In this second podcast, I spoke to Amber Christian, an SAP consultant and entrepreneur based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Amber is one of my favorite people to speak to and you’ll see why in a moment.
Not only does she help Fortune 500 companies optimize their working capital in the Treasury and Cash Management areas, Amber is also a highly-praised speaker at national conferences, a chair member at one of the largest SAP user groups in North America, a product designer, an entrepreneur … the list goes on.
We talk about
How to plug into SAP ecosystem and stay up-to-date on their products and roadmaps Amber gives us a peak into the different levels of the America’s SAP User’s group, including a relatively unknown membership where you can beta-test new features and influence the direction of SAP’s products.
Working on the cutting edge Amber walks us through the challenges of being a first to implement a solution, the questions you should ask when adopting new technologies, and how she plans to make it easier for others in her industry when facing new and unexplored challenges.
What happens after your project ends? The common challenges and the tools that Amber is using to enable continuous improvement for her clients.
How to keep up with new technologies Amber shares valuable insight on how to provide value to your customers beyond having your hands on the keyboard and… what happens when you reach the limit of your expertise but still contribute immensely to your customers.
Amber and I had a lot of fun recording this session, and we hope you enjoy it.
ASUG – The world’s largest independent SAP users’ group where you can connect with your peers and stay up-to-date on SAP products and best-practices.
openSAP – Open Online Courses by SAP for those “who wish to improve and deepen their practical IT know-how”.
Trufa – An application that leverages predictive analytics to help companies improve working capital and finance/operations performance.
Connect with Amber
- Website: http://www.consultace.biz/
- Blog: http://blog.consultace.biz/
- Newsletter: http://www.consultace.biz/newsletter_-_ace_in_your_inbox.html
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ace-llc
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/acetreasury
- SAP Community Network: http://scn.sap.com/blogs/consultace
|Hau:||In this second podcast, I speak to Amber Christian, an SAP consultant and entrepreneur based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Amber is one of my favorite people to talk to, and you’ll see why in a moment. Not only does she help Fortune 500 companies optimize their working capital in the treasury and cash management areas, Amber is also a highly praised speaker at national conferences, a chair member at one of the largest SAP user groups in North America, a product designer, an entrepreneur and the list goes on. In this session, we talk about how to plug into the SAP ecosystem and stay up to date with their products and roadmaps. Amber gives us a peak into the different levels of Americas’ SAP Users’ Group, including a relatively unknown membership where you can beta test new features and influence the direction of SAP’s products. We also go into detail about what it’s like working on the edge.|
|Amber walks us through the challenges of when we first implement a solution, the questions you should ask when adopting new technologies and how she plans to make it easier for others in the industry when facing new and unexplored challenges. In this second half of the interview, we discuss what happens after your project ends and the tools that Amber is using to enable continuous improvement for her clients and we learn how to keep up with new technologies. Amber shares valuable insight on how to provide value to your customers beyond having your hands on the keyboard and what happens when you’ve reached the limit of your expertise but still contribute immensely to your customers. Amber and I had a lot of fun recording this session and we hope you enjoy it.|
|Welcome, Amber, to the second podcast of Ask an Expert where I interview successful professionals like yourself on what they have learned helping large teams navigate the increasingly complex landscape that is SAP. Now, our friendship go back several years, but for those who are not familiar with your work, can you give us a brief summary of who you are and what you do?|
|Amber:||Well thank you Hau so much for having me on this show and welcome to all of our listeners on the second podcast. My name is Amber Christian and I’ve been doing SAP work for most of my career. My primary focus areas are in treasury and cash management but really what I do is anything in the cash to cash cycle. I work in working capital optimization so I help businesses with business process redesign and optimization efforts. Within SAP, okay, what does that mean? Let me give you some English.|
|Amber:||What is that? Wow, that’s a mouthful, that sounds really glamorous, Amber. Really it’s anything in which you think of as your procure to pay process, primarily around payment technologies. Then in your order to cash process, it’s your accounts receivable and your sales functions and then in the core treasury areas. Anything from cash management to some foreign exchange activity to core treasury like inter-company loans and different financing mechanisms for companies.|
|Hau:||Just to put it into perspective of someone who’s not as familiar, whenever monies get exchanged, you’re the expert in guiding customers on their best practices and what other companies are doing in that space. Would that be close to what you’re saying?|
|Amber:||Yes, that would be exactly right. I like to make a little bit of a joke of any time it touches cash, that’s where I like to be involved in the process.|
|Hau:||That’s awesome. I know I follow you a lot, Amber, on LinkedIn and it seems like you’re just doing so much on there. I know you’re always on the cutting edge of new technologies here as an entrepreneur yourself. I know you’re focused on what’s next, right?|
|Hau:||During our conversations, I’ve always been interested to know what are you doing now? I know SAP, they have a lot of modules, they have different directions and roadmaps. How are you plugged in and engaged and aligning yourself with the future roadmap with either SAP or how your customers are responding to these new announcements from SAP?|
|Amber:||Sure. I stay plugged into the SAP ecosystem in a number of ways. One of the roles that I have is I’m actually a Special Interest Group chair through Americas’ SAP Users’ Group. Through ASUG is one of the ways that I stay plugged in because SAP actually does a lot of roadmap work with ASUG and so that actually gives us a lot of exposure to what’s happening in the ecosystem as well.
