Dear SAP Fellows
I have been part of this discussion many times with my friends and colleagues from SAP community that what is necessary to be a smart SAP consultant. Everyone has his/her own opinion about this which is usually different from each other’s. It is an interesting argument and I always contribute my opinion as a volunteer which I want to share with you and I am doing this to have your opinions about it. This is human nature that they learn from their experience and mistakes and I am also sharing this because of my personal experience. I am working as SAP support consultant since 2009 and had some experiences which made me to think that for best SAP consultant he should have support experience in his career prior to going for implementations. I am not being judgmental because I am at support side but on some valid reasons which I am going to share with you. I will be giving you some examples from my personal experience and you may or may not be agreeing with me but this is what I feel.
Some examples from my personal experience
Like I have said earlier that I am at support side and when I joined my first company as CS consultant there we had a repair order type which we used to create for repair processing of electrical appliances. In standard SAP there are RAS and RA document types for this purpose and there are also standard item categories like IRRA IRRE and IRRP etc. Implementation guy used standard item category which is IRRA and as you can see in its settings that this is billing relevance but in our case we were not supposed to bill it ever. He didn’t change its settings for billing relevance and unfortunately no one noticed it until I joined that company and realized that there were thousands of orders which were with status “being process” and when I asked from end users they said it is always like this and we don’t know why. I investigated the issue and came to know that it was just because of a little mistake. I rectified it but those old documents were still with open status.
It also happened in my new company where implementation guy had used completion rule in Sale order’s item category which doesn’t make any sense. Here we also have almost 10 million orders with open status even after completely processed.
Another example is use of a pricing routine which implementation guys created for calculating price of a warranty scenario. Although warranty can be configured in standard system but they created a routine for that and honestly I don’t know why. But if we ignore this that why they created routine, in their routine they put some logic by taking VBFA table which is backbone of SD like MSEG in MM and BSEG in FI. There are thousands of entries which are being posted in VBFA table on daily basis. They put some logic by taking non-key fields in join which at that time worked fine but gradually after two years it reduced the system performance. It took 3 to 4 minutes for processing after pressing enter when system called that routine. I debugged the issue with the help of ABAPER and we came to know that this VBFA logic was creating problem. We changed the logic by taking some other joins of key fields and it worked fine.
There are also a lot of other examples which I am not going to share because I don’t want you to get bored with these examples 🙂
Why Support experience is essential
Now I think I have some valid reasons to say this that why a consultant must have support experience before he goes in consultancy. The general perception which we have about implementation consultants is that they just copy paste the standard settings, cover all business scenarios and get their UAT (User Acceptance Test) signed off from the client. I am not fully agreed with this because I know sometime consultants have to do a lot of study and R&D to configure new and sometime strange requirements of clients. But in some cases consultants don’t analyze and see the impacts of their configured scenarios in a long spam of time. They test the scenario at that time and due to newly installed system without excess of transaction data, system performs normally. But after a few years when there are millions of entries in tables, a wrong logic in any ABAP program can cause the low system performance. If a consultant had worked on support side then he must know this that what are the points where he need to be careful while creating ABAP programs and configuring system through IMG.
Criticality of issues in running business
Another fact which I always present in these kinds of discussions is that when a consultant is supporting some running business he needs to be very active and quick thinker. If there is some issue in delivery processing or billing document then it means the whole sale has been choked and your management is going to get annoy at you if you don’t resolve the issue at your earliest. They don’t listen that there is SAP note about it saying that it will take time or any other justification. They also don’t give you enough time to study it from SAP help documents or from any other sources. If sale is not taking place then it means company is earning nothing and you are not going to get your pay 😉 It depends on your management that how conversant they are with IT and SAP but in most of the cases they are not concerned with it. They just need their business to run smoothly and that’s why they have hired you. A consultant who has worked at support side can resolve the issues quickly and he always has a lot of scenarios and similar errors in his mind whenever he faces some new issue.
Critical thinking from audit point of view
A consultant who has worked at support side will always see the impacts of scenario in a long run and he will also see it from audit point of view that where are loop holes and how users can bypass the system. It is my personal experience and opinion whenever we configure the system we should always take it as an auditor. If we leave a gap for those users who always find short cuts or deceitful ways to dodge system then they can easily play with the system and sometimes with financials of companies which can be origin of a major fraudulent activity. I have seen this in my career that how smartly users have scammed and posted wrong entries and transferred billions of rupees to their personal accounts. Even auditors were not able to detect their fraud. A smart consultant will never leave these gaps and this experience comes from being in support side.
Three abilities a Consultant should have
In my opinion a successful and smart consultant must have support experience, SAP certification and implementation experience. In this sequence support experience must always be there before implementation and others can be varied. If you have enough knowledge and experience then certification is not going to give you some additional knowledge but it gives you satisfaction and reliability.
I wanted to open a poll to gather community’s opinion about this but unfortunately I was not able to do this because I think only moderators have this privilege to open a poll. I know everyone has his opinion about this and I want that every reader should share his or her opinion on this. If you don’t want to write much at least give your agreed or disagree comment 🙂 This will not change my belief but I’ll have an idea that what other people from this community think about this.