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A lot many of my colleagues keep asking me…

I am currently a JAVA programmer working on production support for client X offshore. I see no growth in my current job.

I was thinking of maybe getting into SAP since my company is hiring a lot of SAP guys and I heard that you can make a Lot of Money in SAP and that the demand for SAP professionals is going through the roof…

I am sure that many of you must have come across such statements quite often…..

I am not sure what to advise this very good friend of mine….!!!!

First of all I start thinking :

If I were a fresher ( fresh out of college ) – I get placed in a company which trains me in JAVA / .NET etc etc

Then I am put in a project and expected to grow within the organization…..

As for SAP …?

If I were a fresher – I am hired out of campus and trained in BASIC production support for SAP Modules….

With Modules like BASIS and BW being the easiest since the requirements are less rigorous than other modules.

Example :

An L1 for SAP BI would be typically involved in monitoring Data Loads and a L1 for BASIS might be involved in

transports and at best taking backups / monitoring jobs etc.

Now coming to the intriguing part ….

As for the NON SAP space – the career ladder would be production support –> Application Development team member….

As for SAP .. the requirements for implementation typically come as 2 years Implementation experience  – this would mean that the Production support guy never has a chance to get into implementation unless the experience is faked ( for want of a better word ) – does this mean that effectively we are encouraging integrity breaches by putting such conditions.

Then this leads me to ask the same question again :

1. What does it take for a person say with 2 years experience in production support to get into the SAP world and grow his/her career

2. All this was referring to Indian companies… also if a person is a fresher and has missed the bus on campus recruitment and gets trained in some local institute in some SAP technology – what should h/she do to get a job.

How does a person with no Experience (read: Fresher) get into SAP ? and where can a fresher expect to land a job particularly in terms of responsibilities . How does one grow in SAP Projects – irrespective of modules – or is it module specific ?

Again voicing out my opinion – have we built walls around us that are too high to scale and end up facing a shortage of people for projects and end up with sub optimal resources that might work for some time and then blow up in our faces …?

I was reading Is SAP Certification Worth the Money?

and his column on ERPGenie.com

And Santosh V’s blog on Certification versus Experience

All these blogs talk about experience in the market – what does it have for a fresher ? All along  the offshoring model works on having a bulge in terms of cost of the resource versus the billing for the resource – but the blogs seem to indicate that there is no room for the fresher or a fresher has to essentially be content with production support and nothing more . nothing less ?

This is more of a rant than a complaint … have a lot of friends who work in technologies like JAVA / .NET etc and have put in a lot of work there but are mainly clueless about where to move to and get into SAP.

Of course these  technologies can be used in the SAP world also but then the job profile requires them to have knowledge of the SAP world also which sort of spoils the whole experience.

These views are just my personal opinions and not to be considered as representing my organization / against any organization in particular.

Just wanted some feedback which I thought I could point people to in order for them to develop their skills in that direction.

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  1. Vijay Vijayasankar
    Arun, this is as problematic for the employer, as it is for the employee. Most good companies have a mix of projects – implementation and support.

    Big tier 1 companies will happily outrotate quality candidates between support and implementations, but I am not sure how this would work in a smaller company that has predominantly support work.

    Freshers these days start in support. But most support projects also have some development involved via change requests etc. Raise your hand and ask for being involved in anything new that comes up. Also, work with your management and insist on an outrotion to implementation work in an agreed upon time. I would also urge youngsters to look for some onsite opportunity -however short it is. These are great opportunities to show your skills to people that matter – client and the PMO.

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    1. Arun Varadarajan Post author
      Vijay,
      I definitely agree with you on the rotation and the visibility part of things …
      but generally :
      1. When a person enters a support project there is a very definite hierarchy and the person more of less works out of a straight jacket. I have worked with a lot of guys coming out of support into development projects – but then the attitude of theirs is more or less defined by what they have seen and hence the vital part of creativity is lost. In my case I have come to what I am due to a lot of opportunities which I had the benefit of and hence have the comfort of thinking differently which in many a case surprises the customer – but then IMHO I think there should be a way to foster creativity and to challenge the existing in a project. In many cases freshers after 2 to 3 years in support projects are various capacities become immune to the creativity bug and end up being extremely good Operational team members which would mean – give them a spec and they will deliver as long as there is a Technical spec to the same – which basically means that someone else has done the design for them – but when it come to them working with just a mail for requirements and come up with a design … you know what I mean.

      Ultimately it is just this –
      1. By having people from other technologies – will it make SAP Better by way of innovations ?
      2. For 1. to happen we need lower entry barriers for a person to get into SAP – are we there yet ?
      3. For a fresher to come into the SAP world – should they be treated better than hands and legs in order to lead to better customer delight..?

      My 0.02
      Arun

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      1. Vijay Vijayasankar
        I see the point about lacking creativity. In my mind, it is the lack of leadership in the PMs and teamleaders that cause this. I would also say it is the lack of imagination of the top managers responsible for the company’s SAP practice. Freshers can be moulded any way we want – but it is very hard to undo these after 3 years.

        I am well aware of the strict hierarchy that you mentioned – and it is hard to fight. However, unless the employee tries his fair bit – he will just end up branded as a support guy for the rest of his career.

        Two areas where I have had success bringing in java skills are Portal and CAF. These seem to have less of an entry barrier than traditional ABAP.

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        1. Arun Varadarajan Post author
          I have had the opportunity to work with freshers at the implementation levels and have found them coming up with seemingly innocent questions that make you think and also people who have grown up in the system. A vast difference ….. one who questions and the other who accepts the as-is..
          I do not intend to Generalize but then in many cases this is what I see…
          Leads me to ask ….
          1. Why is this so ? – are clients averse to someone who brings in a different POV – given proper guidance ?
          or are we going over the top on trying to always identify resource requirements with relative experience…. which again could be – does this mean that a person with 2 to 3 years experience in SAP BI be expected to do all from day one ..?

          Questions that I ask myself that in many cases remain unanswered…. alas… I remain…

          Arun

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  2. Atul Mane
    I am also a fresher in SAP BI. Just about to complete my 1 yr of experience. I would just like to know what and how much is expected from a guy like me in the SAP market ? Do they expect full life cycle implementation experience ? I have a little development experience in SAP BI. Are their any opportunities for me ? plz reply
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