need to have the ambition to be an "expert" to write for SDN, etc.   The time?  Think about all the time you've saved with searches - answers from the forums.  If no one made the time, then you wouldn't have those resources.  

So I would say - just put in a small percentage of the time that you spend getting answers back into the community.  Expert / non-expert - who really cares?  (OK, you may care.)  But if you can help just ONE person, it was time well spent.

We wouldn't have an SCN without active contributors.

Sorry - I had to comment.   This is one of the things that I am excited about!

Michelle
Former Member
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"SAP expert is around their experience" - ah but does the experience mean they are good?

The person how has worked in one functional area - that's nice - but how does that functional area integrate with the other areas.  If you make a change to your area it will affect other areas.  What different versions of SAP have they worked on?

Do they stay up to date on the latest and greatest.

I'm still thinking it's hard to spot an expert.  An expert is usually a beginner in a different area.  Your network of friends help you be more effective. 

I totally agree - I think SAP Influencer is probably a better description of this blog. 
Former Member
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I agree there is no easy formula. To see if someone is an expert, it is a perception, do I believe consultant X is an expert?

Are they an expert in Y?

When you look at experience you need to look at the role they are doing and how they do it.

One thing is for sure there is no easy way to measure this or to calculate it.
uladzislau_pralat
Contributor
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You are right. I you do not have to be an expert to write one SDN, etc. Most of information I come across on SDN, etc every day is trivial stuff for beginners. Many people a just lazy to read documentation. It is hard find an answer to really hard and challenging questions. I such cases you are on your own.
Former Member
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Hey now!

My second home is SE80.  However, social hype - again is what gives us valuable answers.  Sometimes to questions we didn't know we had.

"Hot Air" - yes, I agree.  Some of the times there are blogs, articles, etc. with someone just blowing hot air.  But there are some really good ones.

I dare you to look at some Thomas Jung, Karin Tollosten, Susan Keohan, Tammy Powlas blogs/articles - I could go on and on - and say they were producing social hype or blowing hot air.

SCN is usually the place to go for answers!

Again - found a hot button for me - sorry!

Michelle
Former Member
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OH KNOW - I have to comment again.

Beginners - we all were a beginner at one time.   Sometimes, they should stop and read the help documentation prior to posting.  I would suggest gently pointing that out to them.

For hard and really challenging questions - I challenge you to start trying to answer some of them.  🙂   That will make SCN a better place.  Remember we are a community.  Most of us volunteer.  The harder the question the longer it takes for us to answer.   (I haven't been to the forums for a while.)  Some of us don't have the time to answer.  But if we make the time, SCN will become better.  Check out the Webdynpro forum.

So my challenge, when you have the time, answer some of those harder questions.   Next time someone does a search they will find your answers.  Then they can justify answering a harder question.  I saved 20 hours with this answer, I can spend at least 10 hours answering questions.  (This is just an example.)  And only when I'm not up and over my head busy.

Have FUN!  This is supposed to be fun.  Networking, meeting new people, exchanging ideas, and encouraging our beginner users.  I usually present to a more "beginner crowd".  Why?  We need to help out that new crop of SAP people get to be experts.  You were there once.

And yes, the harder questions should get a response too.  But they won't - if "we" the community don't spend the time doing it.

Michelle
uladzislau_pralat
Contributor
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I am still not excited about your idea of contributing more to SDN. I am contributing as much as am getting value from it. It least it makes sense to me. I can make better use of my time.
Former Member
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We will have to agree to disagree.  

It is a hard one does the chicken or the egg come first.  If I have a question and no one answers does that mean I should not answer other people's questions?  So then that would mean they would not answer my question because they didn't get an answer?

But if I answer first, then I may never receive a good answer for my question, and then I have spent my time with no return.

Chicken or the egg?

I can see your side of the debate.

Michelle

On the plus side - you do use SCN - you are commenting to this blog 🙂
former_member182313
Participant
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Hi Michelle,

We all know all rules have exceptions. The examples you gave are exceptions. I believe Klaus is bringing up a great point. Let me give you an example: On Business Objects, I've seen several blogs. I'm yet to see one blog explaining the architecture or internals of Business Objects. All blogs-as far as I know - explain how to install or create nice-looking charts using BO. Even books on BO-I purchased one from SAP PRESS- don't explain how BO works. (Note: I'm using a generic term BO to specify all products in BO family).
This reminds me of those days when people knowing TCODES in SAP were treated like experts. Even training sessions used to teach nothing but tcodes. The instructors would teach what check box/radio button does or doesn't do;they wouldn't teach the implications.
"SCN is usually the place to go for answers" - If one is looking for configuration steps or how to fix an issue, yes, SCN is usually the place to go for answers. Normally you wouldn't find answers to WHY in SCN.

