Hey folks – I wrote this blog entry to hopefully get some feedback from you on a recent podcast I hosted on SAP skills trends. (If you haven’t heard it yet, you can click on this link to listen). But before we get into that, a bit of context:
I’ve been involved in some aspect of the SAP services market since 1995, and from what I have seen so far this year, this looks like the most difficult SAP consulting market I have seen to date. The challenge for SAP professionals seems to be the combination of unprecedented economic problems and the increase in offshoring of SAP skills needs – something I plan to cover in a podcast soon.
Of course, some would say that the benefit of such a downturn is that it provokes reform and innovation. I think most of us would agree that the classic SAP consulting model could use a hearty helping of both. But I do feel for the predicaments of folks who have been emailing me these days. I’ve been hearing from some senior consultants with pretty compelling skill sets, such as a senior FI/CO person, a senior SAP Logistics person, and a senior CRM Mobile specialist – just some quick snapshots of people who have never had as much difficulty finding new projects.
The good side, if there is one, is that the SAP market has not stopped in its tracks; there is still work to be found. There are two areas that always deserve exploration: one is skills expansion, and the second is marketing those skills. Though I would say that self-marketing is rapidly shifting into something much more useful and important: SAP community involvement. I wrote a piece on the keys to marketing yourself as an SAP consultant last summer that goes into self-marketing in more detail.
On the skills side, we can probably throw most of what we historically understood about SAP skills needs out the window and start afresh. We need new insights and practical tips on what skills are actually in use now. And we need feedback from those in the field on what they are seeing. That’s a major reason why I agreed to participate in a recent SAP skills podcast that was coordinated by SAP’s Ecosystem Workforce Group. This podcast was a joint venture with my site, JonERP.com, PAC, and K2 Partnering Solutions. We had folks on the podcast from different parts of the globe drawing on global research, so it really was an attempt to provide a big picture view of SAP skills demand now.
If you haven’t checked out the podcast yet, or want to see a podcast timeline, check that out on Audrey Stevenson’s blog. It’s also on the University Alliance home page on SCN. I’m hoping that you’ll check it out and share some comments with me on what you took from the podcast and if it resonates or conflicts with what you are seeing. One of the big themes of the podcast is the key to remaining marketable as an onsite consultant in the era of global outsourcing.
The skills needed to be a marketable onsite consultant and the so-called “SAP BPX skill set” seem to be more and more connected. For example, in the podcast, Peter Russo, who leads PAC’s SAP Research Practice, talked about some shifts in SAP skills needs he is seeing and some new roles that are emerging. Peter talked about how this ties back into the topic of consultant quality, and bringing genuine value to customer sites. In that context, he noted the emergence of the “Business Solutions Architect”” a combination of technical and business skills, which is the result of the broadening of the SAP suite and the possibilities that SOA brings. As Peter defined it, the Business Solution Architect brings both business process know-how and technical expertise to the table. These folks are not necessarily doing hard core coding, but they are doing process orchestration and bringing management skills to the table as well.
Peter noted that this is a difficult skills profile for customers to develop – thus the need for an onsite consulting presence in this area. The Business Solutions Architect has an onsite relevance due to the importance of local experience, understanding the needs of the company in question, and having the industry know-how to properly advise such a customer. I don’t know about you, but to me, this sounds a lot like the So What Does it Take to Become an SAP Business Process Expert? we talk about frequently on this site. Another theme that Peter cited was the importance of Business Intelligence skills and the need for data transparency, competitive analysis, and KPI measurement. These skills also tie into the onsite consultant profile, and I’ll be exploring this in further detail in future podcasts.
So with that said, I’m interested in hearing your feedback on these comments and/or on the themes of the podcast.