Your Essential SAP Career Guide
Over a period of last 2 months, I shared quite a few (SAP) career tips at LinkedIn. I received good feedback which encouraged me to compile them in some sequence and publish in form of a blog for the benefit of larger community, beyond my direct connections who have already viewed, liked and commented on the individual posts. The list includes the tips, 30 to be exact, which were endorsed by many in my professional network. I hope you find them useful as well. Should you like to see more of such tips, I share from time-to-time, you can follow me here.
1. SAP as a career
Interested in having SAP as Career? Many think it’s just about learning Configuration, while it’s not. There’s a lot you have to do, to be a Consultant. Here I’ve few suggestions to help you in developing yourself as (an exceptional) SAP Consultant;
- Learn the business processes, supported by SAP module(s) you are focusing,
- Know the common challenges faced by businesses running such processes,
- Explore how such issues could be solved with SAP solution & at what cost,
- Study relevant success stories, research case studies & customer references,
- Learn how to map your findings with problems your organization is facing,
- Know how to develop a business case as well as creating workable plans,
- Polish your skills in a) creating (detailed) plans, b) documenting business needs, as-is and to-be solutions, c) presenting options to and convincing your customer, d) providing required support throughout the implementation…
In addition to the above, use of technical skills is surely required to deliver great solutions to your (potential) customer(s).
2. Rewarding career in SAP
Want a rewarding career in SAP? Invest some time in developing yourself beyond just technical skills e.g. learn to see the big picture while delivering a solution, understand what problem you are solving and how best. Be vocal about your contributions, get feedback and improve.
3. Access the hidden job market
Be known as, in addition to just being, a SAP Consultant. Why and how? Here is an OPEN secret;
- Why? Because there are many SAP job opportunities which are not published but still filled. If you are on radar of such recruiters or employers, you may reach to hidden job market,
- How? Through LinkedIn and other forums. Grow your network by connecting with Professionals. Share your knowledge and experience with fellow community from time-to-time.
4. Choose the employment model which suits you well
“Permanent, Contract or Freelancing Career Opportunities?” many SAP aspirants ask. I tell them, “it doesn’t matter as far as you are growing”. And the growth is dependent on learning. You could learn new skills at a short-term or long-term assignment.
Those who differentiate between such roles are mainly concerned about Financial Perks and/or Traveling Requirements.
- In a permanent employment, such as a Support role at a SAP CCOE (Customer Center of Excellence), Consultants usually work as regular employees (in pay scale grades) and are entitled to typical (and organization specific) benefits.
- On the other hand, contracting roles are specific to the assignment and last for a defined period i.e. usually until the duration of the project.
- Freelance Consulting is yet another model, in which SAP Consultants are self-employed and deliver services without entering into an employment agreement.
I’ve worked initially on contracts, now on a regular role and hope someday will be working as a Freelancer which require independent setup.
5. Choose the SAP role according to your professional taste
Within SAP Consulting, there are plenty of roles which you can choose for professional growth. Be a
- Functional Consultant, if you have business acumen,
- Technical Consultant, if you love the algorithm,
- Technology Consultant, if you are comfortable using devices,
- Support Consultant, if you have good interpersonal skills,
- Training Consultant, if you like to educate people,
Each of the above roles has growth opportunities, from being a Consultant to a Lead and ultimately Project Manager.
6. Invest money and time wisely for professional development
If there’s one thing you should invest your money and time in, it’s SAP Learning Hub. Compared to the classroom training, it has quite a few benefits to help you enhance your skills, including
- Access to large number of courses, which otherwise is difficult,
- Ability to attend a course multiple times, until you understand the concepts,
- Flexibility of time and place to participate in sessions,
The best part, in my opinion, of such offering, is the availability of all relevant material at one place. If you are serious about pursuing SAP Career, you’ve to enhance your skills and to do so, the SAP Learning Hub is a place to help you.
7. Learn skills, in addition to your core area of interest
Learn new SAP Skills, especially those mentioned below, and stand-out as an outstanding Consultant.
