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Typical career path for an SD functional consultant

I have programming as well as sales and marketing experience. I am considering taking SAP training and certification for SD functional consulting from Sapient College. What is the typical career path for an SD functional consultant?

I have programming as well as sales and marketing experience. I am considering taking SAP training and certification for SD functional consulting from Sapient College. What is the typical career path for an SD functional consultant?

Well, there really is no "typical career path" in SD these days. :) Some folks are moving into CRM, some are moving...

into supply chain management, some have become pricing experts, and some are still knee deep in order management. I don't really see "SD" as a destination point any more. It's more of a process you go through as you move into the SAP products of the future. When you think about it, SD isn't really one area anyhow, but several different functional areas, and it makes sense to choose between them. For example, it sounds like you are more interested in the "sales" side of SD than the "distribution" side. Therefore, you might be more drawn toward the marketing and sales aspects of SD. But even there, you have a range of issues - from Internet commerce and online order processing, to mobile applications and so-called "sales force automation." Then, of course, you have marketing campaign management, partner relationship management, etc. To me, the most compelling aspects of SD have to do with the "demand-driven supply chain." In other words, how can we leverage the Internet to give our suppliers and our manufacturing team advance notice and real-time assessment sales trends so that inventory can be reduced and we can deliver products that adapt to meet the changing needs of fussy modern consumers? The reason I find this area so compelling is two-fold: one, because very few companies have truly integrated their "demand chain" and their "supply chain;" and two, SAP, with its all-encompassing product line, is in the ideal position to deliver this kind of functionality. Of course, you can't specialize in all aspects of this "extended" supply chain, but you can certainly find interesting niches in a range of sales and marketing areas - areas which can be connected to order management and sales forecasting.

In my mind, the best way to proceed is to identify the functional areas in sales and marketing that interest you the most, and then focus on the parts of SAP that relate to your interests. For example, let's say you're really interested in marketing and campaign management. In that case, you should learn as much as you can about that functional area. Then, you can study how software can help marketing departments realize those objectives. Finally, you map this into SAP itself and figure out how to pursue it. You might find, for example, that the most interesting marketing functionality in SAP is found in the mySAP CRM components, and so you would skip SD entirely and pursue CRM certification and SAP CRM positions instead. By taking this broader approach, you become a well-rounded CRM business process expert, as opposed to a narrow SAP implementation specialist. The best thing about this approach is that you will make sure that you have identified the specific area of SAP to focus on, instead of just pursuing SD and hoping for the best. This approach will also make you a more effective SAP consultant, and it will enhance your prospects outside of SAP as well. Given you are just getting out of school, you have a lot of options to consider. You might even do well working directly for SAP for a while. I hope I've given you a better sense of what's out there for you in the SD and CRM market of the future.

This was last published in February 2004

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