Q

Opportunities in workflow vs. enterprise portals

I'm currently an ABAP consultant with over five years experience and would like to acquire some additional skills. The opportunities I have before me are either workflow or enterprise portals. The portals option would mean exposure to newer technologies -- however, I'm not too sure what viable portals work there is both permanent and contract. Is there is potential for this to be a real growth area or is it a something that the industry as a whole does not embrace?

The workflow option, however, is a tried and tested area, and also brings with it different design and development opportunities, which interests me. There are also more opportunities on the job market although I do realize this is partially because it's not a new product. Any advice or pros and cons would be appreciated.

I don't know if I agree that there are more workflow opportunities than portals opportunities on the job market. Let me put it to you this way: I know a lot more consultants who are succeeding with a portals focus than a workflow focus. Though it is always looking like it's ready to break loose, workflow has never really panned out as an SAP consulting niche. I do know a few senior workflow experts who have done OK, but even those folks haven't done all that well. Now, I would definitely agree that workflow is a good skill for most ABAP consultants to have in their toolkit; I'm just not sure it's a growth area or a good focal point for consulting. Portals looks more viable to me, though you are right that the market acceptance for SAP's portals product is still somewhat mixed. If I were you, between the two, I would take the portals option, primarily because portals development work should expose you to some nifty Java and web-based programming concepts within SAP environments. Those are excellent skills for you to acquire, and in your comparison of workflow versus Portals, you didn't mention that one benefit of portals work is developing web-based programming skills. To me, that's a huge plus. Of course, you don't have to stop at portals -- you may find that there are other niches you can pursue that tie into portals. One portals consultant I know is now moving into working with the Mobile Development Kit, and that's pretty cutting edge stuff. I don't see the typical workflow person getting access to those kinds of opportunities. For what it's worth, that's my two cents.
This was first published in March 2005

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