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Expert advises users to take advantage of job aids

SAP software seems more complicated than it actually is, according to Jim Mazzullo, an SAP expert and trainer. Breaking down that misconception is the key to improving efficiency, said Mazzullo, author of SAP R/3 for Everyone, a guide that outlines the basic functions in SAP's enterprise resource planning software suite. Mazzullo recently spoke about the role of super users, the most important skills end users need to know and how job aids can make life a lot easier in the office.

From an end user point of view, what are some misconceptions surrounding SAP software? The major misconception...

about SAP is that from an end-user standpoint, it's very difficult to use. A lot of end users are intimidated by the complexity of the software. In fact the software is really simple to use once you understand the basic features and how they interact with one another and you have a mastery of the basic navigation skills.

SAP only does four things for the end user: You can create or change the records of objects and you can display the records of objects and a list of related objects. What are some of the basic navigation skills?
Generally, they are the same techniques and some shortcuts to make a transaction much more efficient. There are tricks to entering codes in fields and general searching techniques. One tip is to use the multiple selection screen and screen variants as you enter data, so you don't have to repeat yourself. Overall, once you can have the basic navigation skills down, you can handle any transaction as long as you have a good job aid in place. Analysts I recently spoke with talked about a new, more technical end user that may pose a challenge for software vendors like SAP. Do you see a new end user emerging?
No, there have always been super users who are really into the system and really take advantage of a large part of the functionality within the software. Most end users are pointing and clicking and just trying to get their job done.

The super user is basically somebody authorized to fully support business processes. For example, in the financial world the average user does not have the ability to enter financial data into master records. Master records are the format that SAP uses to track everything. It varies from company to company, but the super user may have authorization to access these records. Explain the role of the job aid. Why is it very important for end users?
There are two things an end user needs. The basic universal techniques and then for every transaction, they need a job aid. A job aid takes one transaction and walks the end user through the process from beginning to end. Every button needed to complete the transaction is documented. It's an explicit instruction that gives the end user a lot of clear instruction on how to do it. You have delivered training in SAP and other system and desktop applications. Is SAP approached differently from other application vendors when conducting training?

Related information:

SAP HR Learning Guide

SAP BI Learning Guide

It really doesn't matter what software you're teaching them. It is the end user who defines everything that a trainer does. Most computer programs work about the same way. The similarities between software products make it easy. What are the most important skills any SAP end user should have?
Working with output reports in general and customizing output reports. Reporting is half of SAP right there, and indeed a lot of people are reporting transactions more than anything else. The output can be easily customized and learning how to use the customization tools really puts power into those reports. Also knowing certain tricks make life easier. Knowing how to use the transaction code in any screen is effective and allows a user to navigate around from screen to screen much more easily. Your book comes at a time that SAP is trying to get its customers to upgrade to mySAP ERP. Will end users see a difference under the latest version?
Any differences will be minor. This book was written around R/3 4.6 and 4.7 and even people using earlier versions of SAP will be able to follow along. A lot of elements and design remain the same because they are very effective. SAP does not change things that work very well.

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