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Bridge between user community and IT- where do I fit?

I have represented my division for an SAP implementation and upgrade. I excel at working as a bridge between the user community and the IT world. I've also developed and delivered the training needed to get end-users up and running. Is there a need for someone like me out there? What should I be looking for? What should I do to increase my chances in the market?

I have represented my division for an SAP implementation and upgrade. I excel at working as a bridge between the...

user community and the IT world. I've also developed and delivered the training needed to get end-users up and running.

Is there a need for someone like me out there? What should I be looking for? What should I do to increase my chances in the market?

There used to be a pretty healthy contract market for SAP end-user trainers, who specialized in delivering SAP documentation and training end-users on SAP functions. There were also a couple of consulting firms that specialized in this area. But in the last few years, that niche in the consulting market has pretty much disappeared, though there are a few high-end experts in "instructional design" who excel in developing and delivering customized SAP training materials. I don't see that as a real good niche to target these days -especially because even the best SAP trainers get relatively low rates. The bottom line is that SAP has been around long enough that companies are a lot more sophisticated in getting their end-users up to speed. In short, they have more knowledge "in house." Another related niche, which I think is very interesting, is SAP change management. The SAP change management specialist excels at working with SAP users at all levels of the corporation, from the end-users to executives and senior level managers. This person essentially guides the company through the cultural changes that shifting to SAP requires as upgrades and new rollouts occur. Once again, however, this is a niche that is a challenge to obtain these days. Companies tend to be reluctant to bring in outside people to "manage change," no matter how worthwhile that investment might be. But the change management niche is a nice way to "package" your training background and command higher rates for your skills. So that's a sense of what some of the options are for you.

However, there are other options that may be more realistic: one, you could find another training-oriented, full time position working for another SAP user. These positions aren't that lucrative, but they are out there. To me, the most compelling way for you to advance your SAP skills is to become an SAP functional implementation specialist. Your background working with users can be a real asset to you, and you already have some know-how into the functional workings of SAP. Add some configuration and business process planning skills into the mix, and you're on your way to being a functional SAP specialist. This transition is a chance to "upgrade" not only your technical skills but your overall business and managerial skills also. You could finance your way through a functional SAP training course as a way to get started, and you could also consider a part time MBA program as a way to place your functional skills into a broader business knowledge base. This approach would essentially take your career to another level, but it would take a lot of work and sacrifice to get there. On the other hand, you would be evolving into a real business consultant with SAP implementation as your main expertise. If you decide to go this route, there are a lot of resources available to you simply on the SearchSAP web site, and you can read other questions I have answered in this column from folks who are also trying to break into SAP. Good luck.

This was last published in February 2004

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