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What would I do if I were a SAP newbie

I can see a question like: “Hello, my name is Mr(s). XY, I am a fresh graduate and want to get into SAP/ I want to change the course of my career to SAP/ etc. etc.” nearly every day. I understand that these people have no idea (or very unclear idea) about what to do, where to start and how to ease the pain of learning. Of course, sparing some money is an important part of the story. I also understand that we, people with some years of experience could spare these people days of struggling with every hour we invest in their education.

P.s.: sorry for one more article covering the same topic again and again…

The only problem is one cannot save the world and cannot teach all the newcomers. I feel a need to write a little more about the topic, because if it would save few hours of just few newcomers, it was worth the time.

And of course I would like to spare some time explaining the same things to new people every day (they could search and find my older posts in the Career center, or I could collect the links for them, but the result aleayxs the same: everybody wants a personal attention and does not understand the basics, the foundation to build on the real career, is the same for all the people). So I blog about it, because it could help them to find these lines and through the text I am able to articulate, that the basics are very much the same (fresher or experienced guy, developer or consultant, basis guy or manager, boy or girl, young or old).

So, dear fresher, fasten your seatbelt and prepare for a drive. Other people could suggest other ways how and where to start learning about SAP, this is mine:

Get your hands dirty, immediately!

Understand, that there is a SAP/ABAP trial system available for download (there are many more SAP things available for download, but I still think the ABAP stack trial system – sometimes called the MiniSAP – is the best starting point for like everybody).

There are so many people, who plan to start the learning process attending a formal training (well, I am not sure if you can call the SAP staff “factories” in India a formal training, but you pay a lot of money, what is one of the most important factors, so I feel responsible to cover it as well). I don´t understand it. Maybe it is because the custom is different in my country, I didn´t have to attend any special training to get my first SAP job (an average programming skill was enough, thanks boss, for offering me the chance to learn on the job!). But even then: If I were aware of the existence of the trial, I would download it and try it myself immediately.

Even if you insist on attending a formal training, install and try the SAP trial BEFORE the training. Why? Because you will use the time, you pay for, the best way you can. The others will start searching the SAP menu while you can use the time to ask questions, you were not able to answer at home. This way you can get the most out of the training (well, instead of trying to understand the keywords during the first days, you can actually create something, isn´t it great?).

Even if you are not going to become a developer, you need to understand the concept of the transactions, the database concept, the data dictionary concept (DDIC) or the way the standard functionality can be customized (configured).

Understand that for certain positions the ABAP trial system is like 90% they need to be able to do their real job. Example: If you´re interested in SAP BW, you can get a really working BW engine in the trial system. The standard SAP content is not a part of the installation (so you cannot just configure, what is delivered by SAP in all the installations), but you can develop many “real” things to learn how it works. The same applies if it comes to the ABAP itself. You can learn ABAP WebDynpro, Adobe interactive forms and most likely many more things I cannot even name.

Even if you would find, that SAP is nothing for you, the result is positive. You didn´t spend much money to be taught it is not for you. And if you start to like it, well, then welcome to the SAP world.

By the way, thanks to some changes of the SAP portfolio during last months and years, notice the BusinessObjects a brand/ suite of business intelligence tools and systems is a part of the SAP portfolio as well. You can download the trial version of these as well. Check for yourself at SAP BusinessObjects downloads site.

P.s.: if you think you´re not technical enough to make all this happen, follow anyone of the zillion tutorials available all over the internet on even on SCN, like: Step by Step Installation of SAP NetWeaver 7.01 SR1 SP3 ABAP Trial Version in Oracle VirtualBox Part 1/3. Or if you would like to do the same for BO (Crystal objects covered ion the following example): How to play around with SAP and Crystal reports, trial versions only. Also don´t miss the The Full Monty – Part 16 – NetWeaver Business Client Install & Configure

Understand the career options

Understand what is going on and so you can pick a part suitable for you. You don´t know what are the options? The best way is to check the list of SAP modules (if you would like to become a module consultant), check the list of technologies (like WebDynpro, ABAP, adobe forms, ALE etc. etc. If you want to become a developer, you first stop could be NetWeaver at Wikipedia for example). Where you can find these? Wikipedia and Google can provide answers for nearly every question. I always start there. If you say you didn´t find anything (like the guys asking me this question through the personal emails or trying to pretend no sources are available when asking the questions is asked in the forums), I don´t believe you. Not now, when we have zillions of “fan” content pages from the Community people, another zillions of SAP help pages etc. Learn to search. Some people say SAP means something like “search and” + add one suitable word starting with P.

