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Getting into SAP – From the perspective of a prospective consultant

Hello. I’ve recently completed a course in SAP BI and am studying for my SAP BI Certification.

Now, it seems starting out in SAP as a mid-career switch is not that easy, especially if you do not have 3 – 4 years of SAP experience already.

But being a lucrative career, it has attracted a lot of unsavoury SAP wannabe “consultants” who will do almost anything to get a job. You can read more about SAP Consulting fraud here.

Coming from the other side of the fence, I thought I’d share what really happens on the other side. (Yes, it’s like storm-trooper training on the death star)

Everyone normally would want to move himself into a better place, and that is perfectly fine. Having more means you can better help others too. (I do it for God, what about you?)

Therefore after doing some research, one finds that SAP will lead to a good career. All’s great, where do I sign up? Naturally, to be able to be a SAP consultant, one needs to know SAP, so one will do a course.

When researching SAP courses, there’s the problem that the official SAP courses are VERY expensive. There are also other SAP courses that are not run by SAP.

When one joins one of those non-official SAP courses, the school mentions that all we need is the knowledge and the (SAP) world is our oyster.

What surprised me was that besides the usual people who have other IT background, or core business background like Finance, HR, Sales etc. are people who are not from business or IT backgrounds. Okay, nevermind, everybody gets a chance to improve their situation.

Going into class made me realise something else – there are people who are generally interested and there are those who paid good money, some even twice, but who simply refuse to participate in class. I have no idea why they take the course if they are not interested.

Then after the course ended, we were in what was supposed to be an “internship” but really, it was an instructor teaching about SAP project management and just implementing a simple configuration document (I dare not even call it a blueprint), and we were supposed to have completed “1 SAP Lifecycle using ASAP”. Incidentally, I even found the so called “blueprint” on the internet so it can’t have been a real company. The school even had a “CV design consultancy” which basically modified our CVs to put in some SAP experience, but mainly it’s all the technical SAP jargon and nothing about the project (which is quite useless). However, I did learn a lot about what actually goes on in a project and about ASAP methodology which is good.

What I experienced in that class was generally a feeling of desperation. Everybody there was so desperate to get ahead fast that it seems morals were flung out of the window. One of the instructors told us to be “smart” when going for interviews, in other words, to fluff up our experience. We were taught what a 3 – 4 years experienced consultant could have learnt in just 8 weeks or so it seemed, so we were qualified as it was claimed.

Seems like nobody wants to do things the slow and right way anymore, to cut your teeth, learn on the job and grow as a person. I’ve come across people who stretch the truth to blatantly lying on their CVs and LinkedIn profiles. Friends, firstly, if your intention is to cheat and lie, how can you complain when you are having so much trouble getting a job? And secondly, why do you risk disgrace if you did get the job and was discovered later?

To BE a SAP consultant, you need to know the material inside out, and then go out and help people. If you are a carpenter, you need to know your woodwork and then build something for someone. If you are a doctor, you need to know the body, and then save lives. It is the same with SAP, know your product, and then solve a business problem. I would be terrified if my doctor had someone interviewed for him or had lied in his CV, wouldn’t you?

I’m never going back to the school again. But it’s not just about the school, it’s about you too. If one compares things now with when it all began, now I know much more about SAP BI and where to traverse in the SAP world, which is infinitely better than a few months ago when I did not even have a clue where to start. SAP being so vast, now that I know more, I can learn more, which is GOOD. But watch your own intention, because it’ll either lead you to your destination or your destruction.

For me, I’m going to do my certification and then see how that works out. Maybe with my experience in consultancy in business intelligence in my company, it’ll take me somewhere. I’ve read Thomas’ article here and it’s true, most of my friends I know have gone through the path of starting in a consultancy or through working with a client company. However, lying and cheating will just bring you sleepless nights and having to keep making lies to maintain your cover, which is infinitely more difficult, is just plain wrong. And the internship? Well, it was a learning experience for me, on how to integrate with other core modules and how projects are managed, but it’s not going in my CV as experience.

Have faith, people.

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  • Great post Terry as it take a lot of courage and integrity to post an unflattering behind the scenes look into how many companies try to exploit and steer people in unethical ways who are looking to break into SAP consulting. 

    I appreciate you mentioning my article and long term there is no short cut to hard work, learning the SAP technology and learning the underlying business process if you want to do well in consulting.  Writing this article shows that it is the path you are taking and I am sure you will do well.

  • Nice to see an article from the other.  We all realize that all people want is a chance to move ahead.  And especiallly if you have a family to support we will all do whatever it takes to support them.  I truly believe that the honest man will reap the benefits, if not in this world then the next. 

