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SAP HR: technical to functional career change

Moving from the technical side of SAP HR to a functional role can be challenging, but this advice from Jon Reed will help.

I have been certified in 4.6 as a technical consultant and I've been working as an ABAP developer for five years specializing in HR and ESS/MSS.

I now have an opportunity to move into HR in a functional time management-related position (Time Evaluation). I'm...

wondering if this is a good career move.

I like the idea of moving from the technical side of HR to the functional. There's no question that in the long run, functional rates and career paths are more secure than the technical/development side, which is more prone to outsourcing. I guess we should start thinking about HR as HCM, or Human Capital Management, as SAP refers to it starting with mySAP ERP. Time management is not a bad area to focus on for now because it is an area that is used pretty heavily, and also has some complexities that often require the assistance of outside consultants. The key, however, is just making the functional switch, and keeping just enough technical skills exposure by making sure you continue to serve as a contact point to the technical team as needed.

However, in the long run, I do think that we will see a divide in the fate of HR consultants. Routine areas like payroll and benefits are going to command less rates and be more prone to outsourcing, whereas the more "strategic" aspects of HCM, such as workforce management and succession planning type functionality, are going to be better as a consulting focus. With your technical skills, you might also be a good fit for web-based self-service functionality, another HR sweet spot. So, I like the move, but you'll need to keep your eyes open and keep pushing for strategic skills exposure once you make it.

This was last published in March 2006

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