Posted on 12/11/2017 by Bernhard Escherich. 0 Comments.

Bernhard Escherich“How many years of experience / successful projects do you have with this SAP solution?”

In many interviews I have used this question in my role as a project manager when selecting resources for one of my projects. The rationale behind this was always clear for me: I want to hire experience for my projects in order to ensure a good quality and think I can only accept a certain percentage of more inexperienced SAP experts.

Obviously, this questions does not work so well for a new solution where no one can have years of experience (funny enough, I sometimes received CVs from “experts” claiming more years of experience than the SAP solution was on the market). As I managed several innovation projects over the years in such situations I asked about experiences in similar areas or basic areas (e.g. natural language processing for text analysis with SAP HANA) in order to find good candidates.

But today on a long flight back home to Germany I read a quite interesting article in the Harvard Business Review about the career progression of medical doctors with the key statement that patients who receive treatments from younger doctors are less likely to die within 30 days after their treatment. Due to my training as a data scientist there are a lot of questions connected with this statement such as:

Is this effect caused by the fact that the more inexperienced doctors get the less serious cases?

But let’s focus for a moment on my questions about your age mix within your SAP project: Is the assumption really true that the more experienced consultants are ensuring a better quality within the project or is it better to have younger expert on the team who have fresh knowledge from their studies and their training?

Looking back at my SAP projects for over 17 years - you see I am really biased in favor of experienced experts - the answers seems to become a bit more difficult the longer I think about it:

  • In the more innovation-driven projects (portals in the 2000s, SAP HANA in the 2010s, Machine learning today) young consultants have very often been the driver of key success elements whereas the older ones were sometimes a bit more sceptical about it (“we have already tried this in the past and it failed”).
  • Many of these projects came to a critical point where the experienced experts took over critical areas (especially in the field of interfaces and data integration) in order to ensure success.
  • In each of the fields one of the key drivers for the new SAP solutions was at least a very experienced SAP experts who jumped on this new opportunity very early and was a key ingredient for several successful projects.
  • Young colleagues wanting to prove their value for their project very often provided a never-ending energy to the projects whereas the more experienced colleagues sometimes tried to keep the balance between hectic times before a milestone delivery and more relaxed times.

For sure all of these thoughts need to consider that normally a project has a very limited budget so that junior experts need to be included anyway in order to stay within the funding limits.  

If I try to sum up all these thoughts in one answer to my question a clear NO comes up. SAP experts do not get worse over time but more experience does not mean that you are getting better over time either. Therefore, today I always add one question when interviewing experienced SAP experts: What has been your last learning experiences for a subject outside your area of expertise you are normally working on in your projects?

What do you think? Please leave your comments below.

 


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Bernhard Escherich
The digital revolution currently taking place in sports analytics, fan and stadium management can bring sport organizations to a new level. I have had the opportunity to work with leading sport entities and stadiums all around the world over the last years. I am really excited that all my experience of twenty years as an enterprise architect and my education as computer linguist have prepared me to work with your organization to move your digital business beyond the software silos and borders of the past. Looking forward to connect with you and your team.