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10 Qualities of a Successful SAP Professional

These qualities may as well be included in every job description for SAP project roles. Every SAP project member, technical and business alike, must have these 10 qualities to be successful in their role.

  1. Ability to translate good ideas into a tangible product. Good ideas are just good until they are implemented with technology to make them something tangible and great! There is typically no shortage of ideas on ERP projects because you are literally redesigning how entire companies function. What is lacking on many projects is team members that can translate those ideas in to system demos to show users, leaders, and team members the end-to-end process. Without seeing a solution, it’s often hard to imagine how it will function and what issues may arise. SAP projects require delivery of a quality project, and at some point, good ideas need to stop, and solutions need to be delivered in the system.
  2. Strong written and verbal communication skills. Communication is key in any position, but the integrated and accelerated nature of SAP projects require frequent communication in the right manner, to the right people.  This means escalating issues when necessary, communicating status and sharing major design decisions with the project.
  3. Strong teacher and willing to teach others. As a SAP user, consultant or support person, you will inevitably spend time teaching other people about SAP and a variety of other solutions. For example, to download reports from SAP, users may also need help with using the report in MS Excel. Patience and a desire to teach are crucial.  One of my first managers taught me to seek out people in the organization that have knowledge and are willing to share. I’ve found that advice to be very true in my career. 
  4. Dedication to work long work hours and weekends when needed to meet project deadlines. Expect to work long hours and weekends often on a SAP project. Those that gripe about the hours and try to push off work on others will miss opportunities to grow in their career. As frustrating as it can be to work long days, the extra time should pay off with a better quality SAP solution. A positive attitude makes a huge difference.
  5. A strong focus on solution quality. There are usually at least two or three ways to design a process in SAP. Each solution has pros and cons, but only one can be chosen. The best solution should meet all (or most) business needs and be fully communicated and understood by process owners. Users must test the system using a variety of rainy day and sunny day scenarios including end-to-end process testing.
  6. An understanding of business processes and an integrated focus on the system design. SAP projects integrate teams in ways that businesses may not have previously functioned. This requires an integrated focus on the overall system design and a general understanding of other business functions and processes. For example, the product costing team may not have previously needed to know about new products until they were already produced due to system limitations. Now in SAP, they must cost new products in SAP before they can be produced.
  7. Ability to solution issues instead of dwell on them. SAP projects usually have huge scope with a moving timeline and too often deliverables are over-promised by consulting firms. The result is an overworked team trying to achieve unrealistic deadlines and frustration ensues. There are so many things in life, and especially in work, that you can’t control. Issues with the system will arise, like they have on every other SAP project before yours. Focusing on solutioning rather than getting frustrated and upset will demonstrate your leadership abilities and help other team members stay focused on the end goal.
  8. Business to technology translation. Technology drives business processes, so it is essential for functional and technical SAP professionals to really understand the purpose of SAP transactions, reports, and enhancements.
  9. A willingness and dedication to learning on your own and from others. In addition to teaching others throughout your career, you will also be forced to constantly learn about new solutions, tools, functions, and processes in and out of SAP. The strongest SAP professionals continue to learn on their own, stay up to date with technology trends, and learn from others to become well-rounded. SAP requires life-long learning!
  10. Ability to foresee issues and risks and escalate to leadership. Raising risks and issues to leadership is key for leaders to understand the true status of the project and make crucial decisions on timeline, resources, and budget.  Furthermore, raising issues and risks at the correct severity and in the right format is important. Critical issues likely require a phone call over an email and should be communicated immediately. Lower priority issues can be discussed in a status meeting and should not be over-dramatized.

What would you add to the list? For my blogs on starting your SAP career, check out my website:

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