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The techno-functional ratio

Discover the latest career buzzword, the SAP techno-functional consultant.

I have 2 years of non-SAP programming experience and a MBA in marketing. I've picked up a job in a big MNC as a techno-functional consultant on SAP SD module. I'm training on ABAP (familiarization) and SD. I'm supposed to be able to bridge the gap between the technical guys and the clients/functional guys. Now, I want to know if this is a role with growth prospects? Why? Can I move to pure functionality from here? How? Would it be worthwhile? Timeline involved? Any other suggestions?
Every so often in this SearchSAP Ask the Expert feature, I make a point of commenting on the marketability of the techno-functional consultant. It's been a while since I did, so I'm glad you asked. There seems to be a common perception that being a techno-functional consultant is a good thing. I agree, but only to a point.

It comes down to ratios. If you are 50% technical and 50% functional (as it sounds like you are now), I don't think...

that's a good mix. Sometimes that 50/50 combo is fine for smaller SAP projects where many hats are worn, but for the most part, SAP has too many complexities to get away with straddling the fence. The best SAP consultants -- and certainly the most marketable ones I've seen -- have an 80/20 split between technical and functional (either way is feasible). If possible, the best combination is 80% functional and 20% technical. This would mean that you are a functional consultant who knows enough about ABAP and SAP development and NetWeaver to be helpful communicating business process needs to the development team.

To directly answer your question, I think you have a good role on your project for now, but given my attitude about 50/50 work, I would suggest in the long run that you find a way to move into a more functional focus, while retaining some of that technical know-how. This kind of role tends to evolve over time as you prove yourself to your clients and/or employer. As you become a valuable and known contributor, your employer might give you a boost by paying for some functional certifications to strengthen your knowledge. And over time, you can move into project roles that are more functional. If I were you, I would make a point of letting your employer know that your long term goal is to become a functional consultant while excelling on their projects. Ask them if that is a career path they can support. If so, you should be in good shape. If not, you may eventually need to move on from your current firm, but I'd soak up the current experience first.

This was last published in July 2006

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