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Author's profile photo Otto Gold

Career switch in the SAP World

In the Career Center people talk about how to change their career course and how to sneak around all the obstacles. In my previous blog post about the SAP career I put some of my though about how jump into a SAP world (we, SAP people think we are the insiders, right?) on the paper. This time I would like to talk about the change of a career course within the SAP world, from a “SAP A product” to the “SAP B product”.

“Hot” SAP fields

For those who wonder which SAP fields are “hot” and they should move there to earn big bacon, I should mention the name of Mr. Jon Reed. You can find him around here with the articles and videos about which SAP field is “hot” or how to get a job and stuff. Or you can reach him and his valuable content on his site . I remember one of his blogs where he recommended the ABAP developers to start with the Adobe products (which are of course integrated into SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe, RIA, Flex etc.). This one I liked the most because that is my job – doing this Adobe “things” in SAP.

But that is not what I would like to talk about. From the mentioned blog by Jon I got an idea that he say if you´re 100% ABAP programmer, spare some 10% to learn something new and spicy (like the mentioned Adobe forms). But that is a very… small change for the man´s career. You can always come back to the old field of expertise (where you are sure you will NOT die of hunger), and in a new field you can stick to the experience you have gathered earlier (ABAP with Adobe is still ABAP right? Or ABAP WD and stuff). You don´t move into a whole new world.

From technical to functional and back

Sometimes that is what people want to do – to change something BIG in their SAP career.

Sometimes people ask if they can become the functional consultant although they have always played some development roles. But that is not decisive as well, is it? When you have some HR technical experience, you have developed something useful for the users, design the solutions according to their needs and wishes (and have understood what is their everyday problem and how they want to solve it (!!), in my opinion you´re ready to move into HR functional.

Of course you can experience some problems at the beginning, like you´re not talkative (because you don´t talk to your ABAP editor, do you?), you cannot do the show for the users (what in my opinion is what a good consultant can do – lead the users and their opinions – he is the opinion maker, he can lead the users´ expectations etc.). But probably you will have no problems with the hardcore SAP stuff.

By the way – you cannot do this every day, right? To move from a module to module, from technical to functional. You need an opportunity. I always laugh when I see forum questions like “I have 0,5 year ABAP experience and would like to move to MM functional” or “I have 1,2 yrs MM experience and got bored and moving to HR functional” etc. I wonder how these people can change the field that easily. Maybe their employers let them do that? But I doubt that. From my experience if a company uses (a customer company) or sells (SAP services provider company) your services as a senior ABAP developer, they don´t want you to become a junior project manager, right? You are “not ready for that”, “why would you waste your experience and a growth potential” etc. etc. I would like to discuss what other people are experiencing regarding this topic. Do you find that difficult to change the field? … But that is not what I was going to talk about either.

From SAP A to SAP B

I would like to drop a line about the new thing in SAP these days (years)… SAP brand is no longer ABAP-based only (of course, there is Java but that is not what I would like to discuss here, not a good place for a holy war around here Java guys). Maybe you have noticed that or not, but we have a brand new SME customer playground with SAP Business One (based on the .NET platform) and there are the Business Objects bought by SAP.

That is what I would like to elaborate – how can you work both in SAP ERP and Business Objects for example. Or how can one move from Business One consulting to the “big bro” – SAP ERP/ Business Suite products family. Nobody has started on a B1 + ERP integration project or some CRM+ BO solution, right? You learn the first one and try to adopt the ideas from the second the field.

Let´s start with an example. Let’s say we have a guy who is the experienced ABAP developer and would like to learn some Business One development. When programming in ABAP you can for example use all the standard code that has been delivered easily, you only have to debug the code and find out which function module has been launched. You have the demo reports for everything. Everything is embedded in the SAP GUI. You can browse data from here (like SE11), you can use the SQL trace (ST05), there is the transport system, there is the NetWeaver portal (and other NetWeaver fancy stuff, like PI).

“Kindly guide me through…”

But how can one start with the Business One if he has changed his world (even change the way he was thinking about the development when attending the university where he was doing the “ordinary” stuff in Java or .NET) to fit into the SE80 Workbench?

