Following an intensive six week graduate training programme, I’m writing this from the hotel in which my team and I are staying during our first project. I can’t quite believe that the training has gone by so quickly, or that my fellow grads and I are ready to be let loose on client site already.
Training and beyond
This accelerated journey from training to on-site experience is an integral part of Bluefin’s graduate scheme. The aim is to get graduates out onto client site as soon as possible, as that’s the place where you learn the most. Upon starting at Bluefin, the other graduates and I had five weeks of intensive training which included a wide variety of content, from ABAP programming to consulting skills.However, as anyone who works with SAP will tell you, it’s nigh impossible to learn everything there is to know about the technology, which is why Bluefin places so much emphasis on the practical, hands-on experience of working with SAP on a client site.
So, practically speaking, what’ve we been up to? Myself and two other grads, Chris Choy and Lee Pittard, are consultants for the Public Sector and Services industries and we’ve been placed at a client who provides facilities management services on a massive scale. We’re building on the work of DJ Adams and Lindsay Stanger, who’ve built a tool which allows users to input data onto timesheets, and then to process these timesheets so that employees get paid as accurately and efficiently as possible.
The scope of the project is straightforward. We’re building a reporting tool that allows timesheet managers to see what they need to do to keep their timesheets on track. How many timesheets do they have? Which ones have been completed, and which haven’t? And, on a wider scale, how are contracts performing? Are they under- or over-budget? Are there too many or too few hours being delivered? Are there enough employees assigned to each contract? These are all considerations that timesheet managers need to take into account in order to prioritise their work effectively and ensure that contracts are being delivered as promised.
Our reporting tool is a Fiori app built with SAP UI5. It will auto-adjust depending on whether users access the app on a desktop, tablet or mobile, which is pretty cool, and it’ll be personalised to each individual timesheet manager, so that each user only sees the data they’re interested in. Additionally, it’s going to be a read-only app, which is great for the client as we’re not running riot and breaking anything in their backend systems (not that we would!...).
A few words on the client: I’m not allowed to mention who they are because of their corporate affairs policy, but everyone we’ve encountered has been encouraging, supportive and excited about what we’re going to deliver in just over a month’s time.
The project so far
Week one has mainly been taken up with meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We met with lots of key figures throughout the IT and Shared Services departments, in order to gain an understanding of how their business works. On the one hand, this was a bit frustrating for us super-keen grads, because it meant we weren’t jumping in to the nitty-gritty of a project as soon as we’d expected. But on the other hand, getting different perspectives and insights into the way that our clients work is a vital part of Bluefin’s project methodology. It’s been really interesting to see where people’s opinions on business processes overlap or differ, and we’ve learned a lot about how our solution will impact upon the way people work.
Thursday and Friday was requirements capture. We had a meeting with the in-house project manager and the project sponsor, in which we discussed exactly what they want from our solution. This allowed us to see how the scope, in practice, was different to that which was outlined in the project spec, and also gave us an insight into the vision that the project sponsor has had from the beginning, which it’s almost impossible to put down on paper! It was great to see how passionate the sponsor was about what we’re doing, and what value it will bring to him and the people he works with.
Onwards and upwards
Moving into week two, we have a number of challenges and goals. The project sponsor is, as I’ve mentioned, super enthusiastic, which is great! But it also means there’s a risk of scope creep, which is when the scope is constantly changed when different ideas come to light, so that’s something we have to watch out for. Additionally, week two is when we’re scheduled to start development, using systems and tools that none of us are familiar with, so that’s a major challenge! I’m sure we’re up to it, but stay tuned!