Which one is right for me to be an SAP expert? Customer side or Consultancy side?

This question may not be the most common question in many young and talented SAP beginners’ mind. Because they are very much busy with to find an opportunity to touch an up and running SAP system. However, being an SAP expert is very much caotic journey, this means, it is very much depended on the inital values. In otherwords if you start in the wrong place it will be a hard journey to achieve the goal. Let me open this.

Customer Side

Let’s assume that you have started to work on customer side as an SAP specialist: This is very good for talents who want to built a career on enterprise ERP support or governance. You’ll be part of an enterprise and there will be a long journey interms of career path. This might end, at CIO or CTO level, which is dreamy position for a young talent.

However, you’ll be part of a well defined and controlled framework and business rules, this means you may not face different cases. Your SAP expertise will be limited in this enterprise’s boundary. If you are working for an FMCG giant, you may never get expertise about IS-Utility for instance.

If you are a person who likes well defined, secure and governed environments and organizations, let’s look from a different angle, if you like to have your own desk and to go everyday to the same location, your place is customer side.

Consultancy Side

You must prepare yourself to be the part of the main business and operation, this means you are the main stream of an organization. Your career will be shaped by the success of delivery of your company. Once you achieve a sucess, this will not only impact your career but also will impact over the reputation of your company. You will have chance to built your own network. Market will personally know you and your sucess stories. Many different cases will wait for you to be faced, each and every project will be an independent battle and challenge. Day by day, project by project you’ll learn and face new things even you have 20 years of experience.

Depending on the consultancy company’s customer portfolio, you may have chance to visit different countries, industries and business cases. Travel is worst case in this option, you have to prepare yourself to be happy in airports and to be prepared as a professional passinger. You need to be your own doctor, security stuff and legal advisor in order to survive in different geographies.

At the and of your journey you may be the partner of the consultancy company that you have started your career or you may establish your own.

Finally, most important thing is to evaluate your passion and your personality, otherwise it will be life long torture for you.

Cheers,

Sarhan.

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5 Comments

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  1. Martin Hinderer

    It is not always black and white, like you write it. There are many cases where persons successfully  change between consultancy and customer side, often also more than one time in their career path.

    Regards

    MH

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  2. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Not sure there is a lot of value – most of this is already the common knowledge and, as Martin mentioned, it’s not so black and white in reality. So this seems rather misleading than informative, unfortunately.

    You might want to read this blog to improve the future contributions.

    Thank you.

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    1. Sarhan Polatates Post author

      Hi Jelena / Martin,

      Thank you very much for your valuable comments and remarks regarding my posting. Let me clear what I tried to do by this posting. I have been working in SAP since 1994, I took part both in customer side and both in consultancy side, during my journey in SAP business, I have been questioned by young talents many times about building career. Every time I have tried to share my experiences about both options’ advantages and disadvantages obviously.

      In this posting I do not want to leave blur areas, wanted to be as open as possible that is why you felt that it is black and white. Of course building an SAP career is not like that, I mean any talent can evaluate options and change paths or merge both paths. I do not wanted mention the grey areas, but if I can share the edges, I might be helpful to any talent who is not able to determine the facts in order to make best fit decision.

      That is why I post this blog.

      Hope I am clear.

      Many thanks,

      Sarhan.

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  3. Ferdinand Kuncoro

    Hi Sarhan

    First, thanks for the effort to write this article, I believe many SAP new entrants would be very interested to listen opinions from an experienced SAP Consultant who has work experience in both world like you.

    Reading through it, I am not sure whether you just want this article to be a teaser, but they are oversimplified in every aspect although your story is pretty accurate.

    I think that SAP Consultants in Support role (customer side) very often have strong business acumen; they are interested to the business; not only configuring SAP systems. They are also more people-person, they like engagement with users; they care about their customers which can cover various stakeholders. And as you mentioned pretty accurately, they have strong aspiration to climb the corporate ladder – SAP Support Manager -> IT Manager -> CTO/CIO. In my opinion, SAP Support is one of the best ways to gain wide exposure across various SAP modules.

    On the other side, SAP Consultants in Consulting role very often are result-oriented persons; and less people person type. They just need to get the job done. Once a project is completed, they move on. My observation that SAP Consultants working in consulting role who have never had any experience in customer side, tend to be lack of skills in gathering requirements, sometimes during testing, incorrect/incomplete requirements are found out, and of course they have to rework. I know this is not always the case, but I observe quite a lot.

    I think SAP Consultants in consulting side is a bit of mixed bag. There are some good ones undoubtedly, but there are some that although they claim to be experienced, lack of depth in their subject matters. By saying that, as you mentioned, I fully agree, that being in consulting side, is the best way to gain exposure to various industries.

    In the end, I agree that there is no black or white. Some people enjoy to be in customer side, because of stronger sense of security (most are employed full-time) and have career aspiration to climb further up in the business; whilst some enjoy the perks of working in consulting side, that includes sometimes better pay, travel opportunity, and networking.

    Disclosure: I am in customer side at this moment, as SAP Support Manager.

    Ferdinand Kuncoro

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    1. Sarhan Polatates Post author

      Hi Ferdinand,

      You are totally correct, I just wanted to make an impact regarding awareness, so this article is like a teaser. I’ll share my thoughts in detail in an other posting very soon.

      Cheers,

      Sarhan.

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