Journey from a Novice to an Expert
A quote of Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Greek Philosopher “Change is the only Constant in Life” is so true in current times. This seems to be the oldest attributable philosophical thinking, but we still have problems in coping with it. The world is witnessing unprecedented times in our lives, be it Businesses, Environment or Technology.
New Business models and technology are lowering the entry barriers as well as increasing the scope of expectations from an SAP Practitioner. Many of the colleagues and associates that I know or have worked with ask, what it takes to be a successful SAP Consultant. I would want to pen down some of the things, which I think would be critical:
- Passion – One of the most important thing to be successful SAP Expert is passion. In my opinion, loving your work and having pride in what you do is the most important thing to be successful. I have seen lot of colleagues, who are super passionate to be an expert and put in lot of effort to learn and know about the business
- Process Insights – The next important thing to be an expert is knowing the process and translating it to technology. As I mentioned that with ever changing business models, technology platforms and connected applications, it becomes the second most important attribute for a successful SAP Professionals. The ability to break down fancy business taxonomy like Credit Notes, Drop Shipment, Distance Sales, Blockchain (just some arbitrary examples) into a simple process insight is what will drive to be a successful SAP Expert. It is important that functional consultants have visibility into end to end process rather than being a FI or CO or MM consultant.
- SAP Configuration and Programming Skills – The configuration skills for a functional consultant is the “Nectar” to survive. I have seen lot of associates proposing custom developments just because of lack of skills in this very basic requirement. It is important to know the right configurations, which can meet most of the business requirements and avoid custom enhancements or developments
- Innovation and Disruptive thinking – The technology stake has changed over the years. It is extremely important to look for an out of box solution considering the technology platforms which are available. Here in I would want to quote an example of a colleague, who was working for one of the global organizations where there was a requirement to find out an automated solution for validating Tax ID in Europe. The colleague had an ABAP background and was learning Python/NLP as passion. When his team was not able to find a harmonized solution that can meet the requirement for multiple countries, the colleague based on his skills in Python/NLP and ABAP was able to complete a web crawler which could integrate with S/4HANA and complete a POC to fetch the tax id with an acceptable confidence level and populate the report for the tax manager to validate. This being a very simple example demonstrates the ability to think out of box and use technology as an innovation with a business case in mind
- Peer Education and Collaboration – Lot of associates and colleagues I have worked and who are recognized experts are very reluctant to share the knowledge with peers. ERP and with all the integrations is such a vast topic that it is impossible for one to know everything. Over the years, the peer education and collaboration opportunities have increased a lot. The starting point would be SAP Community. From my own personal experience, I can certainly vouch that this is the best platform to connect and enrich one’s skills sets. Sharing and helping each other is the key. There are other forums and tech events like Partner calls, events like TechEd which allows one to continue the collaboration with like minded peers.
- Continuous Learning – Over the years the options for learning have increased with key options like Open SAP, Learning Hub etc. Colleagues looking to be experts in SAP should utilize the same as much as possible and keep themselves updated with the right skills at all times.
- Soft Skills – Last but not the least, communication and presentation skills play an important role as well to be a successful SAP expert. Despite being strong in all above areas, if one is not able to communicate in a clear and precise way, the battle is already lost. It is also extremely important to have empathy towards others (different stake holders in your day to day work, whether customer, colleague, manager or any one else whom you connect to), ability to display curiosity and listen with patience are the other skills which make up a successful SAP Expert.