Functional SD consultants – Where is the future taking you?
The Sales and Distribution (SD) module is one of the oldtimers of the Business Suite, its first functionalities became available to customers in the early 80s. In the past SAP enriched SD, some new functionalities came with the ECC enhancement packs – think about the advanced return management or the internal sales representative. However today, SD is mature and according to SAP’s roadmaps, it will not be the main station for innovations compared to other solutions. Even though SD is far from disappearing and will stay core for most future Business Suite implementations, what does SAP’s strategy mean to experienced functional SD consultants?
It has been stated multiple times in the last couple of years: functional SAP consultants need to quit the ‘module’ thinking, dive into ‘process’ mode and master the integration points with other SAP solutions and technologies. There are several avenues how you can extend your existing skillset in order to cover end-to-end business processes – here are some examples:
Sales – CRM: From order to cash to lead to cash
For those who love the sales side of SD and want to move further to Marketing, CRM becomes the logical extension. Do not hesitate to listen Jon Reed’s podcast about the state of CRM. Even though this discussion took place in 2010 it is still accurate from a career perspective. Vijay Vijayasankar explains at one point under which conditions it makes sense for SD consultants to extend into CRM.
SAP is heavily investing in the CRM suite and pushing it hard to the market. Most of the innovations in the ‘sales’ and ‘service’ lines of business will happen in CRM – HANA, mobile, cloud, name it! Expectations are that more and more CRM projects will pop-up in the near future.
Beginning of January 2014, a look on Dice showed around 130 SAP CRM job postings besides the 320 SD job postings. You can expect that more and more CRM jobs will come up in the next years.
Service – Master the SD/CS package or the CRM service component
Warranties and after-sales processes are your favourites? Then have a look on SAP functionalities in Customer Service (CS). This module is highly integrated with SD and Plant Maintenance (PM).
Service processes are also covered by CRM. If you want to get your head around the similarities and differences between SAP CS and SAP CRM, there is an excellent document out there which compares SAP CS with SAP CRM Service.
CS is one of the mature modules and has been around for quite a while. Demand is rather low (4 job postings on Dice) but stable. However, if you are an internal consultant at a company using CS, it is definitely worth considering.
Transportation – Dive into TM
For those SD consultants who prefer the ‘Distribution’ side over ‘Sales’, Transportation Management is worth a look as you are already at ease with basic transportation processes around shipments. Transportation Management will open you a new door to projects at transportation carriers like freight forwarders and rail companies.
SAP has been heavily promoting Transportation Management. And with a certain success: On Dice there are over 90 positions for SAP TM. Big rail companies in North America have been lobbying to integrate rail specific functionalities in SAP TM, and the first TM projects in this space have been kicked off in the last year.
Other avenues and industry solutions
There are some other possibilities how you can extend your skillset based on your current SD experience. The SD/MM combination is still en vogue and also SD/FI or SD/COPA are interesting combinations with some potential even though they are all less leading edge as CRM or TM.
And last but not least, there are SAP’s industry solutions which would underline your industry experience. Think about IS-Retail whose industry specific functionalities are mainly based on SD and MM and whose roadmap is promising.
It is up to you
If you want to broaden your skillset from SD to other SAP solutions and technologies, you have the choice. But keep two things in mind:
1) You have to be interested in the new processes which you will cover – at the end of the day you need to like what you do. Market perspectives are only one indicator among others and should not be your main driver.
2) Do not get too broad. As a functional consultant you are paid for your in-depth knowledge. To be able to deeply understand how to apply SAP functionalities to a given business process, a focus on one additional SAP solution besides your existing SD skillset will help you to continue deliver quality work to your clients.