Skip to Content

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 who?

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.

Market perspectives

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

For who?

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.

Market perspectives

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 who?

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.

Market perspectives

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.

To report this post you need to login first.

41 Comments

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.

  1. TW Typewriter

    Bernhard,

    I am working in SD. I want to learn EWM and (eventually) work in it.

    My goal is to be a functional consultant in the Logistics area.

    How is the market for EWM?

    (From content / functionalities point of view) what are important (for an SD) to go into EWM?

    Thanks in advance!

    (0) 
    1. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

      Hi TW Typewriter,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      The outbound processes of EWM are highly integrated with SD. Besides the outbound (shipping) side, EWM offers a variety of functionalities which cover an impressive range of warehouse processes (inbound, stock movements, crossdocking, inventory management, workload management etc. etc. etc.) – most of them are more tight to MM, FI or even HR than to SD.

      From a configuration perspective EWM comes with a completely different mindset than SD that’s why fewer consultants master this combination.

      After some hesitation, the market has picked up the EWM solution, mainly because of two reasons:

      1) Initially, SAP required to setup a dedicated SCM box to run EWM. With the more recent enhancement packs, SAP allows now to install EWM as an add-on on the ECC box which makes it more attractive to new customers.

      2) SAP announced in the past that even though they will continue supporting ECC WM, they will not continue enhancing it. Instead, new warehouse functionalities will be integrated in EWM.

      A look on Dice shows 75 job postings today which is not bad at all.

      Bernhard

      (0) 
  2. TW Typewriter

    Bernhard,

    Great contribution! Thanks!

    It gives the options (possible road maps) for an SD consultant.

    Possibly one point, after how many years of SD experience should one explore other possibilities?

    (I know that the answer could vary depending upon many factors)

    (0) 
    1. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

      Hi TW Typewriter,

      That’s a tough question and there is no fit-all answer to it. The main question possible is how much you want to leverage your current SD skills. Do you see SD as your ‘major’ module in the future or will it become your ‘minor’?

      If you consider SD as your ‘major’ in the future, ensure that you have a solid SD base before exploring other SAP solutions. In order to master any SAP module, it takes a couple of years (IMHO at least 5 or 6 years in different projects in different industries). Personally, after 12 years SD and multiple projects in different industries, I am aware of functionalities which I have never deployed.

      If you consider SD as your ‘minor’ than jump right away to your favorite module as soon as you have the opportunity.

      Hope it helps

      Bernhard

      (0) 
  3. abilash n

    Hi Berhard,

    Thanks for wonderful blog. Definitely this will useful for all SD consultants who are fearing about future as almost ECC implementation is globally done except small companies.

    I think CRM is the main and big option available for SD consultants and even by just going through basics of MM,PP they can swim through SAP BW too.

    (0) 
    1. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

      Hi Abilash,

      Thank you very much.

      CRM seems to be the main option, but as so often with SAP I have to say that it depends. As you mentionned, if you are mainly involved in global implementations for large corporations, CRM is one of the most valid options. However, if you are involved more in small/medium company implementations, CRM would be a not so good choice as SMB companies rarely choose to implement CRM. In this case, you will be better off with one of the traditional modules like MM, CS or FI.

      Concerning BW, it is a completely different world and it is not a ‘natural fit’ with SD – therefore I did not take it as an exemple. Excellent BW consultants have a good overview knowledge of the most popular modules (the same applies to ABAP consultants) – in my eyes it is difficult to be credible as a functional AND a BW expert (I do not say that it don’t exist though).

      Bernhard

      (0) 
  4. Jyoti Prakash

    Bernhard

    Well visualised and written.

    SD/FI or SD/COPA are interesting combinations

    I agree, these are great combo. Apart from these, a SD consultant can focus on PS, GTS, APO as choice of career progression also. Any thought on that?

    Best Wishes,

    JP

    (0) 
    1. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

      Hi Jyoti,

      I completely agree with you on PS and GTS. SD/PS would be a more traditional combination for people who have an interest in controlling and project management/tracking. GTS is more leading edge and demand is higher than for PS.

      However, I do not see APO as a good fit for SD consultants. Out of the 4 big components (demand planning, supply network planning, production planning and scheduling, global ATP), only the global ATP functionality is directly integrated into SD. APO is a perfect extension for PP consultants though.

      Bernhard

      (0) 
  5. Ankit Gupta

    Hi Bernhard,

    Off late, I had been thinking a lot to adopt an additional module other than SD. I was completely confused as to which way to move ahead. Your blog has given me a much needed guidance and at the right time. Thanks a lot. It’s a fantastic blog written, short and yet very informative.

