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The evolution of consulting

It’s very interesting to me as I look back at my consulting career, and compare it to now, to see the consulting world has changed for me, and at least some of my friends.  When I first started consulting, it worked for one of the big firms.  They would send me to a project every single week.  It was my job to be onsite at the client, every week.  Remote work wasn’t even an option, except for Friday’s.  Now I fast forward 15 years, and my last few contracts have been primarily remote.  Meaning I make a visit once a month or every two months, otherwise everything is done by conference call, webex, etc.  What changed???  Was it just me?

I don’t think it was just me.  I think it has a lot to do the client becoming much smarter in how they use their budgets.  Back when I first started consulting, companies seemed to just have money to throw away.  When you figure that on average (of course this varies by location) it costs $1000-$2000 per person, per week.  Back in the day, there could be 20 – 50 consultants on a project.  Now, many of the projects I’ve worked on in the past 5 years have been 10 consultants or less.  Why is this?  in my opinion, it has to do with companies finding independent consultants with solid skills compared to 15 years ago, you let a big integrator come in with their army (many of which were learning on the job).  By getting solid skilled people, companies were able to cut down the number of people needed by a factor of 2, or in some instances as much as 10.

To follow that thought, when a proven resource was found, it was no longer such a requirement to see them in the office every day.  Especially, when week after week, the consultant was getting their tasks accomplished remotely.  So this begs the question, is there value add to spending $1000 – $2000/person/week just to have someone on-site.  There is no question that is valuable in certain times of a project, initial blueprinting, major testing cycles, and go-live.  I’ve done projects like this for the past 4 years, and each has been just as successful as any project that I traveled every week.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Is it only certain modules?  is it only certain industries?

Thanks for reading,

Service Management – Making the Service Product Section Appear in the service order

Well, thanks to Deven for this post.  He pointed out something that I really hadn’t paid attention to the in past.  If you are looking at the service order, certain orders have the service product, sales order, etc.  (in default SAP, this is the RMA section).  If you find this section isn’t showing up for your service order and you want it, you need to add a single check mark in configuration.

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Select: Credit Limit Checks, Sales Document Types for Service Orders.

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Be sure the service check box is set.

Thanks for reading,

Wanted: Visionaries

One of the revelations that has recently hit me is that if I want to really build a business, I need some ideas.  Now, here is my problem.  I’m really good with “reactionary” type solutions.  I can look at a problem using the tools I have and can come up with great solutions, but I’m in need of is someone that look forward and help guide me where to go next.  What I’ve discovered about myself is that I’m the sort of person that guide an idea to completion, but I often get caught up in managing those projects, and don’t make the time to pay attention to all of the latest and great technology out there.

I’m looking for some help to start taking my business beyond SAP ERP.  Right now I’m considering the internet of things for certain niche markets, but here again, I’m chasing the pack.  My buddy Justin recently pointed out that if you aren’t focusing on solutions that can make a 500% – 1000% difference, you’re probably chasing the wrong ideas.  With the speed of technology in today’s world, everything is changing faster than ever.  If I’m not focusing on something big, I’m one of the dinosaurs just waiting for extinction.

So if you’re one of those visionaries out there, that can see the path, or at least have a good guess, please reach out to me.  I’m very interested in partnering with you.

Thanks for reading,

Would you find it useful to see All the in-house repair information on one screen?

One of the biggest complaints I have from clients using the in-house repair process is that when I look at IW58 (notification list) I can’t see the repair sales order or service order, if they were created from the action box in the notification.  Well, I decided that it would be a useful feature to add to my Renovation product.  Take a look, and let me know what you think.

