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We all know how closely integrated with Industry is SAP. Over the years SAP has evolved through the ever evolving needs of Industry itself. This makes that much more imperative for us to be abreast with the knowledge of the trends and oppurtunities of the relevant Industry.

Having relevant Industry insight not just gives us an edge over others but also is one of the primary driving factors in developing relationships with clients. It gives one the command and assertiveness to interact with the client. It helps to speak the language of client and map SAP as per the requirements.

Clients cannot know about SAP as much as they know about thier business processes. Hence he will not know which functionality of SAP will suit to his needs. He may not understand the depth and the relevance of various functionalities that are avilable at his disposal. 

For an SAP Consultant its the opposite. Though he might be a specialist in SAP, He may not have the true understanding of the basic nuances of the Industry and client processes alike. This is where his Industry knowledge would come to the fore and could bail him out of tough situations.

How can Organisations make sure that all its employees are Industry proficient?

Here are a few points that can be followed:

1) Have several Industry e-learnings as a regular study.

2) Incorporate it into one’s annual goals so that they are completed with out fail.

3) Provide various levels of Industry proficiency and give targets for its completion.

Once the above points are followed I am sure most of SAP Consultants will be Industry ready. To become a true SAP consultant one needs to also garnish himself with Industry knowledge.

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12 Comments

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  1. Kumud Singh
    Hi Kiran,
    I would say industry knowledge is required for all domains and at all levels.
    This reminds me of a blog by Mauricio wherein several comments were poured in. Idea was the delivery should not only be functionally correct but should be user-friendly as well.This would come with exposure certainly.
    However, this has to happen gradually in one’s journey of career.Also the person should be passionate enough to do that.
    However, I would say that it should not be forced upon.
    Like even if you include this in the appraisals,and the person is interested in some other role, whats the relevance?
    There is no benefit if its only to get the appraisal done. This is my opinion and I am not
    negating any of your opinions.
    This reminds me of the appraisal form and objectives as well.

    Regards,
    Kumud

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    1. Kiran Bandiatmakur Post author
      Hello Kumud

      Very nicely put by you. Yes all these are gained through once experience. However having good Industry insight(if it can be gained through attending e-learnings and following trends) can help one to have meaningful and constructive discussions with the client – A part and parcel of a Consultant’s life. Through experience it only becomes better.

      regards
      Kiran

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    2. Michelle Crapo
      Here I go – I’ll Answer this valid thought too!  I totally agree with both of you.  However, I lean towards Kumud’s answer.  You’ll get more experience while working for different clients. 

      Now – elearning…   That’s a great way to get knowledge as that’s one of the ways I’ve picked up on SAP / ABAP updates, and have used it to update my skills.  I also use some of the examples in BPX.  I think you can find a lot of industry knowledge here on SCN.  Start looking at the BPX area.  There is a ton of information.

      On the job – in your review – YES!  If you can get that, more power to you.  I tend to do this on my own time.  Before work or over lunch.  I do have some line (to hang myself with), when I’m not overbooked like now, I can spend more time learning.

      Passion – I fully agree you have to be passionate about what you do.  We spend too much time at work not to like it.  Keep in mind family – it always comes first.  No matter how good you are, your work can replace you.  Your family can’t. 

      Back to passion – you aren’t going to fully get the benefit from any learning if you aren’t passionate about it.  Forcing someone to learn, you can’t do that.

      For example in SCN you can find use cases all over.  (Information Management)  http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/BOBJ/Enterprise+Information+Management+Use+Case+Wiki

      I love both these conversations.  And it was brought about by this blog!

      Great job Kiran!  Nice debate Kumud!  I love it.  Things like this keep me awake and going in the morning.

      Michelle

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  2. Michelle Crapo
    Stop!  Think about the generalizations you just wrote about.

    Who’s to say I don’t know as much or more about SAP/ABAP than the consultant that is brought in?  Who’s to say our business analyst don’t know more about SAP / process solution than the consultant brought in. 

    Sometimes we bring in consultants simply to augment our staff.  We don’t have the ability to handle all of the projects on our plate.  We have a senior person oversee multiple consultants. 

    We do code reviews, and expect that the consultant either change the code or give us a great reason for what they are doing.

    This kind of thinking drives me crazy.  The consultant doesn’t ALWAYS know more about SAP than the client.  There are good and bad consultants.  Good and bad internal resources.  
    Knowledge, skill levels, who can say whose are better than the others?  TEAM.  It’s all about being a team with your clients.  Without that I dare say you won’t be brought back, and may even be asked to leave the project.

    Now I’ll stop ranting.  The statement that industry knowledge helps.  Yes, it does.  I work for a pharmaceutical company.  It helps if you know how to create requirement and test documents.  It helps if you know some of the general regulations.

    But please don’t generalize.  I absolutely hate it when a consultant decides before coming in that they know SAP much better than their client.  Maybe they even do.  I had one say very rudely that you had to change XYZ via custom code or things wouldn’t work.  He said it so rudely, I brushed him off.  Then after thinking about it, I went to the other team with the information he gave me.  It was correct.  Thank goodness, I took that extra step. 