If you would like to read a little more about the options, you can check one of my older blogs about the topic: “Want to switch to SAP consultancy”

Or you can browse the SAP curriculums (a little complicated for a newcomer, but it can help you understand what is your position in the large world of SAP. Especially where you start and where you go and what steps/ SAP courses you need to take to become a subject matter expert). Check the curriculums here: SAP Education training catalog (main page) and if you click a little more (deeper) you can find the whole path/map from a newbie to an expert like the SAP NetWeaver Programming Core (ABAP). You can click any of the steps and check, what are the important parts of this step so you can focus on the basic stuff at the beginning and grow with the curriculum.

Choose your destiny

Now you should be able to understand, what the basic options are. Not like every detail, but I hope you got a general picture. It is time to decide about the career you are going to follow. This is the important part. I am sure you think your case is somewhat exceptional and any advice, you could use, was never provided (please use the Search, at least time to time…) or does not fit into your situation, but believe me, the following points apply in all cases (at least one applies like every time):

What is your background and education

Do you have a degree in computer science? Then you can pick your SAP career freely, I believe (but still you´re expected to be more technical than functional, maybe?).

Do you have a degree in accounting? You could become a great SAP Financials consultant (if you have any prior accounting experience, then you could become a really good one, understanding both the SAP guys and the users, what is always a big plus!).

If your degree is not connected with IT, you depend on the market options. Get a job, where the company could use your education or where they will accept and appreciate your skill set.

Do you have a friend with some SAP experience? Is he/she ready to help you? Then you could pick a field where you can get some help at the beginning. Is there a way a member of your family can help you get a job in one of the areas you think about? Go for it!

What are your opportunities

Maybe this is the most important part of this text! If there are no opportunities, you can have any wishes, any education and any experience and it helps you nothing. So, let´s look into this. Did you check the SAP market in your region to understand, what fields are demanded and what is/will be your chance to get a job within a selected field? You must keep this in mind after you get the job as well. Does the employer have projects, where you can use your core skill? What is the future of the company about your field? Do they regularly have opportunities for the role you´ve chosen? Are there any senior colleagues that could help you grow, teach you what, where, why and how?

What are your wishes

Do you have a dream job? Well, I don´t tell you go for a total dream; I mean like a job you´re qualified to do and it would bring you the feeling of a nice job. Or you don´t want to work as a developer anymore and think you could make it into the functional side (and you have some experience, that would help you become a good functional consultant)? You can follow your heart (I know people who were following their hearts and are happy about their current SAP jobs, but you must always judge carefully if you can make it with the job. You will spare a disappointment for yourself and for your employer as well).

What is your prior experience

Do you have any prior experience? You probably have one. Is an experience with a CRM solution from another vendor (like Siebel)? Then your experience count. How much? Maybe like 25% 50% your experience could count like 99%, but you need to be able to translate your knowledge from the old system to the new one. I mean the processes in CRM are general and do not vary that much, but you need to understand how things, which you know from the old system, work in SAP. They most probably are covered in SAP, but work in some other way.

Do you have a prior experience with project management? Great! But the risks slightly differ in SAP. The methodology (called ASAP, ASAP Methodology Roadmaps and Phases) is specific for SAP. You need to understand new roles, understand the qualification catalog, which should help you to get the workforce. And many more.

Do you have prior experience with Java? Great! Learn, what are the Java opportunities in the SAP world and how to translate the pure Java terms into the “SAP Java” You can start here: XY: From Java developer to SAP Java developer a blog of mine.

