Deep SAP Technical Skills and Solid Soft Skills: The Unstoppable Combination
Over the course of nearly 10 years in SAP, I’ve met very few consultants who had BOTH deep technical skills AND solid soft skills. The few who have both, are unstoppable. They’re always in high demand, highly recommended and despite ups and downs in the SAP market, they typically maintained their billing rates.
The SCN community is focused around technical help, but I’ve come across several great articles in the Career Center from experienced consultants like Colleen Lee, Ravi Sankar Venna and TW Typewriter. Those articles have a lot of engagement, so it appears to be an area of interest to the community. Given my experiences, this would be the most suitable place where I can contribute. Focus on your strengths, right?
SO- without further ado, here are some basic soft skills that are required to be a “high in demand” SAP consultant:
- Networking – Getting your foot in the door
- Business process knowledge – Passing business interviews
- Interviewing – Being able to showcase your business and technical acumen
- Selling – Yourself and others
- Negotiating – Getting the rate you deserve
On the Job
- Emotional Intelligence – Being able to effectively interact with others (and yourself)
- Communications (Verbal and Written) – Being able to effectively communicate with clients, peers, stakeholders, etc.
- Influence – Some might call this “office politics”…
- Teamwork – SAP projects are never a 1 (wo)man show
- Setting goals and expectations – “Under promise, over deliver” OR I like to say: “Over promise, over deliver.”
- Leadership – Managing teams of peers, contractors or employees effectively
- Stress management – Remaining cool under pressure
- Flexibility & Adaptability – Going with the flow, being comfortable with change
- Problem Solving & Decision Making – Getting unstuck and moving forward
Development of your soft skills is especially important if you’re a fresher/junior (< 5 years of SAP experience). Headhunters and resourcing managers sometimes look for juniors to assist a senior resource and are not expecting deep experience from a junior. What will make you stand out from everyone else who has their SAP certification? Your soft skills. True story: When I was staffed on my first SAP project in 2006, I hadn’t even SEEN an SAP screen before…
We’re witnessing continued commoditization of our technical SAP skills: lower billing rates, increased outsourcing, new technology, etc. Soft skills typically take longer to develop over time, are easily transferable and are much less susceptible to changes in technology or trends like outsourcing.
I plan on expanding on these in future posts, but I’d love to hear from you first:
- Do you care about soft skills? If yes, what resources (books, blogs, websites, etc.) do you use to develop them?
- What are some traits of consultants you’ve enjoyed working with?
- Do you or your colleagues sometimes feel that despite high performance, you’re being held back due to your soft skills?