Q

SAP APO consulting is a dying career field?

What is the future of SAP APO in the market? How I should an SAP APO functional consultant move ahead with their career? Which other areas of SAP should they learn in order for my career to grow?

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I am a functional consultant in SAP APO with two years of (DP and SNP) experience. I also have around six years of domain experience in the field of material and production planning.

I wanted to know, what is the future of SAP APO in the market? Also, I am keen to know how I should move ahead in my career as an SAP APO functional consultant. Which other areas of SAP should I learn in order for my career to grow?

I'm not a huge fan of the APO product going forward. One clear warning sign is that APO is no longer featured prominently in SAP's marketing materials. That's a message that SAP is not getting many "bites" on APO-related implementation activity from their clients. When you look at SAP's product literature, you will see that Supply Chain Management (SCM) is the product SAP is pushing.

APO is a part of that overall solution, but in some ways, a smaller part at this point. I think the reason APO is having challenges is that these kinds of advanced planning projects are complex, with lengthy implementation cycles. In the meantime, the business climate changes, or one company acquires another, and the half-finished APO implementation already feels out of date. SAP seems to be pushing SCM options that are smaller in scope and that can be implemented more quickly. Having said that, I do know some APO consultants who are doing pretty well, so there's no reason to "abandon ship" if you excel in the APO area.

As for the second part of your question, if I were an APO consultant looking to enhance my marketability, I would take these dynamics into account. But instead of leaving my APO skills behind entirely, I would focus on how APO integrates with other aspects of the SAP product line. For example, picking up skills like integrating APO with BW/BI would be a nice way of linking up your APO know-how with a product that is more broadly relevant. In addition, mastering the integration points between APO And SAP R/3 or, preferably, ERP 6.0, would be another good way to enhance your value in the APO market while also picking up more skills relevant to the core. Finally, being able to speak to how APO ties into the rest of the SAP SCM product would be of some value. Taken together, these "skills enhancements" would allow you to expand your options beyond APO without leaving that hard work acquiring APO skills behind.

This was first published in September 2007

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