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You’ll see in this screen shot that also incorporated this into my multiple serial number functionality.  So if you just have a single notification, you’ll see the sales order number, the line item, and the service order if they exist for each line.  If you have a multiple serial number notification, you’ll see the word multiple, and you can click it and see the popup.  This will show you the sales order/line item/service order for each serial number.  Pretty slick???  I hope so.

thanks for reading,

Web Dynpro – Overriding a Column Title in an ALV Grid

Here’s a useful little tip that I just had to overcome.  In my Renovation application, I have an ALV grid of results, and some of the columns are my own custom columns.  Instead of taking the data dictionary description, I wanted to be set it to my own description.  I had solved this issue for non-ALV tables, but it seems that ALV had me outsmarted for a while.  I finally decided to solve this little headache and thought I’d show you what I found.  First off, thanks to Thomas, the web dynpro guru and all his posts.

http://scn.sap.com/thread/1385428

This thread gave me exactly what I was looking for.  It turns out that you can’t just change the text, you first need to turn off the data dictionary binding.  It’s pretty easy to do…  For me, I just needed to add one additional method call:

 l_header->set_prop_ddic_binding_field(
    property =  if_salv_wd_c_ddic_binding=>bind_prop_text
    value = if_salv_wd_c_ddic_binding=>ddic_bind_none ).

but if you're starting from scratch, check the link above to see full sample code.  
Thanks for reading,

 

Looking for a new iOS App developer

Well, unfortunately my rock star app developer I’ve used in the past has a new job, and won’t be able to support my ad-hoc projects very well going forward (I’ll miss you Paul), so I’m on the hunt for a new developer.  If you happen to know anyone that does iOS development and is familiar with using the Netweaver gateway services, please let me know.  I would need to find someone that will work on a per job basis, since it’s unlikely I will have constant work to do.

Ideally, this person will be able to iOS and Android (iOS is the starting point, but if a client wants Android, I need to be able to convert to that platform).  All of my services will be coming from SAP Gateway, so experience here is very helpful, especially since I’m far from an expert in this area, but I’ve figured out enough stuff to be dangerous 🙂

email me at: mpiehl@javellinsolutions.com if you are interested.

Thanks for reading,

 

Netweaver Gateway – Cleaning up Runtime Artifacts

Well, since I’ve been working on a new mobile app, I’ve been building quite a few new services.  I had noticed that my compile time was getting pretty long (5 – 10 minutes in fact).  I initially thought was just because of all of the services.  But then I took a minute and noticed that every time (I think) I compiled my project, I was getting several new classes (interfaces) created.  I started looking at them, and they all seemed identical.  It seems that the gateway makes these extra classes for you to redesign things.  The problem is that suddenly I had a 1000 new classes I didn’t even know I had.  So, I started hunting on the web to see what I could find.  I never did get a good explanation for all these classes (if anyone out there reading can tell me, I’d love to understand).

But apparently, this is a known issue, and the only way to clean it up is manually.  So if you find yourself with a new netweaver gateway project, take a look at your runtime objects.  It’s likely you have a big stack of trash in there.  Here’s why I’m getting rid of it.

1.  SE24, deleting the extra classes.  I did a small experiment, and it’s like doritos, crunch all you want, we’ll make more.  So I’ve been wiping out all of my interfaces, and then recompiling my project, leaving me with just the few classes I need.  I built a gui script to do this, as it was taking nearly a minute for each deletion.  Decided, I’d let it happen while I slept.

2.  if you want to remove them from the list, you need to take a 2nd step and delete them from table: /IWBEP/I_SBD_GA  I just built a simple program where I can input the classes I deleted, then remove them from the dB.  The following code is simple and take care of the issue.

TABLES/IWBEP/I_SBD_GA.

SELECT-OPTIONS:  so_name FOR /IWBEP/I_SBD_GANAME.

DELETE from /IWBEP/I_SBD_GA WHERE name in so_name.

I’m still in the middle of cleanup, so I’m hoping my run time significantly improves.  Then I can get back to the original issue of why my create attachment won’t compile… but I’ll save that for when I have an answer 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Maintaining Relationships

I had an interesting revelation the other night.  It’s a lot harder to maintain a close relationship than I originally thought.  For me, it became obvious when I realized that I have drifted away from some of my very close friends after I moved south to Charlotte.  Nothing happened except that we just don’t see each other very often, and it gets easy to drift apart.  So then I realized, it’s not different in business.  If you don’t keep the relationship up, it will quickly drift to an occasional Christmas card.

