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Experienced MIS consultant breaking into SAP

I have been an MIS consultant for almost 7 years and would like to get into the SAP arena. I am very interested...

in a particular job that matches my background pretty well except for the SAP requirements which are: 1) Standard SAP course in Materials Management or FI-AM, and 2) 1 full cycle implementation project as functional MM specialist. I have designed systems for materials management applications for large organizations and was involved with analyzing and improving their current processes, procedures and data structures. I would like to take a good SAP materials management course and also be involved in an SAP implementation project even as a volunteer if this is what it takes. I also would like to learn ABAP for report writing purposes. So my questions are: What courses do you recommend (online or in a classroom)? What is the best way to get in touch with people that can get me involved with an SAP implementation project locally in Silicon Valley?


 

Thank you for the detailed question. The most important questions about your career plans are a bit different than the ones you want me to answer. But let's tackle the questions on your mind first. In terms of the best courses to take, if you can take classroom courses from SAP and obtain formal certification through SAP itself, that is ideal. In terms of Silicon Valley SAP projects, I am not tapped into any implementations in that area of the country right now, nor have I run into any SAP job orders coming from that area recently. You may want to post your interest in Silicon Valley SAP openings on searchSAP's new SAP Career Forum and see if your fellow consultants have some insight for you. My thinking is that you may need to be willing to expand your geographic range a bit beyond Silicon Valley in order to break into SAP right now.

You raise a very important point when you mention the idea of volunteering your time in order to land an SAP project. This is a tactic that enterprising folks have considered from time to time, and while it does work in some fields, this tactic is not effective in SAP. What IS more effective is getting hired by a company that wants to utilize your current skills - a company that happens to be running SAP - and then "working your way towards the SAP project" from the inside. It sounds like you have the background to make a solid contribution to an SAP project, and I like your "whatever it takes" attitude. Just keep in mind that training-plus-volunteer work is not going to get your foot in the door. As my regular readers know, I think training is overrated, though still very important. I hope that anyone who invests in training perceives it as more of a first step than a guarantee of future SAP employment.

I couldn't help but smile when you mentioned that the SAP job you're targeting is a very close match with your skills EXCEPT for the SAP part. This attitude reflects a healthy optimism on your part - just be aware that for a typical SAP hiring manager, SAP skills are 90% of the requirement, not the other way around. It's not necessarily an attitude I agree with, but in order for you to make good decisions about your career prospects, you need to learn how to talk to managers in a way that gets their attention. You do not generally get results by pointing to an SAP opening and saying "I have all the skills needed but SAP." A better approach would be to apply for a non-SAP opening at the same company, and say, "You want to hire me for my current skills, because I have the experience to help you with a key issue on your project right now. After I've proven myself and made a contribution to your project, I'm hopeful that you'll consider me for an SAP role on your project, as moving into SAP is a long term career goal of mine." It's not an instant gratification strategy, but if you have trouble jumping right into SAP, you might want to consider the "leverage your current skills" approach.


 

This was last published in March 2003

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