Thanks,
Bala
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Hi Klaus

Thanks for the comment and just curious if you could give me a few examples of people who claim to be SAP Experts (and other recognize them as Experts) but only produce "Social Hype and Hot Air"

Best Regards,

Jarret
Former Member
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Did I miss saying that?  Sorry guys.  Yes, this is a great point.

Yes, there are exceptions to the rules.

I agree the why is important.  

So - I totally agree with you Bala.  With the exception to both of you, that I find a lot of good information here.  I think people like you and Klaus could make SCN even BETTER.  

What makes this place great is that it is a community.   A lot of times we miss good information - if you don't take the time to blog, add to the forums, etc.

Of course, I haven't been real active lately.  I understand about limited time.  That's why for me it has to be fun.

This is a great debate!  (And one of the things I think is fun.  Hence my participation.)

Michelle

So talk slow - talk slow on SCN and share with us all.  It will make us all better in the end.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Hi Bala

You bring up a good point but you have to understand it very difficult to explain the "why" in a SAP blog though I would expect in an SAP Press book or SAP training that you should be able to get a better understand from that perspective.

The bottom line is that learning the "why" takes a lot of time and expertise and you would be suprised how few people in the industry know the SAP technical and the business side in enough detail to answer the "why" SAP works in the way it does and how to best utilize it to match the needs of the business customer.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Hi Mark

Thanks for the comment as well as RT of the blog on Twitter.

I tried to write the article to cover all types of consultants and think they hold true regardless of if you are ERP, CRM, BI etc as I know folks that hit all 10 of them in each of those areas.

On a side note it would have to be a VERY VERY dynamic customer in order for the SAP Expert you mentioned to be able to get enough skill to be considered an expert without leaving the client. In my view as a consultant you gain experience at each client both from an SAP but more from a business perspective.  My job as an SAP consultant is not only to install SAP but provide insight and guidance to customers as to how to best utilize SAP to run their business and I try to take the best I have seen from all the clients I have been at.

On a side I know several people who dont use social media, attend conference and write blogs that I would consider experts but if you look at the definition of the word they dont qualify as the "public" doesnt recognize their expertise.

Best Regards,

Jarret
Former Member
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Oh really?!!!

I would be a customer.  We have some consultants that need some serious work.   I know a lot of them that do not even use ABAP objects!  Some of them can not even spell ABAP Webdynpro.

Am I an expert?  It's up for discussion, and is subjective.  But I don't think it's only the consultants that are experts.  (Might want to look at the mentor page.  There are a lot of people there that I would consider experts.  There are mentors that are people who work at customers who and they are THE experts.  🙂

Disagreeing again - I'm contrary today,

Michelle
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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You bring up a great point and I was looking at it from the view point of a consultant and I did caveat it by saying it was possible if it was a dynamic customer/client which I bet your organization is.

I have worked with many client resources over the years that would put senior consultants to shame with their expertise and knowledge. The bottom line is there are experts all over in the SAP world (clients, customers, SAP internally) 
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Hi Uladzislau

Thanks for your comment and I think the proving it on the project albeit probably the most important one is only a small peice of being an expert but probably the reason that many people claim to be an expert after 1 SAP implementation.

I think we would both agree there is a lot more that goes into being an expert.

Thanks,

Jarret
Former Member
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Cool - you gave me an idea for another blog!

You can make your organization as dynamic as you want, on the programming side at least.  Simply start using the newer technologies.   That is assumming you are on the higher release levels of SAP.

That's what I advocate - start using the new things prior to becoming outdated yourself.  (Anyone that is struggling and in development drop me an e-mail.  I've presentations that may help.  It can be an uphill battle.)

I saw the caveat.  But you hit another "hot button"  🙂

Michelle
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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I have noticed since I started blogging on SCN that anything geared torward begineers has a lot more interest and we have to keep in mind we were all there at one point.

I think it is important for everyone using SCN to spend a little time and try to give back to the community as it is great only because of the free time spent by its members. Considering there is 2.4 million members if only 1% wrote a blog we would 24K a year and I know we are well under that right now. 

On a side note it doesnt take a long time to write a blog as this one took me less than an hour.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Michelle....your comment really hit home as I started SAP in 1998 and because US Payroll was so new and in demand I was considered an expert in 1999 (I wasnt). Each time over the years that I have started to feel like I "knew everything" in a very niche area of SAP I got a rude awaking as SAP has a way of bringing you down to earth (great thing about it).

When I see people that call themselves experts in multiple modules of SAP I immediately start to question if they are an expert in either. 

