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An SAP manufacturing career move

I am a certified SAP PP consultant with eight years of functional experience in manufacturing (Steel and Mining) and one year of SAP experience. Currently I am working for a prestigious multinational company as an SAP manufacturing consultant in high end production support catering to fortune 500 companies in the automotive sector. What should my next career move be?

I was thinking of learning APO, but after going through some of your answers and my present skill set gaps I feel that it is very much essential to learn SAP MM. What do you think?

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I like the way you are going about analyzing your career options. Instead of just chasing a hot skill, you are looking to extend your core skills into a marketable area. You are correct that with PP skills, both MM and APO and logical ways you could extend your current skills base. The only other area I could see that might make sense to consider is Supplier Relationship Management (SRM). But for this answer, let's stick with contrasting MM versus APO. Currently, I would lean to MM. There are a couple of reasons why. One is that APO is a mySAP Business Suite application, and right now, the emphasis is on upgrading the enterprise core. That means that more focus is on the MM area, and thus more consulting demand. Once this next wave of upgrades is complete 2-3 years from now, I could see APO coming back into the forefront a bit more. It's also good to keep in mind that APO has not been a hot consulting area for several years. We can guess as to the reason - my best guess is that APO installs have proven too complex and involved for many companies. To be sure, there are expert APO consultants who are doing very well right now, but it's currently an "experts only" consulting market, so keep that in mind if you decide to pursue APO opportunities.

I think it's possible that the APO market will never really explode. By the time this SAP upgrade wave is completed, it may be that many companies will choose to address their advanced supply chain issues through targeted SOA applications rather than through a larger product suite like APO. So, we'll have to see how the APO market plays out. Having said, that, there's never one right direction in SAP, so be sure to pursue an area that truly engages you. The best SAP skill set is always a combination between a "bread and butter" core area and an emerging skill area, so keep that in mind as you make your SAP skills decisions going forward.

This was first published in February 2008

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