I am an electrical engineer working in the power sector. Starting this job, I was trained for SAP PM for end-user support. Now I am working with the maintenance department. I have almost three years of total experience.

I want to start a career as an SAP PM consultant. Is certification the best route?

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PM is a strange area. For ten years or so, 1995 to 2005, it sort of crept along -- some steady consulting demand but nothing special. More recently, I've seen an uptick in the demand for PM skills and knowledge. At SAPtips, we've had a lot of requests in the last year for PM articles.

I suspect there are two main reasons for this. First, as companies become more mature in their SAP installs, they are finding more time to leverage the complementary modules that expand the core functionality. Second, I suspect that PM is benefiting from the continued trend towards looking to one software provider for your enterprise functionality. Companies are more and more interested in kicking out best-of-breed programs and implementing whatever the main provider, Oracle or SAP or what have you, has to offer, even if there is a functionality gap. And we're seeing that functionality gap lessen over time as SAP improves its PM functionality and integration across the SCM and Logistics Execution platform.

I like PM as an SAP consulting niche, but I only like it as an exclusive focus for the real five year and over experts in PM. Otherwise, I'd suggest combining your PM skills with a core area of SAP. I could see MM/PM being a good combination for you for example. MM work would give you more core exposure along with your PM niche.

Often you see PM combined with SM (Service Management). I don't like this as much because SM is a niche module also. But it may be that SM/PM would also lead you into CRM, where some of SAP's advanced service functionality now lies, and that could be of real value.

The bottom line is that plants aren't going away, and the need to pull plant management systems into the ERP system is more important than ever now. So yes, I like the future of PM, but be careful to balance specialization with a core skill, at least until you reach the point of being one of the real experts in a particular field.

This was first published in December 2006

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