    Regards

    Ankit

    (0) 
  6. ' MoazzaM '

    Nicely aligned and presented. I am also SD functional consultant and now I am planning to go for MM because I personally like MM and I have keen interest in it. Thanks for sharing your ideas and these valuable suggestions.

    Thank$

    (0) 
    1. TW Typewriter

      MoazzaM,

      Good luck for your endeavor towards learning MM!

      Each of these modules are “huge” (SD and MM).

      May be, you can write a blog on how you are learning and learnt MM. (being an SD consultant). It would be helpful.

      (0) 
  7. Eduardo Hinojosa

    Hi Bernhard,

    Brilliant, and thank you for sharing. Some comments.

    I agree with TW, EWM could be a key factor in some end client customers, with huge warehouses, it can be a bottleneck in the logistic process, and a good knowledge by the SD consultant could be helpful.

    Other ways:

    1. ABAP. It could be important in pricing and other area for covering complex (or exotic) requirements.

    2. Ariba. It is more related with MM, although maybe it’s early for conclusions.

    Regards and thank you

    Eduardo

    (0) 
    1. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

      Hi Eduardo,

      If a functional consultant is interested in programming, ABAP is certainly an excellent option. The technico-functional consultant is a profile which will be in high demand in the future. However, it is not for everyone – you need to be business process savvy AND be able to build the code. It also helps if you are in an organization which understands the benefits of a mixed profile and therefore allows their functional consultants getting access to a development key 😉 .

      Concerning Ariba, I agree with you that it is more an option for MM consultants (besides SRM, WM etc.

      Thanks

      Bernhard

      (0) 
      1. Eduardo Hinojosa

        Hi

        A lot no, maybe a little bit, but one as SAP Business Analyst, and since this moment, I am aware sometimes the tasks in warehouse could be a bottleneck in the lead time for delivery goods to customer.

        Regards

        Eduardo

        (0) 
  8. vemuri santosh kumar

    Hi Bernhard,

    From recent past I am hearing more on SAP SD/CS combination. Every Automobile industry is looking for this profiles

    Once more  comment I would like to add here is, CS is a module which is not having any improvements or developments from SAP compared to CRM Service, this is only a worry for people who want to choose career as SAP CS/SD otherwise it is good

    regards,

    santosh

    (0) 
    1. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

      Hi Santosh,

      Yes, the SD/CS combination is interesting in a couple of industries including Automotive. As you mention, CS belongs to the ‘classic’ modules which have reached maturity and you can expect that new functionalities in the ‘Service’ area will be rather added to CRM than to CS.

      CS however becomes interesting for people who want to push further into PM.

      Bernhard

      (0) 
  9. Srinu S

    Hi Bernhard,

    Excellent blog, very helpful blog for many people. Nicely written.I totally agree with you all your comments.

    Thanks for sharing this document. Keep sharing 🙂

    thanks,

    Srinu.

    (0) 
  10. TW Typewriter

    I agree with Srinu, it is a great blog!

    I was thinking of career options with SD…After discussion etc. I have decided to stay in SD and try to improve in SD itself (at this stage).

    There is a market for “good” SD consultants.

    (0) 
      1. TW Typewriter

        Siva,

        Thanks for your input!

        Bernhard talked about “SD major or minor”, this too was helpful.

        SD is vast. Deploying all functionalities at work is rare and depends greatly on luck (getting “good” projects). Further, there is the factor of forgetting the earlier deployed funtionalities.

        Thus, years of constant learning and revision, with varied projects shall build the skills for a competent SD consultant.

        (0) 
      2. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

        Hi Siva,

        Yes, there is enough market for a specialized and competent SD consultants – compared to all alternatives which I presented, SD has still the strongest demand.

        However, you may come to a point in your career where it makes sense to diversify your skillset – either because you want to explore new technologies like cloud or mobile solutions in the sales space or because an interesting project opportunity arises.

        It really depends on each person and situation.

        Bernhard

        (0) 
        1. TW Typewriter

          Bernhard,

          Thanks for your post!

          What type of projects are out there in SD? (majority support or enhancements or…)

          Further what are the job statistics?

          (0) 
          1. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

            Hi TW Typewriter,

            There is all kinds of demand of SD in both, support setups and project environments. The typical manufacturing, distribution or retail company heavily relies on the SD module and therefore there is more than enough work out there. I just had a look on Dice.com, and there are over 300 job postings for all kinds of SD requirements.

            The SD module belongs to the strong backbone of the classic SAP, together with MM, PP and FI/CO and it will not go anywhere in the near future. There is a variety of industry and process knowledge you can acquire in this space. If you like what you are doing with SD, there is no urgent need to diversify your SAP skillset. But don’t get me wrong: We are all working with technology which is evolving. Nobody can foresee where ECC will stand in 10 or 15 years from now. At one stage everyone of us has to evolve his skillset as well in order to stay competitive.