Let’s say I have a requirement, I can understand what to do and especially HOW to do that in a “big bro”. Who will tell me, what are the equivalents of the development tools, I am used to? Well, the syntax is not a problem but there are the different best prctises, the methodologies how you do the development… Where can I find a “conversion tables” for the …”constructs”, the ideas behind? Is there a SAP course to help me step into a new field? Maybe some people who have moved from a SAP A to SAP B could provide some details about how they made it. I would love to hear that.

I think about this like about the surfing. You ride a wave, wait for a new wave and catch it (if you´re brilliant or find anybody to help you with that). Or you can ride a wave till the end, back to the shore, turn around there, look for a new wave and try to catch that one. What a time loss when you always return back to the shore, isn´t it?

Maybe somebody will come up with a (partial) solution for this, give a hint or two. Any maybe I will write a new blog regarding this “problem” when I will learn something new.

Any opinions are welcomed, regards Otto

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      Author's profile photo Stefan Koehler
      Stefan Koehler
      Hello Otto,
      i want to give some comments to the following question: "Do you find that difficult to change the field?"

      My company gave the possibility to change the fields a few times. I started as an ABAP developer in my apprenticeship (with a long ABAP education by a SAP partner), at the end of my apprenticeship i switched into the OS and database adminstration. After working a few years as OS and database admin, i got the possibilty to change again and i became a SAP Basis administrator. I started to specialize on oracle databases and SAP performance tuning. I went through all these steps (from OS to database to ABAP) to get a whole understanding of analyzing problems and solving them. Now i am able to take a look behind mostly every part of a problem, because of my education and changed fields.

      We have a win-win situation now, i can do what i have a passion for (oracle database related and performance stuff) and my company is getting back its investment in form of service/effort.

      Of course this is a special case and can only work if you and the company have trust in each other.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I feel that switching between modules within SAP is as if you are looking at the same object through different dimensions. The core(technical details) of the object remains the same, but the spectrum changes from different views.

      A switch between related modules (FI , CO or CRM , SD) would be easier and faster and will have more possibility of cashing in on your previous experience. An ABAP programmer switching to FI would be a tough task. So with reference to the example in the blog if a switch is to be made between related modules the user can jump from one wave to the other, but incase of switch between non related modules you definitely need to be back on shore and work your way to the big wave.

      Do let me know what you think of my opinion.

      Thank you

      Author's profile photo Phani Rajesh Mullapudi
      Phani Rajesh Mullapudi
      The only way a consultant can achieve this is through a plan & dedicated work.
      For an ABAPer planning to switch to SD/MM for e.g, he has to prove himself in ABAP first & then start gaining functional knowledge while working on Technical developments & then start scouting for opportunities. Initially we may not get good pay when shifting areas, but Patience & persistent hardwork pay-off I think.
      I have been planning a switch from Dev to functional for a long time now. Still trying to work it out...
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Otto,

      I liked your post, most of the ppl around  in non-sap would like to know as to how to make a switch in SAP, regardless of the fact that they should be first be asking : What is SAP??

      Those who are already in SAP A would like to go to SAP B, which they percieve as 'Hot'.

      In fact I also myself made the Transition few years back from SAP ABAP to SAP BI, but I would say, it was a soft transition.

      I would advise the best way to transition is within the project itself, suppose if Person A is working 80% in ABAP and 20% in MM with in the project, with the right focus and approach, he can have a transition to 80% MM and 20 % ABAP.
      That would be a gradual and successful transition.

      That was my 2 cents!!

      Author's profile photo Otto Gold
      Otto Gold
      Blog Post Author
      Of course, you´re right. But I know many people who wonder how to help the change. How to be active. How to move to B even if the circumstances are not that good. How to prepare yourself for a switch etc. That is the important part. Of course I have changed my field few times a little, when I got a chance to do it. But maybe I would like to change the field again and have no opportunity, what should one do? That is the question.
      When you´re offered a chance, then it is up to you. But if you need to work hard to create a chance, then maybe exchanging the experince and ideas in the Community can help.
      Maybe you can describe briefly how did you actually do the change. How did you start? Which were the most important steps? What was the best thing to do and the worst one?
      Give some more cash:)) Add few to those 2 cents:))
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I am a Good at Enterprise Portal with  IMPL,Support,Rollout experience, I find EP is not a future module with Java in rival hands, Please suggest me either to shift for SAP-BI/BW or is there any Roadahead to Portal in SAP longterm consider 4-5 years ahead. also any details on Ess/Mss in ABAP hand what happens to EP.

