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How To Become an SAP Consultant

2017-07-11

Becoming a successful SAP consultant is a very desirable goal for anyone thinking about a career in the software industry. In this article, I will describe my own path towards SAP consultant and give some useful tips and hints for your own career.

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Why You Want to Become an SAP Consultant

This could be your SAP consultant job.

Why do people want to become consultants for SAP software? In the last few years, it seems that SAP has gained massively in popularity, especially since the release of HANA and the strategic dogma to make SAP a cloud-first enterprise. This has caused software developers, students and experienced businesspeople to re-think their career plans and consider the path of SAP consultant. There are several good reasons to do so, including the following:

Career Considerations

When you strive to become an SAP consultant, there are a few basic decisions you should be clear about. Here are the most important ones.

Which SAP system do you want to become a consultant for?

Apart from its well-known ERP system, SAP makes a plethora of other software tools, such as HANA, the HANA cloud, Lumira, Business Objects, SuccessFactors, SAPUI5 any many more. Have a look at the various software tools SAP makes and decide which one interests you most.

Which role do you want to work in?

SAP consultants cover a wide area of expertise. There are the business or system analysts, which mostly care about requirements engineering and business process design. There are system designers, which translate these requirements into processes in one or multiple SAP software systems (such as SAP ERP). There are developers, whose job it is to customize the SAP system and develop software so that the desired functionality becomes available. And finally there are project managers, which take care of all the loose ends in between and keep an eye on budgets and timelines. Decide which role suits you best!

In what kind of company do you want to work?

There are four basic types of players in the SAP industry. Firstly, there are the users, which are the companies that use SAP software to run their business. They often employ a bunch of in-house SAP consultants to take care of their own system. Next are the SAP integrators – software or consulting companies that help the users develop new features in existing SAP systems or run migration or ramp-up projects to integrate SAP into an existing process landscape. Thirdly, there are SAP partners which develop software or plugins for the SAP system. These can be sold via the marketplace or directly to users of SAP systems. And finally, SAP consultants can  of course work for SAP itself. The German software giant employs tens of thousands of people – they are almost certain to have a job offer that is interesting for you!

Ways towards SAP Consultant

Once you have decided on the path you want to take and the place where you want to work, you should think about getting there. I know of four typical ways through which people become SAP consultants.

  1. Study / Formal education

This is a very common way for students of information technology or related fields. SAP recruits many young software engineers, and also big companies have a high demand for talented young consultants. SAP does a lot of university partnerships, so it should not be too hard to gain some SAP expertise while you are still in school. This will prepare you nicely for a job as junior SAP consultant.

2. Cross-train / Learning on the job

Since SAP consultants require business knowledge, many business experts in companies are brought into SAP integration projects to provide insights and requirements for the implementation. It is not uncommon for them to become SAP experts themselves, since they will likely work with the system a lot. If your company runs SAP projects and you’d like to move in that direction, trying to be assigned to one of those projects can be a great first step.

3. Self-teaching

Experience in actual practice is highly important for prospective SAP consultants, so there is only so much you can do without a SAP system ready at your hands. However, SAP has opened considerably in the last few years, in order to get more developers interested in their tools. This led to the creation of opensap.com, a portal which offers free SAP training and learning material. If self-teaching is your current option, go for it! Moreover, there have always been plenty of good books on all kinds of SAP modules.

4. SAP Freelancing

Once you have gained a certain amount of experience, freelancing is an extremely good option to broaden your skillset. Freelance SAP consultants are in high demand, so once you have some basic knowhow under your belt, you shouldn’t have much trouble to get hired. There is no better way to gain new insights than to work in multiple different projects in a short amount of time.