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What's the best path to becoming a Basis consultant?

I want to train, qualify, have an industrial placement and then have a job as a Basis consultant. What path should...

I follow that will allow me achieve this?


Your question intrigued me, because your plan to break into SAP is actually the reverse of the plan I typically recommend. Don't be upset when I say this - just about everyone trying to break into SAP has the same misconceptions. I've seen a lot of consultants break into SAP over the years, but the rules have changed. In the heyday of SAP circa 1997, a good consultant could do exactly as you suggested: They could get trained, certified, and placed on an SAP project. And the beauty of it was that a consulting firm would pay for it all, and bump up the salary to boot! But that's all changed now, and these days it takes a great strategy and a lot of good fortune to break into any area of SAP. What you want to do is to take a hard look at your current skills, and try to match those skills up with corresponding areas within SAP. It sounds to me like you're probably a systems administrator or DBA who wants to shift into SAP Basis work. Because the market is so tight right now, your best bet is to find a company running on SAP that can use your current non-SAP skills. Even if you're not hired to perform SAP functions, just getting onto an SAP project site is a great next step. The key is to identify a company that will truly benefit from your current industry and technical background without having to invest a dime in you. It may sound cold, but that's IT life in an economic recession. Ideally, that company should have a proven commitment investing in SAP technology, because you want to gain exposure to the latest mySAP product offerings. Look for companies with deep pockets that have been less affected by the economic downturn - in pharmaceutical or aerospace and defense, for example. Set a two to three year goal for yourself to gain cutting edge SAP skills.

Something else to keep in mind is that there isn't just one kind of Basis consultant right now. I know Basis consultants with more than five years of experience who are having trouble finding project work. But others with less SAP experience are having more success. Typically, these are the consultants who have gained exposure to emerging areas within the mySAP e-business platform, such as mySAP Workplace and SAP Portals. If you can somehow anticipate where SAP is headed and load up on those kinds of skills, you'll be in much better shape than if you try to elbow your way into classic Basis work. For example, you could get some hands-on experience setting up corporate portals, private industry exchanges, and Internet firewalls without even touching SAP. And yet, after a year or two of that type of "e-business" work, you might find yourself better positioned to break into SAP projects than a five year Basis consultant who doesn't have these kinds of skills. Pick your projects carefully, build a core set of e-business skills, ride out the lean period, and you should be in good shape on the other side.


This was last published in May 2002

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