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Some Things Change, Some Things Stay the Same

Things have changed a lot since I first became involved in the SAP world. I had never heard of SAP prior to the company I worked for at the time being chosen to develop an “Australianised” Payroll for SAP. Today even people who are not involved in IT know the SAP brand. I was one of only 5 HR/Payroll functional consultants and now there are hundreds in Australia. That’s another change, it is now known as Human Capital Management.

I was taught table names and transaction codes to perform configuration. When someone mentioned this “new” thing called the IMG, I didn’t know how to access it. Luckily someone confided in me I could hit the customizing button when looking at Tables and it would take me to the appropriate part of the IMG.

The work consisted of long term implementations with many a late night researching what you were going to try and configure the next day. Today, if you can’t work something out, you can log into SCN or try Google, using your Mobile Phone. There appear to be many more support roles, a large number performed remotely. In the beginning, the word remote referred to how you felt when you were a thousand miles away from family on a project where you returned home only at weekends.

Staying up to date with the software meant keeping abreast of OSS notes and being aware of functional enhancements coming out in the next release. Now it seems there is something every week that you need to know about and not only with SAP. There is Nakisa, Clicksoftware, SuccessFactors, etc, that integrate with HCM and then there is Business by Design, Rapid Deployment Solutions, On-Premise vs Hybrid vs Cloud. There is always something new…..

But some things don’t change.

A consultant still needs to have the basics: professionalism, good time management, a team player but assertive, if required, to obtain the best result for the client.

You should have expert knowledge of your specific area of expertise in SAP HCM, which is why the client has engaged you. This includes how HCM integrates with other SAP modules and third party products.

Understanding of where the client wants the business to be in the short, medium and long term. This may involve questioning some of the requirements and processes that the client believes are required but your experience should allow you to have these discussions and offer suggestions to possibly improve the solution.

Try to keep the solution standard. Don’t customize if you can configure. This makes it far easier to support and perform upgrades.

Have good documentation. This not only includes Functional Specifications, Training notes, Testing procedures, etc, but also documenting within the system e.g. new schema rules. Use Solution Manager if it is available.

Learn from other consultants. There will always be someone who can teach you something you didn’t know. If you don’t keep learning, your skills can become stagnant and your next project solution will be no different to your last ten.

Above all else though, listen. Without hearing what the client wants to achieve for their business you cannot provide a good service. You will rarely learn while you are talking.

The above ramblings indicate to me that regardless of technological changes there are some constants that are always required and translate to any product. I haven’t captured everything and no doubt once this gets posted I will think of other things that make a good consultant and don’t change over time. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Just one other thing, I should mention HANA……it’s mentioned everywhere else!

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  • Loved how you put this post together talking about all the change that has happened for us “old dogs” but also how some key skills have not changed that much over the years.

    A good consultant HAS to stay current on the technology as well as continue to work and refine their “soft skills” which you address in the lower part of the article if they want to stay relevant in the competitive market this has become.

    Really enjoyed this blog and angle.

  • Dear Paul,

    Great post…… its damn real truth about Consultants having certain key skills while handing projects…

    Also the sentence “Don’t Customize if you can configure” is the golden rule in SAP.

    Pleasure to read this post…..


  • very good post, Paul!

    And I must admit that this:

    >Just one other thing, I should mention HANA……it’s mentioned everywhere else!

    brought a smile to my face!

    Best regards


  • Hi Paul,

    A great blog and I enjoyed reading it. You are absolutely right that no consultant can rest on their laurels – there is always learning to be done and those that don’t learn efficiently will fall behind.

    And like Paul above, I got a laugh out of your HANA comment!

    Best regards,


  • Hello Paul

    While reading a blog, gives a feeling of yes this is what we feel and now it is in words through you.  Being Assertive and learning and sharing makes a perfect combination of a great consultant.

    Thank you for sharing.