      Author's profile photo Otto Gold
      Otto Gold
      Blog Post Author
      Unfortunatelly I have no information regarding the Portal development in future. I bet thet ESS/MSS stuff in ABAP will boost the usage (because 90% SAP people speak ABAP:)).
      BW/BI/BO seems like a natural choice (BO will be demanded, I guess). Or there is the option to become a GUI consultant (like WebDynpro, Adobe forms, BSP, Portal Dev Kit and all the stuff).
      Regards Otto
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I have about 4.0 yrs of experience in sap b1 mainly on technical side and 0.6 yrs on functional side.

      I have not worked on any specific domain.

      I want to switch from sap b1 (within SAP)
      What are possible options?


      Author's profile photo Otto Gold
      Otto Gold
      Blog Post Author
      I am sorry to disappoint you, but your options are very limited. There are no products like B1 in the SAP portfolio. B1 runs on .NET+MSSQL, the rest of the SAP "world" runs on Java/ABAP. So technical side cannot be used easily in other SAP fields. Same with the functional side - B1 works completely different way than the NetWeaver stuff.
      You have better chances than a fresher, but you will have it difficult to make use of any of your current knowledge in the world of other SAP products.
      If you´re interested and have some asics about businessobjects tgether with B1, you can try to use this BO experience and start from here.
      Good luck,
      regards Otto
      Author's profile photo Narottam Das
      Narottam Das
      Hi Otto,

      I am a SAP Business One Certified Solutions Consultant. Now I have an opportunity to extend my niche in E-Commerce field, but I am thinking of its relevance with respect to SAP world and my experience. At the beginning of my 5+ years’ career, I was a .Net Developer and presently I am a Project Manager. At present I have a mix involvement in functional, technical, and project management (or delivery) area for SAP Business One and its E-Commerce Integration Add-on. So, how can I make the best out of it or what should be my next move?

      Author's profile photo Otto Gold
      Otto Gold
      Blog Post Author
      Hi, the thing is after some time there will be no more space for organic grow in B1 area. B1 is very small in my eyes, what´s great because one guy can accomplish a lot. But from the career perspective it´s a con (at least for me who need to learn/ to grow to stay alive... I would born myself to death doing the same things again and again).
      You have these options in my opinion:
      a) start a freelancing career if that is not your current daily job yet, freelancing is said to be very demanding, could be fun and hopefully brings money for the family
      b) you could start developing things that are not delivered by SAP B1 standard distribution - create new things/ modules etc.
      c) get another technology/ toy connected to B1, example: Crystal Reports or BO explorer (or how is that called) - you can build on what you already know but learn something new at the same time
      d) change the field, move to SAP Netweaver and re-start your career there
      It would take us days to talk about all the important aspects of the decision etc. So you have to decide yourself:))
      Hope that helps at least a little,
      I can´t see what could I do more here,
      good luck,
      cheers Otto
      Author's profile photo Narottam Das
      Narottam Das
      Hi Otto,

      Thanks a lot for your advices to me and to all others like me. Today I have finished the study of all the relevant texts / link here in this forum. And now I am almost clear about the present situation around me. Even now I'm advising others in the similar context as well :). I have seen your offer at - [] , and I am interested on this knowledge transfer matter also.

      The next quick help I would like to have from you is as follows.

      Otto, I would like to study and work around E-Commerce (functional) in detail, because it’ll be helpful for my present job, and there may have some better position towards “SAP ERP Ecommerce” or “SAP CRM E-Commerce” in the long run. But what are the differences between these two products of SAP? Have I though the right thing?

      I’m waiting for the reply.

