Archive for March, 2013

MM Certification Exam – How to start preparation?

March 25th, 2013

MM Certification Exam – How to start preparation?

Frequently, many of you have questions like “How to prepare well for my MM certification exam?” or “What sort of questions are asked during an exam?” and “Which topics should I focus on in order to get a good mark in my MM certification exam?” .

Using insights and experience gained as a member of 2i Solutions team, I would like to share with you my thoughts which I believe would help you find all the relevant information you need to successfully prepare for your MM certification exam.

Questions in any sample test will rarely be the same as the ones that will be asked in your exam.  These sample questions are only for your practice and helps you assess your understanding and performance level.  But the sample questions do provide good idea of what to expect in the exam and how to prepare for the exam.

First, you need to have good conceptual knowledge and strong understanding of the fundamentals – this is very important.  Spend time with your instructor or your colleagues and go over areas that are not clear.

The Bottom Line is: You need to read each syllabus book several times – I would say, at least 5 times, if not more and each time you should pay special attention to the fine details very RELIGIOUSLY.

It is very helpful to make your own notes from each line, in a way which will be helpful to you to quickly and effectively revise the content later on.

It is important to frequently test yourself with the exercises given at the end of each lesson in your syllabus book. Try to have the test each time you finish an exercise.  For those questions that were not answered correctly, try to assess (very frankly) if your understanding of the question was an issue or you were not clear about the concept and details. This will help you focus on the corrective steps needed to address the gaps.

Use Elimination Technique in the exam is an effective way to reach the correct answer – by identifying the wrong answers first, you will be able to narrow down the choices and thus, reach the correct answers easily.

Another important point is to understand the exam valuation pattern. Recently, the valuation pattern has undergone a change – now, you are expected to answer all the sub-questions correctly in order to get the full mark.

And before you dig into your syllabus books and notes, I request you to examine the following:

  • Find out if you need to be trained by SAP Education / SAP Authorised Training Partner. In some countries or regions you can register yourself and write the MM Module Certification exam. However, in some other countries or regions, SAP requires that you get trained by the SAP Education / SAP Authorised Training Partner  www.sap.com
  • If you are new to such country or region, and intend to write the SAP MM Certification Exam, you need to attend a formal SAP MM Module Training.
  • Although training requires an initial investment, my advice is to consider some form of formal training to get started and enter the field of SAP in the region.  During the training, you not only get formal inputs on the course materials but you are able to interact with the instructors and peers.  In the long term, the contacts you develop during the training program become helpful in your future job search.
  • Contact us at www.2isolutions.com

My thoughts on writing a successful SAP Certification Exam…

Be clear about the common questions from topics such as Enterprise structures , plant, material, pricing procedure, tax, item category, account determination, etc.

Go through the (Control Parameters) screens, transaction level screens like purchase order, inventory, invoice verification, MRP, physical inventory, even standard reports etc. , and check what is possible and what is not possible at each docs,  what is defined at header and what is defined at each item.  Go through the menu path of each docs carefully and check what all is possible and from where it is coming.

Go through all the masters like vendor, purchasing info record, material, condition records for price, output, etc. Check what is defined at what level, what all is possible etc.

Check entire IMG – MM related, it will help you to understand what is defined at what level etc.

In your exam, pay special attention to the way the questions are worded – particularly with the words like can, only, always, except. Read each question very carefully. The statements in the exam frequently appear to be confusing (especially under the exam pressure conditions), so be cool, think logically and holistically before choosing your final answer.

Don’t take any chance in preparation but always stick to the basics, questions will not be asked on configuration, but will be based on what is possible and what is not and where it is defined.

Have good preparation to be confident but you need lots of patience when writing the exam. Prepare well, be patient, and you will definitely succeed.

Concluding Comments

In conclusion, I would like to mention that one needs to carefully plan, work hard but in a systematic manner, as well as develop a good understanding of the basics, to excel in your MM Module Certification Exam.

All the very best.

Supply Chain and Logistics Functions in SAP for Enterprises

March 25th, 2013

Supply Chain and Logistics Functions in SAP for Enterprises

Introduction

SAP is the undoubtedly the number one vendor of standard business application software and the third largest software supplier in the world.  SAP delivers scalable solutions that enable its customers to further advance industry best practices.

SAP is constantly developing new products to help their customers respond to dynamic market conditions and help them maintain their competitive advantage.  The current versions of SAP are the result of the nearly forty years of development that has been driven by the needs of customers.

