Independent Consultant and the Relation with SAP
I am an independent consultant, certified with SAP.
Beeing independent has some big benefits for me, but also for my customers. Beeing independent means, for both, you give an independent advise:
I am a SAP consultant, but when there is a better option then SAP that is what I will advise to my customer. My clients know that (unlike the bigger consultancy companies) there is no financial benefit for me in advising SAP.
But, the relation SAP tends to keep with its Independent consultants, really bothers me. I hope this does not sound like a rant, but more as an opportunity to improve things.
Let me start with your average independent consultant:
Too make a living as an independent consultant, you really have to be an expert and your consultancy skills should be above average. There is no such thing as a junior independent consultant.
Most consultancy companies have a up or out principle. Up, in this context, is become manager, project manager or partner. When you want to become a very good consultant then the growth path ends after around 10-15 years. The next logical move is to become an independent.
All in all, I think we, the independent consultants, are a group of experts doing a great job representing SAP at its customers from day to day.
But, it is a one way relation.
To have a real relation with SAP, you should be a partner. To become a partner you have to sell SAP licences and the idea of an independent consultant is, well, that you are independent. Selling SAP licenses and being independent is not the best match. And even then: I think selling SAP licenses as a one person firm just will not work.
But that does not mean the independent consultant is not important for SAP selling licenses.
Just my personal experience. Last year I have helped my customers with the following cases:
Choosing software for online platform (B2B and B2C), platforms of choice: Modis and 2 others.
Choosing software for credit management, platforms FSCM and 2 others.
Choosing software for support management. SAP solution management and 1 other.
Choosing software to handle big data with Hadoop. SAP (HANA) and 2 others.
Choosing software to handle predictive analysis combined with internet of things. SAP HANA and 2 others.
Choosing software for supply chain analysis. SAP BI and 1 other.
And above list is incomplete, I have done more advises of software packages. And from the above list, there was not more then 1 win for SAP…
The strange thing is that in all examples above, I was able to set up a demo system on my own server for free to investigate customers requirements. All except one: SAP.
Regarding detailed documentation on the products at the SAP side, I found a lot of information is only available for partners. Less for customers and almost none for the independents. When lucky you hit some marketing sheets or whitepapers.
The SAP sales person, most of the times, is not of any help. At first glance it seems his idea is that you are some kind of competitor. Strange since you indirect represent SAP (you are hired after-all as a ‘SAP consultant’..).
Questions to SAP:
Can you improve your relation with the independents. Create some kind of a level playing field with the consulting firms.
It would, for example, be a nice start to be able to download the SAP GUI to do our jobs.
In my opinion, new products will be picked up much faster by independent consultants. To give one example: Lots of consultants are now HANA certified, but when you search for a HANA consultant that also knows how to work with R or Hadoop, you probably end up with an independent. Can you think of way these independent can update their skills?
Question to other Independents:
What is your experience in this?
How do you deal with this? (How do you demo a product? Where do you train yourself or find documentation?)