Friday, April 17, 2015

SAP PI/PO learning survey - By Daniel Graversen

Learning SAP PI/PO is always interesting, just as it is to learn other concepts. created a survey to figure out how learning SAP PI/PO can be made easier. The survey also focused on the methods used by current developers to learn SAP PI/PO when they started their careers.

One of the questions was referring to the difficulty of learning SAP PI/PO - I wanted to find out why does it take such a considerable amount of time for people to master the skills associated with SAP PI/PO. An important detail we need to mention here is that during a 2-week course you will learn everything a developer needs to know. However, mastering SAP PI/PO will take much longer - you will probably need years of experience before you can do integration work without anyone else's help.

Most participants said they where able to develop on their own after approximately 1-2 years of experience. Generally, this is the time when you stop learning important aspects of SAP PI/PO. The reason behind the lengthy learning process? The need to acquire hands-on experience! During a two-week course, you learn the theory, but do not receive enough practice. You need to work on different projects. You need to get your hands dirty with all kinds of adapters and mapping techniques. It's no wonder that acquiring proper skills takes time.

Another reason behind the lengthiness of the learning process? You need to focus on several aspects of SAP PI/PO, not just integration itself, but also the business side of things. The companies you will work for do not care about technical solutions or their implementation. They just want their problems to be solved. They won't be able to tell you specifically what they want - you'll have to figure it out yourself. It takes time to be able to translate between the business and the technical side of SAP PI/PO.

You will also learn that there are no standard solutions. The good thing about SAP ERP is that it is based on a certain standard and this is exactly what customers want to implement. There are some standard solutions and adapters to aid you in your integration work. However, these are not exactly numerous, and most of the time you will need to customize them to fit. You have to come up with new ideas all the time. The trick is understanding what the standard is and knowing where you should deviate from it.

I didn't even mention the complexity of both the business and the technical aspects of SAP. One day you need to be an EDIFACT expert, the next day you need to be an X12 pro, and then you need to do some xCBL. All standards are complex and require time to make sure you implement them best. Often, you won't have anybody to ask in the company. 

The full survey can be found at The survey also contains a lot of other concepts that make sense when you need to learn PI/PO or keep improving in this area.

Thanks to Daniel Graversen (Senior PI Consultant) for this contribution.

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