I also stay plugged in with product design work that I do with SAP so I stay involved with that work. Most customers might not be aware but through their user groups they can actually be involved in product work themselves. There’s a little hidden gem that you can be involved in called the customer engagement initiatives through ASUG. For me, these actually represent a great learning opportunity for how I know what SAP is thinking about and working on from the functionality improvement perspectives.
|These are the types of things I go to when I’m looking at my existing customer base and small improvements in the system but you’ll also find me presenting at a lot of conferences. I was recently presenting at the SAP insider conference which is a great place to hear and interact actually with the product designers from SAP. Then also I go to the SAP treasury conferences as well because there’s a significant number of the product developers there. You find me at a lot of industry types of things as well as a lot of user group activities and that’s really how I tend to stay plugged in in this ecosystem.|
|Hau:||Okay, got you and from my experience going to primarily the Denver User Group, that’s where I like to attend the local chapters in person, to get a pulse of what other customers or vendors are working on. If I understand you correctly, the special interest groups, would you describe these as more online or virtual groups that meet to discuss the products and the future roadmaps for these products or are they special sessions in the national conferences we can get more information from?|
|Amber:||Actually, it’s a great question. Within ASUG, something that a lot of people may, well may not recognize is that there’s two different components. There’s something called the chapter level and that’s what you’re talking about with what’s going on in Denver and we’ve actually got one of the most active chapters in the nation in Minnesota and where I’m based.
The second component though is ASUG has a year round community, we label it the YRC in our acronym world. What we do is that content is tended that tends to reach everyone so not everyone can go to a chapter meeting. Maybe you’re not geographically located right by a city or it’s not available so we do specialized content that’s very focused on our specific areas. For me, I work for the accounts payable special interest group which sits in supply chain and then the treasury special interest group which sits in the finance community.
|This is really specialized content and webcast for those audiences but it’s available for any ASUG member to attend. How they work is they’re typically webinars and they can be anything from a customer success story of an implementation to new product functionality from SAP. We often have SAP actually guest speak on these topics and it can also be simply how should certain functionality in the system work? That comes from a lot of partners that we work with. We have a pretty diverse set of content that’s really driven by what people tell us they’re interested in. Then if people don’t tell me what they’re interested in, well you know how I just make it up. I guess and I try things and see what people show up to.|
|Hau:||See which ones to take.|
|Hau:||Amber, can you maybe give us one example of something that you’ve worked on that may be either brand new or new features to an existing solution where you are say an early adopter and what you’ve learnt from that experience?|
|Amber:||Sure, so I’m working on a current project where we’ve been doing all XML all the time and so this was a banking project. We went through the full cycle banking implementation which meant a request for proposal so the services were bid out to some large banks and we went through the full process of deciding on a banking partner. Then going ahead and doing a multiple phase roll out for it.
