Often, some DBA know-how is included in the Basis skill set,
though on larger SAP installations, the SAP DBA is frequently a separate role. The same goes for
SAP Security. While there is such a thing as an SAP Security consultant, security is often a skill
set under the SAP Basis umbrella.
Business Intelligence (BI) is starting to impact all SAP roles and all SAP professionals should
consider developing proficiency in this area.
With those distinctions in mind, how do you become an SAP consultant in today's marketplace?
It's helpful to think of SAP consulting as a combination of two important skill sets: SAP
implementation experience and enterprise consulting experience. It's not always easy to
acquire both these skills at the same time. In the 1990s, you could sometimes get trained as a
consultant while getting your first SAP exposure at the same time, and all you needed was a
certification. That's not the case anymore.
To become an SAP consultant in today's market, you almost always need to have SAP implementation
experience under your belt already. That means you've done a 2-4 year stint working in a
hands-on capacity on a full-blown SAP project. Typically, this experience is acquired while
being a full-time employee. On the functional side, product configuration skills are still
important, as well as full life cycle experience throughout an implementation. On the Basis side,
product installation and systems optimization is the key, and on the developer side, experience
customizing SAP reports, making UI enhancements, and developing third party interfaces are
examples of bread-and-butter skills. This type of experience, accumulated over years, forms the core of the SAP skill set.
Then there is the consulting side of the skill set. If you have experience consulting in other
enterprise applications (Oracle, PeopleSoft, etc) and understand ERP implementation methodologies,
you might be able to break into SAP from that side, bringing the consulting side of the skill
set to the table. However, on the SAP side, you'd still be considered a "junior" consultant and
there aren't nearly as many junior consulting roles as there once were. The consulting side of
the skills profile is not to be underestimated. It usually takes years to become a highly
effective consultant. Nothing takes the place of experience on multiple projects, where you master
the art of helping users to define their business requirements, guiding them through the
implementation of SAP that meets their requirements, and leaving them with knowledge
successfully transferred. It is interesting to note that some SAP professionals are able to
build these skills as full time employees, essentially functioning as internal consultants for their team.
What is the bottom line to becoming an SAP consultant?
1. Obtain hands-on SAP implementation experience, preferably on multiple projects.
2. Gain experience with SAP implementation methodologies and solving customer problems.
3. Bring together SAP implementation and enterprise consulting skills into one skill set.
If you have trouble landing an SAP consulting position, look to strengthen either your hands-on SAP skills or
your overall consulting skills. Then try again. In this market, persistence pays. I rarely see
examples of people who are determined to become SAP consultants who don't eventually break
through. But sometimes you have to be creative about finding the right opportunity.
Self-education options are numerous, and plenty of training and certification options can help
you on your way. But they won't take the place of hands-on experience, so keep that in the
forefront of your career goals at all times.
Content provided by Jon Reed. Jon is an independent SAP analyst and SAP Mentor who blogs, tweets, and podcasts on
SAP market trends. He is the driving force behind
interactive website that features Jon's SAP Career Blog and his podcasts for SAP professionals.
From 2002-2007, Jon served as the Managing Editor of ERPtips SAP Library.