Author Ravi Sankar Venna
You cannot transform yourself from a fresher to an expert SAP Consultant in overnight. It needs lot of commitment, dedication, sacrifice, effort, expertise and ability to become a reliable SAP Consultant. Unfortunately, there is no short cut to achieve this. Many people are of the opinion that the SAP Certification would bridge this gap however, in fact, it is not. SAP Certification would probably give you a better marketability, however, it does not make you complete SAP Consultant. For that matter, none of the Certifications in the market can you make you an expert consultant .
Many people have asked me that they are interested in SAP and wanted to know how to become a good SAP Consultant? Unfortunately, there is no short cut to become an expert SAP Consultant. There could be some people who followed short cut methods to become SAP Consultants, however, unfortunately, those consultants are only paper consultants. SAP Consultant jobs are lucrative, at the same time, they are mixed with hard work, lot of sacrifices, enormous amount of reading and flexibility to adopt new situations. Those consultants who have the real passion can only become the recognized consultants, remaining all become just workers working for salary. Your reputation lies in your hands by helping the people across the borders. You need to stretch yourself to level of helping people with selflessness and give them the real guidance possible.
There are number of qualities that are required to become a successful SAP Consultant. good education, business process knowledge, good configuration skills, communication, team playing, understanding the business needs, quality documentation, reading ability, sharing knowledge and many more. A certification cannot make you a successful consultant in a day, however, it would help you in your life long career journey. Nothing can replace your hard work. To become a great SAP consultant is a long term process, learning new points on a daily basis and constructing a palace of knowledge over a period is key to your success. The way SAP is coming up with new technologies, it is always difficult for the consultants to maintain that pace throughout their career. If you have a great listening quality, then you will always be open to learn new things. Learning is a process of life and there is no end to it. It is the greatest quality of any good quality SAP consultant. Furthermore, you should always willing to share the knowledge, rather than hiding it in your head. Many SAP consultants, lacking this great quality. The more you share, your knowledge would be doubled, unlike money.
Many people have asked me how I can become a good SAP Consultant. My only answer is passion. Without passion, we cannot be successful in what we do. I see myself SAP Consultancy is also skill like swimming. Before I learn swimming, I was always wondering how the people swim. Though I was so passionate for swimming, I did not know how to swim it. Once I learned swimming, then compete with other people and learning all other new skills. Similarly, the people who aspiring to become a good SAP Consultant, also must be wonder, how can they become a good SAP Consultant. Read as much as you can, practice whenever you find time and listen to what mentors are saying. Never feel you have reached a pinnacle once you become a SAP Consultant. Becoming SAP Consultant is not the end of story, it is the start of new life and new journey. New life also gives you more challenges, more awards, rewards, and sacrifices to achieve what you want in life. Learning new skill is always a challenge, to become a master in that skill it would take years together. Therefore, to become a great consultant, learn SAP with authority and do not keep any gaps in conceptual knowledge and basic fundamentals. If your fundamentals are strong, then you can build a great palace.
Many people try to fake / exaggerate their CVs to become consultants. Never try to do such things. It would hunt you for life. What you know is what you know. What you do not know is what you do not know. There is always a tomorrow to learn something new and exciting. There is no shame to accept that you do not know something. There is no hard and fast rule that you should know everything in this world. It is unlikely and not possible. There are also many people who are really reluctant to share their knowledge. Furthermore, they would discourage the people who are intending to share the knowledge with true spirit. Forget about SAP Consultant, being a social animal, every individual in the society has an ethical responsibility to share something and help the society. The life is only fruitful when you share something to this world and help the fellow human beings. If we are only taking and fail to give anything back to the society, then there is no difference between animal and us.
Though following qualities are not comprehensive list to become a good SAP consultant, however, they would immensely helpful in their life long journey.
Strong Education is the great foundation for any knowledge based profession. Just becoming a graduate or becoming a MBA is not everything, cannot be called as a good education. Always stretch yourself to toughest professional courses, which will take your knowledge levels to a new a level. Always try for the new professional courses, which test the waters. You should have a zeal from the childhood to have good education. Good education does not mean that studying in great B-schools. Good education always comes from within the individual, that spirit would push you towards learning new skills, subjects and technologies. Unless, you have strong inclination towards learning and education, it is always not possible to become a good consultant. For example, if you are a chartered accountant or management accountant, it would always immensely help you to become a good financial consultant.
Business Process Knowledge
Good SAP consultant should always have sound business process knowledge. What is this business process knowledge? The process surrounded at each business activity / item. To make it simpler, when you are working in an organisation, you would see number of jumbling words. For example, credit note, debit note, invoice, bank statement, good received note, inventory control, stock taking, balance sheet, profit and loss account, trail balance, purchase returns, production, planning, forecasting, budget, cash flow statement, cost sheet, funds flow, standard cost, marginal cost, fixed cost, materials, purchases, hedging, negotiable instruments, inter-bank clearing, banking operations, petty cash, procurement, purchase order, purchase requisition and what not. Now the question is how can I improve my business process knowledge? Business processes are dynamic and need not necessarily they are same within the industry. It may change from company to company. You need to understand each such word in detail and understand the business process flow surrounded by it. The important things to know is what is the triggering point for this activity and what are the subsequent business activities that are going to be followed. If you work, on these items, over a period of time, you would get good base of business process knowledge.
