I am currently working for a manufacturing company and have about 4 years of SAP experience in Basis, FI, HR, and MM. I would like to become an independent SAP consultant, but I don't know where to start. Should I try and work for SAP at first or go and get certified on my own? I don't feel that I am particularly strong in any one area of SAP.
First of all, you don't need to work for SAP directly in order to become an independent consultant. And if you've read my previous columns, you know that I think SAP certification is overrated. You need two things to succeed as an independent SAP consultant: You need a hot, niche skill, backed up by years of relevant, focused experience, and you need client references from multiple SAP projects. Judging from your background, it doesn't seem like you have either one of those things. The good news is that it's still possible, in some instances, to break into SAP consulting even if you've only worked on one SAP engagement. However, you do need a deep, focused niche. You must address this issue if you want to "go independent." My suggestion would be to forget about certification and training, and start applying for SAP contracts right now. At this point, if you actually land a contract, that's a bonus. What you're really trying to do is get some feedback from hiring managers and find out where your skills fall short. It can be hard to get this kind of specific feedback - too often, the only reply you get is "no thanks," but be persistent and try to get some feedback that helps you to identify the gaps in your background and figure out which of your skills are the most marketable. Once you determine that, you want to enhance/focus on the hottest skills you have. You might be able to do that within your current project, but if you hit a wall there, consider applying for a perm job at another SAP end client. Those kinds of jobs are out there right now - not in abundance, but they're there. They aren't lucrative, but your main goal is not money at this point anyway. Getting an additional project under your belt will give you more credibility and better prospects for future contract positions. Just do your best to choose a perm position that will build on your best skills.
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