I was once told that for every friend, they fall into one of a few different categories.  I don’t remember exactly the wording, but it was reason, season, and lifetime (or something like that).  The idea behind it is there are some relationships that are in our lives for a reason, and then move on.  Some for a season, so they are with us for a while, and then drift away, and others that last a lifetime.  While this is a very nice sentiment, I don’t know that it’s entirely true.  I think a lot has to do with how much anyone is willing to work to keep the relationship alive.  Take me for example, I’ve been away from MN and my close friends for nearly 6 years now, and as i look at it, I haven’t worked as hard as I should to keep in touch.  It can be a simple phone call or email, and we could still be close…  but often we let life get in the way.  We get wrapped up in our lives so much, that we can’t find 5 minutes to say hi, how are you doing?

Are business relationships really any different?  you make a friend, a prospect, a customer.  For a while, you are great at building the relationship, keeping it alive and staying close.  But after a time, you may come to take it for granted…  you may “give up” on them…  or you might get too busy with new prospects…

Just keep this in mind…  making a new friend, a prospect or a customer is a lot harder than keeping up your existing relationships.  Don’t lose what you have chasing something new.

Thanks for reading,

Field Service – Expense Reports

How valuable would it be for you to have your field technicians send you their expense reports directly from a Ipad or their phone?  After being at SAPPHIRE, and realizing that a chunk of the keynote presentation was dedicated to Concurr (SAP’s newest way to handle expense reports), made me wonder how valuable this would be in the service world.  We’ve had an idea for quite a while, and I wanted to float it out there, and see if there was any interest in a solution that handles this for the field service technicians.

Now the idea is that in many organizations I’ve worked at, field techs fills out a paper form and send it to finance or someone else to approve, then ultimately finance can charge those costs to the service order.  Would it be valuable to provide an expense entry either in SAP (or on a mobile app) that would allow your technicians to enter in their expenses, and take a picture of the receipt (if required).  This would send a message to the supervisor.  They would review the expense report, and it would be automatically charged to the service order.  Mostly likely, it would also need a printout, so it could be turned into payroll or whoever pays the expenses.

Is this something useful?  are their pieces that would need to be added?  I’d love to hear you thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Are you projecting yourself on your prospects?

Well, let me tell you, I sure have been.  If you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time, I’m sure you realize that when it comes to SAP skills, I’m top notch.  When it comes to sales and marketing…  well, it’s a work in progress.  Recently, I came to the conclusion that the reason I have to many issues around sales and marketing is that I project myself onto my customers.  What do I mean by that?  I automatically assume they think like I do.

For example, I’m not a big phone guy.  I’d prefer face to face 100 times over making a phone call.  Don’t ask me why… it’s just me.  So naturally, I assume that everyone else feels the same way.  So instead of calling potential customers, I send an email.  For any of you out there that don’t feel like dealing with vendors or just have too much noise in your life, I’m sure you realize how easy it is to delete an email.  Even if it’s something you really need or at least have interest in.  All of our lives are too busy…  so the path of least resistance is the delete button in our inbox.  What does that mean to me?  it means that all of those emails I’ve sent, and then wondered about, may not have even been read.

But, I’ve been talking to some of my sales friends, and they reminded that many people do want to talk.  It’s not being bothered to have a quick phone call with someone.  And a voicemail is far more likely to be listened to than an email.  Even if it’s deleted at the end, at least your chances of being heard are better.

Now this is just one of many examples.  The question you need to ask yourself is “what am I projecting onto my customers/prospects?”  The only way to have a chance is stop assuming they are anything like you.  Remember, you are trying to help them.  In my case, I’m offering a solution that makes lives easier and makes the bottom line healthier.  Who wouldn’t want to hear more about that?

Thanks for reading,