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SAP HR analyst wonders about a wider focus

A young SAP HR functional analyst wonders whether it might be wiser to look into broader experience, but Jon Reed says the HR field is full of opportunity.

I am a young SAP HR functional/configuration analyst and I am wondering where my newfound knowledge and university degree can take me. I have two years' experience supporting the HR Time Management module as well as configuring the Compensation Management module all in 4.6C.

Because I am looking for more project work, I am not signing a new contract with my employer. Since my experience...

is strictly SAP HR Time Management and Compensation Management with some knowledge in the other areas of payroll, OM/PA and benefits, should I still try to focus on functional or broaden my knowledge in technical or even another module altogether, i.e. FI/CO, etc.?

If I were you, I'd stick with the SAP HR focus. Whenever you have developed a strength in an area of SAP, it's a good idea to build on that -- as long as the area you are pursuing is marketable.

In your case, the HR area is very marketable. As a general rule, whenever you're on the functional side of SAP, you want to stay there, and not move in the technical direction, where the competition is greater. The reason HR is marketable is because ERP vendors have made big progress consolidating the "back office." More and more, customers want their entire back office product line from the same vendor.

So SAP, with its strength in financials, has also picked up more and more HR business as well. And with all the upgrades going on with the enterprise core, there's plenty of HR work on the horizon. With mySAP HR, SAP is also repositioning HR in a strategic direction. When we hear about SAP HCM, or Human Capital Management, we're talking about expanding HR beyond payroll and benefits to encompass more strategic workforce management functions. The most marketable HR skills combine core HR skills and more advanced HR functionality.

Time management is not a bad area to have some expertise in, but it's ultimately a little too narrow in my opinion. There are some very successful SAP time management experts, but it's not an area that will support many consultants. If you can get more payroll and benefits experience and then add some Web-based HR functions like ESS (Employee Self-Service), and perhaps some additional HCM skills, you'll be in great shape. In core areas like HR, the ideal is getting the upgrade exposure before most of your colleagues.

So, if you can get 5.0, or better yet, 6.0 skills, that would be the best thing you could do to enhance your position in the SAP market. Instead of moving away from SAP HR, look to upgrade to the latest HR releases before your colleagues and you should be in good shape.

This was last published in February 2007

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