Starting Your SAP Career

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Fabian Bentz

Career GuideExcerpt from The Essential SAP Career Guide – Hitting the Ground Running by best-selling author Tanya Duncan

Starting your SAP career
As you begin your SAP career, there are several major career options to consider. One of the first decisions to make when starting your career is whether you are interested in an industry or a consulting position. All other career options seem to follow this key decision. As an SAP professional at a consulting firm, you could serve clients in a variety of industries with their SAP rollouts and upgrades. An equally rewarding position is to work in an industry supporting SAP customers.

Many consultants decide to become independent later in their career. Some find it more lucrative and satisfying than consulting within a firm. Consulting independently is a longer term goal for many SAP professionals, but starting in a firm or at an SAP customer site is the best way to start your SAP career. Both options have varying benefits and disadvantages depending on your career and personal goals. The following are the major SAP career options, pros and cons, and typical project work for each path.

SAP consultant
If you answer yes to the majority of the following questions, you should consider a career in consulting:

  • Do you prefer working in various industries for multiple clients over more consistent work?
  • Do you consider yourself independent and self motivated?
  • Are you open to traveling full-time (50-100% of the time)?

SAP consultants work for a consulting firm or independently consult as a subcontractor for clients who are SAP customers. Many people find consulting glamorous because of the travel, typically higher salaries, frequent project and client changes, and the prestige of large firms. There is something to be said about advising some of the largest and most well-known companies in the world. Most people who have spent time as a consultant agree that consulting puts you on a career trajectory of fast growth. You learn an immense amount about technology solutions, client relationships, and what it
takes to succeed.

Like any job, there are some aspects of consulting that outweigh the benefits for those who prefer a career in an industry. Frequent travel comes with long commutes
(sometimes cross-country), early travel on Monday mornings, flight delays, hotel living, and the general inconvenience of living out of a suitcase. Others may not feel comfortable leading meetings with clients or lack the confidence to advise others. In spite of the added pressure and drawbacks with traveling, consulting is certainly a worthwhile consideration for those starting their SAP career.

Your typical work week as a consultant starts by traveling to the client site Monday morning, or Sunday night. Cross-country travelers may spend the better part of Sunday traveling to the client site. Those rare, lucky consultants on local projects get to sleep in the comfort of their own bed every night and avoid travel. While local projects are a great break from being ‘on the road’, you are often expected to work longer hours because you
are not traveling and you are not able to expense meals to the client.

Consultants typically start at the client site Monday morning sometime before noon and work long days (10+ hours) before flying home Thursday or Friday night. Project
timelines and go-live weekends occasionally require staying in town for the weekend. Consultants are generally expected to work a minimum of 45 hours and most
work closer to 60 hours in a given week. The weeks leading up to project milestones usually require intensely long days.

As a consultant, you rely on business users and leadership to provide the requirements for the system. Based on these requirements, you can configure the system. Consultants must guide clients in making key decisions by providing information and demos in SAP (commonly called CRP’s, conference room pilots). Consultants take the lead in blueprint workshops, configuring the system, facilitating testing, providing knowledge transfer to the client, and supporting the live system.

Keep reading in The Essential SAP Career Guide – Hitting the Ground Running by best-selling author Tanya Duncan.

SAP is the world’s leading enterprise applications provider with software solutions for companies of all sizes and industries. Nearly 80% of Fortune 500 companies rely on SAP to run their inventory management, financials, human resources, purchasing, and sales business processes. There are numerous job opportunities for all experience levels and the right approach can fast-track your career. This book is written for students and professionals aspiring to start a career with SAP as a consultant or user. This second edition includes interviews with leading SAP professionals with diverse career paths. This book covers key SAP career topics including:

• Fundamentals of an SAP job search
• Interviews with leading SAP professionals in diverse career paths
• Tips for choosing the right SAP module for you
• Important SAP skills & tools

tanya_duncan_100_x_100Tanya Duncan is an experienced SAP Finance consultant with Deloitte Consulting. Her global implementation experience includes the energy, life sciences, and consumer products industries with deployments in North America, Asia, and Europe. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI, in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems. She is currently an MBA candidate at Pepperdine University. Tanya has been with Deloitte Consulting since 2011, and prior to that worked for Owens Corning, a Fortune 500 global building materials company. She lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, Joel, and poodle, Maddie. The Essential SAP Career Guide: Hitting the Ground Running is her third published book which serves as a compilation of her experiences and advice for SAP professionals. She is also the author of
Practical Guide to SAP CO-PC (Product Cost Controlling).