    It’s a shame these unethical “schools” exist.  But blogs like this will hopefully be seen by prospective students and give them fair warning of the difficulties faced.  I like to think one of the reasons that the money is so good in SAP is that experienced consultants have been shown to bring value to projects.  And that experience is what companies are looking for.  If you keep working at it, you’ll get there.


  • Thanks everyone for your kind words of encouragement. Goes to show there are good people with integrity in the industry that I aspire to join. 🙂

    I also hope people with similar experiences will share so that we can be more aware of both sides of the story.

  • Hi Terry,

    This is a great first blog and enjoyable to read. It’s interesting to see your experience and it’s no surprise to many of us that this goes on. It does seem that many people just want to make it without doing the work, but they will always get found out.

    Best regards,


    • Yes, exactly. It’s just unbelivable how people just want quick ratification. Ultimately, you still have to do the work. But I guess they think they can learn on the job.

  • Hi Terry,

    I liked your article… this is something that I have seen in last few years… SAP still remains a lucrative field and these consultants have nothing to loose so its at least it is worth a try for them…

    I remember a few years ago, I spoke to a recruiter (cant recollect the company) about a contract work and they asked for my resume to store in their database. The same requirement was also sent to one of my friend who is an expert in Payroll but weak on Time Management…

    Next day, my friend asked me to review her resume to see if it looked right… guess what… approximately 75-80 percent of the resume matched mine with her name on top of it… The only difference was company names were changed and her education details were different.

    The recruiter has sent my resume to her and had asked her to incorporate my Time management expertise in her resume… It was shocking… I simply showed her my resume and we never spoke about this again…

    What I want to point out is that this malpractice is not only prevalent on the consultant side but also the body-shops encourage these… The so called consultancies or body-shops are just there to make their money and not look for client’s interest…

    It has become hard for companies to find genuine consultants… Hiring and firing is also an expensive process specially when it takes a whole lot of money, time and efforts from client’s side. Meeting the deadlines are also important and there fore come clients knowling or unknowingly ignore what is going on in this industry…

    • Thanks for sharing Harshal, one must be careful of these “body-shops” too. Employers need to know not to give business to these people.

  • Hi Terry,

    You literally took the words out of my mouth and put them on paper! We are in the same boat, have faith, I believe something will come up for you as I saw how attentive you were in class. I have advised others we came across not to lie as I’m sure they’ll be found out at some stage and tarnish their names. Stay positive and keep knocking on the door!

  • Congratulations on your upcoming course completion, Mehetab. 🙂

    Like you said, it doesn’t end there. I’m still spending time practising after I finish my course months ago. Hopefully I’d be confident enough to take the certification soon.

    Since you have .net experience, that should help you to move to an organisation that uses SAP and then do a lateral switch. Keep us updated! A lot of us need this sort of inspiration. 😆

  • Pretty much any module will need ABAPers for customization I reckon. By all means find out as much as possible about HR and how to use ABAP in it. I do find when speaking with employers that they like people who are cross-disciplined with regards to skill.

  • Great blog!….and great courage for writing it….I especially appreciate your analogy to giving your report much like a Storm Trooper in training on the Death Star (haha).

    As I think you found , there are no shortcuts. Going the “quick”/cheap/easy route WILL catch up with you eventually. I learned long ago that SAP is actually a “small world”. A bad name gets around pretty fast. Don’t get your name on that list! (haha) As is said “if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

    Have you reported the “school” to SAP? I would be suspicious of WHAT they are doing their training on (system). Also, have you thought of taking action to get your money back? The school was basically telling you to partake in fraud.

    Anyways, I am glad you learned a lesson….and I hope to see you do well in a SAP position of your dreams one day. Do not give up. It will happen.

  • This post reflects all my concerns and I was glad to read I wasn’t the only one to take a course extra-official and a internship that seemed useless.

    I know that’s a common place, but the network that you build during the course and the internship is the most valuable experience you’re getting of it, that’s why I’d still recommend it for those interested.

    Thank you fo the post!

  • Nice Blog Terry.Hats off to your courage in writing it.

    All I can say that have a strong network of consultants and do not give up.It will happen.

    All the best!

  • Hello everyone, I have just graduated from University for 1 year.

    Recently I have an offer to become SAP associate Authorization Consultant at a very big multinational firm. With high chances of receiving SAP trainings, foreign languages courses, English communication environment, foreign business trips, sustainable career,…. With career path I may go to BASIS after 3-5 years.

    However, I like to join functional but the boss at that firm said no way, cos I have no experience at functional except a basic SAP funtional course at college and few month internship at a consulting IT firm.

    Should I take the job to join SAP industry, cos chances like that do not always exist and actually I got the job because of large expanded requirement of that firm, and usually they just hire people with at leat 3+ years exp.

    Please, can anyone clarify the detail career job of Authorization. Is it hot, complicated, high paid,…. and future of it.

    Are there any chances I can move to functional after years working ?

