Re: Customising help in bought packages

Subject: Re: Customising help in bought packages
From: dan -at- dan-charles -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 3 Oct 2004 09:49:11 -0600

At my previous employer, I went through two SAP implementations, and was
in the middle of a third rollout when I left (There was no relationship
between SAP and my leaving).

SAP is very business process driven. It is also a role based system; each
enduser is given full access only to the parts of the system they need to
perform their role in the system. Each transaction that affects the
database will show up immediately to other roles that use the changed
data. The documentation that comes with it is very generic in terms of
business process. Your organization will probably have to adapt many if
not all of their business processes and organizational structure to SAP.
Linking your business to the system will keep you extremely busy for years
and years and years and years.

The SAP logic is that they are following best practices, and that your
organization should do the same. The thing is that a best practice a
retail environment may not be a best practice for a manufacturing

Here are some opportunities for a technical writer with a SAP

Business Process Change - If your organization has not documented every
business down to the transaction level, it will need to be done before the
organization can begin documenting what the new business transactions will

Software documentation - SAP allows for significant modification both
behind the scenes and what fields get used in the GUI. You will need a
modular documentation system (As Geoff mentioned there are products and
organizations that do nothing but support SAP implementations and make
very good money doing it).

Organizational change - SAP is a very powerful business tool with a very
convoluted interface. Even the simplest transactions for viewing a record
takes at least a dozen procedural steps. From the enduser perspective, it
is not unlike moving from Windows Notepad to Adobe Framemaker in terms of
complexity. Convincing existing endusers that making part of their job
more difficult, and not necessarily delivering them any benefits
(Certainly benefitting the company or maybe other endusers)takes a bunch
of enduser research and a very thorough communication plan to address
their issues.

Dan Charles
Technical Communication and Instructional Design
E-mail: dan -at- dan-charles -dot- com


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