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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ This will not change my belief but I’ll have an idea that what other people from this community think about this.

Best Regards

MoazzaM

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79 Comments

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  1. Eeraj eeraj

    Greetings!

    Mr. Moazzam

    I have Read rad above article. It was an excellent effort and great contribution for the SAP Community. The information and techniques you have included in your article is relevant and appropriate. I would like to request you to please keep posting such productive and informative experiences with us so we will be able to learn more from you. Thank you and have a nice day.

    Regards

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Thank you Eeraj for appreciating it. I would like to know your opinion about this. Please share your opinion with me and others.

      Thank$

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  2. Luke Marson

    Hi MoazzaM,

    A nice blog, but I don’t agree with all points. Certainly SAP certification is NOT a requirement for a consultant. I know many quality SAP consultants that do not have certification and do not need it. SAP certification is good for freshers, but is not a necessity. Implementation experience is much more important, especially if it is across multiple territories, industries, and customer types. I’m not sure support experience is of much value, although it certainly helps.

    Best regards,

    Luke

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Hi Luke

      Yeah, You are right that certification is not a requirement but it helps in some extent. A consultant who has years of experience and expertise don’t need certification. My blog is not for those people. It is for freshers and middle level consultants who have 3/4 years of experience. Certification gives confidence and reliability to the employers. If they are millions or sometimes billions of Dollars for implementing SAP, they want qualified consultants. My point of discussion is not the importance of certification in this blog. It is the importance of support experience. I have shared some real time examples and scenarios which I have faced. Although you are not fully agreed with that I have shared but thank you for sharing your opinion and thoughts. I am glad that senior member like you have shared his views.

      Thank$

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  3. Typewriter TW

    MoazzaM,

    Your contribution is regular and of high quality!

    You are “discussing about” diverse topics….great work overall!

    First thing I would say is that this blog should be shifted to the Career forum.

    New members (aspirants) can benefit so much from your blog and the input by other members.

    Jyoti Prakash, moderators could you please look into this request?

    There are so many “perspectives” from which one can give input…I shall give some input shortly.

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Thank you TW for your concern and appreciating the blog. I was also thinking where should I post this and when I got nothing I posted it here. Yes you are right and Career forum is the right one for this but the reason why I posted it was just to get community member’s views. You are also most senior member of community and I would be waiting for your comments about the topic. You have asked JP to move this in career forum and I would also want to request to Laure Cetin  or Jason Lax  to please move this in appropriate forum.

      Thank$

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  4. Priyanka Jain

    Mozzam,

    Really worth appreciating article .. ๐Ÿ™‚ !!!

    You have actually covered some uncoomon points which I hav nvr read in other articles writtten by different people…n yes I agree one must hav support experience… you reallyyy learn a lottt….!!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Regards,

    Priyanka

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      1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

        Thank you for highlighting this but honestly saying, I read her comment before yours and I didn’t notice this. Although I saw some spelling mistakes but her message was delivered. It means I also need to run a spell checker before posting some comment ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

        Thank$

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        1. Jรผrgen L

          Nevertheless, SCN is professional forum, that is the big difference to Facebook, even the meaning is understandable one should care about his style.

          See, the blog is now in the Career Center space. It is about career. Can one really dream about a big career if he/she does not care about spelling mistakes, doesn’t this mirror to the persons attitude in general? Isn’t it naive to think that recruiters and HR personnel are not using Internet as source  to check new applicants? How much worth is a Certificate presented together with 8 mistakes in 2 lines?

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          1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

            I agree with you sir. This is professional forum and we should avoid short hand language which we use on facebook or on other channels to communicate with friends. Thank you for your guidance. I also want to know your views about the topic. Please share your views and opinion about the original topic.

            Thank$

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  5. Srinu S

    Thank you MozaaM for sharing this,I too agree with your comments that after getting good exposure to support experience better to do implementation. I think this is happening in most of the companies they wont give direct implantation project. As you rightly said having certification in your belt definitely increase your confidence level based on current job market. Because at current job market good % of additional weight be given to shortlist the people. But to work on  implementation project require very good understanding on business scenarios and good knowledge on the particular module which you are going to work.

    thanks,

    Srinu.

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Thank you Srinivas S for your valuable feedback. You are right but I have seen many consultants who have done many projects without having support experience and in their all projects clients are suffering and changing the processes or implementing controls. This could not be the case if the implementing guy would have known the pros and cons of their configured scenarios in a long run.

      Thank$

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      1. Typewriter TW

        MoazzaM,

        Isn’t it a little presumptuous to think that without “support experience” a consultant won’t know the pros and cons of the configuration he / she has done! ๐Ÿ™‚

        In some particular case(s) you might have come to that conclusion but then extrapolating it to the larger group of “implementation” consultants is another thing.