      Thanks & Regards

      Author's profile photo Otto Gold
      Otto Gold
      Blog Post Author
      the problem is I don´t know much about Ecommerce (or Retail which is connected tightl with ERP ecommerce), so there is very little i can share. From my perspective it is a must for you to have access to SAP ERP/ CRM (the NetWeaver one, not B1) to start learning. I don´t have access to training B1 system right one and Ecommerce for B1 is not widely spread in my country.
      If there is something specific I can help you with, let me know, but a generic transfer B1 for Netweaver is not possible any more.
      cheers Otto
      Author's profile photo Zal Parchem
      Zal Parchem
      Going from a familiar area to a new one can be a formidable task, but one which can be done with the right mix of help, self-learning, and formal instruction.  In the world of SAP B1 (with over 30,000 installs), there might be a big difference in the types of skill sets needed than in "big bro".  Very few small companies really want to/can pay for customization efforts; they are looking for the consultant to provide the most cost-effetive and inexpensive solutions to their requirements.  Usually that is accomplished with the tools already in SAP B1 (SQL, Stored Procedures, Crystal Reports, etc).  Couple that with the usual low number of users and the SAP B1 consultant needs to turn into a "specialized generalist" who can answer questions from ANY business function found in the normal daily workings of ALL companies. 

      There is no "con" in working with B1 - how a person structures their work and expands their abilities can make SAP B1 a very large "pro" in anyone's work experience; I never do the same thing over and over again since each new install brings its own unique hurdles and challenges.  For example, there are international "SAP A" shops now using SAP B1 to integrate divisional data and the "A/B1" combo alone is in so much demand right now that finding the right person turns out to be extremely difficult.  The main criteria for the search is not "big bro" experience, but working with SAP B1 and data migration.

      You and I have worked in both "worlds" and, personally, I would be bored very quickly going back to the limited scope of the HR module of "big bro".  Maybe my penchant for seeing and clarifying the whole spectrum of a business is what helps make SAP B1 an ideal fit for my personality, because it covers so much.

      The technical aspects excite some, for others it is a yawn.  The functional aspects are the motivation for some, for others it is a difficult task.  Maybe the first question should not be "how to move", but "why to move", and if the person has the right "why to move" (excitement in learning, growing skills, fine-tuning one's career to their personal abilities), then the "how to move" will come about.  The wrong reasons for moving (money, "latest craze", running from a disliked environment) will often times back-fire and leave the person with the same question all over again.

      I am asked the question all the time of how to get into the "big bro" world from SAP B1 for a variety of reasons.  I find their "whys" extremely interesting and tailor my "hows" to what they say.  But it is always an interesting question to discuss...

      Regards - Zal

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Otto,
      I have a small doubt, which I think can be easily clarified by you 🙂

      I have 3 years of experience in SAP technical module primarily ABAP in HR module, workflow and ABAP WEBDYNPRO.

      Recently I got an opportunity to be a part of the SAP team in an oil and gas MNC. I have few questions related to such an opportunity.

      1. As I am currently working in an IT services/SAP Consulting organization, will it be taken as a negative strategy, if I move to the IT wing of an Oil and Gas company?

      2. Will I get enough opportunities to keep myself updated with the new technologies and polish my skills further to be at par with industry standards ?

      3. Say when I switch over from the IT department of an Oil and gas company, will it be a problem if I want to get in to a SAP consulting company again?

      4. Will I be tagged as a non-consultant as I won't be working on multiple projects for multiple clients?

      5. How good it will be to work in such an environment, as the new company has relatively small SAP team ?

      Expecting your response 🙂


      Author's profile photo Ajay Venkatesh
      Ajay Venkatesh


      I just got certified on SAP HANA. Otherwise I have no prior hands-on work experience in SAP.

      Also I am a APICS 'Certifiied Supply Chain professional' (CSCP), having 7-8 years experience in an automotive supply chain & manufacturing domain in the US.

      Based on my background, please let me know if i need to get into SAP SCM functional modules (listed below), or would SAP BW/BO be more complimentary to my SAP HANA certification?

      Any information on this would be really helpful