When the "Golden Path" turns out to be a dirt road...
Have you ever set out on a hike where you're full of anticipation – the air is fresh, sun dapples the branches, the birds are singing – and then somewhere along the way you notice a shift? The air gets stale, the sun dims, the branches start crowding the non-existent path and the birds go eerily silent…
An inner dialog quickly fires up as you attempt to encourage yourself to keep moving forward, yet your anxiety continues to grow.
"Is this still a path?"
"Why am I only seeing hoof prints and deer poo?"
"Is that a candy wrapper? That is both disappointing and yet strangely encouraging!"
"I strongly disagree with the "intermediate" rating on this hike if I'm supposed to scale this cliff!"
You may think I'm overstating this, but it's pretty much how it happened on a misdirected hike several years ago – with my kids – who continue to remind me of the ridiculous path that I led them up. (The above picture captures the moment when we decided it was probably time to re-assess our direction!) We eventually backtracked and found the path, and I still remind them not to lose sight of the fact that we survived.
Vendor documentation is often a full-on ‘Yellow Brick Road’
One of the characteristics of vendor documentation is that it typically guides you along the Golden Path (the birds are in full song and the sun shines brightly). If you happen to be implementing or deploying a system IRL, you're often navigating your way through blogs and forums, trying to find that "candy wrapper" that implies someone else might have been here before, all the while trying to differentiate sustainable best practices from brute force approaches.
At a recent ASUG meeting in New York, I had the opportunity to speak with Elijah Martinez about SAP Cloud Platform Blueprints. While this initiative is still at its early stages, I really like the direction that SAP is trying to take with this – focusing on real-world examples and identifying what actually "works" – and providing relevant guidance towards SAP best practices. Identifying and documenting truly representative scenarios without flinching from the rather unpleasant realities of how far off the Golden Path you've needed to stray is a daunting task – but I'm looking forward to monitoring this and seeing how it progresses.
If you're interested, have a look at some of the initial blueprint efforts that were presented at Las Vegas SAP Tech Ed here: SAP Blueprints.
Written by Brad Braun, Partner and Vice President at ConvergentIS