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        1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

          You are right TW Typewriter and I am also not talking about all implementation consultants. A consultant who has seen SAP screens first time in his first project will you expect him to foresee the scnearios and their impacts in a long run?

          And for consultants like Jignesh Mehta G Lakshmipathi Jyoti Prakash and Jürgen L who already have tons of knowledge which they have gain from their projects and also from SCN. They dont need certification or support experience. This blog was written for freshers or for junior consultant who are in early years of their career.

          Thank you for the concern and sharing your views ๐Ÿ™‚

          Thank$

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  6. Vimal Vidyadharan

    Hi MoaazaM, great write up and very valid points.

    Thanks for bringing this topic up.

    I have been on both sides – support and implementation.

    From my own experience and from that I have seen of my juniors,

    1. A consultant with only implementation experience can not foresee many scenarios or issues that could occur in a live environment. – for reasons like those you have mentioned.

    2. A consultant with only support experience would not always have enough knowledge on solutions beyond his scope of work – say integration scenarios or solution approaches to bridge gaps – as they might never have configured a system from scratch up not got a chance to think about gaps in as-is and SAP processes.

    3. In my opinion, a consultant with only implementation experience should move into support and be given enough time after implementation to understand the impact of his design and decisions during implementation phase. And a consultant with more of support experience should be involved from the pre- Go-Live preps and cut-over to understand the solution design and how that was arrived at. In this way, a person who gets the flavor of the two would always evolve as a better consultant.

    Thanks again!

    ~Vimal

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Dear Vimal Vidyadharan

      I totally agreed with your statements. I have used the term best SAP consultant. For being best you should have some characteristics which make you different from others and these characteristics comes with diversify knowledge of different industries and business scenarios which comes with implementation experience. For being a foreseer one should have support experience and knowledge of issues which we face in running business.

      And one thing which is most important and necessary is that if you are active on SCN then you can have knowledge of both ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank$

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    2. G Lakshmipathi

      Vimal Vidyadharan

      On your first two points, if you intend to say those are applicable to freshers, then okay I am with you.  On the other hand, if you say, it is applicable to all, then I beg to differ to your two points

      1. A consultant with only implementation experience can not foresee many scenarios or issues that could occur in a live environment. – for reasons like those you have mentioned.

      2. A consultant with only support experience would not always have enough knowledge on solutions beyond his scope of work – say integration scenarios or solution approaches to bridge gaps – as they might never have configured a system from scratch up not got a chance to think about gaps in as-is and SAP processes.

      because, I have contacts who had vast experience in implementations and they offered many value adds in their support projects.  Similarly, there are resources who have good exposure to support projects and they also are capable of handling implemenation projects.

      ‘ MoazzaM ‘ is right.  His blog is for beginners. 

      G. Lakshmipathi

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      1. Vimal Vidyadharan

        Lakshmipathi – Yes, it is about beginners. I believe someone with years of experience would have definitely dug deep into what they specialize in.

        Regards,

        Vimal

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  7. Sukant Chakraborthy

    Hi Moazzam,

    Thanks for sharing your thought, I had been in implementation & support  scenarios.But the major role comes only after the system goes live & support cycle starts,  i have faced so many  issues now which was smooth when we went live. I my opinion  a consultant who has support experience will be able to execute his job well. Also certification doesn’t guarantee any job  but it adds value. Thanks Sukant Chakraborthy

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Dear Sukant Chakraborthy

      Nothing guarantees a job. Certification, support experience or implementation experience adds value in your profile. But your concern is right and I agree with you. Support experience gives you an ability to analyze and solve the issues quickly. Implementation experience gives you knowledge of multpile industries and business processes. Thank you for sharing your views.

      Thank$

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  8. Ranu Eugene

    Hi Moazzam,

    Great Blog and very truly said.

    If a consultant is in support project in different companies then many scenarios will come across which will make the business process very clear along with customization. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Very well written Blog. Impressed!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Keep up the Good Work.

    Best of Luck. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Regards

    Eugene

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  9. Carlos Gonรงalves

    Greetings MoazzaM,

    This is certainly a very interesting topic of discussion. But, most probably, one for which you will not have a single opinion or point-of-view. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Current discussion evolved around 2 major points:

    • SAP Certification vs Hands-On Experience
    • Implementation Experience vs Support Experience

    I will comment on these two but I would also like to include one that is of major importance to me:

    • The Consultant’s Personality

    For what concerns SAP certifications, I have the tendency to evaluate this as a Marketing Tool!

    Is certainly a “Good to Have” and will reassure some Employers about the SAP Consultant level of knowledge. However, and by experience, I faced so many situations where certified consultants were just “hot air balloons” that I certainly do not give it a lot of attention today. Having passed two certifications myself I would not say that is due to the knowledge that I collected on those training sessions that I became the SAP consultant that I am today.

