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Before I begin with the topic outlined in the header, I would like to spend few words on why do I write this blog and some more other blogs about the SAP career. Time to time I ask myself if the field I am working in, is the right one, if like it and if it gives me a good feeling about the job, if it has a future (both if this “career” has any natural and reasonable continuation and development and if there is some money in this, a man needs both meaning and money, right?).

And I understand many people ask themselves the same question and everybody (almost everybody?) wants to make sure if his or hers thoughts are ok and if there are people who think the same. The conclusion: I want to express my thoughts about changing the career course with hope I support some people thoughts and maybe somebody can give the reasons I would change my thoughts, what could help me with my own career course in the future. I consider all my blogs the places for discussion and hope nobody takes all my words as a dogma.

In the previous Career blogs I wrote about:

  • How an outsider can get into SAP (you can read this as “from outsider to insider“): “Want to switch to SAP consultancy”
  • About how to change your field within the SAP world (you can read this as  “from consultant of X to consultant of Y“): Career switch in the SAP World
  • And the today topic is “from MM/SD/PP functional to Portal+GUIs consultant/ BPXer
  • Some more post about how to move from X to Y will come next, I hope. Of course it depends on the comments, please share your ideas about the topics, because everybody needs a feedback to be able to change and improve the content. I will name these articles “XY: From … to …” so it can be recognized easily if I have attracted some readers.

Career Center Forum source

Note: This blog post is based on a Career Center forum question (SAP PORTAL ) where a questioner asked about how to change the career course from the MM/SD/PP functional (5 years of experience)to NetWeaver Portal, what, he believes, will help him to become a good BPXer (business process expert/ solution architect).

From my point of view, that would be a BIG switch in a career. Why: As I understand the situation, the MM/SD/PP is the functional side of SAP (this is for people who believe that there are two kinds of SAP, the “technical one” and the “functional one”). But the portal stuff is the technical side, I think, or at least needs a certain technical skills maturity level.

If one would go for the Portal, it would mean he or she would deal with things like Java Connectors, administration or various components, roles and authorizations, iViews and packages (both Sap standard and the developed ones), development deployment and all that stuff.

I would love to know at least the portal basics, but since it is technical a lot and needs some practice (which one can achieve through days and days of clicking around in the portal), I was not able to find a combination suitable for a start:

  • you need a portal (what is not available for trial download I believe, so you need to have a sandbox system of your company)
  • you need to be the big banana regarding the authorization – you must have all the passwords and credentials as a portal admin to “get” the stuff
  • you need to have some integration and basis knowledge
  • you need to know about the SAP standard content for the portal and how to develop a new content
  • of course there are always some tricky things you cannot learn before they happen, like portal roles synchronization (with other system roles), connection between the portal and the BW and some more fancy stuff.

What about the developer role?

Since the questioner was not sure about what is the Portal work about and it that would help him with his career, I offered him another approach: one don´t have to be a Portal administrator to become a good BPXer/ architect (I wonder if I can hear some opinions on this here: What is your “chance” to become a “good BPXer/ architect”, if you´re a senior Portal guy?). But you need to know at least “something” about how the various user interfaces work, including Portal.

If we move to the user interfaces the next important question is if one wants to be a developer, a guy who can use the GUI technologies to develop the real user interfaces. (Again: please share your opinions, if the GUI development is a good experience basis for a guy, who wants to become a BPXer/ solution architect).

The question is: Do you want to get a task on your desk and start programming the interfaces using one of the many available technologies? There are dynpros (SAP GUI screens), WebDynpros (web face development), BSP (old web face), Adobe forms (Adobe forms integration into SAP apps), various Java development kits and technologies including integration to pure-Java (Java connector) and many, MANY more. (In fact I know very few people who can develop full-featured solutions in all the mentioned technologies. Can you do that?).

A part of my job is to develop SAP Interactive forms solutions. That is one of the above mentioned technologies for user interface creation. One of the frameworks available for the Adobe forms is HCM Processes and Forms. It is a framework which connects form processing (of course Adobe based) with processes and approvals (based on SAP Workflow engine) for the HCM domain. I have noticed very few jobs/advertisements, where HCMPF developer/ consultant can work as a team lead/solution architect/ the project driver. What are your opinions about the GUI developers becoming the team leads/ solution architects?

Conclusion 

As a portal administrator one would publish what SAP has developed for the certain problem or publish the content the developers have created. As a developer one would create such content. As a BPXer/ architect, would one have time to work in one of these roles and do all the BPX/ architecture work (on a certain, high quality level) at the same time?

From my point of view, the best shot is to understand how the alternative GUIs and technologies work:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • What time would it take the developer to use a technology to create some “average” solution
  • When certain GUI is suitable for a problem.

A BPXer/ architect don´t have to be able to create anything with all that GUIs and technologies, he or she only needs to decide and then ask for a technical youngster to develop it for him (of course to decide, he must have some relevant basics of all the topics/ technologies/ problem domains, but that does not mean he or she must be able to create the whole solution himself (or herself, …man, that is difficult to be a gentleman here…), even if he (or she) would have time for that).

One can become a good solution architect if he or she can become a team lead, can decide objectively and can depend on the experts in the team. That means I would find a module or technology that is the driver of the project (without which one the project would be meaningless or useless) and try to become an expert in that field.

I welcome all your opinions, please share it with the rest of the readers and provide a feedback for me. Regards, Otto

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