FHTW enjoys a sound reputation far beyond Berlin itself. Students appreciate the high quality of teaching and the modern technology installed in the university’s labs. Companies find open-minded, cooperative partners for projects that involve applied research and development. Employers from all industries recruit qualified new hires from FHTW. The professors have good contacts in the field, so they can always treat new topics as early as they appear: a plus for FHTW graduates as they enter the job market.
The challenge: SAP software
When FHTW was established in 1991-92, it told the educational authorities that it planned to design the curriculum and select software so that students could work with the most advanced solutions. Students were to learn how to solve the problems that would turn up in their later careers.
That’s why the school decided to use SAP R/3 for its business informatics program. In 1993, SAP R/3 was installed on a server at FHTW and first used by 20 students and teachers. SAP software was then introduced step-by-step into several other programs of study. Using the example of IT support of business process, today some 700 students in six programs of study use SAP software. The special advantage here is that SAP software offers the opportunity to work through even demanding problems within projects.
With SAP R/3 to an integrated software landscape
Business processes were first supported with SAP R/3 by specific components. Very quickly, students were able to process cross-department process chains. For specialization in the IT program and other programs, specific training content was set up with SAP software. In 1997, SAP R/3 and iXOS ARCHIVE (a document management system) were the first integrated applications to be used in training. The application realized an almost paperless office and digital storage of documents.
In 1998, Internet applications followed, based upon SAP Internet Transaction Server (SAP ITS). In collaboration with SAP logo partners and SAP users, training exercises were offered on special SAP topics, such as ABAP programming and the development of Internet applications in collaboration with partners with practical experience. The increased number of users and the resource requirements at SAP led to take a new step in 2000. The university no longer used its own SAP R/3 system. Instead, it linked to the university competence center (HCC) at the University of Magdeburg. This lightened the personnel and financial burden of FHTW.
“The connection to the HCC at the University of Magdeburg was a new step in the use of SAP software at the FHTW,” says Prof. Reinhard Ginnold. “By using the offerings of the HCC, we could concentrate on the content of learning, create more space for ambitious training, and process complex scenarios,” adds Prof. Jörg Courant. The two professors are the project directors at the FHTW, and speak after almost two years of using the new approach.
Collaboration with companies benefits everyone
Students have used SAP software to process innumerable practical projects. Several hundred theses have been written with global collaboration with companies. Partners include SAP AG, certified SAP partners, and SAP users. The results of education at FHTW and the theses create a win-win situation for both the participating companies and FHTW.
Coordination of the strategy for the use of SAP software with the university’s administration is indispensable for success. A service team from the business informatics program is available to advise and support students and faculty at FHTW. Professors Jörg Courant, Wilhelm Fais, and Reinhard Ginnold along with lab engineers Claudia Frommhold and Olaf Behrendt have been experienced, on-site contact persons across programs of study for years. Close and uncomplicated collaboration with SAP, the HCC, and numerous additional partners builds the foundations for solid work.
“Actual, comprehensive, and intensive work with SAP software is the absolute precondition for successful use of the software in teaching,” summarizes Courant. Accordingly, an opportunity to share experience with other universities and active participation in specialty bodies and user forums are a matter of course for the service team.
On the way to a notebook university
In coordination with SAP and the HCC, FHTW is testing new paths and technologies related to SAP software. A recent example was the testing of IDES Retail for training; a current example is testing wireless LAN access to SAP software as part of FHTW activities involved in becoming a notebook university.