So this is my 10th year of SAP HCM consulting. Wow. I feel OLD.
Anyway, apart from all the PCR writing, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way. Things which have helped me become a better consultant (or so I’d like to believe!). Not all of these may work for everyone, but hey, if even one person benefits from this blog, it’ll be worth the writing! So here goes:
Get the concepts right
We’ve all been SAP newbies and the confusion can be overwhelming. For me, the SAP certification helped. It provided that essential grounding about HCM and what I was getting myself into. But even if you’re not certified, don’t be deterred. Most of the material is available online. It will take time & patience, but trust me, in consulting, if you want to be better than mediocre – focus on the fundamentals. After all, if you don’t understand what a personnel area is, how can you explain it to your client?
So read. And then read some more. Help.sap.com is a good place to start.
Practice makes perfect
“The more I practice, the luckier I get”
– (Came across this somewhere)
If you’ve got access to a sandbox system – go ahead and play! Create a new subarea. Change your infotype screen. Tweak that PCR. Check what gets impacted and where. Give yourself little assignments and persevere until you see the results. You’ll realize that SAP is hard work but it can also be fun!
Earn your clients’ trust
Easier said than done, I know. There is certainly no formula to gain credibility with your clients. I do, however, have a few tips to share:
Communicate with your client. Get to know their business. Ask questions. Let them know the status of deliverables, especially if you expect a delay. At least they’ll appreciate the update.
Convey your competence. Let them know you’re good. Not by proclaiming it, but by consistently delivering high quality work. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, you know.
Don’t over commit. Set timelines you can meet and expectations you can live up to, perhaps even exceed.
Be honest. There’s no shame in admitting that you don’t have the answer to everything. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know, let me check and revert”. But keep your word – check and revert.
Understand HR processes
Get acquainted with core HR concepts & best practices. Keep yourself up-to-date with HR laws, payroll statutory acts & whatever else you need to speak the language of your client.
Don’t take shortcuts
The dullest parts of my job? Testing and documentation, undoubtedly! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to evade these. Well, we’re all wiser in hindsight.
A couple of hours of testing can save you days of rework. The same with documentation. A well-prepared functional specification can reduce development effort & is the quickest way a new consultant can make sense of a Z development.
Now this is why I enjoy my work. There is SO much to learn. Well, if you’re willing to. It’s been 9.5 years since I started my SAP career and I’m still learning! Grab every opportunity to learn something new. If you’re assigned a task you haven’t worked on before, don’t shy away. That’s the best way to acquire a new skill.
Discover your passion
There’s a lot to SAP HCM – PA, OM, Payroll.. you get the drift! Understand what each one entails at a high level. Then discover what interests you and hone that skill.
For me, it’s payroll. Ironically, it’s the one space I dreaded & successfully avoided in the initial 3 years of my SAP career. Until I was thrown into a project as the sole payroll consultant! So I learned, because I had to. And then I kept learning, because I wanted to.
Find out what your calling is. Then go ahead and master it.