What does an SAP Functional Consultant do?
I have often been asked this question. In this blog, I’ll try to explain what I, as an SAP Functional consultant do. But before answering this question I would like to explain what SAP is.
Well let me tell you SAP is a company and not a product. Yes, you heard that right. SAP is a German company which develops software products used by companies for managing their business operations, best known for its ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). But it also develops many other products and solutions such as Ariba, Concur, APO, several cloud-base products etc. SAP S/4HANA is the latest product of SAP which is successor of SAP ERP and built for the SAP HANA in-memory database.
The strength of SAP ERP lies in integration of various business functions starting from sales, to procurement, production to shipping, costing to finance. They have developed thousands of transactions code (T-code), literally (not exaggerating a bit), for individual ‘Use case’ in every business function. For instance, you can create a production order with transaction code CO01, change the production order with CO02 and display the production order with CO03. Similarly, you can create a purchase order with transaction code ME21N, change the purchase order with ME22N and display the purchase order with ME23N.
Now, this transaction code for a ‘Use case’ is nothing but a piece of a puzzle. Now, the beauty of SAP lies in the fact that these pieces of puzzles can be put together in many ways. This is where the role of a functional consultant come into picture. An SAP Function consultant is responsible to understand business requirements and then transform them into a ‘Business Process’ in SAP. An functional consultant connects several transaction codes in a logic that would cover all activities of a business process.
Below are some of the transaction codes and we’ll see how the pieces of puzzles form a business process in SAP PP (Production Planning and Execution):
MM01: Create Material master
CS01: Create Bill of material
CR01: Create Work center
CA01: Create Routing
MD61: Create Planned Independent Requirements
MD02: Run MRP (Single Item Multilevel)
MD62: Display Planned order
Now, lets see how the same pieces of puzzles can be used to define different process in SAP:
The below picture represents Discrete Manufacturing Process.
The below picture represents Repetitive Manufacturing Process.
The processes defined above are basic processes for SAP PP. But it is very rare to see ‘Vanilla Implementation’ in a company. It is quite common to implement central logistics functions like Batch Management, Handling unit Management, Serial Number Management etc together with core modules like SAP PP, SAP MM, SAP etc. This is again the job of an SAP functional consultant to determine which central logistics functions should be used together with core modules and then to define those processes.
The next task of SAP functional consultant is configuration. I would say there are two types of configurations:
- Define Key: You can define certain keys like Plant, Storage location, Warehouse number, MRP Controller, Production planner etc. These keys are used for various activities in SAP.
- Configuring parameters: You can see them as ‘If’ conditions in a program. Let me explain this with an example of MRP.
MRP is a planning engine used to calculate which materials (or components) should be produced (or procured), the quantities to be produced/procured, and the dates on which the material should be available. The function of MRP is to ensure material availability for production and thus on-time delivery to the customer.
There are three types of MRP:
- Materials requirements planning
- Master production scheduling
- Consumption-based planning
Each of these MRP types contains some setting which determine how the MRP calculations should be done, how the MRP is triggered and many different parameters. You must choose a MRP type in MRP1 view of material master.
Now, lets have a look at how the configuration of MRP Type ‘PD’ looks like.
You can see the parameter ‘MRP Procedure’ has several predefined fields which acts as a ‘If’ condition in the MRP run and the program is executed as per the parameters defined in customizing.
That’s the role of an SAP functional consultant i.e. to understand business requirements, transform (or map) business processes in SAP, configure system to meet customer requirements in standard SAP process. And when there are certain business requirements which cannot be met by standard SAP solution, then the functional consultant must create new programs/tools/reports etc together with developer (ABAP developer).