To put it in perspective I have been doing SAP for 13 years and I am not and expert in SAP HCM as it is to broad. I do have some niche areas US Payroll and Employee Interaction Center where I do have some expertise but know very little about eRecruiting for example. 
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Hi Tom

Really enjoyed your comment as I thought it was spot on especially these points

"When I take a look at that top 10 what pops out is emphasis on being connected" ->Couldnt agree more as having a great SAP network is extremely valuable on a number of levels.


"Personally I wouldn't like to put expert on a business card as I feel like it is not up to me to consider myself being an expert. It's up to others to consider if they see me as an expert on anything" ->Couldnt agree more.

Thanks for sharing your views.

Jarret


Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Thanks for your comment and I would say that most true experts are both group L and group W combined (as well as the highest paid) 🙂
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Lets just say you are humble as I know if I ever had a question about Winshuttle and looking for an expert I would be reaching out to you. 

Should have added an 11th...."Most Experts do not call themselves experts and let others do it for them"
TomCenens
Active Contributor
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Hello Jarret

I have to disagree on years of experience needed you mention in the blog and on the same pace the go-live's that are needed.

For example Person X works four days a week and spends eight hours a day on SAP. Person Y works five days a week and spend on average twelve hours a day on SAP. Now consider they work fifty weeks in a year.

Person X: 4*8 = 32 * 50 = 1600
Person Y: 5*12 = 60 * 50 = 3000

Now lets say Person X has eight years of experience and Person Y has four years of experience you come to the following result:

Person X: 1600 * 8 = 12800
Person Y: 3000 * 4 = 12000

You see how close those persons can be in terms of hours spent on a single topic. I might be giving a rare example but you get the idea.

Someone who is breathing SAP in and out can overcome someone who has twice the years of experience so for me it's not accountable as a good measure.

A video you might be interested in on TED which mentions the fact that spending 10.000 hours on studying a single topic would make that someone an expert on that topic compared to others:
http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

Even if someone manages to do that, technology, applications and products are changing so fast it is almost impossible to be aware of everything that is happening, changing and be the person who has the most knowledge on the topic.

Kind regards

Tom




Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Great point and just for clarity that was Nathan's comment so I will let him defend that 🙂 but I think he would say it was a broad characterization.

It is very subjective but I know people with 4 years of experience that have ALOT more expertise than people with 10 years and will be an expert well before.
Former Member
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Hi Tom!

I would disagree with both statements.  (You and Jarret on that one.)

Amount of time spent does not equal an expert.  Think back to your school days. (For me a long time ago.)  The person that spent 100 hours of study time may not do any better on the test than the person who spent 2 hours studing.  🙂

That doesn't mean I don't think you need to put in the effort.  It just means that experience is only one part of it.  I think Jarret nailed it when he said 10 ways.  It could be 100 ways.

We do technical interviews.  Experience MAY get you in the door but it is only one factor of many.

Michelle
TomCenens
Active Contributor
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Hello Michelle

I totally agree, I wanted to dismiss the years of experience as a factor but even spending time isn't a proper factor.

It would require a lot of prerequisites to be able to use it as a useful metric.

Kind regards

Tom
TomCenens
Active Contributor
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Hello Jarret

Correct 🙂 I have had a lot of discussions on this with other people on similar points like getting a raise or getting a senior title with very little years of experience. It creates a lot of conversation.

Basically it comes down to the fact that it has to be interpreted case by case and that expertise is a relative thing depending on one's point of view.

How about the following statement
"He is a SAP expert, whatever issue we have or whatever we need to get done he handles it."

From that perspective the person who would be considered to be an expert doesn't need to have indepth knowledge in those areas at all.

Expert comes from latin expertus and can also have the meaning "tested".

Kind regards

Tom
Former Member
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... that you brought up a really emotional topic. When I started with SAP as a trainee 6 years ago, I was digging through tutorials, online-courses a.s.o. for the - at that time - hot Java @ SAP topic. And after getting my certification in this area, I thought that this would be the entry-point into experts heaven. At that time, somebody was already a senior expert who could build a simple WDJ application and deploy it via NWDI.

After switching more and more to ABAP, I had to learn quite rapidly that my previous SAP experience wasn't worth a dime - except for the ABAP Objects approach and later WDA.

Now I'm developing ABAP in various modules for 4 years already, and the more I get to know about SAPs applications themselves, the less I would call myself a SAP expert.

This is what I agree with you totally: No SAP experts around, just ones for small areas.

Regards,
Thomas
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Thanks for the comment and you bring an interesting perspective especially given the area you intially focused on WDJ has been minized due to changes in SAP's strategy.