I am sure the message is clear now. There is one last thing about this “translation of experience” I would like to share. Some people don´t have any prior experience with IT tools in their field of expertise. Like the example with the CRM, but without Siebel. Like if they guy was a salesman, understands how do the leads, opportunities and everything works, but didn´t use any special software for the work (sounds a little crazy, not to use any software these days, I am said to exaggerate a lot, so do not believe me every single word).

Or an accountant who has no prior experience with enterprise software. Even these people are welcome and their “functional” experience count. Don´t be afraid, maybe it will be easy to teach you how to operate invoicing (for example) in SAP. Easier than teach your favorite ABAP developer to do the accounting (I have never met anybody, who would be able to teach me the basics of accounting…).

I hope I provided enough points to help you decide if, what, how and stuff. These questions are not easy, but it is the Community at your assistance (if you behave, some people don´t understand the relationship between the etiquette and a help offered for free).

See you on the project one day, regards Otto

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  • Hello Otto,

    Good advice from your post. I have a question.

    I have been reading a lot of material about SAP and just like you said, i want to do a self study. i know what I want to do but probably because of the broad nature of SAP I haven’t understood exactly my starting poing. Reading through your blog I picked out something which you said is is what i wwant but i need advice on where to begin.

    this is what you said: Do you have a degree in accounting?

    You could become a great SAP Financials consultant (if you have any prior accounting experience, then you could become a really good one, understanding both the SAP guys and the users, what is always a big plus!).

    Now i am an accountant and I want to be a SAP great SAP Financial Consultant like you said. I need a starting point. Please can you advice?

    I will be grateful.Thank you

    • As I mention in the blog: I have very little knowledge about accounting. So it is difficult for me to guide you, since your experience is far deeper. But I can try.
      An example: Let´s say you need to pay some taxes. Do you know which trasaction to launch? Where to write whic values to get a report you want to send it to the government?
      Example 2: Lets say you know which trasaction how and stuff, and do not want to manually rewrite the values onto a paper. So try to find out whereyou can make the SAP to print the report for you.
      Example 3: Let´s say you´re the supervisor of the accounting process. You have different steps in the process, where your inferiors create various business documents (I don´t know, like invoices, orders, pay checks, I don´t know the right accountng terms to describe a real example). And you want to double check, if they´re doing the right job. For example: you have no debts. How is your cash-flow. Do you know where to find this kind of information in SAP? No? Start with the manuals and dig deeper.
      It is always about asking good questions. That is the way I learn. I ask myself a question and try to find the steps to answer it. First round: you outline the steps, second: you confirm the steps you´re sure about and start thinking about the blanks, third: you have all the steps in a reasonable order and start looking for the details how to really perform the steps, like transactions, tools, people, database table, everything you need to finish the step. Decomposition. That is the right word! And iy ou manage to solve like 5/7 steps yourself you can ask about those 2 remaining here on SDN. You did a great job, were trying hard and so you can justify the questions. You´re not alazy man, just a beginner. That isnot what we punish people for:))
      Hope you can get the message and it sounds reasonable and could be followed.
      Regards Otto
  • Hi Otto,

    I really like your blogs, I read nearly all of them, and especially career blogs are interesting for me. Your ideas about career start, career progress and way of career progress are instructive.  Thanks for your posts.


    • Hello! What a surprise!
      I was convinced all my friends have already sent me a personal email with a feedback about my blogs. Didn´t know you read them as well. We will have to talk about it! Maybe you could suggest ways how can I improve the texts…
      Well… this is a general offer. If anybody can think about ways how to improve my blogs, I will try to follow every good comment to entertain the readers.
      Cheers Otto
  • I have just re-read your blog and had to comment.

    I really think this is great advice for those of us who are entering the giant world of SAP.  Thanks for all you do in the SAP community!