This article examines Supply Chain and the key elements of logistics within SAP, as well as the logistics functionality and how this can help manage the key logistics activities.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain deals with original supply to final consumption. Supply chain management includes the management of materials, information, and financial flows in a network consisting of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and customers. The coordination and integration of these flows within and across companies are critical in effective supply management.

Following are the main reasons why it is very important to manage the supply chain:

  • Lower sourcing costs of finished goods and raw materials
  • Improve customer service
  • Dramatically lower inventory levels and reduce working capital
  • Leverage all resources to bring substantial benefits to a company

Logistics Function in SAP

There are many components to the logistics functions in SAP. The components include the following SAP areas:

  • Materials Management (MM) – the materials management component is the foundation for the logistics functions of a company. The component includes purchasing functionality, inventory movements, accounts payable and the material master file, which contains the information on all materials and services used at a company.
  • Sales and Distribution (SD) – the sales and distribution component incorporates the processes from customer order to the delivery of the product to the customer. The component includes the sales functions, pricing, picking, packing and shipping.
  • Quality Management (QM) – the quality management component is used to ensure and improve on the quality of your company’s products. The functions of this component include the planning and execution of quality inspections of purchased and finished products.
  • Plant Maintenance (PM) – the plant maintenance component is used to maintain the equipment that is used in the production of your company’s finished products. The component focuses on the planning and execution of preventive maintenance on equipment and tools used in the production process.
  • Production Planning (PP) – the production planning component manages a company’s production process. The functions of this component include capacity planning of a company’s production, master production scheduling (MPS), material requirements planning (MRP) and the shop floor functions of producing a company’s finished products.
  • Customer Service (CS) – the customer service component manages a company’s service that it provides to customers for repairs and warranties. Items can be sent back for repair or visits made by staff to customer facilities. If a company makes finished products that are sold with warranties, then the SAP customer service component will help a company to service and repair those items with maximum efficiency.
  • Warehouse Management (WM) – the warehouse management component helps companies to accurately manage inventory and maximise storage capacity. This component can reduce time it takes to place and remove items from the warehouse by suggesting the most efficient location to store a material and the most efficient way to place and remove that material from the warehouse.
  • Additional Functionality – There is additional functionality in SAP that integrates with the Logistics area, such as Transportation Management, Batch Management, Handling Unit Management, Logistics Information System (LIS), Variant Configuration, Engineering Change Management, Project Systems (PS) and Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS). All of these units can be important in the Logistics area, depending what a company needs.

Concluding Comments

This article describes the key elements in SAP that deals with logistics within SAP. A brief description is provided for each element to provide an overview of logistics functionality in SAP.

Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S) to SAP Consultant

March 20th, 2013

Source: Scn.sap.com

What is End to End implementation?

In a nutshell, mapping and transforming the business process into SAP and reaping the future benefits. There are number of stages required in an end to end implementation. In the past implementation used to take longer times, however, with number of methodologies the times are being drastically reduced. Most of the consulting partners may also use the same objects / programs with other clients, rather than reinventing the wheel. SAP has its own Accelerated SAP (ASAP) Methodology, the other consulting partners or consulting companies may have their own methodologies. Broadly, this end to end implementation consists of the following phases:
• Project Preparation
• Business Blueprint
• Realization
• Final Preparation
• Go Live and Support
• Run (newly added by SAP)

How to start a Project and what is the correct and inclusive path?

Every project is a fresh start and the requirements may vary on client to client. Therefore, there is no standard / correct / inclusive path you must go in order to complete the project. “Project” does means that it is mix of number of uncertain activities, turning all these uncertainties into deliverables is the real challenge in the project. “Project” always runs in three boundaries, “Time”, “Cost” and “Scope” by maintaining the acceptable levels of “quality”. As soon as you are at a new implementation site, try to meet as many numbers of users as possible and discuss with them. You will realize number of issues; it is always the duty of the consultant to quickly understand their business processes. None of the business processes could be same.

What are the points that need to be taken care?

• Proper planning of projects
• Be meticulous at the time of collecting the business requirements (this is key phase)
• Proficient in understanding RICEF requirements (Reports, Interfaces, Conversions, Enhancements and Forms)
• Ensure that the all the items promised in the business blueprint are configured / developed
• Proper Testing has been done (Unit / Integration / UAT / Regression if in scope)
• Train the key users and educate the business users
• Maintain Proper documentations
• Ensure you have proper cut-over strategy is in place
• Master and Transaction Data’s are loaded in DEV (Test Client), QA and Pre-production before loading into Production System, this would give you a chance to refine or rectify data loading errors.
• Ensure you have completed manual configuration if any (like FTXP tax codes, number ranges, reset asset reconciliation accounts etc.)
• Daily have meetings after go live and ensure you have documented all the user issues meticulously. Ensure proper accountability to resolve these calls. Discuss the progress on a daily basis.
• Proper Segregation of Duties Matrix is in place (SOD) follow Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) Compliance if your client is US related
• Ensure that the roles / authorizations are being developed according to SOD.

