SAP APO and the Bentley Continental GT: Communicating with a Common Frame of Reference

  • by Daniel Wood, Lecturer, Arizona State University
  • November 15, 2008
Use this detailed summary of SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization as an effective tool for explaining its concepts to coworkers and partners with less experience with the system.
Key Concept
Most experts in SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (SAP APO) became experts the hard way – through hard work, learning from the bottom up, and trial and error. While this helps with day-to-day operations, it can be hard to communicate effectively with customers, potential customers, managers, and anyone else who is a part of SAP APO projects, programs, and deployments, but does not understand the system.

Imagine for a minute that you were given the key to a Bentley Continental GT. You may never have driven a Bentley, much less even been within 100 feet of one. With a 6.0-liter twin turbo W2 with 552 horsepower engine, it's capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, reaching a top speed of 198 mph, and it features a base price of $149,990. Thus, the odds are that for most of us, the Bentley is out of reach. Still, is there anything that would prevent you from being able to open the door, slip the key into the ignition, and drive away? Would you need any special training or licenses first? Absolutely not. Though the Bentley lies on the outskirts of automotive possibility, it is still a car. Your learning curve is 0. It turns out that things aren't so different when it comes to SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (SAP APO).

I spent a year writing SAP SCM: Applications and Modeling for Supply Chain Management . Writing this book provided a unique opportunity for me to dwell on a topic as I might never find cause to otherwise – in my case, I was able to study and reflect on SAP APO and its design and to compare its parts at a distance the way a scientist might, rather than always close up as a practitioner must. In doing this, it occurred to me that most people don't really know the subject they work with every day.

Most of us came about our SAP APO expertise the hard way: which is to say from the bottom up, inductively, from the detailed to the general. So much detailed knowledge without effective summary comes with some costs. When SAP APO experts struggle to navigate the SAP APO forest for non-experts, when all they know are details at the level of bark, branches, and leaves, it can be hard to communicate effectively with customers, potential customers, managers, and the whole panoply of other stakeholders who are inevitably a part of SAP APO projects, programs, and deployments.

Daniel Wood

Daniel Wood is a lecturer at Arizona State University in the W.P. Carey School of Business and a former industry SAP SCM business system analyst. He is author of SAP SCM: Applications and Modeling for Supply Chain Management (Wiley)

See more by this author


Comments

No comments have been submitted on this article. 


Please log in to post a comment.

To learn more about subscription access to premium content, click here.