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Overcoming the experience barrier

I have a vast amount of SAP experience in various Modules (SD/MM/QM/PP/WM/PM/FI/CO/ALE). My primary focus is SD...

and MM. I have been involved with 6 SAP implementations. However, I have only been able to land short-term contracts (6 months or less), and usually I will be given additional duties outside of the area (module) for which I was brought onto the project. I thrive on the opportunity to learn a new skill. Here's the problem: When trying to land a long-term project I always hear that I do not have enough experience in a specific module. I have over 3 yrs experience in SD and MM. How do I overcome this barrier?


First of all, if you're still able to land six month contracts, you're not in such bad shape. I consider a six month contract a pretty long term contract in this market. Let's put it this way: There are consultants out there who would take their buddies out for a night on the town if they inked a six month deal. But you're right, you do want to focus your skills. I'm surprised your clients aren't compelling you to do that. Usually, when you get hired on a contract basis, you really are a "hired gun" responsible for a specific niche. The biggest challenge is making sure you're in the right niche, or before long, you end up becoming an expert in the wrong thing. Honestly, I think the best way to hone your focus is to keep taking contracts. Just try to find the most focused opportunities you can. In addition, invest in supplementary training in the "focus area" you would like to specialize in. Make sure that focus area extends nicely from your current core skills. As you accumulate training, you'll have a body of knowledge you can use to keep edging your way towards where you want to be. One consultant I know calls this "marketing yourself within the project" and I think this one of the smartest tactic for contracting success I've ever heard of. Your marketing efforts don't stop once you get on assignment. Try to find creative ways to getting your feet wet instead of just putting out fires. Put out those fires, but use the goodwill you earn by doing that to talk your way into new areas of interest. If you want to learn more about that tactic, check out the interview I did with SAP-EAI consultant Dave Bernard in the www.mySAPcareers.com archives. Your other option is getting a perm job, hopefully with a company that will "invest" in your development. There's a problem with this strategy, however: I'm finding that in this slow economy, companies want their SAP folks to wear many hats. That makes for interesting work, but it doesn't necessarily help you become more marketable as a consultant.


This was last published in October 2002

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