What all important documentations are required?

• There could be number of documents that are being prepared during the implementation or a life of the project. Some of the important documents are as follows:
• Project Charter – High Level document describes statement of scope, outline project objectives, identify main stake holders and define authority of project manager.
• Project Plan – as per PMBOK, “a formal, approved document used to guide to execute both project execution and project control”.
• Business Process Documents (BPDs) – This document sets out the guidelines for documenting business process, which are collection activities that produce outcome.
• AS-IS Templates – Usually prepared by the business team, documenting the present business scenarios (pre-SAP)
• Business Blueprint – A kind of legal document that binds both business as well as consulting company to deliver the commitments, usually includes GAP analysis.
• Business Process Master List (BPML) – List of high level business processes of the client, usually used to monitor the progress.
• Gaps Issue Register – This entails the GAPs that can be fulfilled and its impact on the project.
• Configuration Document – Configuration documents relating to various business processes, shows how it is being mapped in SAP.
• Functional Specifications – Mostly written in a business language how a new requirement has to be achieved.
• Technical Specifications – This contains the minute technical details of the functional specification, prepared by developers with the help of functional consultants.
• Unit Test Documents – This document is proof of the testing of the transaction done in Testing Client of the Development Server
• Integration Test Documents – This document is the proof of the Integration Tests done in the system (could include screen shots)
• Test Plan – Test Plan is a high level document emphasizing how the test activities are to be completed detailing scope, approach, resources and schedule etc.
• Test Scripts – Detailed step by step document which are used for the purpose of testing, these are very helpful to the testers in order to test the transactions.
• User Acceptance Test Documents – These documents are proof of the tests that are being conducted by the users.
• Testing Issues Log (accountability required) / Defect Log – This is a log contains the brief description of the defect, accountable person, close date etc.
• Transaction User Guides (TUGs) / End User Documents – These are end user documents which are being used by the business users for future reference.
• User Training Presentations – These are power point presentations that are prepared for the purpose of train the business users.
• Risk Register – Risk register is important document, this include anticipated risk, probability, impact, counter-measures and risk owner etc.
• Go-live metrics – This document summarizes the end user experience, end user satisfaction levels etc.
• Post Go-live Issues Log (accountability required) – This is a log of every day issues, accountable person and its status, until the project is handed over to Support Team.

What are the roles of various SAP consultants, Program Manager & Project manager?

There are number of people involved from consulting firm’s side:
Program Manager – Having authority to go or no go etc. kind of decisions, could be budget holder for consultant budgets, any high level escalations may goes to him / her
Project Manager – Responsible for day to day and overall management of the project, very key person in administrative decisions / arranging the resources / tracking the project.
Functional Leads – Mostly responsible for drafting business blueprints / leading workshops / arranging sign offs / training the key users / monitoring and mentoring various consultants / coordinating with technical team like ABAPers etc.
Junior Functional Consultants – Configuration / Preparing configuration documents / user guides / training normal business users / helping the users in testing etc.
Technical Leads – Monitoring overall development / Mentoring junior technical consultants / coordinating with Functional Team Leads
Junior Technical Consultants – Coding / Testing / Reporting to Technical Leads
Basis Consultants – System Build / All system related activities / Resolving any system issues / Ensure that the availability of system access
Project Management Office (PMO) – Looking after all administrative needs of the project

How do SAP best practice can be useful in it?

SAP Best Practices are much useful when the Clients intend to go with standard configuration Types. In such cases, these best practices would much useful. The consultants are much happy as most of the things are standard and only requires minimal changes to the standard functionality of SAP. Using SAP Best Practices would drastically reduce the cost of project and ensure adequate quality. The other advantage is that it will give the benefit of the SAP Best Practices, which are being used by number of clients across the industry. This gives the confidence to the Client that numbers of other organizations are successfully implemented by using this.

What is testing process and what is the correct time to switch on to production server?

