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Becoming an SAP functional consultant without domain knowledge

I have been working on SAP/ABAP for around four years. For the past two years, I have been into support kinds of projects that relate to the insurance solutions module and the FI/CO modules. Being an ABAPer, most of my work is associated with functional related issues/configs only, so that I have gained some significant knowledge on the FI module.

Now I want to learn the FI/CO module in depth, thereby I am looking forward to move my career slowly towards SAP functional (Basically FI/Co module, SCM, Etc). I know, to become a functional consultant we should be having prior domain knowledge and I do not have any prior domain knowledge of course. Can you please advise me whether I can move my career slowly towards SAP functional? Additionally I got my certification in NetWeaver XI 3.0.

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My personal bias is that the ideal background for an SAP functional consultant is deep industry and/or business process experience. So, for a financials person, the ideal background is some kind of accounting or financial management background, combined with deep FI/CO configuration skills.

However, while that's the ideal background, the good news for you is that over the years, I have run into a number of outstanding functional consultants, including FI/CO folks, who started out not from finance backgrounds but from SAP technical backgrounds. Having deep ABAP background is an asset on the functional side. It makes you much more effective in terms of advising clients on their options customizing their configuration and reporting.

When I hear from an ABAP programmer who wants to become a functional consultant, I tell them that the bottom line is not marketability but long term career direction. There are good technical careers and good functional careers. Life is too short not to pursue the area you are most drawn to. Additionally, it's the passion for what you do that drives you to excel and learn all that you can in your area of expertise. That's what it takes to stand out. So, there's no reason why you can't become an SAP financials consultant if that's where you want to land. You are absolutely correct that the best way to go about this is a gradual transition from technical FI/CO programming to functional FI/CO work. Make a point of working as closely with the functional FI/CO folks as you can while working on the technical side. Over time, you should be able to make a transition, first to a techno-functional role and then to a full-fledged FI/CO position.

This was first published in February 2007

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