- SAP Activate, to help customers “start fast, build smart, and run simple” as SAP describes it,
- SAP Solution Manager, to manage solution lifecycle, effectively, from implementation to operations,
It’s in addition to your core area of expertise from #functional, #technical, or #technology.
I come from HCM background, and on cross-functional roles since past few years, but learning new skills and encouraging others the same as well.
8. Learn about prevailing solution delivery approaches
As a SAP Consultant, while you need to know the value, beforehand, of the solution you are going to deliver, you also have to know which implementation approach will work best for your customer. It will greatly depend on the
- scope, already known before or to be defined during the project,
- budget, fixed price or time & materials for cost incurred,
- time, clearly defined or flexible for solution delivery.
Research and learn more about the Waterfall and Agile approaches. Know the differences between ASAP and Activate methodologies and excite customers with excellent solution delivery.
9. Learn different ways of solving a single problem
Work for SAP Partners, if you want fast-paced learning in any of the SAP Components. Generally, in such employment model, you could work on different projects and with different clients, each of which has different challenges to solve and scenarios to learn from.
SAP Solutions offer you multiple ways to handle different business requirements and as such when you provide solution consulting you get to know all of such options. And more you know, better are your chances to grow.
10. Learn skills beyond technical work
The SAP Support Role at a CCOE (Customer Center of Excellence) could help you in gaining skills beyond technical work. While…
- resolving incidents and identifying root-causes of problems, or
- modifying and enhancing solutions due to changes in business requirements,
— you learn how important is the business-continuity and how you’re supposed to support it. You get a chance to understand business pain-points better while supporting a live solution.
Have worked for SAP Partners already? Work for a Customer and learn the new skills.
11. Know the difference between project types
Did you ever work on SAP Template Rollout Project? I started my career at such project. It’s different from typical implementation. Here’s what you need to know about it to decide whether or not working on such project suits you.
- At the template/rollout project, a solution is developed first, following the same procedure as a typical implementation, considering the needs of the whole organization.
- The solution is deployed at the organization, first, partially to ensure it addresses the business needs. If there are gaps or differences, additional versions (of the main solution template) are developed.
- The template versions are then rolled-out to the rest of the organization which means the data is loaded into the system and solution is ready for productive usage.
The project I worked was at a large-scale public sector organization spread over the country at Federal, Provincial and City Levels. Should you like, you can read the summary at the following link:
12. Know the different ways of preparing end-users with SAP Skills
At some SAP Implementation Projects, TTT Programs are followed to manage training delivery. Do you know why? Before you give your audience the reason, tell them first what does triple T mean?
TTT stands for train-the-trainer, it’s an approach followed to deliver end-user training but through multiple trainers.
Here I’m sharing 3 main reasons why it is preferred instead of a typical training where a Consultant could train the end-users directly.
- When there’s a large number of end-users who need to be trained.
- When the training has to be delivered in short time and in parallel.
- When the end-users speak a different language than the Consultant.
13. Learn how to deliver better solutions
You could deliver better solutions if you understand the underlying pain-points of a business requirement. Meeting a contractual obligation does not necessarily mean you are solving a REAL problem. Before designing a solution,
- don’t just look at specifications documents but
- take the time to understand what business actually wants to achieve.
By following such approach you could not only MEET but EXCEED expectations. And you can then say “Consulting at its best”.
14. Design all-inclusive solutions
If you are blueprinting a to-be solution for a SAP Customer, it has to be all-inclusive. While you consider FRICEW needs, don’t forget the Authorization and Security requirements a solution may need to have. And when you do so,
- see it from a future perspective, and
- work thoroughly on job role matrix (JRM).
- you when you get the user profiles implemented and
- your customer start using the system in the production environment. Remember, the quality instance always differs from productive when it comes to usage.
