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XI vs. Portal for ABAP consultants

XI or Portal? I have been an ABAP consultant for 12 years (nine of them as an independent) and would like to know which of these two technologies would offer better contracting prospects in the medium- to long-term (and which would be a better fit with a core ABAP skill set)? Any hints on how an independent can break into the above areas when you're hired on the basis of what you currently know?

XI or Portal? I have been an ABAP consultant for 12 years (nine of them as an independent) and would like to know which of these two technologies would offer better contracting prospects in the medium- to long-term (and which would be a better fit with a core ABAP skill set)? Any hints on how an independent can break into the above areas when you're hired on the basis of what you currently know?
I'm not sure I see "XI or Portal" as an either/or. I would be more likely to suggest: "XI and Portal." I haven't met an XI developer yet, so I can't say for sure that XI is an area you can have success in as a technical developer/consultant. I do know some Portals programmers who are doing very well, though one of them has told me he doesn't think the future is in Portals, but in BW/XI/NetWeaver. But then, Portals technically is part of NetWeaver. :-)

It's easy to get confused and hung up on trying to unravel all the details of the product line. I would suggest...

a more practical approach: Go where the opportunities are, go where the demand is. If you search the jobs on SearchSAP.com and you don't see any jobs listing what you want to focus on, then it's probably too far in the future and you need to combine that "next generation" skill with something that's in demand now. The key is to always add to the core with the cutting edge, forming a bridge between what is in demand now and what will be. Easier said than done, I know.

In terms of your question about getting skills exposure as an independent, I would say that many independents are able to build on their skills while on projects. There is a limit to that. For example, on a project as a consultant, a company won't pay you to switch from ABAP to Basis or from technical to functional. But if you choose your projects carefully, you should be able to find a project that draws on your ABAP skills but also gives you some exposure to "what's next" for SAP technically. Many other folks have done this, so keep being selective on your projects and go the extra mile once you land a good one, and I suspect you'll be able to push forward.

This was last published in June 2006

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