    Professional experience is certainly a much more valuable tool to measure the potential knowledge of a Consultant than any Certification. This, of course, if you are a recruiter that understands SAP! It’s just incredible how many times, still today, they don’t. In this particular situation, request for a certification is basically almost the only thing they can do to “validate” your skills and competence.

    When I analyze specific SAP knowledge and training from consultants, I do look a lot for mixed profiles (functional and technical). I do not believe that a good functional consultant needs to be a developer or a NetWeaver expert but he certainly needs to understand the technical constraints of the Sap environment and the practical feasibility of the solutions he proposes. Showing this ability and willingness to embrace and understand both worlds (technical and functional) is certainly a “Top” skill today. I must say that this is one skill where “support” consultants usually outclass implementation consultants.

    Now, Getting a little more into the Implementation vs Support… this is a nice topic!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    In the past, where I had the responsibility of selecting competent SAP resources to projects, was certainly in this area when I passed a lot of my time. In our days, I often fall into profiles that spent more than 10 years of their professional live doing simply support without any full life cycle implementation.

    This is certainly an handicap that translates itself in lack of experience when it comes to define solutions from scratch, lack of overall and long term  view of implementation solutions, lack of face-to-face and negotiation skills, no Cut-Over experience, less understanding of operational vs managerial constraints. Very often, these profiles are also encapsulated in the same business or industry for years.

    On the other side, I agree that doing support develops fast-pace learning skills, with some people being very flexible and reactive to business immediate requirements. And this is certainly a very valuable skill for good SAP consultants. 

    Implementation experience is valuable since it brings full understanding of a project life-cycle. It empowers SAP consultants in their understanding of full business flows and integration issues and normally leverages the ability to define and defend solutions from a blank page. A good consultant must have this as one of his strongest skills.

    However, there are several levels of implementations experiences. Just follow Roll outs is totally different from being in a Greenfield implementation. Doing 10 projects in the same industry will risk giving them the same “specialized” view of a support consultant that empowers the same business processes for many years. 

    I had the luck of changing industries very often and this was very useful to deliver creative solutions for hard points in many implementations. It would be surprising to see how many times I brought processes and solutions from one industry to another…

    In resume, and for me, I will certainly be looking in a good consultant for:

    • Proven skills in SAP solution definitions. (better if they had the ownership of this task)
    • Large understanding of the SAP business processes as well as of many industries as possible.
    • Reactivity and fast-learning pace.
    • Understanding of all project phases, their constraints and mechanics

    You can actually find all this skills (or none) in consultants with Implementation background but also in some consultants with Support background.

    And this leads me to the last and most important point:

    • The consultant personality

    During my Sap life ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve seen very good and very bad SAP consultants.  And those profiles were coming from support, from implementation, some were certified some not, some were young some old, some experienced some quite juniors.  This leads me to the conclusion that none of points discussed before are actually the critical ones for the definition of a good SAP consultant.

    Most of the time, what was the common trace between good SAP consultants were some common personality characteristics:

    • Willingness to learn and curiosity.
      A consultant that after 10 years tells you that he still has a lot to learn and that he does it every day, adds one point to my evaluation sheet.
      A certified consultant that sells him as the master of SAP… I usually forget! A little modesty always helps in keeping the project teams working together in cooperation.
    • Taste for adventure: a good SAP consultant is always willing to leave his comfort area without even blinking. In a project this is gold.
    • Hard worker and passion for SAP: This two put together just give the ability for a junior consultant to perform 100 times better that some senior ones. With all the communities and SAP resources available, we can learn almost everything if we have passion and willingness to work outside our project hours. Some of the most creative solutions I could implement in projects came from these valuable team members that were never satisfied with a “SAP does not work that way” answer.
    • Sense of service: A good Consultant must live his client’s pains has his owns. He must have a “Service” soul.  Only is this way, his solution will be a great one that satisfies the customer in the long run. In many situations, SAP consultants that do not share this strong willingness for servicing the client, just develop “working” solutions programmed to work until he leaves the project, or the responsibility passes to support!

    To finish, I would say that if you could identify and document in your blog all those situations form your past experience, is certainly more because you are one of those hard workers, passionate, and with a sense of service consultant. More than just because you have a good “support” experience.

    Hope I was not too long but it’s certainly a passionate subject!

