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Derek Prior18-Feb-2022 16:13:363 min read

The secret life of a Gartner SAP analyst

“The Secret Life of a Teacher”? Yes, that’s been written (just ask my wife).

“The Secret Life of a Rugby Player”? Sure, that’s out there (just ask Stuart).

But an analyst? Wossatt?

Well I spent 19 years as an IT Analyst working for Gartner in their ERP Business Applications team. As with all jobs there were many things which I really loved about the role, but inevitably some aspects which I struggled with.

Giving independent SAP ERP advice

As an analyst you have about 400 – 500 telephone calls a year to global clients who need totally independent advice on ERP strategy, decision-making, best practices, etc. Most of my work involved detailed SAP ERP problems and research studies.

To stay up to date analysts get regular briefings from senior execs at software and service vendors. Analysts also do lots of conference presentations, as well as hands-on workshop sessions with clients.

As an analyst you are totally trusted, so you get to see confidential client information and talk to CIOs, board members and IT professionals, all around the world. Very busy – very rewarding.

I often received amazing feedback from clients on those telephone inquiry calls.

Typically, you had just 30 minutes on the phone to provide actionable advice. One client on a Monday inquiry said, “So you have seen my ECC upgrade project business case which I am presenting to the board on Friday, will I succeed”? “You might, but one of your assumptions is way out and you have forgotten to…” was my response.

Another 9am Monday inquiry sticks in my memory, as at the end of it the client in South Africa said “That’s the best real-world advice I will get this week – thank you so much”. That was nice.

Personally, I found conference presentations the most rewarding part of my job as an analyst. We have all had the “Death by PowerPoint” experience.

Why do experienced SAP people try to get away with 81 slides for a 50 minute pitch? Honestly, I tried so hard to entertain people in my presentations and always leave them with no more than 3 actionable take-aways.

But it is all too easy for presentations to send people to sleep, Gartner conferences were no exception.

OK, now here’s my first confession. You probably won’t believe it.

Alexa (not the Amazon one) is a super Gartner analyst who twisted my arm to dress up with her and 2 others as ABBA, at a Gartner conference! We danced and mimed to “Money, Money, Money” as the intro to Alexa’s presentation on SAP licensing. It was the most fun I had as an analyst. The clients in Cannes loved it, but we got into big trouble with Gartner management.

“We’re Gartner, we don’t do that sort of thing here…” Fair enough.

Some things though I was really not allowed to do. For example, a UK retail SAP customer asked me to be an expert witness in court on their failed R/3 project. I was happy to do it, but Gartner said no.

Focusing on SAP Customer's success

There were lots of examples where I got big satisfaction from helping SAP customers. But every single one of us at Resulting can also say the same thing. Customer Success, it’s why all of us joined Resulting in the first place.

What didn’t I like about being an analyst? To be honest, not much really. Sometimes the workloads and travel schedules were over the top, but that comes with most jobs these days.

The thing that I could not come to terms with is part of many American companies these days, which is being measured to death and ranked like a machine. I think that focusing on customers, employees and the environment are the things that really matter. How about you?

If you like your own call about your ERP strategy, contact Resulting here.

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Dr Derek Prior spent 19 years as an analyst specialising in SAP at Gartner and AMR Research, advising organisations all around the world on SAP strategy and best practices.