What was interesting about this project as well I joked it’s all XML all the time, it’s actually important and unique because of that. Now many people may say, “So what Amber, XML has been around a long time,” but you’ve got to remember this is the banking industry so we’re not quite as cutting edge as the web world but services have been changing and developing of course. In the banking industry around the payment and the core operations technology for corporates, a number of years ago there was this huge initiative in Europe called SEPA, the Single Euro Payments Area.
|What that did is that it really drove these XML payment layouts and corporates were adopting those layouts because it was a requirement of the legislation. What it didn’t cover is the other side of actually receiving statements back in XML. Those user standard called Camt.053 and it’s basically a cash management type message. What does a bank statement do? Just like what you get in your own personal finance, it’s a record of the activity on your account. Well while you only get a monthly on your personal accounts, large corporates get them every single day because they’ve just got so much more volume of activity. They bring those into their systems and they post them and they update all the items that were in transit. They take all of the receivables, all the cash that’s come in from customers that are paying them and they post those into the system, into their ledger so that they know where their cash balances are at all times.|
|Now the corporate that I was working with had an interesting strategic decision to make when we started this project. Going through a request for proposal, going through bidding out your banking services, this isn’t an easy task. It takes a lot of time, there’s a tremendous amount of work. It’s probably something you do about every 10 years. You don’t revisit this every year and you don’t really make changes once you get it in place. They’ve looked at this and said, “Okay, strategically as we look at the technology and technology maturity, what should we pick for the various technologies?” We actually decided to go with the Camt.053 XML even though we knew on the banking side that this would be newer. It would be essentially a leading edge. Now at first as I walked into this project like any good consultant, I spent a lot of time on Google, and …|
|Hau:||Let’s not give away too many secrets here.|
|Amber:||Oh yeah, you don’t need to tell that one. I used SCN and others too and so what I did is I was digging around and I was looking for case studies. I was looking, I was digging and like, “Is there advice out there from a technical and implementations perspective?” I tell you I found like one multiple year old article from one company that had done it. It was like, “Boy, this was a little scary when I was starting this.” Now this is a couple of years ago when I was starting this and we’re just wrapping it up now through several phases of the project. I learned so much in that process about where the standards are, questions to ask your banking partners, things to look for, how these structures get setup within the banking system. Just I learnt a lot of really valuable information.|
|I decided that perhaps the best way I could pay it forward for industry knowing that this is really I believe a better mouse trap for corporates in terms of adoption of technology that the best thing that I could is actually to start writing about it. Right now one of the exciting things that I’m in the process of doing is I’m working with a large journal that shall remain unnamed. We’re in the process of editing an article that is essentially the guidance for corporates on what kinds of questions you need to ask and what kinds of things do you need to understand if you really want to move forward with adopting these technologies. I wanted to write the guide that I wish someone would have given me a few years ago.|
|Hau:||Instead you stuck on just hitting your head against the wall I’m sure.|
|Amber:||Exactly, exactly and having to really ask some pretty deep questions and go, “We didn’t know that when we started.” That’s the reality of any new technologies, you’re going to have a certain amount of that as it goes. I wanted to make sure that for my industry that I write something like that and that we talk about because that’s the only way we get better. Is if we share those lessons so that we can all improve upon them.|
|Hau:||That is awesome and not only are you saving anyone who’s even considering this technology some major pain down the road but essentially you’re writing a book on how to do this and what the best practices are in this nation. That’s …|
|Amber:||Exactly. I haven’t figured out yet if I’m going to have friends or enemies out of the article. Other, some banks may not like me very much after simply because they’re going to have to answer a lot of questions and be like, “Are we ready to answer these?” Not because it’s anything bad but they’re going to probably start getting some pretty specific questions and it’s like, “Turned up your game.”|
|Hau:||Yeah, so what exactly did you get the question and I’m sure it will just refer to your book but this reminds me of back when I started BW 3.0 for Walt Disney. I think it was back in 2001 and there was very little information out there. You assume that on Google you can find anything but there’s not so much.|
|Hau:||At least from my experience even the consultants, good ones, the one who are every knowledgeable, they’re so busy working that they don’t have time to share. Do you agree?|
|Hau:||The things that you do know or you do find out, you only find that out through conversations like we’re having. I think it’s amazing that you’re writing that guide and I think a lot of people will be looking forward and rooting for that in the next two or three years.|
|Amber:||Hopefully, I keep my fingers crossed.|
|Hau:||There’s now a bullseye with your picture on it and saying Amber asked these questions and go paying the price.