    PS: The big advantage of what I wrote is that you can apply it to beginners or “oldies”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Best regards to all, and long live the passion for SAP

    Carlos Gonçalves

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    1. G Lakshmipathi

      Nicely presented and not sure, for such a detailed explanation how long it took time for you to draft.  On couple of instances, though I wanted to explain in detail, I never did that and I dont have patience to draft as lengthy as you did.  ๐Ÿ˜›

      G. Lakshmipathi

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    2. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Dear Carlos

      Finally I have read your comment infact I must say blog in comments ๐Ÿ™‚ twice and I really like the way you have explained the topic and shared your views. You have highlighted those areas which I was not able to explain and some of those I was also not aware of.

      In your comment I liked the following line most

      “You can actually find all this skills (or none) in consultants with Implementation background but also in some consultants with Support background.”

      This is exactly what I think and feel. Its not a thumb rule that only implementation consultants have more knowledge and skills. It depends on how much you are eager to learn and your willingness to work in different areas of SAP.

      Consultant personality part of your comment is also valid and knowledgeable. It was something new for me and I believe you have years of experience because it comes with it. I agree that it is your personality which makes you different from others. Personality doesn’t mean your physical appearance only but the things you have mentioned.

      I think you should write your own blog on this and add some more information and suggestions. Since you seems very senior in SAP so let beginners like me gain some knowledge and experience from your career.

      Thank you for giving me this idea to add those scenarios and solutions in my blog which I have learnt from my support experience. Maybe sometime later I will write another blog about my support experience.

      You have written tool instead of too in the end which shows that how long you were even you started writing wrong spells in the end ๐Ÿ˜‰ and it also shows that you should write this whole information in your own blog ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am really grateful to you for sharing your knowledge and some very useful tips and suggestions. And see the number of likes for your comment in just one day ๐Ÿ™‚ and after seeing this I will say this third time that write your own blog and please tag me in that so that I may be able to follow and study your experience.

      Thank$

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      1. Carlos Gonรงalves

        Thanks MoazzaM for your nice comments!


        I will certainly put to reflection your suggestion for a personal blog. I must say that I’m new to this community and, even if eager to participate, I prefer to wait a little and get the feeling of it. I still need to understand in which way a personal blog could be actually useful for all and not just adding points to my “ego”! ๐Ÿ˜€

        Anyway, I will certainly continue to follow you and participate in your own blog whenever possible.

        And thanks for the tip on “Tools”! It just proofs you were certainly an attentive reader.

        It has been amended ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

        Keep the good work.

        Thanks

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        1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

          ๐Ÿ˜€

          Thank you Carlos. I will be waiting for your blog. Don’t think about points or liking, disliking or anyother aspect. Just write down what you think and feel no matter what people will think about it ๐Ÿ™‚

          Thank$

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  10. Anupam Kumar

    Hi Moazzam,

    Really a nice Blog. I was impressed & also agree with you on below topic

    It really made me feel the importance of having a support project. My first project was itself was on support & we face certain issues where we felt there were few ABAP development which was done during the implementation has made the system slow currently.  There were many reports which was not configured correctly & the user was still using the same for so many years. We analyse the same & provide the proper solution for those. Hope this learning will help me to go ahead while doing an implementation project in future.

    Looking forward for your blogs in future

    Regards

    Anupam

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Thank you Anupam and I didnt get the picture you shared. May be there was some link with this?

      And yes it happens many times and it happens just because the implementation guy is not yet prepared for being an implementor. They are actually learning but it is clients who suffer and praise implementation guys afterwards ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

      Thank$

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  11. Aditya Varrier

    Hi MM,

    Good to read your blog.

    Well, I disagree about the certification thing (not because am not a certified consultant) ๐Ÿ˜†

    To me, a good consultant is one who knows what “Knowledge” & “Time” is; along with soft-skills.

    “Knowledge” & “Time” because they become inversely proportional during a delivery of a project/object..

    Cheers,

    Aditya V

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Hi Aditya Varrier

      So you mean to say there is no use of SAP Certification and they are offering it for nothing ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

      I think you should get certified and pay some money and reward to SAP who let you earn because of their toold i.e SAP ๐Ÿ˜›

      Thank$

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      1. Aditya Varrier

        Hi MM,

        I have seen SAP Certified guys who cannot be certified to be a Consultant but at the same time seen Consultants who can be certified without SAP Certification. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Cheers,

        AV

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  12. Craig S

    So much depends on what kind of consultant you are talking about.  “SAP Consultant” is a very broad term.  Are we talking a functional consultant for a specific module?  Are we talking an EDI specialist?  A Workflow specialist?  How about EH&S?  Finance?  ABAP?  Forms?  Security? 

    Each area would have their own “best” set of requirements.  Would you really want a person with only an IT support background, implementing your accounting and general ledger?  No.. you have to have someone with experience in accounting and hopefully within your particular region due to local tax laws, regulations and reporting requirements.