  • hey otto.
    thanks for the great advice on your blog.i need some help.i am an engineering graduate from 2007(INDIA).i have been studying since then and havent worked. i am interested in the SAP functional modules.but Siemens SAP learning centers say that i need to have 2-3 yrs experience to attend their center.i have no interest in the technical can i have a career in SAP as a fresher on the functional side.plz suggest some options
    • hello,
      I have no advise that will change your entire life overnight. There are two important points:
      a) it is easier to start with ABAP and get into SAP this way. You can download and use SAP trial where technical stuff works the same way it works in the real system .But you cannot have such trial system with funtional modules to play with it at home.
      b) maybe you thinking in the wrong direction. Siemens is one of the consulting companies, so they want to you to be on a certain level before they can seel your skills. But there are also customers right? Everything what we do is to make customers´ lifes easier. Maybe it would be easier for you to join a SAp customer company and learn the functional side and especially understand the problems the users face everyday, what you make you a better consultant for the future.
      I am afraid this is not what you wanted to hear… but I have no magical advise.
      The slow and difficult way would be to get books and start reading about how things work in SAP, learn the terminology, learn about the processes and roles etc. Understand the functional side regardless the technology and hope this will help you to get a job.
      My advise for friends looking for a job is:
      1) pick a dream job
      2) get a detailed description of the job
      3) start work on all the attributes of the job
      4) go ask for a job and show you know “enough” about everyone of the points on the list
      As I said – slow and difficult….
      Good luck,
      cheers Otto
      • hey otto
        thanks for the advise.i have a few things to clarify.i have heard from the info i have got that once i enter SAP through the technical side like ABAP or BASIS it will be difficult later for me to shift to the functional side.
        and secondly i have heard that entry level opening are rare on the that true and is there any way i can break this trend and get through.


        • In my opinion starting with the technical side has only pros and no cons. Well, you have to become self-motivated to learn about the functional side, but once you “get how it works” (on the technical side) you´re both able to design things and (especially) develop/ create things. I have met many guys who were good at talking (and was asking money for it) but never delivered anything material, useful. So don´t worry, it´s not a handicap for the future.
          By the way, it is better to have a SAP technical job than no SAP job at all, isn´t it?
          It would be easier to get in with a functional role if you would have years of experience what are the users needs and typical problems, understand how things work in SAP and how to customize/ change company processes in the system etc. You can´t deliver anything like that I think, you didn´t tell us anything about such experience of yours from the past.
          So get any SAP job and after a year or so, look for a change if you want to, but first get a job. As you said: it is not easy to get a SAP job for a fresher. Get the first you can get and ask this question yourself after a year. You cannot have everything right now.
          • thank you otto.according to what the info i have gathered they say that entry as a fresher through the technical side is much more easier than the functional side.can u suggest which technical module is good.ABAP OR BASIS or any other module.also would u suggest to me a job other than SAP before i enter into a SAP that a much better thing to do
          • SAP job helps me grow as a person – communication skills, programmings skills, open mind for new things etc. Go for a SAP job. And yes, I suggest ABAP. Once you understand how it works and what are other opportunities, you can always switch.
            Good luck, Otto
    • doing SAP “functional” work for some 13 years I haven’t been able to avoid technical aspects for a single day. somehow, working at Siemens and not caring for engineering seems a nonstarter. have you tried Accenture or PWC yet?
      • hey greg
        thanks for the advise.i am actually a fresher.i want to know if there are entry level openings on the SAP functional side.according to the advise i have gathered so far they say that i can get into SAP through the technical side but i am more interested in the functional is there any way i can get into this side as a fresher
  • Dear Otto….
                 Your Advice to the new Bies is Mindblowing and speechless…. I feel happy when i saw this blog, now anyone whoz intrested in learning and entering into Gaint “SAP” can be free of most of doubts which comes in mind.

    looking forward for few more Gud blogs from you, Keep going….


  • Hi Otto

    I just need your help and suggestions please. It will be really worthwhile for my career.