15. Improve your communication skills
You are an extraordinary SAP Consultant, but the world doesn’t know about your skills. If you communicate well, you can demonstrate your superb consulting abilities. When you write to others, mention the
- context to explain the reason which caused you to contact the reader,
- assumptions to clarify why you thought the addressee to be the right person of your message,
- actions you expect from him/her to take including redirecting should such be required,
- feelings of gratitude, regardless of his/her status in the organizational hierarchy, for helping you out.
By following the above-mentioned simple principles you can communicate with your audience, effectively. And at SAP Projects and Support Roles, a major portion of Consultants’ time is spent in communicating with others, in a way or another. So if you like others to think positive of you, pay attention to how you communicate with them.
16. Learn to write clear specifications
Any SAP Solution which is developed mutually, both the Functional and Technical Consultants are responsible for their parts. However, the accountability lies with the former and not with the later. S/he has to make sure that the solution
- meets, rather exceeds, the business requirements,
- is durable, future-oriented and long-lasting, AND
- covers all aspects, including the analytical reporting needs.
If you are a Functional Consultant, you have to drive the implementation. The Technical Consultant(s) are there to support you. They will develop solutions based on the design you provide. Be clear & thorough in your design documents to get required technical help.
17. Know the art of presenting information
You are at a SAP Implementation Project or at some Support Role, at some point, you may need to prepare and deliver some presentation on a topic or another. If you want to leave an impression of your work, follow these simple tips:
- Instead of knowing each and every detail of the subject matter, try to figure out what is important and what’s not, of the topic you have to present.
- Organize the information in a structured way, from providing the summary & context to illustrating key points.
- Use some presentation tool, such as PowerPoint, to convert the information into a deliverable presentation.
- Rehearse it before delivering and while delivering ‘talk’ instead of ‘reading’ the slides and seek feedback after delivery.
The skill can be used in a number of roles, including Presales and Training. Hence, mastering it, in addition to SAP Technical Skills, could help you in improving your performance.
18. Build your brand
You are a SAP Consultant. Let the world know YOU ARE. Spend some time on building Credibility in addition to mastering Technical Skills. LinkedIn is one of the mediums to do so. For instance, you could
- Join Groups,
- Participate in Discussions,
- Share your Perspective,
- Post useful Tips,
- Connect with Professionals,
And remember to be
- CONSISTENT with what you do, and
- PATIENT to see the results you expect.
19. Focus on the role not on the position
The ROLE you have at an SAP Assignment matters more, not the POSITION you hold in the organizational hierarchy, when it comes to describe your professional experience.
For instance, if you are working for a SAP Partner (let’s say as a Consultant in terms of your TITLE) and managing a delivery, the experience you are gaining is of Project Management and therefore mentioning SAP Project Manager, instead of SAP Consultant, will describe your experience better.
I was an “IT Consultant” while working for Saudia to provide SAP Support, but gained valuable experience beyond JUST typical technical support. I prefer to mention all the roles I had and recommend other consultants the same.
20. Determine you role through RACI Matrix
As a SAP Consultant, know your role on an engagement well.
Learn it in the context of RACI matrix, according to which 1) Responsibility, 2) Accountability 3) Consultation, and 4) Information are distributed among the team.
By understanding where in such equation your role fits you could deliver better results.
21. Use SWOT Analysis Technique
Don’t compare yourself with other SAP Consultants, analyze your own situation and work on developing yourself within your circumstances. Use SWOT analysis technique which could help you in determining your strengths and weaknesses in comparison with external opportunities and threats.
- You may have some unique skills which other consultants don’t have. Similarly, you could be weak in a certain area where others are sound.
- You are exposed to an opportunity which others can’t access. Or you are facing a threat which others in your competition do not have.
By knowing the internal characteristics as well as external elements, you can plan your career better.
22. Be a sought after Consultant
If you want to be a Sought After SAP Consultant, be flexible with
- Enhancing your skills, from traditional on-premise to new in-cloud solution offerings, from just being technical to techno-functional, from functional consulting to project management, from solution delivery to support, etc.
