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Getting into functional MM consulting

I am a mechanical engineer with an MBA, having 10 years hands-on experience in purchasing and inventory management with major MNC's and also 5 years user experience in the SAP MM module. Considering the present job opportunities for purchasing, I would like to upgrade myself by completing training & certification in the SAP MM module. Presently, I do not have any software knowledge except my experience.

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What are the job prospects for a functional MM consultant, with SAP certification and without practical implementation experience? Do I need to consider any other courses/certification instead of SAP MM for better career growth?
You seem to have a good functional/business background. Whether that is enough to get you "over the hump" and into SAP is another question. We should start with a disclaimer: right now, no matter what certification you get, no matter how relevant your business background is, you're going to have a tough time breaking into SAP. As I've noted on numerous occasions, the best hope for someone in your situation is to find work with a company using your non-SAP skills. Just make sure that company is implementing or upgrading SAP, and, once hired, try to get yourself pulled onto the project. In that kind of scenario, certification might help you work your way onto the SAP side of the project, but I would look at certification as a very speculative investment in terms of breaking into SAP. However, SAP training and certification looks like a good use of your time and resources if you are taking a longer view and looking ahead to long term goals. That long term goal, of course, is keeping your skills marketable in a volatile, global economy. And getting certifications under your belt is a key component of a long term "skills upgrade" strategy.

So, if we accept that "longer view" approach, then the key question is: which area of SAP should you get certified in? Your thinking about MM is on the right track. What you are trying to do is get certified in an area of SAP that pertains directly to your functional background in purchasing and inventory management. But if you read my column on a regular basis, you know that one of my "SAP career mantras" is the following: it's always better to anticipate where SAP is going than to try to catch it from behind. Based on that thinking, why not look into getting certification in training in SAP EBP (Enterprise Buyer Professional), or perhaps in another area of SAP's emerging SRM (Supplier Relationship Management) product line? These mySAP products also draw on many aspects of your current background, but since they are newer to market, you would have a better chance of becoming competitive sooner. It's a lot easier to compete with consultants who have a year of experience in EBP than consultants who have ten years of experience in MM. Equally important, SAP eventually shifts its product development emphasis onto its mySAP products over the same functionality in the core R/3 modules. So, if you decide to try to buck the odds and pursue SAP certification, you can definitely improve your chances if you go after the newest SAP products that tie into your current skills. Good luck!

This was first published in November 2003

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