Configuration Skills are the most important skills for any SAP Consultant. Unless, you master in this area, you are not going to get the confidence in any project and you will be dependent on other people. You should be master yourself not only just configuring the system, but also needs to understand the impact from end user point of view. There are number of consultants reluctant to put their hands on the key board, however, intended to become master consultants, that is never going to be happened. I have observed number of consultants, they would never take the ownership of doing anything on SAP system, however, sit next to you by just watching and talking. If you are going into that mode, you are never going to be a SAP Consultant. The number of times you are going to configure and follow the business process / end user documents, it would give great confidence. Therefore, try to gather configuration documents and do as much practice as you can. Exploring the options in system gives you enough confidence, as the troubleshooting skills are very required for SAP Consulting profession.
SAP Help is like a Bible. Every day start reading sap help. http://help.sap.com SAP help is written with utmost care by experts. The more number of times that you are reading it would give enormous conceptual clarity. Whatever be level of your skill and knowledge in SAP, you should never forget reading SAP Help. SAP Consultants who mastered has spent thousands of hours reading this. You need to have many years reading on daily basis and it is not an easy job. Many people find it difficult to read huge amount of text regularly and religiously. At one point when the consultants become good in their own area, they tend to ignore reading this. They would refer only as and when required. However, in my opinion, reading SAP Help is habit that needs to be practiced in case if you need to transform yourself to a great consultant.
SAP Community Network
Over the years, SAP Community Network http://scn.sap.com/ has transformed itself to a rich source of SAP knowledge. SAP should itself feel proud of what a great platform that they have created to bring together the thousands of consultants across the globe. Points etc. has motivated number of people to contribute to the great extent. More than points, it is knowledge that is being shared through forums, articles, blogs, videos etc. are really amazing. Without being part of SAP Community Network, I do not consider you as a SAP Consultant. You may be highly knowledgeable, however, without that being shared for the community, there is really not much value. I do not think you would get any better platform to share your knowledge than this and get recognized. It is always worth to contribute / read the forums on a daily basis. This good habit would keep yourself with good amount of knowledge. Please do not only ask questions, try to share / answer whatever you can. There are number of people only tend to ask questions, but never tend to give answers. This is a very bad practice, life is to share and help. Just asking questions would make you nowhere.
Service Market Place
There is no better place than Service Market Place https://service.sap.com for SAP Consultants. It is really surprising to know that there are many certified consultants who do not even know where to login and how to login to this great resource. I understand you need to have the logon credentials to access this, if you do not have one, please ask your SAP Basis administrators. If you are already certified, please ask SAP Education / Help Desk, they would give your password. There is not just one type of document. For everything, you would be asked to refer a particular SAP Note, without having access to this, you could never know what the Note says. This is not just for referring notes, when you need to raise OSS (Online SAP Support) notes for your customers. It is not just limited to these things, it has everything. I cannot imagine a SAP consultant without having access to this great place.
SAP Best Practices Building Blocks
Being new to the consultant world, people tend to configure the system and test end user transactions how it works. However, there is no idea where to start and how to integrate between various modules. SAP Best Practices Building blocks would give a great amount of confidence to the consultant, as they provide the detailed configuration documents, business process documents and scenario overviews etc. The following link would be helpful. There are different versions of it. It contains guides across industry / country. If you have problem in accessing the following links, use Internet Explorer (IE) rather than google chrome browser. If you configure various scenarios in your demo system and test as per the business process documents, then your confidence levels will be immensely increased. The number of times you configure various scenarios, you would be mastered in that area.
21st Century has started with Professional Networking / Social Network. You cannot imagine anybody without having linkedin / twitter / facebook. You always need to maintain the network and develop them over a period. Being knowledgeable is half of your task, whereas maintaining professional network is the other half. Both are like two sides of the same coin. Linkedin the best professional network site, everybody should have one and keep your profile up to date. You profile is the snapshot of your skills, education and achievements etc. If you give a name of a person, people tend to search in linkedin. If you do not have linkedin account, then they would think either you are fake or you do not exist. It is really awful to work in a professional organisation and do not have an up to date linkedin account. Personally, if I cannot see a person in linkedin, I surely believe, that person is a fake. Therefore, please update your linkedin profile, have good professional network and try to get recommendations from others.
There are number of people who are very reluctant to share their knowledge. You will only be recognized when you share your knowledge with your clients, colleagues and the community around you. If you do not share your knowledge, the knowledge inside you will be rusted over a period of time. Therefore, always open to learn to new things at the same go for an extra mile to share the knowledge with others. I have been negatively criticized by some of my friends / colleagues for writing blogs. When the whole world is writing blogs, why cannot we? I may not be expert in writing blogs, if anybody is being motivated with my blog, the very purpose of my task is accomplished. It is not required to have great amount of knowledge to share, but you should have wonderful heart. If you just work for yourself, earn yourself and educate yourself, then you would never get an identity in the world. Remove every barrier around you and start using your fullest potential to share the knowledge.
Last, but not the least is Communication Skills. 90% of success to your career is dependent on your communications. Do not underestimate the power of communication skills in your career. It is not that everybody would have great amount of communication skills. It all depends on the natural skills, environment you grown up, the education you have undertaken etc. If you think you do not have them, then try to develop over a period of time. Communication Skills are not just talking in English, being a SAP Consultant you should always learn to talk both in Business Language and Technical Language. When you go to client places, it is always expected to talk to them in business language. At the same you should also have good command on the technical abilities when you are conveying to the other consultants. Nobody is perfect in this world, keep pushing yourself to fill the gaps in this area.
Author Ravi Sankar Venna- www.redcommerce.com