Skip to Content

This is something that has been bugging me for a while now – and I ranted on it yesterday night on my personal blog. If I was a bit more focussed, I would have posted it here on SDN in the first place, but any ways here it goes. Big thanks to my friend Jarret Pazahanic for nudging me to post it here. Although I am generally opposed to cross posting, I think I will be forgiven in doing so here this one time.

http://andvijaysays.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/the-curious-case-of-junior-consultants/

This is not just a problem with SAP projects – it is applicable in all kinds of projects. I firmly believe it should be debated and put to bed – and what better place to do it than SDN.

I am very interested in hearing your opinions on this subject. You can comment here or on my personal blog.

To report this post you need to login first.

22 Comments

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.

  1. Jarret Pazahanick
    I really enjoyed your article as it brought some fresh perspective to a controversial topic. All senior SAP consultants were junior consultants at one point which is something they often forget as in many cases the only difference is they were lucky to get their SAP break many years back.

    I still remember doing my first US payroll project in 1998 and 8 months later after a successful implementation I was considered a senior payroll consultant. It was a different time and US payroll was very new so compared to “others” I was senior as I had actually worked on it but in no way was I really a senior consultant (though I may have argued this back then). That said is it much different today as folks that do the first in-memory projects will be “senior” in that area regardless of how much other SAP experience they have.

    Just like there is lots of discussion on what makes an SAP Expert there is also around when a Jr Consultant should be considered a Senior Consultant. I know so people that can make that jump quickly while other never make that jump regardless of the number of years they spend.

    (0) 
    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      I had a bout of nostalgia too, Jarret. My own tenure as junior developer was cut short because my senior quit his job and my PM made me a lead. 90% of what I know in ABAP came from one project, where I had to drink from the firehose all the time to keep up. I think it was very beneficial for me in long run in preparing for challenges that came along.

      The relative nature of junior vs senior is a fascinating topic. My 6 yo kiddo often tells me I need to be her assistant in her games, since I don’t know how to play the game as well as she does. And she is spot on too – age doesn’t distinguish seniority by itself.

      (0) 
      1. Jarret Pazahanick
        Your comment got me thinking as I learned in a similar way by being “thrown to the wolves”. I graduated from the SAP Partner Academy with my HR certification and only missed 1 day in the 25 days (to study) which was payroll. I told myself I would never be doing payroll as it seemed to complex but when I showed up at my first assignment I was told I was going the SAP payroll consultant at a large Fortune 500 customer.

        Needless to say I drank through a firehouse for 6 months as not only did I not understand SAP very well I didnt understand the business (ie had to look up what garnishment meant minutes before requirement gathering).  There were no SAP forums, no experts available for calls and the documentation and resources available were extremely limited given the SAP US Payroll was very new. It was definitely not a recommended way to learn and would never happen today but I was extremely fortune to have had to learn that way as that initial project shaped many things in my SAP career such as my thirst for information, realization of the hard work needed for a successful project, great understanding of SAP (you don’t forget trial & error configuration after it finally works) as well as a true understanding of the underlying business and the fact that SAP can be hard to learn. I always tell the story about how a grocery industry guy stumbled into SAP and my challenges as folks can easily relate.

        I think a case could be made that since the junior consultants of today will not be able to learn the way we that it “could” impact their ability to be “experts” in the future.

        On a side note my 5 year old son, similar to your daughter, always says “Dad I am teaching you…Right” many times whenever we play Angry Birds. Much like when I started SAP I am always willing to learn no matter how young the teacher  🙂

        (0) 
  2. Kaushik Choudhury
    Your points are very well valid.

    •‘Seniority needed for a project is also often exaggerated’-   I completely agree with this. Seniority and skill set required is often overstated. Placement recruiters as well as consulting companies resource management people search for consultants with ‘n’ number of end to end implementation experience for an assignment which doesn’t essentially need so . It is quite surprising to see that  Market is asking for consultants with only end to end experience even when the job description states that the position is for support assignments (which is a different a  ball game and require different skill ).  What needs to be analyzed is the past experience of the sourcing folks which resulted in this non alignment between  project experience requirement and job description.

    •Not every task in a project needs the most experienced consultant. – This needs to be discussed and explained to client, in detail, as often client is reluctant to allow junior people in the project .  I am sure that if  the role of the Jr. consultants is clearly defined and discussed with client, along with the cost benefits then client should be fine with it .

    This is completely my personal view on this subject and not my employer’s view/opinion.

    Thanks
    Kaushik

    (0) 
    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      Looks like we share very similar views on this topic, Kaushik. I guess what we all could do is do a better job in communicating this message to clients and on social media.
      (0) 
  3. svr b
    It is a good blog and is a good subject to blog about. However, it is not always the client’s mistake to ask for an expert whether it is for doing some “not so advanced” thing or not. If they can get one, why not. One problem I see is “Do the clients get what they pay for?” – This, to me, is the bottom-line. If I am paying $xxx for someone “senior” and they work out, good. But if I am going to get a “junior” candidate, I should not be asked to pay the same – it should be much lesser (I said “much” – not just a meager discount, but considerable) – this is because the consultant is performing work, yes – but he/she is also learning a lot, at my expense. This situation (or the lack of) is not the problem with the clients or the consultants but the people who the consultant work for/represent. It is their appetite for making more on that consultant that lands this issue to court (I mean blogsphere). The client wants to get what they pay for and the consultant does what he/she is paid for. They are entirely right to their point. Guess who is not?
    (0) 
    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      In a Time and Materials contract – you are absolutely right. You should get a rate corresponding to qualification of consultant. In fixed price – customer is paying for an outcome. Appropriate penalties should be built into contract if those outcomes are not met.