Actually in line with some of the early adoptions and lessons learnt, I know at least in the analytics space, there’s this push now not just to report on the information they have but actually to predict future actions based on past performance. I noticed that at least from your LinkedIn updates here that you’re starting to move into this predicted analytics space. Can you speak a little bit more about what you’re doing and what you’re finding out as you go through that path?
|Amber:||Yes, of course. This has been a very interesting space that I started exploring late last fall. One of the things in my background that’s always frustrated me at my consulting projects is I knew that while we would put together these big projects, a lot of times they resulted in one time gains. That they weren’t good ways to really have continuous improvements for my customers. You hire a consultant, you bring them in, they do particular things and then they move on. The problem really becomes around maintenance of the solution, continuing to improve upon things, what do you do when the people and the staff things change out? You can have this degradation of quality effectively of the data and information and setup in your systems. That doesn’t really serve the end goal for the customer and so I was always frustrated by lack of ability to really help my customers with continuous improvement and how do they get better? How do they figure out where to target, what are the right actions, what’s the right place to go?|
|Several months ago I started working with a company called Trufa and they are based in Germany and the US in Silicon Valley and they’ve got a very interesting application that they’ve built. What they are actually doing is for the first time, this is a company that’s really helping you look at the financial supply chain and look across the process. Because as you get into the space of analytics we start talking about big data, right? You’re talking HANA, Hadoop, the technologies. You hear a lot that’s really about the technology and the number crunching but you don’t actually hear a lot about how do you know what targeted actions to take and what types of things to look at? Because my background is in the cash to cash cycle, working capital is a really natural fit for me because I’ve done so much work in this space. What we’re doing is we’re looking at the financial supply chain for the first time. Now someone might say, “What exactly does that mean?” Right, like you’re looking and saying, “That sounds glamorous.”|
|Hau:||I’ve got to say, isn’t that key things?|
|Amber:||Sure. Yeah, exactly, finance and supply chain. Yeah but you’re really looking for where’s the money tied up in your processes in the system? That’s really what you’re looking for and until we had some of this evolution of big data and some of these algorithms and different predictive capabilities, it wasn’t easy to try to figure out where’s the money tied up. Think of it like a bottleneck problem in manufacturing, that’s how I like to look at it. We all know that you can never really look across all the steps in your process in SAP. There aren’t a lot of ways to do that well. The tools just don’t exist to do that but what if you could look at your whole procure to pay process, anything that’s tying up like your day’s payable outstanding? You could look across your order to cash process which is where your day’s sales outstanding is tied up. What if you could associate with the different steps and activities in the system where the money is tied up?|
|Why do you care? What you’re looking at and as you start to think about this for companies is it’s becoming more difficult on the markets to raise money, there’s regulatory changes. There’s something called Basel III that’s going to start hitting companies and their ability to raise cash. There’s just a lot of regulatory things going on and so the best place a company can be in is not to need the cash in the first place.|
|Amber:||What you do is you look internally and you go, “Okay, well what if I could do a better job of controlling what I can control?” My working capital, my sales process, my payable process and if I could just squeeze the money out of those processes instead of having to go to my banker for the excess cash, I could do better in my internal processes. That’s the concept and what we really can do with some of these applications now is start to say, “Okay, we can identify that maybe one year country operations, there’s some real big out layers or there’s a lot more capital tied up in certain countries.” You can start to ask the questions of, “Well wait a second, we have these global processes?” We always talk about in implementations, global processes, we are all going to do it the same way. You start to see where things maybe aren’t done the same way or maybe all of a sudden you’re having a problem in your sales process because you’re running the stock out or it turns out it’s actually a third party supplier and there’s a quality problem.|
|You find that because you actually look at the lead time and you look at the DSO process. You’re starting to get this new ability and these new capabilities to dig more deeply and look at the problems. Then use that as a baseline for optimization. Without being able to look at these huge quantities of data, you’re left guessing, you’re left with gut feeling about where you think the problems are. Here you can see it, there’s numbers in front of you. You can see how many transactions there are or you can see what’s tied up there to give you a better or frankly to give you comfort in going after those improvements. To go, “I can actually prove it. I have a number to tie it too.” I don’t know about you Hau, but I always feel better when there’s a number. I know.|
