Blueprint? RDS don’t need no stinkin’ Blueprint

Strong SAP SDN post by Mark Chaffen on SAP RDS (Rapid Deployment Solutions) and the case of the missing Blueprint.   I’ve only started to dig in to the topic, so these are my (likely half-baked) first thoughts:

  • On balance “no Blueprint” is good.  Its exclusion reinforces that a RDS implementation is of a fixed, limited scope.  There must always be some sort of scope statement, of course, and its there.  Unfortunately, “Blueprint” seems to equal “everything and the kitchen sink” in some SI’s SAP glossaries!  Wise to make a clean break in the lexicon.
  • Avoid Death by Change Order.   RDS is designed to deliver only what one needs to execute — the wish list comes later.  Only fill in regulatory, statutory, or other compliance gaps during the initial implementation; otherwise make a conscious decision to remaining requirements into  backlogs that get burned down release-by-release. 
  • RDS still too “new solution” oriented.  There are other ways to expand a SAP footprint… how about RDS for acquisitions, divestitures, or other growth/transformation scenarios?

Wow, Leo Apotheker’s gone already?

Unbelievable that Leo Apotheker has already fallen on his sword.  There has been tons of chatter about Leo and his demise (Dennis Howlett here, Larry Dignan here, Michael Krigsman here, and the #leogone Twitter feed is here).  Here are a few of my thoughts and questions:

  • Everyone at must be relieved that Hasso is back in charge, morale at SAP has been a mess for a while.  The honesty from Hasso in his press conference was refreshing…the lack thereof is one of the reasons I’m not there.
  • Blaming Business By Design on Leo seems ridiculous…I’ve seen that mentioned a couple of places (here’s Bloomberg).  Didn’t Peter Zencke fall on his sword for this already?  Anyway, absurd.
  • How can anyone have any confidence that giving the development side more power will be fruitful? (see “Blaming Business By Design on Leo seems ridiculous” above)  I agree this represents a shift back to product development.  But what then? 
  • What does the field have left?  Leo supposedly represented the field, but IMO the field has been carrying SAP for a long time.   Will Werner Brandt’s beatings continue until the field’s morale improves?
  • Who else is leaving?  I’m not sure that current leadership gets what Peter Goldmacher states bluntly: “I think SAP is structurally impaired.”  The rot runs much deeper than Leo.

Why I left SAP…”macro” negatives

Second-guessing oneself is a risk when deciding to leave a leading company, so I needed to ensure that I had no regrets when I left SAP.   In particular,  I didn’t want short-term personal or “micro” stumbling blocks to obscure great “macro” opportunities in the rest of SAP.  Unfortunately, there were too many big picture concerns that nagged at me, at least from my less-than-exalted perch:

  • The “Post-Shai” Backlash:  The reaction to Shai’s departure was almost giddy in many quarters, which wasn’t a surprise.  The real surprise was the scale, scope, and snarkiness of the reaction.   A lot of non-Palo Alto folks minimized Shai’s contributions when it was convenient — see Peter Zencke on Shai’s “second tier” involvement with BYD — and blamed him when it wasn’t convenient (e.g, BYD didn’t perform because of NetWeaver). 
  • Condition of SAP’s Product Portfolio:  For those familiar with the BCG Matrix, IMO the SAP portfolio is unbalanced.  Nearly all of the SAP portfolio can be classed as either cash cows or pets.   I just don’t see enough “stars” on the solution horizon. 
  • Confronting the Reality of Business ByDesign:  Speaking of pets, there was way too much happy talk about BYD for far too long.  The funding that was poured into BYD — while SAP increased its margins — came out of the hides of other parts of the company.  

This last point highlights the fundamental doubt I had about the validity of SAP’s strategy: Was it still able to produce “stars” organically?  A “not-invented-here” mindset only works when you’re still able to invent.  It is one thing to miss on product development, it is another to deny the miss. 

 Leo is certainly aware of this issue, but this unwillingness confront reality has continued to spread IMO.   I’m not sure that SAP understands just how much damage it has done to itself by running some sides of the company with a gimlet eye, while other sides seems to be living in the best of all possible worlds.

About one-to-many EMEA SAPPHIREs

There has been some hubbub (Dennis Howlett collects some comments here, Josh Greenbaum more positively here, SearchSAP story here) about SAP’s decision to move from a single SAPPHIRE event in EMEA (2008 was in Berlin) to a series of events around the continents.  From my experience working around the world — and based on no “inside SAP” knowledge whatsoever — I’m not surprised by what Mike Prosceno conveyed to Dennis.  EMEA (and APJ and LA) customers often pine for:

a closer-to-home experience, in local language, one that is more intimate, and provides better opportunities for networking with peers, but that also continues to deliver SAP executive insight, partner participation and, where possible, user group participation

We’ve had similar mini-SAPPHIRES (to steal from Josh’s headline) in different geographies — I’m most familiar with the SAP Forums that SAP Brazil puts on (2008 here, 2007 here).  The attractions of local language and partner access are pretty obvious.  Furthermore, I’m not sure how this could be perceived as obviously a cost reduction measure.  If anything, on its face this approach will require more commitment and coordination, never mind resources. 

Finally, whenever I’ve presented at such events, I feel like I’ve made real, in-depth contact with our customers.  I believe that they feel that way as well.  IMO, going to where our customers live — and not asking them to come to us — is a shrewd move.

SOA and Project Management

We’ve discussed the impact of enterprise services and Enterprise SOA on a number of occasions (in many of the links collected here and here especially).  My focus has been on complexity and how Enterprise SOA is part of the transition where “every project becomes a program”.

One of the little discussed impacts — on project managers, that is — is the increased interaction among business process experts, business users, and technical teams.  Demir Barlas has a link rich post on the SOA in SAP topic here.  I had seen some of these links before (Dennis’s post in Demir’s quote below), but Demir has pulled together other good links that serve as primers on the topic.

The impact of SOA on project management practices is alluded to in Demir’s last full paragraph:

Finally, because SOA is right at the heart of both business processes and enterprise applications, it brings together what you might call the suits and the geeks. SOA is making these disparate communities speak each other’s languages, as you can discover on SAP’s BPX forum.

In particular, project managers must dedicate more attention to their stakeholder management practices.  Many of these stakeholder groups are new to SAP projects.  As Demir notes, they don’t speak the same language.  Business and transactional users also have very different expectations about how the project should engage their time and attention.

Before you manage your next SAP Enterprise SOA project, take a few minutes to poke around on SDN and BPX to get a feel for the discussions.

Project debriefs…the Army way

Nice post on after-action reviews (AARs, or what we call reviews or debriefs) by Ed Kless at VeraSage.  Ed relates the experience of an United States Army officer in his class (post here).  I especially liked two points:

At AARs all personnel remove their hats. This signifies that in the AAR there is no rank. Insubordination is not possible.

While there is no rank, junior ranks are encouraged to speak first. Often times they are the ones who see the problems and therefore possible solutions more clearly.

Also, Ed’s student provided a copy of the U.S. Army’s manual (here).

Hat tip: Dennis Howlett

Video from pics at animoto.com

Here’s a cool Web 2.0 site — animoto.com — that let’s you create a video from jpg, gif, etc. It took me about 30 minutes to pull together a few family pics, select some canned music (I could have uploaded an mp3), and voila!

Curious what folks think…

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