            Bernhard

            (0) 
              1. TW Typewriter

                sri,

                Do you want to learn about SD business processes, in general? Or about any specific business process?

                What information do you expect, from members?

                (0) 
  11. Sphoorthi Suresh

    Hi Bernhard,

    Thank you so much for your valuable inputs. It is very useful for all SD consultants looking for a change in career.

    Regards,

    Suresh

    (0) 
  12. Suresh Babu

    Hi Bernhard,

    Nice analysis done by yourself. I could see few members have good experience in SD and planning to learn other modules. I have done my SAP certification in SD in March and placed in an big MNC. Proir to that I have worked as an senior associate in order fulfillment management. That interest on SD motivated me and I have done the certification.

    But, after placing here, I could hardly see any implementation projects! It is true that SAP SD is saturated and we probably could not see much implementations in near future. What about my future? In any organisation the minimum demand is 2 end to end implementations. So, at this point of time shall I learn another module like CRM after 2 years? kindly assist.

    (0) 
    1. TW Typewriter

      Suresh,

      As SD is a mature module, the vanilla implementations are very hard to find. At best, we can find enhancements, rollouts, interface / integration projects.

      When HR or recruiting companies ask for 2 E2E implementations, understand that they really are looking for experience is all phases of a project (requirement gathering, blueprinting, realization, final preparation/cutover, golive, and hypercare).

      One can acquire this experience in an enhancement project too.

      To stay in SD or move to a new module, is your choice and depends upon your objectives and goals.

      TW

      (0) 
      1. Suresh Babu

        Thanks Typewriter for clearing my doubts.

        I want to be in SD for minimum of 3 to 4 years. Then I would like to take up Warehouse management or would learn ABAP.

        (0) 
    2. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

      Hi Suresh,

      As Typewriter already mentioned, SD implementations from scratch are rather rare. However, SD provides an impressive number of functionalities and there is enough to learn to occupy a consultant for years. As I already stated in my blog, SD is not going anywhere and there will always be SD enhancement projects and ongoing support requirements. If you really like the processes around SD, I would strongly suggest to stick to it for quite some time in order to gain the necessary experience. You can then evaluate in which direction you would like to go. And who knows, maybe an opportunity arises in the meantime which allows you to extend your skill set to another module or technology.

      Good luck

      Bernhard

      (0) 
  13. kiran999 kumar

    Hello Berhard

    It is 2015 now and I suppose this question is still relevant. I personally feel I am at this cross roads at this point of time. Can you tell if a SAP FIORI or a SAP HANA go hand -in-hand with SD as the previous experience. I am not able to make up my mind simply because most of the innovations or new technologies are coming from Technical point of view. And even if you find the vacancies they ask for the previous technical experience.And somewhere I feel through our functional experience we are not able to directly covert to this. Do you have any answers to this?

    (0) 
    1. Bernhard Ainetter Post author

      Hi Kumar,

      You are right, the question is still relevant even though there are more answers today than in 2014. S/4 HANA is changing the game as it will not only come with a slew of new functionalities but also a new way how to configure SAP. The IMG will not go away but the basic setup can be achieved through the Guided Configuration. This means that tech-savvy super users in the business can do configuration to a certain extend. For functional consultants it will be important to master the client’s business processes and to improve them – there may be somewhat of a fusion of the business process analyst and the functional analyst. The future will tell…

      You are right, if you state that FIORI and HANA are more technical than functional. As functionals, we need to understand the possibilities and limits of these innovations and what value they contribute to our respective business processes and solutions. The realization however, requires more technical folks like BW or ABAP.

      Bernhard

      (0) 
  14. sachin arora

    Hello Bernhard,

    How is the situation for SD consultants now.

    Iam from India and has spent 11 yrs in SAP SD. I do not claim to have worked in all functionalities of SAP SD. The experience is limiting to the kind of project one is into.

    When I apply for jobs in India, I do not get calls. One of the main reasons I think is companies can hire candidates with less experience. The kind of projects every IT service provider is almost same, i.esupport, enhancements etc.

    I have worked in intergartion part of SAP TM in my last project and so wanted to learn SAP TM. I called SAP academey in Indiam AMerica,, europe to learn SAP TM but they all said that demand is very less and so they do not conduct SAP TM batches.

    Not sure where is future going this way. Sometimes I feel If I had been in BW or ABAP, things would have been better since SAP is now coming up with prodcuts which cater to these two areas ?

    regards

    sachin

    (0) 
    1. Rahul Saggar

      S Arora,

      I agree. But being ABAPer is not a better option than functional. Both are of equal importance. I’m also SD consultant.

      M.: 995 815 45 60.

      (0) 

Leave a Reply