|Hau:||I think that goes against what we’ve been doing in the past. As a classic data modeler, I have always taken the requirements from a business analyst and it usually comes from a hunch. That they say, “Here’s the metric that I think we should look at.” If it’s a new implementation, right, like still the SAP implementation, we won’t know if that’s the right measure until maybe two years later.|
|Hau:||Then we’re using metrics from I guess from two years ago that may not be as close as we would like and then it gets back to what you’re saying now how do we shift? How do we change that? Well by now there is a queue of enhancement requests and I’ve been working with clients who have enhancement queues that expand two years. Their business are saying, “If it’s going to take two years to make this change, how about we start looking at these other software providers who can get us the information much quicker?”|
|Amber:||Right, yeah. That’s actually where some of that, the newer technologies and things when you start working with bringing data into the cloud without having to deploy these heavy footprints, that’s where these really become game changers. More of the application service providers that you see that are out there are really shifting there because it’s more dynamic and you’re right, it’s faster. It’s so much faster to deploy. They can scale, spinning up Amazon web services and other things like that in the clouds so they can let … Their infrastructures can give out so much faster and they’re so much easier to deploy now. We didn’t have that 10 years ago frankly and they’ll ask it.|
|Hau:||I think when we started out, if you had SAP on your resume you were fine. You had job security for a while but to be honest I see two major changes happening now. One is within SAP, they’re incorporating new technology. The area that I’m in, business intelligence and data warehousing, it’s there’s a shifting from classic data warehousing to BW and HANA or Native HANA but even then SAP or these other vendors are coming in with newer technologies, newer on the cloud offerings. How does one as either an employee or a consultant, how do we stay up to date? How do we continue to learn and how do we turn your guidance from someone’s who’s been on the bleeding edge? Who’s actually paved the way for some of these best practices? What advice would you give someone just trying to keep up?|
|Amber:||Sure, that’s a great question and it’s really hard to keep up with a lot of what’s happening. For me some of the education, you have to look to things that SAP gives you and that’s the absolute start point is what can SAP tell me? You’ll get a certain depth of information and can learn about the technologies and how they work themselves. I would tell someone as you start to look at some of these new technologies, you’re going to want to look at some of the open courses from SAP. These are free that opened on SAP.com and you can get a lot of information there. There’s also people writing on traditional sources like SEM as well. I think one of the bigger things is you really just have to be willing to dig and to put in the time to read the books, to get the literature and then step back and think about your own experiences and your own background.|
|Because what a lot of us undersell ourselves in sometimes as we step into these new spaces is really looking at those core processes and those core technologies that we understand and then understanding how to transform into that next set. That’s the key and that’s the tricky part as to figure out how you transform. Reality is you just have to be ready to do the work and there’s a lot of courses out there available. I’ve been taking some of the open platform edX courses, there’s a lot of analytics courses there and there’s a number of providers that provide these. There’s really no substitute for actually getting your hands in there and doing the work. Pick something and start somewhere. If it’s over your head, you’ll realize, “I got to regress a little bit. I got to go with something simpler.” You just pick one and go.|
|Hau:||Yeah. I actually I took the openSAP courses, I think it was BW and HANA a year ago and just by being familiar with the new concepts, it did land me several good job interviews. I just secured it at my current position right now with one of my clients. Just because I could at least guide the client into understanding here’s what they are currently planning but here’s some other things that we should also be aware of that’s coming down the pipeline. I believe these openSAP courses they’re available and they’re free. You can enter them anytime but there are specific times of the year where you have a group session plus an instructor who will also answer your questions as you go through the course and if you’re stuck. The amount of information for that one course was just amazing from my experience. I think you’re right, you do have to throw yourself in there and figure it out and hopefully you have colleagues like yourself who can bounce ideas off and say, “Hey, am I just going down the wrong path or is this close to where I should be?”|
|Amber:||Exactly and you have to also think about it from the company’s perspective. Inside of corporates, they are very heads down and a lot of my customers that they are trying to deliver projects. Figuring out the next big leap, that’s what we are for, that’s our job. It’s really and if we aren’t willing to put in the time to help them figure out how to make that leap, then well shame on us.|
|Amber:||It’s really by putting in that work and sometimes it’s as simple as just helping people translate. How does this whole new world relate or not relate to what I’m doing today? That’s what people really want to know and they want the gory details because a lot of us especially those of us that are technical people, I don’t know about you Hau, but I think in data structures. You give me tables and my socks go up and down as a gig and they come like okay because that’s something tangible I can understand. For me I tie everything actually back to the data flow in the system because to me it’s real and it’s tangible.|
