I am a QM consultant with one and half years of experience. Though I was trained in MM by my employer, I had to do QM for project's sake. Now, I have become a full-fledged QM consultant. I would like to know about the career in QM module. Will it be OK if I keep on doing QM projects or should I go back and get some projects where I will work on MM? Also what are the options and career prospects in new technology area (APO, CRM etc.) for my kind of profile?
QM is another one of those "fringe" R/3 modules that I've touched on from time to time in this column (I've covered PM, SM, and WM previously, and hope to get around to PS soon). The situation with all the "fringe" modules is pretty much the same: all of the modules have had some success with SAP customers, but not enough for the average SAP consultant to specialize in exclusively. Most of these "niche" modules face stiff non-SAP competition from industry-specific, best-of-breed products. I actually just placed a QM consultant a few months ago, but I find that these "niche" markets are dominated by five to ten year SAP consultants who have extensive configuration experience on multiple projects, and relevant industry background as well. If you had applied for the same position, you would have found steep competition from the seven year QM veteran I placed. Since you don't have this depth of background in QM, I would caution you against specializing in QM exclusively.
There are a couple more good reasons to be wary of QM: first, you don't see QM emphasized in the mySAP product line of the future. Second, QM is not a prominent part of SAP's core Lostistics Execution System in R/3. Whenever I run into a not-so-senior consultant who is wary of specializing in a niche SAP module, I recommend a dual course of action: first, broaden your skills within R/3, and second, figure out where, and if, your niche module fits into the mySAP product line of the future. Let's tackle each of those in turn for QM. The good news for QM is that it's closely tied into, and integrated with, other core R/3 modules - the MM module in particular. In fact, I see about as many MM/QM job openings as I do "straight" QM.
Since MM is more of a standard R/3 component, it makes sense to try to combine QM with MM, and perhaps WM. Of course, your skills are largely defined by the nature of the projects you can find, but the ideal "fallback" skill set for you is an MM/QM combo, with as much exposure to 4.6 (and even 4.7) environments as you can get. Looking ahead to mySAP.com, instead of "bailing out" of your niche module for an unrelated area like CRM, you want to see if there is any overlap between what you're currently doing and where SAP is headed. Which leads you straight to... mySAP PLM (Product Lifecycle Management). While PLM is by no means the equivalent of QM, I have talked with a couple of PLM folks who have mentioned QM-type functionality within the PLM solution. Although the PLM product is not yet mature, why not target a mySAP specialization that will draw on your current experience? At the very least, the PLM niche is worthy of further research on your part to see how well your skills match up. The more you can "leverage" your current skills, the better your chances for breaking into some aspect of the mySAP product line. But even if PLM is a long way off, you are wise to be taking a hard look at your current QM niche and to start envisioning an expansion of those skills in two directions: something else to fall back on, and something else to shoot for.
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