Are Business Knowledge, Technical Abilities AND Soft Skills necessary ingredients to be a SAP Consultant?
If I’ve to answer the question Paul asked in his blog “HELP! Where are the skills?” OR if I’ve to suggest a new SAP entrant for specific skills to work on to be a Consultant OR if I’ve to design a curriculum for a diploma in SAP education OR if I’ve to hire a Consultant what skills I’d be looking at, most probably my feedback would circulate around this blog. For past few days I was thinking to 1) summarize the areas which should be focused to become a consultant, identify the objectives of each area and lastly setup a high level plan from basic to advanced skills development AND 2) share my thoughts with the community to seek experts’ feedback. So here’s the summary:
In my opinion a Consultant, and a functional consultant in particular, has to be versatile and not limited to ONLY the technical knowledge. I think of a consultant 1) to have good business knowledge, 2) he should be technically sound and aware of varied SAP applications in addition to his specialization, 3) he should be able to use other SAP and non-SAP applications (as indicated below under Tools), 4) he should understand the implementation projects & SAP operations to participate appropriately when assigned to a specific role, 5) should develop the-must skills (section below indicates some of those skills). The main areas of expertise with subareas are listed below.
SAP Skills & Knowledge Matrix
1. Business Knowledge
1.1 Introduction to Business
1.2 Typical Business Processes in today’s organizations: Industry, Specialization, Cross-Industry Functions
1.3 Domain Knowledge e.g. Human Capital Management: From Recruitment to Hiring, Developing and Appraising to Retirement and Pension etc.
2.1 SAP Overview: History > Future, Demand > Response
2.2 Organizational Model e.g. HR models such as Enterprise Structure, Personnel Structure, Organizational Structure, Work Schedule, Pay Scale Structure etc.
2.3 Technical Structure: Features, Functions / Operations, Rules, Schemas etc.
2.4 Components: for instance within HR there are various components including Organizational Management, Recruitment, Personnel Administration, Personnel Development, Time Management, Payroll, Compensation Management, Personnel Cost Planning, Travel Management etc..
2.5 Business Scenario Maps: Scenario > Solution: mapping the business scenarios with SAP delivered applications
3.1 SAP Solution Composer: Pre-sales
3.2 MS Visio: to draw flow diagrams
3.3 SAP Solution Manager: Implementation to Operation
3.4 MS Visio / ARIS: Flow Diagrams, Charts etc.
3.5 MS Spreadsheet: Complex Formulas
3.6 MS Project: Setup plan in terms of activities, resources and timeline
3.7 MS Presentation: Summarizing key points
3.8 SAP Tutor: E-learning content
3.9 SAP StreamWork: Teamwork
4. Project: Implementation & Operations
4.1 Work Streams: Pre-Sales, Project Management, Training, Support, Technical Solution Management, Change Management, Business Processes Management
4.2 Approaches: Phases, Rollouts, Upgrades etc.
4.3 Roles & Responsibilities: Project Manager, Leads, Technical / Functional Consultants, Architects, Trainer, Support
4.4 Roadmaps: ASAP
5.1 Analytical: Critical Thinking,
5.2 Problem Solving,
5.3 Communication: Written & Spoken
5.4 Presentation: Clarity in message
5.5 Interpersonal: (Social) Listening, Understanding, Building Relationships with Others
5.6 Negotiation: Compromise / Finding a Way to reach to an agreement
What to achieve?
The table below describes each of the main & focus areas and describes the objectives one should aim at to develop oneself on particular area.
High Level Plan
How to achieve?
Following could be used as a high-level plan to achieve above-stated competencies.
Targets: from the plan
At level 1 the learner should have a fair understanding of a particular business line (HR for instance) and SAP as a solution. Tools like Solution Composer could be introduced at this level to describe how SAP addresses particular lines of business functions. Learning basics of Visio could also help the new entrants in defining their own scenario maps / charts etc. At this stage one should develop his analytical skills to be able to analyze a particular problem and solve it with an appropriate solution. Of course, this should be monitored by an expert educator.
Level 2 should train the learner with typical functions of a business including industry specific and cross-industry functions. At this level he should also learn how organizational models are depicted in SAP such as within HR Enterprise & Personnel Structures are defined. Introducing component specific (such as HR) technical details could be a good addition here. As the learner start to understand specific tool, he could be introduced with Solution Manager – at least basic understanding. Since SAP solutions are implemented using different approaches; phases, rollout etc.. level 2 could be a good time to learn these models. At this stage, the learner should be able to speak well of SAP solutions (to communicate and present his viewpoint).
At Level 3 the focus should be on particular module such as HR and one should be able to relate specific business scenarios with components in a module. Being able to draw business diagrams in a cross-functional view could be target at this stage and tools like Visio and ARIS can be explored further at level 3. Now when a to-be consultant has good knowledge in his module, he should be able to understand importance of networking with relevant gurus / seniors / experts etc.
At Level 4, advanced stage of skills development, one should be able to map different business scenarios with SAP applications and if needed should be able to describe how a customized solution can address specific business need. The tools, a consultant should be well-versed at this stage could be Project, Presentation, Tutor, StreamWork etc. for project planning, delivering information in workshops and as self-learning material and collaborating work with others. A thorough understanding of different roadmaps (including the typical ASAP) could help in understanding delivery & deployment concepts better. And lastly the consultant should be able to negotiate, discuss with customers to reach to an agreed solution for a particular problem.
The learning could be blended with site-visits (including SAP Vendors, End-Customers), case studies, usage of various forums / networks etc for further skills development…
I understand there’s a lot to add but the above-mentioned summary could be used as a starting point and can be refined further with suggestions from experts on SCN / elsewhere… Please leave your comments to improve it further.