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Author's profile photo Holger Stumm

From Techie to Architect in one Project

Life is changing – so are you. Every now and then, you have to look back and realize it.

My last project started three years ago as an SAP PI Expert Consultant. “Just a few weeks of PI consulting..We have some questions here..”.

At the end, I just did not spend three years at the site, but also evolved from “SAP PI Senior Expert” to Executive Consultant and global SAP architect. I think, when you get older (pretty old, like me, more than 20 years of SAP projects)  then your perception is changing. I always loved (and still do) technology and programming.

One of the keys to great tech work is to have a childish curiosity, trying to get your hands on all new nerd stuff. Beeing hands on, in my eyes, is one of the key elements to stay grounded and to be always on top of situations in SAP projects.

I started doing my PI tech stuff, HCM interfaces, a lot of them. We started developing a framework to “cookie cut” the PI interfaces. This is another key point, in my eyes, for a successful engagement. Not only to think in your actual assignement, but rather to think in architectures, identify common attributes and patterns in everything you are doing. Quickly, I was asked more and more about SAP project related questions, like hardware, network, architecture and administration.

One thing is to have all these abilities (comes with the age), the other thing is – again – to think in perspectives, optimization and keep all the odds and ends together as a woven net, the web of a global SAP landscape architecture.

One thing where it is great to have started as a PI expert is, that Process Orchestration and Process Management runs through the PI, deriving processes, semantics and KPI’s for the executive view of the business. Again, the curiosity for all things new is always kept busy in this area.

Month was adding up to years and the responsability grew. I was called into a leadership board, where one failed project was subject to review. The numbers on the table where big, the fail was epic like the numbers on the excel spreadsheet. This sounds dramatic, but if you are running a worldwide IT with an extreme huge budget, these kind of project situation is rather normal. The question is, what to do and what direction to give for the restart of this failed project. And, more important than all the other reasons, the question about the lessons learned.

These where extremely interesting questions and the fact, that McKinsey was in the lead, shows the attention that this task force had on the C-Level. We travelled through Europe and kept analyzing and brainstorming.

It was a great time, but like all great times, at the end it became time to move on as well. Three intensive years at one site is enough – it makes you always kind of blindfolded, since you always see the same things over and over again. But, it was a great experience, with great people.

For  me, it also shows, that with the years, your perspective changed. Even if you start with pure tech stuff, your view as a senior consultant and the abilitiy to pitch in and lead even in small situations, will put your perception in different directions at the customer. The customer will not see you only as a problem solver in a tech module, but also as a valuable ressource for a lot of other functions in big projects.

This is something, that every consultant, junior like senior or executive should always see: Be the best in your topic, but also thrive in soft skills.  And, more important: Always pitch in on responsability, guidance and leadership. Even if it is not in your job description. I looked back on my way out and realized, that I carry now the label of an global architect.

I also look forward to write my next ABAP again as well. At least the ABAP requires no board meeting and no political buy-in.

Or, like my twitter-friend and ex McKinsey Chief Tom Peters said:  “Make sure, that at the end of a project, your customer not only says “He has remarkable skills” but more important: “He was a great guy to work with”.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hello Holgi,

      interesting thoughts...I like this blog!

      ...and I am really looking forward to develop another ABAP with you again some time 🙂 .

      I have to fight more and more in order to keep my hands-on the system, as the "desired" role for me is rather to work more high-level: Analyzing and designing...but let others do the build.

      I always try to gather at least some coding work in order to keep practiced, to stay grounded and to preserve some "childish curiosity", as you say 😉 ,

      All the best,


      Author's profile photo Jocelyn Dart
      Jocelyn Dart

      Hi Holger,

      This is a really useful blog for those looking to make the same journey.  I'm just wondering if it is better suited to the Career Center space on SCN and perhaps you should move it there to appeal to a wider audience?



      Author's profile photo Muni M
      Muni M

      Hi holger,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      I see very few who are interested in technical after completing 20+ years 🙂