    Do you really want someone who kind of slid over from plant maintenance or purchasing into the QM module to help you implement your new QM project in an FDA regulated environment?  Do you want a lab geek who knows QM inside out to slid over into plant maintenance or warehouse management?

    Just because you work in support, would in no way provide you the background to properly implement a given module.  Too many times, technical people think that they really know a module, and they probably do, but they aren’t usually in a position to recognize bad business practices, opportunities for improvements, political realities of the business or sub-culture within the plant/business, required agency regulations and governmental regulations.   What works in India, won’t work in the US, what works in the US won’t work in the EU, what works in the EU won’t work in China.  What works in China won’t work in Saudi Arabia.

    I’m not knocking support people.  I’ve meet some great ones that made great consultants.  But many are too technically focused.  Not functionally focused.  Many times the best answer for a client is to not do something in SAP!  Not to allow a development to be done.  Not to provide a technical solution.  Not to give them a report they ask for.  

    Support personnel are naturals to move into BASIS, security, programming, system integration, system architecture, etc…  because of their technical background, but the best functional consultants I believe are those with a strong non-SAP background/exposure to their chosen area.

    Of course I’m biased however!!!  ๐Ÿ˜†

    FF

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Craig S  Thank you sharing your views although you are not in favor but still I am glad that you have shared your views.

      Let me tell you one thing that I am talking about general consultant. I think everyone knows that FI guy is best for FI role and PM guy is best for PM. Everyone has his or her own expertise and specialties. For being a successful FI consultant one should have Financial concepts and international accounting standards as well.

      The second thing you have shared is location and again I believe every SAPian knows that there are different rules and regulations for taxes and in some countries document number ranges. It is understood that if you are working in US you should know about US tax law and other legal things which have influence on business.

      My topic is not this which you have shared. Who is the best SAP consultant doesn’t mean to involve functional, technical or any location specific back ground. What I have shared and wanted to know that just comparison of two consultants. One who has started his career from implementation with or without SAP certification and the other who started his career as support consultant and after two or three years moved in consultancy. What do you think who will work more efficiently and smartly? Who will be able to foresee the business post implementation may be after a year or two and will know the impacts of their configured scenarios and developed ABAP programs.

      I don’t know whether I have still explained my concern or not but I hope you won’t take it in some other extent now.

      Thank$

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      1. Craig S

        “just comparison of two consultants. One who has started his career from implementation with or without SAP certification and the other who started his career as support consultant and after two or three years moved in consultancy.”

        Given the above statement I still don’t think you can draw a valid conclusion.  To be fair, if you are allowing 2-3 yrs of support work experience, then you have allow 2-3 years of implementation work before making a comparison.  

        I’m not sure how you get picked for an implementation project unless you have a fair amount of knowledge about the module you are working in.  You may go right from an IT degree program into a consulting firm where you work as an apprentice to an experienced consultant. That is possible. 

        But as I’ve said, I’m not necessarily a fan of IT degreed people becoming what you refer to as implementation consultants because to me an implementation consultant is a functional consultant if we are talking about the various modules of SAP and not a technical area..  They should be strong subject matter experts first. 

        Even if that happens, you are now talking about comparing consultant A with  3yrs implementation experience and no support experience against consultant B with 3 yrs support experience and no implementation experience. 

        And you are selecting this consultant for an implementation project?  The one with the implementation experience will be selected every time. With 3 years experience they should probably have been exposed to 2-3 projects in that same 3 yr training period. 

        I agree the implementation person might be slightly less technically competent but a lot depends on what projects they are exposed to, the requirements they work on, if they take the initiative to learn more, take training classes, who their mentor is, etc..

        The support person on the other hand would be tackling their first implementation project.  They may not have much project experience, may not have experience in driving out user requirements, understanding the actual business job functions, negotiating and dealing with the cross-integration issues, working through and preparing master data, etc., etc..

        The bottom line however is if you are good, you can be good anywhere if you want it bad enough.

        FF

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        1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author
          Even if that happens, you are now talking about comparing consultant A with  3yrs implementation experience and no support experience against consultant B with 3 yrs support experience and no implementation experience. 
          And you are selecting this consultant for an implementation project?  The one with the implementation experience will be selected every time. With 3 years experience they should probably have been exposed to 2-3 projects in that same 3 yr training period.
          In your above example lets change it for consultant B. For A 3 years implementation experience and for B 1.5 year support and 1.5 years implementation. How about this?
          If we ignore years and projects and support etc and see the knowledge of practical scenarios and real time business processes what do you think who can provide better and quick solutions?

          The support person on the other hand would be tackling their first implementation project.  They may not have much project experience, may not have experience in driving out user requirements, understanding the actual business job functions, negotiating and dealing with the cross-integration issues, working through and preparing master data, etc., etc..

