There are some people who purposely seek out a career as an SAP Consultant or would like to more about the job. For those of you who would like to pursue this career path or are currently working as a consultant, I hope you are able to gain some insights with what I have learned below.
1. Understand Your Craft
Knowing your module is not enough.
In order to grow and enhance your career as a consultant, you need to understand your module (even the business processes and non-technical aspects).
In fact, understanding your module will make your life easier. When you can comprehend and understand how your module works, you will be able to solve and analyze problems better.
How do you improve your understanding?
Aside from the usual “read SAP learning materials or get trained in SAP”, I suggest that you let curiosity flow. If you have a sandbox or available non-production SAP environment, try to explore, challenge, and see what happens if you tweak this or that.
I am not suggesting that you randomly change configurations. Instead, have an agenda in mind. If (for example) you are testing bank configurations and are curious about the impact of changing a house bank, try and test the behavior.
Another way is to try and understand the business process. By putting yourself in the shoes of a business user (or even a group), you are exposing yourself to a non-technical perspective.
This will help you understand the use and impact of SAP to an actual end user. In turn you could use this information as a consultant in terms of decision making, analyzing, designing, etc.
2. No Surprises
We are only human and we are not perfect but never hide or try to cover your mistake.
SAP doesn’t lie. I have seen cases wherein people were too scared to own up to their mistake. I am saying it is so much better to inform your superior if something goes wrong. There are also numerous transactions where the system logs whoever does what so there will be a trail.
SAP has the capability to cater to large enterprises. Numerous big firms have SAP up and running as their main system. You could say that if something goes wrong, it might be a big impact (especially if it involves money).
As such, it is best to be transparent and resolve the issue as soon as possible rather than wait for the business (or your client) to figure out that something bad has happened and it gets escalated.
This doesn’t just apply to mistakes but to things you are not sure of as well. Even if you are configuring something or doing some changes in the development or test environment (especially as a beginner), always ask or obtain confirmation / guidance if you are unsure of something. This will definitely prevent some future “surprises”.
3. The Base Knowledge is Key but Don’t Close Yourself to Other Learnings
Let us consider the term “base knowledge” as your main SAP module. I am saying that it is great to have a niche or expertise but don’t close yourself off to other learnings.
After all, not everything is built around SAP. Realistically, a company would not have SAP products only in its system landscape and it helps to understand at least bits and pieces of the other technologies that comprise it.
Business processes, infrastructure knowledge, other SAP modules, third-party systems, integrations etc. are learnings that can help you see the bigger picture.
There are times that these example “add-on” learnings are beneficial especially if you are designing a system architecture or working on system architectures with many customizations and/or integrations.
4. Speak out
They say that you need to be your own CEO when it comes to driving your career. I agree to that and have high respect for those who speak out respectfully and with realistic points to the right people. If you have a dream and are adamant to achieve it, you can be transparent about it if you choose to.
“Speak out” in this context is talking to your immediate superior so that he/she is aligned with how you see yourself growing in your career path.
Managers and/or immediate superiors do not have mind reading capabilities so if you feel that you need to speak out to reach your dream, then do so (in a mature and professional manner).
5. Be a Continuous and Intentional Learner
Technology is quick and many new developments are being introduced everywhere. It helps to be open to new learnings and being intentional with what you learn.
If there are opportunities for you to learn something new (even as an initiative) why not? If you are having difficulties understanding how SAP handles taxes, why not intentionally set aside some time to learn about it?
Learning is a powerful tool and a great reward for yourself in the long run.
6. Be Thorough
You may encounter numerous instances wherein people will ask you to confirm something. Even if it involves configuration, working on enhancements (non-standard functionalities), or supporting, be careful with your statements and be thorough with your deliverables.
It is best to be 100% sure than to assume and confirm something half-heartedly.
If you are unsure of the behavior of a functionality, try and test it out yourself. It is rewarding to leverage the test environment and have proof of something you are confirming to.
Try and consider other factors that may impact your changes or output. For example, maybe you can add more test scenarios to your work. If your task involves documentation, make it as detailed as possible.
In short, it is best practice to be thorough in your deliverables.
In the long run, you will at least have a sense of security that you have given a solid effort and there will be less chances of big issues once the change is in production.
I’d also like to add the being thorough also applies to asking your immediate supervisor, senior consultants, etc. Before you ask something, try and make sure that you have tried to check on it yourself. Maybe you could test it yourself or do your research first. This will help you increase your experience and skill firsthand.
Nothing increases your skill better than trying it for yourself.
7. Take Notes
With everything going on in SAP, the list of tasks and deliverables that need to be accomplished, new learnings, key deadlines, and processes that need to be considered, it is a big help to take down notes. This is on top of the documentations that you create.
I find that having my own personal “cheat sheet” or “notes” really help. It can even consist of keywords only.
What matters is that you understand it and it is easily accessible.
To be honest, there are times that I tend to forget something, and I end up going to my cheat sheet to recall. There is also a level of comfort knowing that you have a personal reference you can check from time to time.
8. Be a Team Player
Nobody knows everything and that is a fact. There are times wherein you need to do deliverables on your own but there are also times that involve other people.
For example, you as a functional consultant might need a developer to work on your design “code-wise”. You also might be dealing with an issue in production that involves another SAP module, or the issue could involve access related issues.
These are just some of the instances that work well if you try and seek their expertise or work with them to arrive at a solution. After all, the saying goes “two heads are better than one”.
Consultancy does require the ability to be a team-player from time to time.
This applies even more if there is a sense of urgency. There is a big difference when you work as a team to resolve urgent issues that involve other modules or technologies. Who knows, you might even learn something new.
9. It Takes Time to Obtain Credibility and Respect as a Consultant
Don’t rush it. SAP is not something you can learn and be an expert on overnight.
As a consultant, you are expected to deliver (and according to deadline). You can expect to work long hours to meet the deadline and encounter a lot of challenging experiences.
These experiences or hardships are the events that beef up your resume or credibility as a consultant. At first it will be difficult but the key takeaway here is the word “mindset”.
Consider the difficulties as training grounds and rewarding experiences.
Be positive and have this mindset that you can do it. Be willing to work hard and smart if you want to grow your career path. I must say that as cheesy as it sounds, it was the positive mindset that served as a big factor in getting me through the difficult times.
10. Have Fun and Enjoy Life
Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy life. Your health and happiness matters too.
Take a break and prioritize the things that matter to you the most. You can get too caught up in working or trying to reach your goal that you forget about the little things (outside of your career). I personally believe that working as an SAP consultant is not my whole life and I make sure to do other things outside of work.
Spend time with the people you love. Take up an art class. Play a video game or two.
Who says that SAP consultants can’t balance work and life? I think that it is your choice and your set of priorities.
I hope you were able to get some useful insights through this post. Wishing you good luck and a great career ahead!
- Understand your craft
- No Surprises
- The base knowledge is key but don’t close yourself to other learnings
- Speak out
- Be a continuous and intentional learner
- Be Thorough
- Take Notes
- Be a team player
- It takes time to obtain credibility and respect as a consultant
- Have fun and enjoy life