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Author's profile photo Faisal Iqbal

Are you (aiming to be) an System Integrator?

Those who are or have been on the role know what it takes and means to be a System Integrator. The title is very impressive and requires the incumbent to manage full spectrum of in-scope functions.

For instance, at a Solution Implementation Project, requiring deployment of multiple SAP modules, the Integration Manager is required to support various teams, from Solution Architects to Module Specialists as well as Technology Consultants and Business Process Owners. In a nutshell, s/he has to ensure the overall solution runs seamlessly, when it is live.

If you are looking for the activities which the person, in-charge of the integration aspects of a solution, performs on day-to-day basis, here I have described them in context of a typical Technical Support Organization. And if you are interested in developing yourself for the role, I have also provided the list of competencies which are required to take-up the challenge of managing solution integration.

System Integrator in Organizational Hierarchy

Though it may vary from an organization to another, generally SAP Solution is managed by Support, Application, Technical, and Technology team who work with other IT teams. The SAP teams are managed by modular Team Leads who work with the Integration Manager for smooth delivery of SAP Solutions to individual business functions of an enterprise.

System Integrator Role – For Illustration Purpose Only

1. Activities

The System Integrator or Integration Manager, in such scenario, will be

  1. Coordinating with SAP Support Services Team Lead & ensuring issues are resolved within timeline defined in Service Level Agreements,
  2. Working with SAP Application Team Leads to plan, organize, monitor & control changes, new requirements and initiatives,
  3. Liaising with SAP Technical Team Leads (Development, Interface & Security) to prioritize, align and organize development work to ensure timely delivery of solutions by application teams,
  4. Communicating sizing needs to SAP Technology Team Lead to make sure required landscape is available for solutions development & delivery,
  5. Communicating various IT Teams (Training and Sales) of design change, new solutions development to arrange delta trainings and to market the solutions,
  6. Providing status reporting on ongoing projects, support services and planned initiatives to IT Management, and
  7. Gathering effort estimates and working with IT Commercial to prepare cost of services and chargeback the business.

The above activities are not comprehensive, and may include few others depending on the complexity of a business, but they do provide a baseline through which the job of the role could be understood.

2. Qualifications

Anyone taking such role has to have certain qualifications, described below, to be able to handle the function well.

2.1. Skills

  1. Leadership, ability to manage cross-functional teams,
  2. Communication, capable of reading & conveying the messages between lines,

2.2. Knowledge

  1. Solution Manager, knowing how the tool helps different functions & processes during implementation and in operations,
  2. Activate / ASAP, knowing the roadmaps for specific scenarios and guiding stakeholders to right direction.

2.3. Experience

  1. Solution Consulting, understanding the context in which certain solutions are sought,
  2. End-User Training, knowing the learning needs of concerned people,
  3. Application Support, thoughtful of system support needs

If you can communicate with & lead others, know the tools & frameworks, and have provided (any) solution consulting, training, and support services, you may be able to handle the Integration Function, better than any other who doesn’t have such skills, knowledge and experience.

Is it you?

If you see yourself in the above description you may qualify for the role, so I recommend you to consider such opportunity.

A last point, which you may need to know the position-holder works little differently during the course of implementation and later while the solution is in productive usage. I was once on such role at a Customer COE and got chance to explore its width.

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      Author's profile photo Michelle Crapo
      Michelle Crapo

      Lots and lots of work.  It sounds like a lot of very long days.  I would add that after go-live, there will always be another project.  So if you do decide to go for that title, learn to pace yourself.  Know the experts that can help.  Remember no one person can know it all.  That's where communication comes into it again.

      And most of all, be sure that this is what you want. As many hours as we all spend at work, it has to be something that you will like to do!


      Author's profile photo Faisal Iqbal
      Faisal Iqbal
      Blog Post Author

      Having worked on different roles, and not just Consulting, I feel each title comes with a set of challenges. And one has to choose a role, as you rightly said, based on the aptitude first and then learning about it's ins and outs.

      Author's profile photo Michelle Crapo
      Michelle Crapo

      Agreed.  This blog will help people to understand the challenges.  That way they can decide if it is something they want to tackle.

      <Big Sigh> I had many roles as well.   It took me a while to decide that I love technical things.  I also loved functional things.   So I had to have a role that combined both.  I'm thinking blogs like this one would have helped a little.   I guess I am a bit of a doubter.  Until I do it, I don't know if I like it.  That is NOT the best way of doing things.


      Author's profile photo Faisal Iqbal
      Faisal Iqbal
      Blog Post Author

      It does take time to figure out which role suits one the best. And to do so, experience (own or others) comes in. Experimenting something by self definitely teaches a lot, but learning about something from others is also quite useful.

      And there's much to do with personality traits as well. For instance, some people love travelling, have much stamina to stand with irregular life, if they are given a role, such as pre-sales to go here and there for presentations, they enjoy it.

      I feel I enjoy it more if I'm asked to write something, such as instructions/guides, and I have come to know it quite late in my career, after doing and comparing plenty of other things : )