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Recently on, I launched a new “long form” SAP podcast series entitled “The ERP Lounge: Misadventures and Opportunities in SAP Consulting.” I wanted to share our third edition with the SCN, which features an opinionated and detailed ranking of the skills demand in the four SAP Business Suite apps areas: SCM, SRM, PLM, and CRM.

We all had occupational dreams we never pursued. I used to entertain the notion I would make a good talk radio jockey. I started podcasting partially to live out some of those ambitions. The ERP Lounge is a new phase in that project – longer form, informal podcasts. I finally got the timing right with my cohort Brian Trout and we’ve been taping these about once a month. When you listen to one of them, I think you’ll see why I wanted to do these with him. Brian has an exceptional talent for explaining his field view of SAP skills needs in a listenable way.

The first ERP Lounge podcast was called “Be an SAP Consultant, Not a Contractor” and the second edition was called “Cutting Through the SAP Consulting Layers”. The format for the series is still being fine tuned, but each edition now starts with listener questions before moving into the feature topic, where we mix market opinions with in-depth evaluations of SAP skills and the ups and downs of SAP consulting. Amongst my influences for doing these longer form podcasts are the oustanding work being done by The Enterprise Geeks, as well as Bill Simmons’ podcasts on ESPN, which are a highly successful longer/conversational format. One final fun thing about these podcasts: we have formed an ERP Lounge LinkedIn group where listeners can pose questions that we will tackle in future podcasts. Or, if you like, you can do the same via my Twitter ID.

Without further ado, here is the podcast in its one hour entirety. Below the podcast player I will include some brief highlights with time stamps, as well as some classic lines from the podcast, such as: “Is cProjects the Justin Timberlake of PLM?”

Here is the podcast in the Quicktime player:

(If for any reason the player doesn’t work, you can download the podcast using the “download media” link on the right hand side)

(Trouble downloading? if for some reason it’s not playing in its entirety for you, check out the version on in the meantime.)

Classic lines preview:

“I always thought ‘New Dimension’ was a cult.” (15:00)

“This is not your grandpappy’s procurement process.” (37:05)

“APO used to be the sexiest thing on an SAP resume. Why didn’t it take off?” (37:30)

“Is cProjects the Justin Timberlake of PLM?” (47:50)

“Whether you have a Siebel or SAP background is going to be a lot less important than whether you understand process modeling, with less emphasis on whether you know where tables are located within a specific application.” (53:50)

It’s the combination of passion, focus, and skills continuity that builds a sought after SAP consultant.” (54:50)

I. (0:00) Opening Banter

II. (5:41) Ice Breaker – Reader Questions and Comments

Reader question from Twitter: The ERP Lounge blew up on Twitter a couple of times with skills topics. Steve Rumbsy, Ed Herrmann of the Enterprise Geeks, and Darin Paton got in on the banter. The question came from SAP Mentor and important SAP skills blogger [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken], who asks, “When do you hire a consulting company and when do you hire a contractor?” 

III. (15:02) Into the Lounge – Feature Topic: Ranking the SAP Business Suite Skills Demand

Ranking the skills demand of the four suite apps: 

Brian has them ranked: (in terms of market acceptance, maturity, and skills demand):

1. CRM (by a wide margin)
2. SRM
3. SCM
4. PLM (distant fourth)

Jon’s BS7 skills reader poll results are different, in terms of the skills folks want to obtain: SCM (45%), CRM (36%), PLM (11%), SRM (7%) – out of a survey pool of 85 voters. Jon and Brian will explore the discrepancies between these results during the discussion. 

A. (20:27) CRM Skills Assessment Why is CRM the Highest Ranked of the 4?

(25:33) Breaking down the skills needs in CRM

B. (30:33) SRM Skills Assessment – Why Did SRM Come in at Number 2?

(23:30) Breaking down the skills needs in SRM

C. (37:15) SCM Skills Assessment – Why Did SCM Come in at Number 3?

D. (45:00) PLM Skills Assessment – Why Did PLM Come in Fourth?

E. (49:25) Suite Skills Analysis Wrap Up

– Common themes from the Suite skills discussion: visibility, integration, web services and collaboration platforms, and a convergence between technical and functional skills. The platform and Suite functionality is really converging, and the need for deep business process know-how across the board gives these discussions a BPX context. When you bring the NetWeaver tools and lay them over these Suite products, there is a convergence of techno-functional skills needs. When we look at business processes that extend beyond the enterprise, we think of BPM tools, and the need to have tools that are not proprietary or that have an SOA framework that allows for interoperable collaboration. 

(54:15) BIG OL’ FINAL DISCLAIMER: Even though we stand by our Suite skills rankings, that does NOT mean that someone should just chase what’s hot and not pay attention to their own strengths. There are successful consultants across all these areas. If you’re a PLM expert or have a PLM/engineering background, chasing CRM because it’s hot makes no sense. It’s the combination of passion, focus, and skills continuity that builds a sought after SAP consultant. Just because Brian Trout said that CRM was the hottest area doesn’t mean you should abandon an area where you have a competitive advantage and really understand the tools and industry. That’s what we call “market insulation,” where you have a viable track to stay invested in.   

IV. (57:27) SAP Skills That are Hot/Not – This Week’s Picks

A. Hot – Brian: CRM 7.0, web development, web services knowledge, Basis folks who can drive J2EE stack upgrades for Business Suite 7.0 components, anyone who understands the IDM solution, in the consolidations space, it’s BPC Outlooksoft (SAP clients transition from Hyperion). Industries that are showing momentum: Utilities, Oil and Gas has had a spike. Jon: SAP EM (a recent podcast goes into that), SAP MII (another podcast gets into that), SAP’s Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI), and Universal Worklist, another component to SAP’s modern workflow management infrastructure. 

B. Not – If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. You don’t want to become a commodity, LSMW being an example. Commodity versus value-add skills are a key distinction. Native BEx development is not hot either. It’s going to be all about SAP BO soon. 

V. (1:02) Parting Shots a.k.a “Last Call” – Takeaways from the Podcast

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