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Functional or technical SAP work for a telecom expert?

I have 5+ years of experiance in IT with projects related to mainframes and telecom domain. I have worked in most of the Software life cycles. I am currently implementing a GSM billing system. I have collected information about SAP and want to undergo some training, but I am confused which one take. Should I go for a pure functional, pure technical, or a hybrid approach? Please guide me.

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As you probably know by now, I don't think picking the hottest area of SAP out of a hat is a good strategy. I recommend picking the hottest area of SAP that links up with your existing skills – preferably a new area of SAP where fewer consultants have deep skills. SAP is very hard to break into right now, so you need to simultaneously put yourself in the most positive light (by choosing a skill area where your background has relevance) and selecting an area where the competition has the same relative inexperience as you (thus the focus on new SAP technologies). Having said that, I don't think the three career paths you mentioned are the best way to slice and dice your options. First off, you can throw out the functional path because it doesn't play to the strengths of your background. Then, you can throw out the techno-functional path because success in SAP requires a primary focus on one or the other (though the best consultants on either side have some knowledge of the other side - 80/20 one way or the other is a good ratio to shoot for). That leaves you with technical. But the problem is that outsourcing has leveled off the opportunities in that area. I think you need to worry less about SAP and more about gaining Web-related knowledge. For example, many companies are launching Web services initiatives that are aimed at giving users better access to data that is stored on mainframes. That sounds like a real nice potential niche for you. Whether that involves SAP or not isn't really all that important at this stage in your growth. However, you could certainly pursue SAP Web services expertise. Start by learning all you can about SAP's Web Application Server technology – that might be the best SAP training course you could take.

This was first published in August 2003

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