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Career change- tech consulting to modules consulting

I'm a senior SAP technical consultant and developer with 6 years of experience. As the market rate for ABAP decreases, I am thinking of making a change. What's the typical career path for a person like me? I'm also thinking of moving my career to application modules consulting such as BW, HR, SD, etc. But it's hard for me to find opportunities. Normally they will require experience. What is the best way for me to enter such areas? How do I prepare?

I'm a senior SAP technical consultant and developer with 6 years of experience. As the market rate for ABAP decreases,...

I am thinking of making a change.

1. What's the typical career path for a person like me?
2. I'm also thinking of moving my career to application modules consulting such as BW, HR, SD, etc. But it's hard for me to find opportunities. Normally they will require experience. What is the best way for me to enter such areas? How do I prepare?
Let's start with question 1: There is no one career path for someone in your situation. But I would say that right now, there are three primary scenarios:

(a) Continue acquiring more technical project management experience and "climb the corporate ladder," perhaps up to the CIO level;
(b) Continue to crank out ABAP code, endure falling rates, and put yourself at risk of being outsourced; and
(c) Pursue cutting edge development tools inside and outside of SAP to keep yourself more marketable. For example, you could master SAP's Java development tools, and acquire experience with Business Server Pages, iViews, Portals development, XML, etc.

So those are the three major options. The second part of your question pertains to another option altogether: become a functional consultant. I didn't mention this as one of the three main options because, in fact, that's probably the hardest transition of the four. Remember, there are lots of functional consultants with five years (and more) of SAP experience. That's what you're up against on that side. Of course, you have probably acquired a decent amount of functional experience over the years which you can help you, perhaps, to get your foot in the door. You may be thinking that getting functional certifications might help your situation, but I'm not sure that's going to make a huge difference. If you're going to make the functional transition, your best option might be a gradual one, simply taking on more and more functional responsibilities with each project until a client gives you a major chance to step into a serious functional role. This evolution takes time, but it might work if you are patient and you find yourself on appealing projects. Obviously, of the three initial options I mentioned, the option of just continuing on as an ABAP person isn't the best option.

Personally, I'd like to see you choose between either seriously pursuing higher levels of IT management, or seriously pursuing cutting edge, hands-on, SAP web development. Either path carries its own set of risks and rewards, so which one you choose depends on your ultimate career goals and the opportunities you are able to find in this competitive SAP marketplace.

This was last published in April 2004

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