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Will my i2/ERP-experience get me in the door with APO consultancy?

I have been a supply chain assist. manager for the last 3 years with a marketing/distribution company. I joined as management trainee after doing MBA specializing in operations/IE. In our company we use i2 for supply chain planning and ERP for transactions. These systems were installed and streamlined prior to me joining and I am currently working as "end user".

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With these qualifications, will any IT firm hire me for APO implementation/consultancy? I want to get into APO because it is new and I think my marketability in a supply chain-environment will go up.

More importantly, what are the long-term career prospects of a person who has mastered APO? Can he become a better candidate to head a supply chain function in a company?
Breaking down your first question, what you really want to know is how transferable your i2 skills are to APO environments. The answer is: not very. This doesn't mean your i2 skills aren't relevant to APO – of course they are. But IT hiring managers have never bought into the idea that expertise in a competing product is enough, in and of itself, to qualify someone to work on a different software package. I don't necessarily agree with that thinking myself, but that's a long, different discussion. Job seekers are much better off mastering the laws of the hiring market than trying to force change. Your best bet would be to find a company that is transitioning from i2 to APO, and believe it or not, there are such companies out there. i2, like many best-of-breed software programs, is losing some market share to big ERP vendors right now. Obviously, a company undergoing a transition from i2 to APO would see a lot of value in your skills and background. Your next best option would be to get a perm job with an end-user that is running SAP R/3 as well as i2. Then at least you would begin to learn about i2-SAP integration, and you'd be in a better position to sell your expertise to SAP clients. As for your second question about the long-term prospects for APO, I think you're looking for a level of career assurance that just isn't there – especially in the IT field. No one really knows what the long-term prospects for APO are. I like the next three to five years for APO specialists, but remember that your desire to become the head of a supply chain group within a company will require more than hands-on skills. Just obtaining APO won't get you promoted into a leadership role. Acquiring leadership skills is a whole different conversation. I touch on that subject almost every month, so read the other answers for more on that.

This was first published in August 2003

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