    Would I recommend that consultant?  No.  Why?    He was unbendable when I felt – maybe I didn’t – know more than him.  But I’ll never know, his ideas might have been better than mine.  But he didn’t take the time to work with me, explain, and LISTEN.  My ideas and his probably would have worked well together.  In SAP there are 100 different ways to do the same thing.

    OK – I wrote a book.  I just have a VERY different opinion than you.  And I will agree to disagree.  I am a customer.  I do know something about the SAP system.  Everyone at every level knows something I/you don’t.  The person on the line knows his job better than you do.  Ignore his knowledge, and quickly find out your designing something he can’t use.

    Thank you for writing the blog!  The debate is on.  Please let me know what you don’t agree with. 

    I do like a good debate,

    Michelle

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    1. Kumud Singh
      Hello Michelle/Kiran,

      First thing is please excuse me for misreading the topic of the blog as “How Industry insight can make a successful SD(AND NOT SAP) Consultant”.
      Hence I wrote that we would have to generalize it to other domains as well.
      Coming to the point raised by Michelle,Clients should be treated as partners and then would effective working be done.However what you have said is right.There comes attitude of employees.
      We have over and again debated that a consultant is complete only when he is good at his soft skills.
      Now I somehow think the generalization word triggered the debate which I used in the wrong context here.

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      1. Michelle Crapo
        No the response was to:

        “Hence he will not know which functionality of SAP will suit to his needs. He may not understand the depth and the relevance of various functionalities that are avilable at his disposal.”

        Really?  A lot of us do…  Coming in with the thought that a client will not know the depth and relevance of functionalities is a mistake.  Sometimes a big one.

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        1. Kumud Singh
          Agreed that it cannot be generalized in all the scenarios for all the clients.
          I have worked with wonderful people who are ready to get into depth but that does not mean
          all are like that.
          It very well holds good in few situations.

          Lets look at a different perspective:
          A change can be done with a modification/enhancement or a custom program.
          No who would decide the better solution?I would not expect Customer to tell me this. I would like to analyse and propose the solution. For this case the statement ‘Depth and relevance of various functionalities’ holds true.
          Its the development team who would propose future proof solution.

          The statement has to dealt case wise certainly.
          However I foresee another blog named ‘How updated are you’ for Client’s perspective.

          And then it all depends on whom we face.It depends on our experience and I think what we write in blogs is what we experience and can never be generalized.
          However,Kiran needs to comment.

          Thanks,
          Kumud

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          1. Michelle Crapo
            OK – I would expect something else.

            I would expect the consultant to let the customer know about the modification/enhancement or custom program.  I would say in most – not all cases, I could tell you which one to use.  I think it depends on what you were hired to do.

            I don’t expect a drone to do exactly what I tell them.  But the flip is true.  You Shouldn’t expect a drone to blindly follow you – because you feel you are the expert.   Here’s the catch maybe you are.  But then again maybe not. 

            The consultant has 1 -3 experience the customer 10+ years.  Who has the depth of experience in the SAP world?  We specialize in SAP processes.  I can’t believe that we are not keeping up with the latest and greatest.  I know in my area – ABAP that I am.  Do I know something about our business? You better believe I do.   But when it comes to depth – at this point, I know the different development tools and what they do more than I do the business process.  That holds true for our business analysts and the configuration of a system.  It does not hold true from our business process architects – who have 1000 feet of the systems, and what to use.  SAP or a hybrid approach.

            So if you come here, and work with me.  You can expect to have a person with an equal share in the solution.  We had a consultant that ignored our agreed upon solution.  When it came down to the end, he had to have code reviews.  Ask yourself did I sign them?  Remember I didn’t agree with his approach and had thought we had come to an agreement 2 months early, in fact I could bring up the documentation.

            I leave it to you.  Do you think I signed his code reviews – when I didn’t like the design he used and it was different than what I thought we agreed upon?

            Yes, I would love to hear from Kiran as well…

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            1. Kiran Bandiatmakur Post author
              Hello Michelle

              I liked both the points of view ie from a client’s perspective and a consultant’s perspective, put forth by you and Kumud.

              I cannot disagree with you on the points that you have raised. However it is not about the competition as to who is the
              greatest and who is not or who is following whom. My article just discusses the means of speaking the tongue of a client
              and there by increasing the scope of better relationship with the client. Yes! then again it differs on a case to case
              basis and one has to learn from it to go further.

              Thanks
              Kiran

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              1. Michelle Crapo
                Oh no!  Did I make it sound like a contest?  It’s not.  Here’s the way I really feel:

                Teamwork, collaboration, diversity, RESPECT

                Respect goes both ways.  I respect the consultant.  As long as they don’t assume that they know more than me JUST because they are a consultant.  They probably know more than me – in different areas.  I respect that, and listen to their ideas. 