                             

          What kind of support job you have in your mind? Do you think that support consultants don’t gather requirements, don’t negotiate with users, thy don’t upload master data or don’t know about LSMW or they don’t have knowledge about integration? Well this is not applicable on every support consultant because I have seen and I know some guys who don’t have implementation experience but they are good in all these factors which you have mentioned above. I also know some guys who have 2/3 years implementation experience and they even don’t know how to use LSMW and what is integration points with other modules ๐Ÿ™‚

          The bottom line however is if you are good, you can be good anywhere if you want it bad enough.

                             

          I totally agreed with this statement and this can be end of discussion that if you are good you can perform smartly in both areas. It depends how interested you are in learning SAP and how smart thinker you are when you are listening some business scenario.

          I remember we have had another discussion on fake names and we were not agreed on that too ๐Ÿ™‚ I think we are born to not to agreeing with each other ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜›

          Thank$

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          1. Craig S

            I never realized you were the same person from the “names” blog.  ๐Ÿ™‚

            There is always rooms for different opinions.   The key thing is for all to realize there are never absolutes. 

            My opinion on the 1.5/1.5 split is that the 3 yr implementation would still get the nod for the job.   For one, 1.5 years in any job is barely enough time to get your feet wet, let alone be considered an expert.  And in a support role, your first six months could be limited to just resetting passwords and unlocking accounts.  Not necessarily a great role to get the skills you need for implementation.   So I think the issue is that without a LOT of details, you can’t make a blanket statement that a support role background will produce better implementation consultants.  It certainly can’t hurt.

            So like where you are surprised that an implementation consultant might not know LSMW I’m not surprised at all by that.  In fact, for me, it’s one of my weakest areas.  But you’ll find that on many, many implementation projects, functional consultants aren’t even allowed to have access to LSMW.  Large projects often have a data team of ABAP’ers whose only job is LSMW’s and ABAP programs for loading data.  In 17 yrs of doing implementations I think I only had two clients that let the consultants create their own LSMW’s, and one of them is my current client!  It all depends on what projects you find yourself on early on.  I’ve been fortunate to be on many large scale, global projects, and for many big global firms, but of course that usually means a big data team and less chance for me to do LSMW’s.

            The problem is that I felt, (and I think others), your blog kind of proposed a pretty strong opinion on a requirement for all freshers to go through a support role in their career.   When you take a stand like that, you’re bound to get some strong opposite opinions. 

            If I’ve learned anything about SAP consultants and this area, is that no two consultants take the same path.  A very interesting discussion to review is http://scn.sap.com/thread/3151135

            In that discussion, you can see the huge diversity of people, careers and paths that people took to find their own niche in what is the huge, huge world of SAP.  We all like to think, (including me!), that our own path was the best path and everyone should follow it. But the longer I’m involved, the more I’ve found that my path was only the best path for me and everyone has to find their own.

            FF

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            1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

              Really? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜ฏ I am surprised that you don’t remember the discussion which we had just a couple of weeks ago. May be you have a low memory or this is due to age factor ๐Ÿ˜‰

              I agree with your comment that everyone thinks that his own path was good, everyone thinks he is right and this is also human psyche so we are not going to involve in this debate. But as far as 3 years implementation experience and 1.5/1.5 experience is concerned, it is your own choice to go for 3 years implementation experience. There might be some other recruiter or consultant who prefer to go for 1.5/1.5 guy. It depends on the knowledge he got from his experience and we can’t make it thumb rule to always prefer an implementation guy.

              Since you are in US and I am in Pakistan so there is a huge difference of  professional environment, culture and the professional standards. People think differently when you go to some new county. You are saying that during first six months some new guy might be busy in resetting his passwords and users but here after six months me and my other colleagues were configuring enterprise structure and other things ๐Ÿ™‚

              You have worked for so many years and in giant companies where they have separate resources even within a module but here we look after whole module and sometime two or three. It varies company to company that what is there approach to get the things done by an SAP consultant. In this world wide recession period I have seen many jobs ad from different comapnies and consultancy firms even from Accentures in which they ask for consultants who have multi module’s knowledge. 

              Thank you for sharing the blog and I couldn’t read it because it has 16 pages ๐Ÿ˜ฏ but I have read some of the posts and got to know that how people moved in SAP. There are different approaches. Some of them were lucky to get a chance in SAP (Same like me) and some of them had to do a lot of efforts to get into it. Whatever path it was, the bottom line is once you are in SAP you have to proof yourself that you are the best and never take this opportunity for granted and always take benefit of it.

