Thursday, May 14, 2009

Behind the what's the bdoc blog

https://weblogs.sdn.sap.com/pub/wlg/14308

You can tell I got pretty motivated to post a "ranting" blog on SCN about a question that was asked. Well here is the background on why I posted what I did:

I have been hanging around on SCN for about 4+ years since March of 2005 under my current id. I lurked for about a year or so before then, when I worked for my old employer. The main reason drew me to SCN was the content available. SCN was a radical concept for SAP knowledge sharing that who knows why it took SAP so long to come up with such a site, but lets not digress in that direction. It was useful when I did my first CRM 40 implementation as both the technical and functional lead.

Now in the beginning I was a like a lot of people and really posted answers to questions on SCN hoping to get the points. I honestly wanted to get one of the t-shirts and try to "show" off that I could answer the most SAP CRM related questions. During this early stage after a while I almost dropped from contributing at all. The problem was there was too many people who award nothing not even 2 points for a contribution and way too many people "gaming" and getting points for not putting a lot of effort in. During this lull I contributed off and on, but I really did not reboot my participation until about Fall of 2007.

In the Fall of 2007 we started our big revamp of our SAP CRM system. Now if you do not know, I'm the only guy working the SAP CRM system full time. Yep I do everything except basis and security for the system. In our shop we have one other person who has ever taken a single CRM configuration course and nobody has worked on CRM in a configuration/technical role. That part makes it interesting, because I can't really bounce ideas off other people. I would say sometimes when designing solutions I'm like Dr. House and need a team to shoot down my answers or offer solutions that I will shoot down.

So during this big revamp project, I really start to participate in SCN by blogging a little and answering questions. The reason why I answer questions is because the question is something that I know I will need to figure to do my work. 80% of all the questions answered by myself on SCN fit that category and 20% are the ones I answer to just to keep my brain sharp.

As we went further into this revamp with just myself, a basis guy and our security group do the major heavy lifting, I knew I needed to transform my CRM 40 knowledge to the next version of CRM(52/2007 at that point). So basically I read, read, experimented with a sandbox and just plain absorbed everything I could find about the next release. The reason is that I knew that I was not going to get to attend a training class(there were none, and even if there was one, my company would not pay) and I was not going to get any outside consulting assistance.

To explain how crazy our upgrade was take these facts in account
- The product was only in ramp-up/restricted release for about 4 months
- We did not use a single SAP consulting resource or SAP ramp-up partner resource
- There were no classes on CRM 52, nor were there any documentation beyond the OKP(which if we didn't bought the upgrade would have not have worked).
- We went LIVE with an upgrade to CRM 2007 only 3 months after CRM 52 upgrade and had the same small team.
- Our basis resource had never touched a CRM system before and never had done any type of CRM upgrade prior to this project. I had to do a lot of coaching to get him familiar with the CRM lingo.

I proud of this project because it was completed successfully and we basically did mission impossible. After this project I decided to continue my active contributions to SCN. One of the blogs that I did was the Contact Center Simulator Blog for CRM 2007. It is even more popular than my first and most favorite XIF adapter blog. This lead to me exchanging e-mails with John Burton of SAP who in my opinion is the ultimate SAP CRM interaction center guru. Those e-mails led me to getting involved with the SAP CRM CVN.

I still continued during the rest of 2008 to blog one or two times more and then pretty much focus on answering peoples questions about CRM 2007. I wanted to help other people not make the same stupid trial and error mistakes we made when we first started. I also wanted to build my network of CRM 2007 users so that when I would get stumped, I could talk to people doing the same thing.

As time progressed, I realized that a lot of same stupid questions are being asked in the CRM forums over and over again. SAP during this same time frame really started to push the CRM area on SCN. This was finally nice as CRM for the first two or three years on SCN was a wasteland ignored by SAP mostly and most content if any was customer generated and mainly contained to the forums. This lead to me thinking about once again a project to establish FAQ's for CRM forum in the wiki. We had tried this back in 2005 but it went nowhere. So I started as part of this a conversation with Marilyn Pratt on SCN about mining the forum for knowledge nuggets. I actually made some technical process, built the mining equipment if you want to say that, but did not have any fellow miners.

Over the last part of the year I continue contributed and finally back in January, Marilyn recommended that I would be a CRM forum moderator. By the end of the January I was "ordained" an SCN moderator for the CRM topic and began my mission(trust me I'm more offended by the religious parallels than you are). At first I just tried to figure out what I should do and how to work the tools. Like anyone new or first on the job you have a bright layer of enthusiasm that has not been replaced by the cold harsh reality. My goal was to steer the CRM forums to a better level of contributions and participation.

  • The first task was housekeeping, in general it was trying to get people to play by the rules. This took about a month to really "clean up/organize" the current postings to eliminate the noise.
  • The second task was to try to direct content contribution. I came up with two ideas, stickies for posts that should get an answer and thread for posts that should be in the wiki. The stickies have been used at my discretion and have generally been effective. The posts for wikis have only see a couple of contributions by one top contributor.

I'm somewhat disappointed because even among those who answer questions frequently they won't join in and do anything else. I even posted a challenge thread for people to share who they are and I have had only one person attempt to respond. So I do have a level of disappointment as I really want to transform the customer/partner/general participation on CRM in SCN into something so much greater. The SAP folks are doing their part, I feel that the customer community is not doing our part.

So I get this post on "what is a bdoc?" and I'm about ready to fly out my chair. I mean can't people read the rules, can't people take some effort, but no people don't want to do anything for themselves. So to prevent any bad things from happening I locked the thread and left it. I tend to just "lock threads" when they aren't worthy of being there, so that if the person repeats the behavior we have a record and two so nobody else can clutter things up. Nobody still has ever e-mailed yet with why did you lock my thread. The first person who does so will get a kind response back, since I know they actually care enough to ask.

Finally to let off steam, I put myself in the person's situation and think what should they do, so the blog ends up being my way of politely saying try to think for yourself for once, or at least google/search for your question. I know a lot of people won't/can't learn in my fashion or have worked with the product since 2001, and everyone was new once. However there is a responsibility to study your material before asking the expert/teacher on what to do.

Now that you have the full back story, I hope you have a better understanding on why I wrote the blog.

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