Q

Getting in with a Big 5 consultancy firm

I have been working with SAP Labs for the last 3 years as a developer. I have worked on product development and maintenance of APO product functionality and was also involved during customer testing and go-live phases. I want to get into SAP consultancy as a functional consultant in APO in one of the big 5 consultancy firms. I have both technical and product knowledge and some MBA background. However, I do not have any industry experience prior to joining SAP Labs. My question is whether I am marketable for the big 5 for the kind of position I am looking for, or do I have to get industry experience before getting into consultancy?
Your question is really two questions. One is: how marketable is APO? The other is: how marketable is SAP Labs experience? I have addressed the marketability of APO before. I definitely think that APO has a lot of growth left in it, and other staffing experts feel the same. Companies haven't been spending aggressively on APO lately, but remember that many manufacturing companies have not yet optimized their supply chain - at least when you're talking about demand-driven, real time supply chain planning. Therefore, looking ahead, if a company is running on SAP, they have to seriously consider APO. So I like APO as one of the major add-on enhancements to core R/3 that companies will be adding in the coming years. At least for the next three to five years, I like APO as a focus. And there are several functional areas within APO that are compelling. Also, APO has some unique technical aspects, like LiveCache and CIF (Core Interface). If you can master those also, you could have a nice techno-functional niche in the market. As for your SAP Labs experience, you question is: can you jump right from SAP Labs into consulting? I would think so. But I haven't worked with many folks from SAP Labs recently, so you're going to have to put your name out there and see the interest level for yourself. I suspect that your experience will carry a fair amount of weight with consultancies. But I wouldn't limit yourself to the Big 4/5. I would also look at niche supply chain consultancies. Those firms could give you a nice way to get into consulting, and they might find some special value in the name recognition your SAP Labs experience would bring them.
This was first published in October 2003

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