Until spring of this year, I had never had the chance to meet Matthias in person. But after the book publication, I had a chance to spend time with him and his family in Atlanta. One end result was this live podcast we taped on my Zoom H2 about how to become an SAP pricing expert. For those of you who aspire to be independent consultants in the SAP space, there are a lot of excellent lessons to be taken from Matthias’ example.
During this 16 minute podcast, Matthias shares how we became an SAP pricing expert, going back to the early R/2 days. The lessons on pricing and consulting he picked up over the years are shared in this podcast. I hope you enjoy the podcast, and if you have any questions for Matthias about either SAP pricing issues or success as an SAP independent consultant, please post them here and either Matthias or I will respond. One of the most interesting aspects are his comments about how pricing functionality has (and hasn’t changed) from previous versions, so hopefully more recruiters and hiring managers will be aware of these distinctions and not rule people out because they have no experience on a newer release where there isn’t a functionality difference!
During the video shoot, we also shot three videos, so if you scroll down, I’ll include one of those videos as more bonus content on SAP pricing and consulting skills.
So here’s the 16 minute podcast, and if you want to see more about what we covered (as well as a podcast timeline), then keep on scrolling down. (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 JonERP.com in the meantime.)
50 Matthias was born 45 minutes south of Walldorf, the SAP mothership, and he obtained R/2 training at Walldorf in the early days.
1:26 In the early R/2 days, Matthias developed a custom pricing solution for a client. In the those days, SAP had rudimentary pricing capabilities. His client needed more flexibility, so he developing a solution with custom tables that resembles the Condition Technique in today’s R/3 and SAP ERP systems.
1:55 Three days of R/3 training and Matthias was out in the field, but how did he break into Pricing? After that three day jumpstart class, Matthias in was sent straight to his client as an SAP expert in Pricing. He had to scrambled to read the SAP Pricing documentation. This was one major reason why he wrote the Ultimate SAP Pricing Guide, to make it easier to understand the functionality. Standard SAP documentation doesn’t explain in detail how the individual SAP Pricing components fit together.
3:25 So how has SAP Pricing functionality changed over the years? What do consultants need to know to stay in top of these releases? The big changes in functionality were from the 3.0 and 4.0 and 4.6 releases. If you’re interviewing for a 6.0 job, and you only have 4.6C experience, tell the hiring manager you can do it, there aren’t many changes.
4:30 Complexity in SAP generates a need for consulting, but why do we specifically need SAP Pricing consultants?
5:40 What’s the right techno-functional skills mix of the SAP Pricing consultant? Do they need to know ABAP? Ideally yes. Matthias explains why.
6:40 Yes you need ABAP, but good SAP Pricing consultants do more than just configuring tables – they solve business problems.
8:15 One of the main reasons Matthias wrote the book was to help others along their skills progression. So who is the book for? Matthias: the book is suitable for a broad range of users and consultants. There are tons of screen prints, and it starts out with the basics: you can use the book to do a step by step design of your pricing system within SAP. The cornerstone of SAP Pricing is the Condition Technique.
If you understand this technique, you can apply it to several areas outside of pricing in the SAP system. In the later chapters in the book, the book explains how the SAP Master Data comes out in the final pricing for the customer. Then the final sections of the book cover advanced and special pricing scenarios like SAP Free Goods Configuration, which was a missing link in version 3.0 of SAP R/3. Other topics like rebates, sales deals, and promotions are also covered. In the end of the book, we go into custom modifications, how to tweak the system if the standard functionality is not enough, and this is where ABAP comes in.
10:50 What are the mistakes SAP project teams make around SAP Pricing? And what are the keys to effective SAP Pricing projects?
12:10 And how can SAP project teams use this book? Because the chapters are structured one on top of the other, you can understand how the SAP Pricing configuration works. You’ll know why things are happening a certain way and how it can be changed to meet business requirements.
12:50 Matthias is not just an SAP Pricing person, so what are the keys to his success as an independent consultant in this field?. If you understand the Condition Technique, you can not only apply this to pricing, but to other aspects of SAP as well.
14:57 Don’t fear ABAP, get your feet wet, and from the ABAP side, you can move into functional directions in SAP like Pricing as well.
15:15 Matthias’ advice on the book writing process: have a concept and stick to it, don’t get discouraged if you get stuck somewhere. Go through it in a logical manner, explain it as you would have wanted it explained to you. Matthias wrote the book he would have wanted to read earlier in his career. Reader reviews are available on Amazon.com.
So here’s one of the videos I shot with Matthias, this one on achieving success as an SAP pricing consultant:
One of the things I liked about this video is how Matthias credits his longevity in SAP not to his configuration skills, but to his ability to talk to customers. During the video, Matthias cites an example of how he eliminated master data to improve system performance and reduce the amount of manual work for customer service. “Great SAP consultants don’t just configure tables – they solve real business problems for customers.” Matthias closes with an important point about undertaking SAP configuration in a way that is more transparent to customers.
If you want to see the other two videos from the shoot, head on over to the JonERP YouTube channel for more on Matthias’ views on the keys to SAP pricing success.
I hope you enjoyed the podcast and video and let’s hear your questions or feedback.