      And I agree 200% on middlemen casusing the grief on this matter. But to be fair, there are some who find you the best possible consultant consistently – nd they are usually worth the premium

      (0) 
  4. Jason Bell
    I love having Junior Burgers on my team.  They are keen, learn quickly and happy with almost any task you assign them.  They get things done and don’t complain about it.  They come with enthusiasm and no prejudice based on experience.  They can be moulded into the culture of your best senior consultants.
    (0) 
  5. Augusto Cristicini
    I remember a good statement on experience and especially in the It world, ‘you are only as good as your last project’.  With that said I have felt very junior when approaching something new and it is a great feeling to learn and concur.  I would hire someone as a consultant or employee more on their ability to learn and ambition to succeed.  Some of the seniors don’t have those traits anymore but hey each on is an individual and there is risk in any new engagement.
    (0) 
    1. sachin kotalwar
      well said. Wish how good you are on project just depends on you. In many cases there are economical and political reasons 🙂 Bottom line is ability to learn and ambition to succeed.
      (0) 
  6. Juan Manuel Garcia
    i really agree with you we all need a opportunity to star and the best way to do is give a chance at the new generation of consultant the give us a fresh look in the use of new technology’s 
    (0) 
  7. Paul Hawking
    Hi

    Being an academic who has taught in a Master of ERP Systems for the past 11 years I can certainly confer with some of your sentiments especially about what is perceived as a “junior” consultant.

    The students we attract usually have had considerable work experience in certain areas and sometimes SAP.  These students want a masters degree to for various reasons, improve knowledge and or job prospects.  I spend a considerable amount of time attempting to educate industry as the skills these students acquire.  For example a student could obtain skills in solution manager, BOBJ, BW, FI, HR, LSMW, ASAP, Config, PP, Project Systems, ABAP, CRM, Process Integration, ARIS, Workflow, and SDN depending on the subjects they select.  Tehre are approximately 25 subjects.

    In terms depth of knowledge, in BI the final exam involves the building of a BI environment (InfoObjects, InfoProviders, ETL and BEX) to produce reports based specifications. Students can undertake SAP Consultant certification in a number of these areas.  So are these graduates “junior”?  Yes with project experience but not in terms of knowledge in the different aspects of SAP solutions and their implementation.  As far as I am concerned the employers who take this “junior” attitude to these students it is more to their disadvantage rather than the students.

    (0) 
    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      Hi Paul

      Thanks for chiming in with your perspective – much appreciated. I have not directly hired anyone from college with an ERP major, so your comment is very informative and refreshing to me.

      I should spend some time understanding the University Alliance Program. From your note – it does appear that the colleges will turn out people with a more balanced SAP education than the SAP academies.

      Cheers
      Vijay

      (0) 
  8. Deepak Bhalla
    In my view and experience it is more of quality of consultant which is important rather than Junior or Senior. I have seen many so called “Junior” consultants who are far better and curious to learn than so called “Senior” consultants.
    Do we really or Can we really communicate quality of consultant to customer? Are consulting companies really honest in saying that?While project planning do we plan based on Junior/senior consultant? For customer it is bit of unknown-unknown in terms of what they will get and when, except Quality and On-schedule delivery commitment from management of  companies who are placing them.
    (0) 
    1. Vijay Vijayasankar Post author
      That is an excellent point, Deepak. I see no reason why a consultant’s quality should not be shared with a customer. Especially true if the consultant is charging an hourly rate.
      (0) 
  9. Community User
    It has nothing to do with RATES or JUNIOR or Senior. Until IT managers and Business managers understand that it is CYCLE TIME that matters, High rates are GONE forever and Junior Resources will continue to KILL projects. Resources should be able to PROVE Cycle time and then get the rate accordingly. Here it is in a nutshell and this is how project resources should be evaluated and projects priced. If I get $290 per hour and can complete COPA Blueprint and Configuration ALL MYSELF in 1 week….but a Junior set of resources!!!! <–Very typical that IT MANAGER LIKE MORE PEOPLE at LOWER RATES but this does nothing–> still learning where the user exits are and still not even having Business background can do it at $40 per hour in 6 weeks…which way would you GO??????? I have heard so many people SAY COPA can only do Operating Margin and Not a FULL P and L projection….!!! wow!!! how easy it is to identify a Junior Resource with just a few questions…..COPA can do that!!!

    When IT managers and Business users and SAP leaders understand this equation the Subject Matter Expert will come back and high rates will be identified for WHERE THEY REALLY ARE!!!!! Offsite!! at Junior Resource Clustering Locations!!….but again I agree….how does a manager KNOW these things at the beginning of an engagement when EVERYONE LIES about the time and resource skills that will be on a project?

    If you did not understand the above what I am saying is simple. 4 40 dollar an hour resources that take 6 weeks to deliver what a 290 dollar an hour resource can deliver in a week is a BAD Proposition for customers and more costly…and in my experience I believe that the CYCLE time of the MOST POPULAR delivery model for SAP engagements is about what I show above…6 times longer and 3 to 4 times more costly…..

    38000 for the Typical Delivery model vs 11000 for the Single resource that can really do it ONSITE……Food for thought.

    I do not like Junior Resources….How I measure that? CYCLE TIME….

    (0) 

Leave a Reply