“Should I choose MM module while I enter SAP career, or should I take up APO?” This query has come up so many times that I thought to write a blog about it. So here I start:
How to choose your best fit module
If you are entering into SAP world and you have to make choice of a module, ideally you should choose one in-line with your previous experiences, exposures, education and interests. For example, an MBA in Marketing management may choose SD or CRM modules. If one is B.Com. or a CA, one may logically choose FICO module. As such there may not be restrictions from either SAP, from training firm or IT companies, in my opinion you should choose best fitting module in this manner so as to play on your strengths and to make quick progress. Remember that the most critical phase would be the months or years at the beginning of your stint; so why take uneducated risks to venture into completely unknown territories?
What are MM and APO about
MM stands for ‘Material management’ and it is one of the core modules of SAP ECC (ERP Central Component). For any manufacturing firm for example, it would deal with finished goods, raw materials and components and also deals with procurement, subcontracting, storage and related processes or activities.
APO on the other hand stands for ‘Advance Planner and Optimizer’ and is one of the modules of SAP SCM (Supply Chain Management) offering. It is one of the most advanced material and manufacturing resources ‘planning’ tools. In a typical scenario, APO is connected to SAP ECC (which has MM) through CIF (Core Interface).
Why MM makes sense over APO to make start
Though APO being an advance module, most master data in APO come from ECC. All material master data for example, that are there in APO come from ECC’s MM module. Only a few master data are created directly in APO and remaining all come from MM. Also, a lot of settings in APO are also dependent on settings in MM module of ECC. Therefore it is necessary for any APO Consultant to have idea of SAP MM module. To resolve lots of issues in APO, many times ultimately Consultants have to log into MM and find out the root cause of error in MM side.
On the other hand, for materials planned in MM, it is by and large not impacted because of APO and MM Consultants need not have expertise in APO. This relationship of expertise results in a large number of APO Consultants coming from MM background but few MM consultants, if any, coming from APO background. And this is why it makes sense to start your SAP career with SAP MM and if interested make a plunge into APO later on.
Entering APO with MM background
Building on the point explained above, if one starts working into APO without working in MM first, one may find it either too difficult to go, or like putting feet on two ships. Because of master data integration where most APO master data come from SAP ECC, it is essential for APO consultants to have MM skills. Therefore, if one makes start in SAP career with MM, one may have options like:
- Keep working on MM to gain further expertise
- Join other related modules like WM or EWM
- Join APO or other SAP SCM modules
Demand-Supply situation in the job market
A lot of us make such decisions based on the market situation. It is widely held that there are few APO consultants in the market while MM may be saturating because it has too many consultants already. It is also a fact that the demand for both APO and MM are proportional to the consulting resources available in the market. If there are too many MM consultants in the market, the companies having MM modules and hence needing MM consultants are also very high. On the other hand, while there are not as many APO consultants in the market, the number of clients having APO modules is also not that much. Due to this demand-supply equation, it is as likely to remain on bench after joining APO as it is after joining MM. In fact since MM is a core module and very essential for companies’ operations to keep running, MM is an ever-green module which always has takers, while only a few niche companies go for APO. And not to mention that during events like global and economic slowdowns, MM is more expected to keep enjoying its run-time while investments in niche and complex modules like APO may be postponed by many clients.
Therefore, based on above points, in my personal opinion, if one is entering into SAP career world, one may choose SAP’s MM module to enter over APO.
P.S.: MM (Material Management) and PP (Production Planning) modules of SAP ECC are considered equally good to start career; and in opinion of many both these are better choices than APO. A lot of production planning related master data and settings in APO also come from PP module of SAP and hence due to reasons on similar lines as mentioned in this article about MM, even PP is a good choice over APO to begin one’s career.