              Thank$

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            2. Carlos Gonรงalves

              I would not like to get into the 1.5/1.5 or 3 yrs experience. By the same reasons that I agree entirely with the expression:

              Fire Fighter wrote:

                                     

              In that discussion, you can see the huge diversity of people, careers and paths that people took to find their own niche in what is the huge, huge world of SAP.  We all like to think, (including me!), that our own path was the best path and everyone should follow it. But the longer I’m involved, the more I’ve found that my path was only the best path for me and everyone has to find their own.

              FF

                                 

              Nothing can be more true than this… each case is a case, each experience must be seen individually, and it will always be a risk to take specific measurements for a rule.

              I also deeply sympathize with Fire Fighter on his struggle with LMSW ! ๐Ÿ˜€  

              Myself, after multiple implementations and several years of SAP, only on the last project I was called to LSMW tasks! Till then, they had been always under the responsibility of one or more dedicated technical resources.

              Actually, It has a lot to do with how, historically, the size and budget of projects have evolved. In early years we had huge budgets, large teams, and the SAP work was certainly more encapsulated between functional and technical. In our days, due to budget costs, teams tend to be shorter and with multiple skills.

              As said before in my last post, this cross-boundaries skill can only improve the quality of the solutions and I’m the first enthusiastic supporter of having them.

              Unfortunately, and project managers know it well, this can also backfire!

              Have the skills to do a lot of things is certainly great, but unfortunately, teams seems to have less and less time to do them all well and in the best way. ๐Ÿ™

              … sign of the times !

              Carlos Gonçalves

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      2. Typewriter TW

        MoazzaM,

        In the updated version of this blog, probably you could include the below points (mentioned by you) so that the “assumptions” & “backgrounds” are clearer (more explicit right at the start:

        wanted to know that just comparison of two consultants. One who has started his career from implementation with or without SAP certification and the other who started his career as support consultant and after two or three years moved in consultancy. What do you think who will work more efficiently and smartly? Who will be able to foresee the business post implementation may be after a year or two and will know the impacts of their configured scenarios and developed ABAP programs.

        This is really for freshers, not for the Gurus like you and other.

        By working on support projects for few years, what are the key skills that would be developed?

        This would help beginners to actively try and develop those skills when they are working in projects.

        I feel that you could change the topic to –

        Support project experience before Implementation project:SAP Consultant (Beginner) – Agree / Disagree

        During the “searching process” the above topic would make finding more accurate.

        Typewriter

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        1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

          TW Typewriter

          Thank you for your suggestions and these are really very helpful and valid. May be I could write another blog with this topic including all benifits and differences which a consultant coming from support side will have.

          Thank$

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      TW

      You can see my views about that blog in comments section ๐Ÿ™‚ I have ead it months ago and commented on that. No doubt implementation experience gives you more confidence, diversify knowledge and communication skills as well. I am not saying that only support experience is enough to be a best consultant. In this blog Balaji has described some very valid points and I agree with those but again I will say if a consultant has support experience then he can perform better.

      Thank$

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      1. Ravi Sankar Venna

        Hi Mozaam,

        Thanks for asking for my questions. I can see there are many thought provoking comments given by the Community Members.

        You have also mentioned Certification is important for SAP Consultant. There are 50% of the in the world favours Certification, at the same time you should not forget there is also remaining 50%. I do not want to part of that discussion. Unfortunately, those people really do not understand having Certification is not a crime. People clearly understand that Consultant should have skills beyond certification to deliver the requirements of projects and meet the client satisfaction. It does not mean that they have right to criticize the certification. If they are really that good, I believe they should be able to Certify their knowledge by a third party like SAP. Destruction and criticizing is something very easy and everybody can do it, however, it is always our responsibility to give a positive and constructive ideas.

        Thanks for a nice blog. Keep coming with good quality blogs.

        Best Regards,

        Ravi

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        1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

          Thank you Ravi for acknowledging my request to share your views. I really like this line.

          Unfortunately, those people really do not understand having Certification is not a crime. 

                             

          For an experienced guy certification is nothing but just a piece of paper but it doesn’t mean that we should never get it. Even when I was going to appear in exam my colleagues advised me not to waste money because you are already good in SD and you should use this money for some other task but after passing my exam I know what difference it creates in your inner satisfaction. If you have enough knowledge then you should get it verified from SAP in shape of certification.

          Thank$

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  13. Typewriter TW

    MoazzaM,

    Would request you to give your input –

    Price List and Price group both these fields are in the customer master record.

    A support consultant might fix issues related to pricing that involve either price list or price group or both (for years).

    But when he/she gets the task in an implementation project, to use functionalities price list or group, in order to design pricing requirement for process(es).

    It would involve the understanding of both the function of these fields & the understanding of the business.

    These required skills cannot be developed simply by solving issues / tickets related to price list and group.

    Conclusion: Support experience might teach something, but “that” is different from what is needed (or also needed) for implementing a project.