    Thank you 😀

    • Personally, my feeling is authorization/security is good area to be in.  IF you truly embrace it.  The problem I see is that you say you want to be a functional consultant, yet you fail to indicate what area.  Functional consultants are usually people that not only understand how a particular SAP module works and how it integrates with other modules but they also need to bring some knowledge of best practices as well as national and international standards, methods and procedures to the table.  Or some knowledge of a particular industry or a particular region.

      A functional FI person is useless if they don’t understand basic bookkeeping principles.  A PP functional person is not very valuable if they don’t have a concept of GMP and planning principles. A HR functional person is not valuable if they don’t have a concept of hiring practices, labor regulations, benefit concepts.  This goes on for each major area of SAP.

      To move from a technical authorization person to a functional one means you need a good foundation in the principles of separation or segregation of duties, the impact and consequences of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US, (which impacts global organizations as well that do business in the US or trade on the US stock market), and ISO standards such as ISO 27001.  These are just an example of items I would think a true Functional Security person would have knowledge of.  I’m sure there are others but I’m not a functional security person.

      I have no doubt you can move into the world of functional consulting if you want to.  You need to decide what area you want to be in though.  You want something you can get excited about and don’t mind reading, researching, and studying on your own.  Maybe take some college or graduate courses in your chosen field.  If you like security then I’m sure many colleges/universities offer computer security courses.  I’m sure you can find seminars and training on ISO 27001.  Once you’ve broaden and built your knowledge base, then you can seek out that first functional job.  Maybe a small one for a small project and you build from there.


  • Hi Bro,

    I have 2+ years of experience in infobasic language ie in T24 Temenos product. Now i want to switch my career into SAP Basis. Is this right or wrong decision could you please suggest me?


    Venkatesan JC

    • “Now i want to switch my career into SAP Basis. Is this right or wrong decision could you please suggest me?”…..well, a bit more information my be helpful if you want more than just a “knee jerk” response.

      1. Why did you select SAP?

      2. What do you think SAP Basis involves and how do you think you can leverage your past skills there?

      3. Why do you think SAP Basis is the place for you at all?

      4. Given SAP’s shift to the “cloud”, how much need do you think there is in the market for SAP Basis resources…..and then, of that, how much room is there for someone completely new coming into it?

      5. Do you enjoy spending weekends babysitting installations? 😆

      Matt Fraser is a SAP Mentor and one of the best “Basis” folks I know. He could probably provide you more direction.

    • Venkatesan,

      If you really want to consider SAP Basis, you must ask yourself… well, yes, all the questions that Chris poses. But, bottom line, Basis is not a programmer/developer track, it’s a system administrator track. There is some crossover, but we are closer to database administrators, server administrators, and even network administrators than we are to developers. Most successful Basis admins/consultants come from one of those fields as a background. From your description, I would have thought you’d be more interested in the SAP development fields, such as ABAP, SAPUI5, etc.

      Still, if you want to know more, have a look at Juan Reyes’ excellent blogs Back to Basis and Back to Basis – The Evolution, and even my own little blog Banishing Basis Burnout. Then read through everything you find of interest in the SAP NetWeaver Administrator space, and you will start to have a good idea of whether this career is for you.

      Finally, consider asking questions in new discussion threads rather than in the comments to old blogs (even good old blogs like this one). Also, try a good search in the Career Center space, as this question is asked again, and again, and again, and again………



    • I agree with the comments of both Matt and Christopher. From my own perspective, I started my IT career as a mainframe programmer, evolved into a mainframe (DB2) Database Administrator/Data Modeler and then moved into data warehousing on UNIX platforms running Oracle (DB) and then onto Oracle DBA certification. That’s when (circa 1999) I was offered the opportunity to become an SAP “DBA” (IOW – entry level Basis Admin) with primary responsibilities for SAP BW (2.1C, 3.0B, and 3.5) on Oracle. I then moved onto ECC and Solution Manager. I have had the good fortune of activating business content, building custome infocubes and process chains and writing BeX queries (up to BW 7.4). The point being that my Oracle/DBA/UNIX skills were my “ticket” into SAP BW and SAP Basis.

      If I were looking for a “ticket” into SAP today, without having prior SAP experience, then I would spend all my free time taking online courses in SAP HANA and reading SAP PRESS books in SAP HANA.

      The SAP ecosystem(s) are immense. I’m not sure I would go in the SAP direction today if I was in mid-career. I’d probably look more into Microsoft BI development tools (SSIS, SSAS, SSRS) than into SAP BI, just because there are more smaller companies looking for BI skillsets on Windows/MSSQL.

      But just know, that about ever 10 or so years in IT, I find myself redefining myself. Past associates who failed to do that, have usually left the IT industry and either gone into the business units or into IT Sales and Marketing careers or they go into IT management 😉

      My $0.02 worth.