                Here’s what I don’t like a design is agreed upon.  Our design was worked on by both of us with give and take.  Then at the end – I found that they had went with their own original idea.  I would consider that lack of respect both ways.  What do you think happened?

                Anyway:

                Everyone knows something different.  That’s what makes things so cool.  Is the give and take….  I really don’t believe all consultants know nothing!   And even IF I thought – oh he’s doesn’t know much…  He’s just out of SAP training.  Guess what?  He probably has some knowledge that I don’t.  Something I never learned or something I forgot.  I love to go learn something new.

                Yes, speaking the language of the client is always a good idea.  This really helps on the functional (Business / Analyst) side.  But don’t forget it still will be hard.  (That’s why I loved being a consultant.  My background consultant – client – consultant – now client again.  It was always a challenge going from client to client.)  It doesn’t matter how much you learn, each client is different.  Sometimes a little different, and sometimes a lot.

                Sometimes you will go into a client and truly be the strongest technical person there.  So it will be critical that you can speak the language and learn more of it as you go.  Transfer of knowledge is also critical.  Sometimes you will walk in and find that there is a lot of SAP expertise.  You can rely on them to translate the client’s ideas into a “SAP” thought.   And sometimes you are mostly on your own – again nice to know some of the business language – with some oversight from the client side “SAP” people.  That’s more like our current model.  We are spread pretty thin. 

                I think what I’m trying to say is it depends.  And with that thought in mind studding the business will help, but not as much as knowing your pieces of the SAP world and the questions to ask to make your piece work.  And think process not SD, FI/CO, MM, PP.  We love the consultant that has depth in one area / module of SAP, but knows the touch points with the other modules.  Someone who can do a complete process is a rare and great find!

                So now you have my long reply.

                Glad to hear you don’t disagree!  🙂  But I don’t mind someone not agreeing with me.  That’s what makes it fun.  Different thoughts from different people.  I can always agree to disagree.

                Michelle

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              2. Michelle Crapo
                Oh no! Did I make it sound like a contest? It’s not. Here’s the way I really feel:

                Teamwork, collaboration, diversity, RESPECT

                Respect goes both ways. I respect the consultant. As long as they don’t assume that they know more than me JUST because they are a consultant. They probably know more than me – in different areas. I respect that, and listen to their ideas.

                Here’s what I don’t like a design is agreed upon. Our design was worked on by both of us with give and take. Then at the end – I found that they had went with their own original idea. I would consider that lack of respect both ways. What do you think happened?

                Anyway:

                Everyone knows something different. That’s what makes things so cool. Is the give and take…. I really don’t believe all consultants know nothing! And even IF I thought – oh he’s doesn’t know much… He’s just out of SAP training. Guess what? He probably has some knowledge that I don’t. Something I never learned or something I forgot. I love to go learn something new.

                Yes, speaking the language of the client is always a good idea. This really helps on the functional (Business / Analyst) side. But don’t forget it still will be hard. (That’s why I loved being a consultant. My background consultant – client – consultant – now client again. It was always a challenge going from client to client.) It doesn’t matter how much you learn, each client is different. Sometimes a little different, and sometimes a lot.

                Sometimes you will go into a client and truly be the strongest technical person there. So it will be critical that you can speak the language and learn more of it as you go. Transfer of knowledge is also critical. Sometimes you will walk in and find that there is a lot of SAP expertise. You can rely on them to translate the client’s ideas into a “SAP” thought. And sometimes you are mostly on your own – again nice to know some of the business language – with some oversight from the client side “SAP” people. That’s more like our current model. We are spread pretty thin.

                I think what I’m trying to say is it depends. And with that thought in mind studding the business will help, but not as much as knowing your pieces of the SAP world and the questions to ask to make your piece work. And think process not SD, FI/CO, MM, PP. We love the consultant that has depth in one area / module of SAP, but knows the touch points with the other modules. Someone who can do a complete process is a rare and great find!

                So now you have my long reply.

                Glad to hear you don’t disagree! 🙂 But I don’t mind someone not agreeing with me. That’s what makes it fun. Different thoughts from different people. I can always agree to disagree.

                Michelle

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  3. Krishnamoorthy R
    Being an SAP PI consultant for almost  4 years now , I felt like echoing my thoughts out here.

    Remembering the  thought that “Becoming a better SAP Consultant” , on a daily basis, really helps us to become what the industry expects us to.

    On the way to gain business expertise, there are some hurdles one might have to face. Let me just quote one here..

    I find that  in some parts of the world , understanding the business process by itself is a a great challenge when , unfortunately , the official communication language is not English. This is often over-ruled. 

    Things apart, at the end of the day, it all boils down to how much of business and technical expertise one gains , be it Technical (if he is primarily a Tech Consultant) or functional( in case , he is a Functional Consultant) or be it a resource from the Client/ the Consultant hired . Everyone should be willing collate and  help each other to build better businesses.

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