|I think people are really especially as you get into these new technologies, anything we can do that helps make the decisions easier for them because they become more real or it’s something that becomes more tangible they can touch it, is going to really help people because it reduces their uncertainty. These are newer technologies. We know that inherently there’s going to be bugs or different things that get worked out and how do you help people reduce their uncertainty? It’s helping them take that unknown and make it known.|
|Hau:||Got you. That’s great. I think as … I’m not sure how you see this Amber but as I go forward in my consulting path, a lot of my clients and customers they don’t care for the technology. At least at the lower level technical information and like you said, that’s where we provide that value. I do see an appreciation when we give them the guidance that they’re asking for. When SAP says here’s a new product, we should be able to at least provide the high level I guess overview of what the product is, how it may tie into their current timeline? How they could consider using it in the future, right? I think that’s where we bring a higher value in terms of just framing these new technologies and how they can be incorporated in their business which is EMS or …|
|Amber:||I absolutely agree on that. The reality is as SAP grows and acquires new companies and new technologies, there’s a plethora of ways to accomplish things. Let’s take invoicing. SAP owns their own internal invoice routing approval software, they own Ariba, they won Concur. Those are all invoicing solutions or frankly you can do it manually in SAP yourself. Well how do you as a company start to make sense of that and how do you say which solution is right in which situation? I think that’s actually the value that we need to bring as consultants is working with them to actually understand what their end game is and what they’re trying to accomplish. Then helping them back into that strategy that’s going to help them accomplish it because the SAP ecosystem as SAP acquires new companies, it’s just going to continue to get more complex from that perspective and it’s really in our best interest to help our clients say what is the right set of technology based on a company’s goals?|
|I think you’re absolutely right and that’s where we provide the guidance and the information. Sometimes it’s the connections for how other companies are doing it and understanding enough and being networked enough to say, “You’ve got this particular set of needs. Maybe I should match you up with this company and you guys should have a conversation and you can see if these solutions are really your fit?” I think lot of that is value that we can bring as consultants in those of us that keep up our networks so that we can really help companies be more comfortable in the decisions they’re making.|
|Hau:||That’s perfect. That is exactly you know I agree 100% with that Amber just because I know as a consultant, a lot of times when you’re applying for a position or a client has an idea of what he is looking for, that they look at skill set. They look at the length of time you’ve worked in a certain space or what you know but they fail to realize and I don’t blame them it’s hard to quantify this but they can’t quantify your knowledge. What you’ve brought, what you bring to the table based on your prior experiences with other similar companies or other similar engagements. I think that’s where it’s not, I wouldn’t say it’s not valued correctly but I think that’s where they get the most value from a senior or at least a very high level consultant. It’s not the way I’d describe it.|
|Amber:||Yes, I would agree and some of it, that old adage that we all hate the phrase but it isn’t in the consulting world, it’s not simply what you know, it is also who you know. Not everyone can be an expert in everything and so for me I maintain a large network whether they’re independents or consultants in other companies. I work really hard to keep those types of connections because I can’t know everything. I’ve had clients have me choose to implement parts of functionality going, “Yeah, we know you haven’t done it before but you know you’re pretty well networked and you’ll figure it out.” They do and they go and they look at that and say okay and we actively have those conversations to say, “Do you keep up your networks?” Ask a consultant, “What are you going to do when you run into problems when you run into problems?” Not if, come on let’s be honest, we all run into them on all our projects.|
|What are you going to do when that happens? Do you have other people you can talk to whether it’s at SAP, whether it’s other consultants? Do you keep that up? How will you go about working through those types of things? You’re right, a lot of companies don’t ask that of us to say are you going to have people you can call for perspective as well? They expect it and assume it but a lot times you get a bad surprise when you get on a project and find out, “You didn’t know that? Well ask someone.” Well I don’t have any access to know that and then it just ends and then the clients are like, “Okay, well what am I supposed to do now?” We know this happens, let’s be honest.|
|Hau:||Yeah, well I always thought as a challenge when you’re selling yourself as a sole entrepreneur or as a consultant, you don’t have that immediate tangible network like a larger agency would have. That larger agency would say, “Here’s our network and we can get more people if we need, right?”|
|Hau:||What I found and which is reverse of what I thought would work for me was I found that most clients are comforted when I tell them what I don’t know.|
