Ask the Expert

When looking for a new career in SAP, where does one start?

I am an MBA in international business in India and have come to London recently. One of my friends suggested that I do SAP, CRM and SCM. He said that it has a great future in the U.K. in the coming years. I would like to know what possible careers there are in this and the future of SAP professionals before spending my money on SAP courses.

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Often our friends don't give very good advice when it comes to SAP, but, in this case, your friend is right on. I don't know a lot about your background, but with your MBA and functional business know-how, either CRM or SCM could be good for you.

I have this saying about finding good SAP roles: "Go where the action is." In other words, put your resume out there and see where the opportunities unfold for you, keeping in mind your core skills and interests. The best SAP work is a balance between the work you have the most passion for and the work the market values. The SAP CRM market is very healthy -- so much so that SAP claims to be the market leader in CRM revenue. I suspect that comes down to how the numbers are sliced and diced, but it's not inconceivable.

The SAP SCM product is more confusing to me, to be honest with you. I think there are some good opportunities in SCM, but SAP presents SCM as a complete product suite, when, as far as I can see, it's more a combination of core logistics that SAP has had forever (SD/MM/PP), along with its flagship supply chain planning product, APO.

Until SAP comes out with some kind of hot SCM product for real, I think it's better to look under the hood and pull the SCM products apart a little bit. When you do that, you see that the APO market is really pretty flat and has been for a long time. I think that's due to the complexities and length of APO implementations. At any rate, I cannot recommend the APO product for a new consultant until that market improves.

That leaves us with core logistics, which I do think is an excellent area to pursue. But that's really a core ERP area as far as I'm concerned. I realize that SAP presents SCM a little differently than I've described it, but until I see job orders that reflect some kind of SCM product, I'm going to go with my definition. On the other hand, both PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and SRM are real viable products with emerging consulting markets. I would take PLM and SRM over SCM, though CRM is the hottest of the four. Again, I would keep an open mind and go where the opportunities lead you, with the exception of APO. Otherwise, pretty much any area is fair game.

This was first published in May 2006

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