- Duration of the assignments, long-term to short-term such as yearly to monthly even weekly.
- Project Location, such as from intracity to intercity, from local to international.
- Assignment rates as you may not get the same premium rate as you had once, each assignment is different than other and has a different rate. Some pay a lump-sum amount while others pay expenses separately than the actual cost, some regions have tax while some other don’t, some jobs come with incentives while others with a fixed pay.
- Working model, for instance, with a SAP Partner or a Client, while you work with Partners be ready for working on projects, and if you work with a client be ready to settle in different place.
23. Be clear when you describe your achievements
You have worked at a SAP Implementation and the project was a success. You can proudly mention it as an achievement on your CV, at LinkedIn and/or at other places. However, when you do so, ensure you do it correctly so your audience gets the right impression of what was done.
- Specify the context in which the SAP Solution(s) were sought, including the challenges business had and which were addressed through the project and solutions,
- Mention the overall scope (such as selected solutions), the project organizations (which usually is comprised of service provider & customer) involved in the delivery,
- Explain your role within the hierarchy. E.g. if you were representing SAP Partner, you could say “As a Team Lead, reporting to Project Manager, handling team of <<number>> of Consultants…”
- Be specific when you describe your contributions. For instance, if you were a Consultant, you may have delivered a particular solution with a sub-component of a solution.
When one does it right, he/she is understood better; not only for his/her contributions but also for good articulation skills.
24. Work from home
Remote work possibilities for SAP Consultants. Working from home has its own advantages and is therefore preferred by many. While it is still a dream for many, SAP (and by that extension many other IT) professionals have the privilege NOT to commute to work in some cases.
To stay competitive in the market, many consulting practices have adopted a model where they assign a resource on-site and keep the rest of the team off-site or let them work from home. The one on site gathers and understands the business requirements and communicate these to technical people away from work premises who focus on technical delivery instead of showing up in a physical place.
If you are such an individual who prefers the home-office model, learn the Technical Skills (SAP or other IT skills) and work with service providers who are mainly concerned about the work and not the presence.
25. Know and Grow, Share and Shine
If a junior SAP Consultant asks me for advice, I say “Know and Grow”. And if I’ve to advise a senior professional, I say “Share and Shine”. What these two statements mean is explained below:
- Know and Grow: Learn more for potential growth opportunities.
- Share and Shine: Share your knowledge to be respected.
The rules are applicable to all professions and not just SAP. There are always avenues to learn and growth AND similarly for mentoring and earning respect thereof.
26. Always stay relevant in job market
Do you want to stay “relevant” and “in demand” in times of rapid changes in the job market? Pay attention to the following points:
- The number of years of experience is not always counted.
- Transferable and dynamic experience is valued more by employers.
- Reputation plays a vital role and is easy to build now.
- Ability to see the big picture is highly valuable.
27. LinkedIn Profile of a SAP Consultant
You could maintain your LinkedIn profile better. I’ve shared some tips which helped me and some of my colleagues in our professional careers. Visit the link for details.
28. Don’t use your job description to describe your job
It sounds weird not to use job description while describing your job but if you compare the job description you signed with your ex-employer with what you did at work, you’ll agree with the points I’ve made. It’s mainly related to SAP Consultants but could apply to other professions as well. Read the details at the link provided below:
29. Skill Set a SAP Consultant need to have, to succeed
There’s a big change in SAP market. The Consultants need to have different skills now, in order to succeed. The skill set is not the same as it was once. Know what do you need to do to keep yourself aligned with skills in demand. In my recent and very informal blog, I’ve provided a summary of what skills are required, to be successful.
30. Know your career objective before stating it on CV
You are an experienced SAP Consultant, novice in the field, or an aspirant looking for a great career ahead, you may need to write CV. I’ve shared some tips on writing Career Objective – an often wrongly written section – for SAP Professionals at different levels.
Still reading? Seems you have good stamina. If you like to read more of such tips, you may join or follow me at this link.