Eursap’s Ask-the-SAP-Expert: John Jordan
This month, we feature John Jordan, someone who is widely known in the SAP community, having authored three SAP Press books, and someone who regularly shares his extensive SAP knowledge on platforms like LinkedIn. John is the CEO of IT learning and consultancy services organization ERPCorp.
Hi John, thank you for taking the time out to chat with us.
We always like to start these discussions with a little bit of an insight into you and your career. Can you give a brief overview of your background for us?
Hi Jon. Thanks so much for interviewing me. I appreciate it!
I’ve been an independent SAP consultant for 25+ years and have always focused on SAP Product Costing.
I was a mechanical engineer originally, and went on to complete an MBA. The choice of Product Costing takes advantage of both engineering and finance.
You’ve always been in the SAP industry from the start. What was it that attracted you to SAP as a career?
I enjoy the challenge of learning and teaching SAP since it’s a complex topic. There’s always something new to learn. I enjoy looking for new ways to explain SAP to make it easier to understand.
On completing my MBA, product costing in SAP was a good way to combine my new found skills in engineering and finance.
Your area of expertise has been fairly heavily biased towards finance and controlling. This is one of the most updated and improved areas with the advent of SAP S/4HANA. Did you find the knowledge ramp up to be a particularly steep learning curve?
With SAP S/4HANA, most of the basic principles of SAP Controlling still apply, such as cost objects.
The main improvements with S/4HANA are the Universal Journal, the integration of cost elements and GL accounts, and Margin Analysis.
Some of our Eursap blogs on finance in SAP S/4HANA can be found here:
A word on social media in the SAP industry. You are very well connected on LinkedIn, for example. How have you found social media has helped you in your career?
Being active on LinkedIn increases your visibility in the SAP community. As someone who runs an independent consultancy, this visibility is vital for the lifeblood of my company. All my work inquiries originate from LinkedIn because of my growing number of followers.
John has over 33,000 followers on LinkedIn and regularly shares helpful SAP information.
And tell us a bit more about ERPCorp – you’ve been heavily involved in the start up and running of this company from 1998.
I believe it’s important for an independent SAP consultant to run your own company. This also allows you to employ other consultants through your company.
More information can be found at www.erpcorp.com
What is the focus now for ERPCorp? Are you getting more involved in the industry 4.0 technologies, such as AI, ML, Blockchain and Big Data?
We’re focussing on S/4HANA conversions and implementations. We’re also exploring how AI can assist SAP consultants in implementing and improving existing systems.
Furthermore, we run an SAP Controlling conference every year in San Diego, California. This year’s conference takes place in September and include the latest functionality such as S/4HANA, the Universal Journal and SAP Fiori Apps. Attendees include managers, controllers, CFOs, and consultants. The sessions deal with master data, transactions, configuration, and reporting for managers.
Find out more about the conference at this link: https://controlling.erpcorp.com/
I’m sure you’ve dealt with a lot of SAP consultants in your time. Given the way the SAP industry is moving, what do you think are the most important things a consultant should have in their armoury to be successful?
It’s all about visibility these days. I recommend writing articles and blogs on new functionality to raise visibility and differentiate yourself from other SAP consultants.
And some guidance for our readers, many of whom will be refining their employability in conjunction with our recruitment agents: what are the SAP skills you see are needed in the marketplace now?
SAP is a broad church, but it’s important to focus on the skills which are currently in demand. S/4HANA is becoming more and more important as we approach the beginning of the second decade since its launch. Surprisingly, there is still a shortage of skilled consultants in this area and so gaining knowledge in SAP S/4HANA is crucial, either through work experience or certification – or preferably, both.
You must have seen a few things in your time as an SAP consultant. All our readers who are fresher SAP consultants are always reassured when we hear about problems you have encountered over the years. What’s the biggest challenge you have experienced in the course of a project?
Most issues I have come across originate through a lack of open communication. I’ll save the stories to save the blushes of clients and former colleagues! It’s essential to communicate with all team members in an implementation proactively. This is one of the most important soft skills any SAP consultant or SAP project manager needs.
Presumably, you’ve travelled fairly widely with your work, as most SAP consultants do. Where was your favourite place to travel to?
Yes, you can’t get away from travelling as part of SAP implementations, but I enjoy exploring new locations. The coast of Croatia is magnificent.
We’ve had a few SAP Press authors in our Ask-the-SAP-Expert articles in the past, but you are one of the undoubted rock stars, having authored three books over the years. Talk us through how you got started with SAP Press.
I started writing SAP articles on issues I’ve worked on and solved. I figured other companies dealing with the same issues would be interested. After a year or so, SAP Press said they didn’t have any books on Controlling and asked me to write a book if I was interested. I chose a smaller topic to start, which was Production Variance Analysis in SAP Controlling. This attracted much interest since there were no other books on SAP Controlling at the time.
The first edition in 2007 was the first-ever book on SAP Controlling (CO), which explains SAP CO in an easy-to-understand way and has continued to be popular and attract positive reader feedback and comments from our SAP Controlling community. https://www.sap-press.com/controlling-with-sap_3746/
I then wrote the larger SAP Product Cost Controlling book. https://www.sap-press.com/product-cost-controlling-with-sap_3920/
And you have a recent SAP Press book out as well – this is your opportunity to plug it to our readers! How will it help them?
SAP Press approached me in early 2022 to update my first book to S/4HANA. To completely transform the book to the latest SAP S/4HANA version, I asked Janet Salmon, Chief Product Owner of Management Accounting at SAP SE, to co-author with me. We’ve included SAP S/4HANA version 2021 screenshots and content throughout the book and S/4HANA version 2022 in the new chapter 7 on event-based processing, SAP Fiori Apps, and the future direction of SAP S/4HANA.
The new Chapter 7 discusses new options for variance analysis delivered with SAP S/4HANA Cloud when you use scope item 3F0 (Event-Based Production Cost Posting) and SAP S/4HANA 2022, with the business function for universal parallel accounting.
And what about outside of work – what are your hobbies and interests?
I enjoy visiting any of the many excellent Italian restaurants where I live in Little Italy in San Diego, CA.
Finally, the question we always ask our interviewees. What advice would you give to any ne consultants just starting out in the industry? And the same question for existing SAP ECC6 consultants struggling to come to terms with SAP S/4HANA?
As mentioned, my advice to get ahead as an SAP consultant is to start writing SAP articles and blogs. This raises your visibility and increases your chances of working on interesting projects. If you can share your articles and blogs on social media platforms like LinkedIn, as well as updating your resumé with the details, then it makes a very good impression upon potential new employers.