    I have 4 years IT experience and have been working on Project Management of Web Development Field for 1st three years and last year in Adobe Flex and have good knowledge of OOPs concepts . I have decided to switch to SAP for better prospect in order to secure my future along with handsome income. Today I went to JKT SAP ACADEMY ( SAP Authorised Training Partner listed in SAP page ) in kolkata and they suggested me to go for SAP ABAP with e-learning module upto maximum 5 months with a course fee of Rs.1,76,000/- along with materials and after that pay 33K for examination fees to get SAP GERMANY CERTIFICATE after clearing it. They will provide placements like arranging interview .

    Now i am thinking whether its useful to join or not after paying hefty sum ?? Is there any chances of getting job for Fresher in SAP as certified ? Can anyone suggest me please ? I also understand that ABAP is suitable for programmers with OOps concepts . Instead of joining it how good will it be to learn from Online Tutorials on my own and also with books.

    Looking forward to hear from you soon .


  • hi Otto ,

    read your blog , its a good blog , i would definitely recommend this to my fresher friends ,

    however i need a advise from you , regarding my carrier , i am abap certified associate and been working on abap since last 1 year , now i want to know whether i should keep going with ABAP or switch to functional side , i am from India and i want to learn foreign language to help me with my carrier , so please suggest me which language would help me in my carrier ?
    Regards .
    Akshay Rankhambe

    • Hello,
      I cannot give answer better than before. It depends on your passion – do you like doing development or not? Depends on opportunities – does your boss offer a position, that would be cool to switch to? Because if this is theoretical discussion, it won`t move you anywhere.
      My blogs are more a list of questions that one should be asking himself, rather than an instant description how to do something.
      By the way: A wise man one said: “Do what you like, do what you do best. You will excel sooner or later”.
      Cheers Otto
      • Hi ,

        Thanks for opinion , i respect it ,for knowing what i like to do , i’ll have to spend some more time in it . and its true that one should follow what he likes to do , but at the same time he should be versatile , because market changes time to time , in that terms i was asking what is better for me ?

  • HI Otto,

    i have worked 15 years as support consultant ( financial and logistic)  and developer with mfg/pro (erp system)

    my job will end July 2013

    i think about switching to sap ( because the small market for mfgpro)

    what could you advise ?

    • Hi,

      As described in the blog: download the trial, install it and take a look. Do you still think it is a good idea? If yes, start your research. If not, I have just spared you a terrible surprise.

      There is no generic advise. Get the trial and start looking for answers for questions that cross your mind. You have a year to learn something, so you`d better get started 🙂

      Cheers Otto

  • Thanks Otto for writing such an useful blog and it helped me so much to switch my career in SAP,so just want to share with you. 1 year back I first thought for changing my career to SAP,earlier I was working in IBM WebSphere technology. While doing my research in internet about how make the switch I saw this blog,and I liked the steps you mentioned here very much. I downloaded the trial version of the software and bought one book Sams teach yourself ABAP4 in 21 days by Ken Greenwod, and did few of the very basic programs. Luckily got one of my college senior who was working in ABAP and guide me,with help of him I practiced a lot of reports in classical,interactive,ALV,BDC and enhancement techniques,smartforms but I was not getting any opportunity to work in real time projects,not in my company or in outside. Then I decided to go for the certification. I got certified in last week of august and then in next one month I got  2 jobs in SAP. It was your blog and that senior person’s guidance for which I could able to fulfill my goal. The purpose of writing this just to thank you. Kindly keep writing such inspirational blogs and articals. Thank you very much again.



    • Hi, thanks so much for the comment! This blog is not really new and that makes your comment even more valuable – saying I`ve tried it and it worked for me is much cooler comment than “oh, yeah! cool blog”:)). You`ve just made my day! Really!

      I am very happy for you! And I am proud too!

      If any of my blogs spared someone more time than it had taken me to put it “on the paper”, I am happy and mission accomplished. And this time it sounds like I helped to change one life/ career a little bit.

      I wish you luck, never give up and when you have something to share, see you on SDN:))

      Cheers Otto

  • Hey Otto,

    oh yeah! cool blog! 😈

    Jesting aside, I just noticed this blog because I follow you and you commented in it and IMHO it should be stickied to the first page of carreer center (as soon as sticky is availably in new SCN *grmbl* 😏 ).

