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How to be a functional consultant

You don't need to know everything about SAP to be a functional consultant, but you do need to know a lot. Jon Reed addresses the skills and attributes one should possess prior to becoming an SAP functional consultant.

I have spent the last seven years working on SAP, the past five years with specific in-depth business analyst work and some customizing of SAP, mainly with WM, and also a fair amount of SD and MM. The customizing knowledge is all self-taught. My business knowledge is good.

I am considering the leap into contracting, but I am anxious that my SAP knowledge is not enough. My standard SAP...

functionality is fine but I have no idea when it comes to ABAP and options for user exit functionality, use of function modules, etc. I am also struggling to find out how I can get this knowledge.

Do you think I can be a contractor without this knowledge? Will I pick the skills up along the way or is it essential as a prerequisite?

You don't need to know how to make user exists or program in ABAP to be a contractor. It's helpful to know how to work with ABAP teams to describe the specifications that the functional team needs from them, but even that is not required. That's not to say a bit of ABAP know-how isn't helpful; I think it is. I have said for a long time now that 80/20 functional/technical is the ideal split. But many functional consultants know a lot less than 20 percent of ABAP. :)

What you do need to be a functional consultant is heavy configuration skills on multiple projects if possible. Remember that before companies turn to ABAP, they try to customize SAP through configuration changes, and that's the key to a functional consulting skill set. It's not clear to me from your question whether you have that configuration know-how. If you don't, that's what you need to obtain before you can move into contracting.

Finally, if you really want to know if you're ready for contracting or not, there's only one way to know for sure -- put your resume out there and see what kind of response you get. That will give you a very good read on where you stand.

This was last published in December 2006

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