I think it is important to continue to learn new things in areas outside of your core as you never know when having experience will come in handy.

I agree with your point that the more you learn the more you realize what it takes to call yourself an expert. In 1999 I thought I was an expert (I wasnt) and the more I learn and as the years go by I realize how little I really knew. That is the great thing and the curse of choosing SAP as a living.

Sandra_Rossi
Active Contributor
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I prefer the general definition of wikipedia, rather than Expert™, at least it allows me to be a little expert in some areas in my company 😉

Sandra
Former Member
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and the more i learn the less i can call myself an expert
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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I purposely chose the harder definition to make a point but expert definitely has a lot of different meanings.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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I am exactly the same and the interesting thing is most of the true experts I know would never call themselves an expert but many others would do that for them.
stephenjohannes
Active Contributor
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The problem is that I know at least three people I would consider as SAP experts, but whose public contributions aren't as visible.  I would almost agree on this being more of an influencer list, because I know they don't meet the public requirements of the list.

I will even defend my argument more that one of those is my primary "goto guy" when I need my second opinion on CRM technical issues.  Yep I have tried to lure him to contribute more publicly, but I understand why he doesn't.  IMHO a real expert is person who you turn to when all other "experts" can't figure out your problem.

The other expert I know, is from an age group is not as active on social media and contributes in more traditional realms.  However still can classify as an expert, because he has written those classic "white papers" that get passed along, but aren't 100% in the public domain. 

I think we already alluded to this but a real expert always knows what they don't know and are honest when asked.  Now perhaps a more interesting challenge is to find a SAP generalist, which I would argue there are fewer of these people than experts out there.  A generalist is someone who understands the "big picture" and knows what type of experts to call on in order to figure out the details. 

Take care,

Stephen
stephenjohannes
Active Contributor
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Michelle is right there are some awesome folks on the customer side who are experts, who don't choose the consultant lifestyle.  I worked with many of these people when I was a consultant and continue to work with many more of those people when I switched over to the "good side".

I think one advantage folks who work on the "good side" have over consultants is that we are more interested in the long term big picture at times, because the system will always be ours to take care of once the consultants leave.  I found that most consultants except for the very good ones, do not understand this long term ALM focus that is required.  It's one thing to put in the system, it's a different ballgame to keep it running for multiple years.

I think the one advantage consultants bring over those of us on the "good side" is the fact they see many different ways of doing the same thing.  That knowledge makes the consultant useful to the "good side", because we can always pick up the pure technical skills with no problem(contrary to popular belief). 

Don't worry we haven't e-mailed the comments here to all the SAP Mentors who aren't consultants for review ;).

Take care,

Stephen

Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Great comment Stephen as I know several as well that dont do the public peices of the top ten (ie conferences, SCN, social media) but I will also say I see MANY more that say expert on their Linkedin profile that dont do any of the items on the list.

Could agree more that a true expert always feels comfortable saying I dont know....because they know that they either can figure out the answer or easily ask an friend/collegue in their network and quickly get the correct answer. Often there is no prize for being the quickest and first to answer but there is a credibility penalty for being wrong.

I liked your generalist comment as I for one have such a narrow area of focus even after 13 years wouldnt be comfortable in any role where I speaking outside of HR.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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I hope I clarified my comment regarding the client/customer comment before I get any mentor "hate mail" 🙂 as I was answering it regard to a consultant calling himself an expert.

I have worked with many client resources over the years that would put high profile consultants to shame with their SAP and business knowledge but just werent interested in a consulting career for a number of reasons. On a side I think that most good consultants love to work with very smart long time SAP clients as they can see the value that a good consultant can bring to the table as they have had many pass through over the years.

I love working with experts on the customer side as I am continually trying to learn and grow and couldnt agree more that the technical side of SAP is often the easiest peice to learn. 
Former Member
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Error 1: There is a global ERP, my area is BI so the focus is there, where I feel the tilt of these conditions makes Ralf Kimball not an expert in SAP BI at all- fact is he is without knowing anything about SAP BI

Error 2: This is a Technology focused, Looking outward definition of expert. most SAP employees would thus become experts by merely existing within SAP.

Error 3: Missed the most important condition: Success or what I refer to as BVA = Business Value Attainment, also termed as Valuenomics.