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      TW Typewriter

      I just want to share with you that when we solve some issue we always learn something new. Solution of any issue comes when you have knowledge of whole process. There are price list and price group fields in customer master. There are also many other fields and these fields have a bundle of scenarios. It varies from person to person that how willing a person is to learn those scenarios and processes. It is not compulsory that only implementation guy can have knowledge of more scenarios. If he is not willing to learn more he can use just simple settings or refuse to client by saying that “this is not possible” and I have seen this in practical that it happens.

      If a person from support is willing to learn he can learn those things too which he never has any ticket or issue about. As I said earlier it varies from person to person but as a general you are right that knowledge of multiple industries and processes comes with implementation experience. I am not refusing the importance of implementation experience. I am just saying that support experience can polish a consultant for foreseeing the impacts of configured scenarios and developed ABAP program.

      Thank$

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  14. Kuldeep Chowdhary

    Hi Moazzam,

    I really appreciate your blog.Few days back I get into support project and i was looking for its importance in my career and how well i can contribute myself and your blog is really eye-opener for me and many who are new to this industry.

    Thanks a lot and keep blogging such  quality blogs.

    Regards

    Kuldeep

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Hi Kuldeep

      Thank you for nice words. I always prefer support and consultancy both roles. I want to ask that did you feel any difference after involving in support role? How it was or it is beneficial for you?

      Thank$

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      1. Kuldeep Chowdhary

        Hi Moazzam

        Actually I am fresher and recently joined in support poject so while looking for support project importance I saw your blog and it helped me lot but I think right now I am not in position to answer your question.

        Regards

        Kuldeep

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        1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

          Great. So you have just started your career from a support role. I hope it will help you a lot in your learning. Good luck for your career.

          Thank$

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  15. Deep K

    Hi Mozzam,

    very appreciated article here..thanks for sharing your analyze on support project, thanks again for your post because with your referential post only have get chance to be part of Carlos post…this is very valuable comment for me like beginner.

    Regards

    Deep

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  16. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Moazzam,

    I believe in “Proactive”. It is one of the main characteristics of the Consultant. I think you will agree to that.

    I Knew you had it in you ! “Consultant”.

    Thanks for sharing. Keep it up.

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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  17. Nathan Negassi

    My take is as follows. If you start out your SAP career in support then you will learn how to handle stress and politics real quick but if you start out in implementation you will learn process, overview and depth. Certification might be great for technical consultants but not sure on functional side, better to focus on industry / business process. There is no short cut to knowledge so the best become the best through years of experience. So how do you last long enough to get experience. The answer is people’s skill and character. You should stay hungry, motivated, focused and disciplined while learning / knowing how to handle people. There are a lot of consultants out there who are paranoid, insecure, arrogant and customers who are stressed out, rightfully so maybe. Your job is to be a player and extract knowledge from each one of them with service. Read a lot, ask what you don’t understand wisely, join great projects and great teams (I am blessed in that regard), Don’t look at money but value (ignore firms or projects that don’t add value to your knowledge) stay humble, control emotions, be solution oriented, listen and speak with actions. Believe and don’t be afraid.

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  18. Qaiser Rafique

    HI,

    Really nice article and thanks for sharing your experience. my question is from the career perspective.

    Most companies ask for implementation experience even you have a couple of years support experience. matter of the fact isย most job requirementsย requireย at least 1 complete lifecycle of a project. if prior support experience makes you good consultant why recruiters put an implementation experience as the preference.

    My second thought is what makes a good consultant and I believe practice, R&D and persistence reading of business scenarios. I believe in the implementationย you listen to the business requirements and this is the phase whereย you learn more I strongly believe a strong understanding of business scenarios makes you a successful consultant and you get a clear understanding of business scenarioย in implementation more.

    Kind Regards

    Qaiser Rafique

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    1. ' MoazzaM ' Post author

      Hi

       

      You are right about this myth. Most of the job requirements are regarding implementation experience. This is asked because in implementation we get different business scenarios and we get a chance to work with tough timelines as well where as in support we have plenty of time and we usually come across similar issues. In support we also have limited knowledge regarding the current business scenarios. What one can do in support role is learn everything on his own. I learned different functionalities on my support role where those functionalities were not implemented.

      If I get a chance to hire someone I won’t ask for implementation experience. What I’ll see is candidates knowledge and approach towards solving a problem. It is not necessary that we can get knowledge from implementation experience only.

       

      Thank$

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      1. Qaiser Rafique

        Yeah, yes we can learn a lot in support because of plenty time. agreed with this because you are the best example in my case as we both belong to the same module and ย I can observe from your success (may Allah grant you more in future) as you are the inspiration for me and like many others in the field of SAP.

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