|Hau:||When I talk to a client for the first time or a prospective customer, I would tell them I’m very strong with BW, I’m very strong in business intelligence and data modeling. If you want to go beyond that, if you need to go into these other external systems for analytics and other analytical tools, I have a network and I can refer it to you to those people but from my experience is that a six month engagement requires a lot of understanding of your business and modeling of your data and applying your business logic. I would spend five months doing the heavier lifting and I can refer it to someone for the last month. They’re fine with that. Once you provide that guidance and that comfort for them, I think by taking away that risk factor at the end, I think that’s what the clients I’ve spoken to that’s all they’re looking for.|
|Amber:||Right, I would agree with that. I believe very strongly in transparency about what I know and what I don’t know. Then we can work through what the right decision is if I’ve dealt with something or not dealt with someone. I never like these situations where well let me pretend I can do all that and I’ll just do it. Yeah, people do it, we know they do and you see a lot of baiting switch and other things that happen in our industry that are unpleasant frankly but it does.|
|Hau:||That can be a great future podcast. All these things that we got, all the things that went wrong with fly by night operations. We have so many war stories we can talk.|
|Amber:||Yes or things you’ve come in and inherited and you’re like, “Who did this?” They’re like, “Oh boy.” Because people come from different experience levels and backgrounds and frankly sometimes it’s like, “Wow, that was the only body available to do it at the time because we were under a deadline. Let’s admit that that happens too. I think disclosure of what you know and don’t know is the most important thing because like I said, nobody can know everything. Sometimes people think, “Wow, you’re supposed to be experiencing every single tiny little area in this.” Like no one’s got that many years on the system to be able to do that. That’s why we have these other processes and frankly even if you do have the experience on the module, the decisions and the choices based on the information you will gather, the designs will look different in pretty much no matter what. There’s going to be differences in these designs which may lead to complications we don’t expect in some cases. It’s not due to anybody hiding anything, it’s just we can’t know everything about exactly what your implementation’s going to look like.|
|Hau:||Yeah and I would add to that depending on your industry sector. It could be a different or similar solution or if you happen to work for a large agency as an employee, you can be very good in one small part of a very large project.|
|Hau:||I think having come from both large companies and small companies working with large projects and small projects, I think only through experience that would you have that breath of knowledge and that perspective to say, “Here’s what I’ve seen happen and here’s what I’ve seen work and what didn’t work.” I think that’s where unless a person has that range and that history, it’s hard to say if you’re looking for someone with four years of HANA. Anyone who has four years of HANA is interchangeable. I don’t think that’s a comparable thing.|
|Amber:||Right, I would agree completely.|
|Hau:||Amber, I know we’re reaching the 40-minute mark here and I know we can talk for another about this story.|
|Amber:||We could but that’s a lot to expect of the listeners to listen to.|
|Hau:||I guess that is and we’ll have to pack that for a future episode but for those who aren’t that familiar with you, where can they find you to learn more about what you’re working on and what things you are up to?|
|Amber:||Absolutely. Well first you can follow my company on LinkedIn. It’s Ace, LLC so you could search for Amber Christian in Ace, LLC. You can also find me on my company website, consultace.biz and you can follow my blog there as well. We do regular blog posts there and we also post content on SCN. I’m pretty easy to find actually through a variety of sources but the best way is probably LinkedIn or through my blog on my webpage.|
|Hau:||I’ll also like to add if someone joins your newsletter, they also get a schedule of your audio prints too. I think you’re braced right into all the national conferences and you’ll be traveling for the rest of the year.|
|Amber:||Yes, exactly. I do have a monthly newsletter and in that I actually put out little SAP tips and tricks and so you can subscribe to the newsletter and also the calendar for where you can find me and see me. I’m at a variety of conferences throughout the year and I love meeting up with people and love to meet up with some of you listeners at the conferences that I’ll be at and over the course of this year. I do publish that because I go to a variety of different industry conferences, SAP conferences, user group conferences. You tend to find me all over the place and the newsletter is the best way to find out where you will see me next.|
|Hau:||Okay, awesome. Well amber I really appreciate your time. I know you’re busy even if you’re on a project, you’re traveling. I do appreciate the time you made for today and hopefully we can get you in for a future session.|
|Amber:||Well thank you so much Hau. I really enjoyed this time and I hope it’s been valuable for your listeners.|
|Hau:||It’s been valuable for me so thank you so much Amber.|
|Hau:||You have a good one.|
I believe there’s an incredible story hidden in every team. The way I share the lessons in these stories is through conversation and data. I just happen to build the analytics that asks the next question.