Devils advocate business case:
SAP BI Expert A went straight from Engineering college to SAP. Knows everything about SAP for a very SAP point of view, i.e. firmly believes technology is King. Works for SAP for 8 years
1. Has a large SAP Network
2. Is active on SDN and blogs
3. Presents pre-made content at ASUG and SAPPHIRE
4. Has a LinkedIn identity and tweets
5. Has done 2 technical editor assignments on books
6. P7. resents at local ASUG chapters, once participated at DSAG
7. HERE IS THE KEY - Define successful.(WILL ELABORATE AT THE END)
8. Is an technology expert in a narrow field of BI. Lets say BI Project Management and Architecture.
9. Being in BI and SAP knows a lot of key people - I dont think any can know them all
10. They are current in the technology and known what is next from the SAP technology side.

REALITY OUT THERE
A. 50% of BI Projects Fail (Gartner Report- this is agnostic of platform. Result 50% of our experts BI projects also statistically fail

B. 98% of BI Projects are declared successful in Week 1, 90% of vendors leave BI projects by Week. Only 50% of BI projects remain successful by week 10 (BI Valuenomics stats July 2010)

C. "Without business in business intelligence, BI is Dead" - Folks that come from pure Technology shy from including business into their projects or methodologies. They have been nurtured and firmly believe that technology is king. The same way as agrarian landlords before 1860's thought land would provide all solutions, and as industrialists before 1908 thought machiones would provide all human needs, and as automation experts thought robotics would solve all manufacturing processes. In each case it was only with the establishment of 'Scientific Principles and methodologies' that success was achieved. Historicall this takes around 15 years and we are at that 15 year point. All around us lie Multi-million BI structures standing at a 50% crumbled state.
So how does this make anyone an expert.

The customer, their business needs and meeting business expectations is what should define whether a person is a SAP expert or not. Not simply having all the contacts and knowing only the technology.
Former Member
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There is a sanskrit saying
"As students we go out and accumulate knowledge. As experts we start to learn more and more about less and less. That is the only way to become an expert. Finally we return home knowing everything about nothing"
Former Member
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I love this response.  How true it is.
Pazahanick_Jarr
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Hi Hari

Thanks for the detailed comment an you bring up a good point that a key part of being an expert is understanding the coresponding business as in-depth as you understand the technology.

I would like to get your thoughts on some common traits you have seen of individuals that understand both the business as well SAP at an expert level.

On a side note per your example if a person has done the following:

1. Has a large SAP Network
2. Is active on SDN and blogs
3. Presents pre-made content at ASUG and SAPPHIRE
4. Has a LinkedIn identity and tweets
5. Has done 2 technical editor assignments on books
6. P7. resents at local ASUG chapters, once participated at DSAG
7. HERE IS THE KEY - Define successful.(WILL ELABORATE AT THE END)
8. Is an technology expert in a narrow field of BI. Lets say BI Project Management and Architecture.
9. Being in BI and SAP knows a lot of key people - I dont think any can know them all
10. They are current in the technology and known what is next from the SAP technology side.

On a side note I would guess that someone who had done the above would in most cases be part of the 50% BI projects that are successful.
Former Member
Hi Jarret,

in order to provoke, I'd call this definition including the Wikipedia one "very American". Thruth spoken it is probably more the European stereotype of an American view.

Why? Because it does focus primarily on public perception, not inherent qualities. The definition given is more of an expert for sales or self promotion than for SAP.

And let's be honest: you don't need to be very good at the subjetc matter to write an SAP PRESS book. (I can say that, because I wrote some myself 😉 ) I've read some all of our juniors could have written.

Why am I making this comment? Not because I want to be a nuissance and contradict you (I actually believe that it is desirable that real Experts do what you asy, but it's not a criterion for experts). It's because I do believe that far too many people, who are just good at selling themselves are to be found in SAP projects and for too few, who actually understand the technology and the process or are good at managing projects and change. Some people busy getting their names out would better use that time to read, what the real experts publish or go home and play with teir IDES system to learn.

Sure I'l get some fire for this, but as I said, it I want to provoke, so that's ok.
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I'd like to claim that the (social) media & publishing aspects (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) are way overrated as "true expert indicators". This has to do with the platform this conversation takes place on: SDN (blog area). All readers of this blog, all comment-writers and especially the author do not represent the "average" SAP professional. This has been discussed lately on SDN, although I don't remember the exact context. And "average" does not imply "average-skilled", but I refer to the statistical average.

Okay getting to the point: My assumption is that the absolute majority (let's say 80-90%) of the "TRUE SAP EXPERT"s has absolutely no connection to the above-mentioned aspects 1 till 6. Absolutely none. Two important reasons that come to my mind spontaneously are:
- not willing to sacrifice valuable time that is better spent in projects
- not willing to share valuable SAP knowledge / internal business knowledge because this is _business_

Additionally I think aspect 9 is not really substantive. But I would agree that pursuing one or more of the 10 aspects is a way to BECOME an SAP expert (in a modern definition).
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