There could be different types of testing activities are expected. In general, you will find the following types of testing:
Unit Testing – This is done by the Consultants mostly in DEV (Testing) Client to check whether the transaction Codes are working properly or not
Integration Testing – This test is conducted with most realistic data with number sequence of number of modules
Interface Testing – Testing of various interfaces at different points of your projects. You should be clear when you need to test what interface.
User Acceptance Testing – One or more users would test the and sign off whether the transaction codes are working proper or not. This would also include a scenario type testing.
SAP Stress / Load / Performance Testing – This mainly to test whether the system response time is acceptable / performance is as expected.
SAP Security / Authorizations Testing – This is to ensure that the end users are only able to execute the transactions that are intended as per SOD.
SAP Cut Over / Dry Run Testing – This is just to simulate number of single time events such as extraction of data from your legacy systems, validating the data, data conversions etc.
Regression Testing – This is to test whether changes to configurations has made changes to functionality intended for.
Production server is the final hurdle. There is nothing like switch on to production. As soon as the objects are being tested and signed off they will be moved into Production. Therefore, Production will come along with you through- out the project.

What is the Process for proper Sign off?

There is no standard procedure for sign off. It is mostly the understanding between the business and the consulting firm. However, mostly important documents such as business process documents / business blueprints / configuration documents / functional specifications / technical specifications etc. are to be signed parties from both the end (business as well as consulting). They will be binding on both the parties and you can treat them as a kind of legal documents. Tomorrow if there is any deviation, then they can refer to these sign off documents. Consulting Company should be able to deliver what they have committed on these documents and the business should stick to what they have expected. Therefore, these are very important documents for ascertaining the accountability. Usually the sign off documents includes, project manager (business side) business heads, key users from business side; delivery managers, lead functional and technical consultant from consulting side.

What is the difference between Implementation project & Support project?

Implementation Project is mostly transforming the whole business process and mapping into SAP. As explained earlier, it could have number of phases. In most of the cases, the support activity could goes to the same implementation partner or could be other implementation partner depending on the business constraints. Support Projects are mostly for longer duration may be 3 to 5 to 7 years usually. These are being driven by various Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between Client and the Supporting Organization. There may be different types of tolls used like Remedy, Console etc. Remedy is a tool which is used in order to keep track of issues / logs etc. whereas Console could be a password mechanism tool, where you are supporting more than a single client, in such cases, remembering the password is not possible. Furthermore, there could be number of people supporting the same client at different shifts / time intervals, in such cases, this Console would help them.

Five Skills Every Business Analyst Needs to Have:

March 8th, 2013

Source: Dice.com

Business Analyst needs to be savvy in both business and technology. They have to know business processes, strategic planning, project development and have good business writing skills. On the technology side, they should possess technical computer knowledge, a grasp of engineering systems concepts, complex modeling techniques and technical writing

We see a growing Demand for The Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) in the market so here are five essential skills which all Business Analysts needs to have:

Interpersonal Management:

This is the most important skill set, says Kathleen Barret, CIO and president of the stakeholders, managers, programmers and developers to negotiate and build consensus, plan and manage project activities and facilitate and develop business strategy.
“The business analyst must be really strong at managing the relationship between the business owner and IT department,” adds Melisa Bockrath, senior director of the IT Product Group for Kelly Services. “(They) must be able to negotiate between the business that wants everything, (while addressing) cost, timelines, deliverables and milestones.”

Communication:

Business analysts also must be able to interact effectively with a wide range of colleagues including company leaders, project managers and the IT staff. This requires being able to verbally communicate business needs and proposed organizational changes, while also having excellent writing and listening skills. Communicating technical information to a non-technical audience, and vice versa, is a key part of the job.
Effective negotiation skills are also necessary. In fact, they’re so important that Scott W. Ambler, Chief Methodologist for Agile/Lean, IBM Rational, considers it a separate skill set. “Stakeholders aren’t going to agree with one another,” he notes. “They’ll very likely have competing if not contradictory needs.”

Analytical Skills:

Before they go about articulating proposed changes, business analysts have to analyze a
problem and understand the necessary components of a solution. They have to use their skill in analysis, planning, evaluation of profitability/risk, testing and administration and reporting.

Planning:

Once a project is approved, the BA must plan it and decide who needs to be a part of
it. That means mastering different planning tools. Like negotiating, planning can be so important, that it’s considered a separate skill.

Flexibility:

Finally, you’ll have to be agile and flexible, adapting to each project’s unique challenges and each team’s personalities. “The business analyst will work on a geographically distributed team in a different manner than a co-located team,” says Ambler, “in a regulatory situation differently than a non-regulatory situation, on a large team differently than on a small
team, and so on.”