Q

FI/CO end user hoping to learn SAP configuration

Where should a well-versed FI/CO end user start to pursue configuration skills? Expert Jon Reed provides some insight and comments on the best ways to break into SAP consulting.

I am new to SAP but quite familiar with FI/CO as an end user. Where do I begin if I want to learn configuration?
I'm glad you asked this question because there are a lot of misconceptions as to how to make the move from end-user to full-fledged "SAP configuration consultant." In the past, it was assumed that you needed to get on board with a consulting firm to make that transition. But now that's not the case. It's rare that a consulting firm would hire someone "junior" in SAP. Consulting firms tend to hire only senior SAP consultants that are immediately billable on projects.

Therefore, by far the best way to break into SAP currently is through a "perm" job working for a company running on SAP. So, you're in the right situation. The catch is that it can be hard to move from a user on the system to an implementation person. It's good to keep the path of advancement into SAP from the end user role in mind. Typically, you would move from an end user to a "super user" or help desk coordinator - someone who would...

get a bigger picture into SAP and transfer knowledge to a broader team. From there, you might get pulled onto the implementation team.

Of course, the catch is that your company needs to be upgrading or expanding their SAP project in order to be in "implementation mode." So, if your company is already running on the latest and greatest version of SAP (ECC 6.0) or has no plans to upgrade, then your strategy is going to hit the wall. But, assuming that there is an upgrade on the horizon, you might be able to get those all-important configuration skills by working your way onto the implementation team.

There's one more catch though: some companies don't want their employees to gain configuration skills. It's the configuration skills that make an SAP professional marketable. So, some companies only allow the outside consulting firm to do the configuration work. If that's the case at your company, then there's no chance you will be able to gain the skills needed to become an SAP consultant. So in that situation, you'd need to find a perm FI/CO job with another company in an upgrade cycle that will let you participate in the whole implementation cycle. Fortunately for you, with your financials experience, you should have a number of opportunities to hone your SAP financials skills as companies move to the latest version of the enterprise core.

This was first published in February 2007

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