    There is so much truism, especially the “Get your hands dirty” part; I have noticed on many occasions when people are new OR even seniors getting a new task/range of duty assigned, they’re saying almost out of reflex “URRRGH how am I supposed to do this, don’t know any of it, need training/courses, horrible fate, etc etc” and it shows me people do not comprehend the nature of Information Technology. I also agree with you about taking courses, when I get the chance to attend a course via my company I do information research/play around with tutorials on IDES system until I actually almost have the entire knowledge the course would theoretically provide me with; and then, once in the course, bombard the trainer with questions (that’s the interesting point of time where you also see if the trainer really knows his profession or is one of those who mechanically recites the course document and sap help documentation).

    Keep up the good work, Otto!

    Cheers, Lukas

  • HI

    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



  • Great blog Otto, as usual 🙂

    You really know how to express yourself in words.

    This blog made me remember how I started in the beginning of 1998, when SAP was so new in Brazil (SAP came to BR in 1995)  and I was invited to change job and work for a SAP Consultancy. In my interview I was asked: where do you think you fit? ABAP, Basis or Application? How could I know that if I was just starting to know what SAP R/3 was? Which application area would I work with if I was a just graduated computer scientist working in a software house for a year only. Then he asked: ok, ABAP or Basis? As I really like to code and that was what I was doing in my first job, I couldn’t see me doing anything else at that moment.

    Now we have so many other areas to work with, so many different career options that it must be really hard to decide how to start. And you put many important points together in this nice blog.


  • Hi Otto,

    Thanks for a best blog, i got a clear picture on SAP. I have a question,

        Am a Computer Science Graduate and completed a coarse on JAVA. Currently working on a ERP System IN4SUITE  a real estate ERP System as a ERP- Coordinator. Now I want to learn SAP ABAP and decided to make career on that. So, whether my experience count for future? My decision is right? I decided to learn in an Institution in Bangalore, India. I need some suggestions please.

    • Hello.

      It is always difficult to advise based on 5 lines, please keep that in mind.

      In general, any development course makes sense and counts. Before I started with ABAP, I would have called myself a Java developer too. The bad news is that ABAP has not that much in common with Java (syntax wise IMO), but training of a structured thinking and software design in Java is still much closer to ABAP than many other things you might have chosen.

      You say you work as a “real estate ERP system coordinator”. That does not sound like a development job at all. The “ERP” part of the experience will count (I would count it as you pro if I was hiring you), but “real estate” sounds more like “business/ process/ functional” knowledge, not necessarily helpful for development. There is a real estate module in SAP, it is a part of ERP Financials, so you can try to go from there. Then your experience would count the most, I would say.

      But I am guessing based on the “keywords” you used in your short comment. If you used the right words for the wrong thing or any other information was lost in transfer, I might be wrong.

      If you are sure you want into development (and not system customizing or a technical position), there are other blogs and hints around you can follow. We can also try to help you further, but you must do yourself first. Then you can come back and ask again. Just beware we are not a kindergarden here 🙂

      If I can ask something in return… if you get yourself into SAP training or even a job, could you maybe come back here and write a blog or two to help the people that will land here after you? I would be happy to link your blogs from here.

      Good luck!

      Cheers Otto

      • Thanks for reply,

        As you said am not working on Development, just working as a Technical Support, handle issues in ERP. I use languages like HTML for reports editing, MySQL for database access to handle the issues. Am still a fresher and have been working since six months. And I really interested to go on Development in SAP. I will start my SAP Training soon, your blog gave me some clear idea thanks for writing such a good blog.

          Ya sure, After completing my SAP training or after getting job I will definitely write a Blog. It will help to many freshers like me.

        Thank you.

  • Hi Otto

    I know I am pretty late to comment on your blog but I am even too late to get an opportunity to read your blog 🙁 .I wasted almost two weeks to get this information then with the help of my friends I started my career in SAP.I will definitly share your blog to all those who are in need of this information.

    Thanks Otto for sharing this.

    Kind Regards