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Do I have what it takes to get into functional CRM consulting?

I am a functional consultant with experience in CO, SD and CRM. My true skill involves business process, integration and understanding the "vision" or "the big picture". From what I have seen so far, the CRM suite of products requires technical expertise far beyond what used to be expected for a normal functional consultant. Is there room for a person like me in CRM, or do I have to try to develop more skills like ABAP or BW configuration?

This is an excellent question and a very astute observation on your part regarding the technical aspects of SAP CRM job openings. Your question reminds me of when I first started working with Siebel consultants, and I realized that the best "functional" Siebel consultants needed to have more technical skills than the typical SAP functional consultant. No, these Siebel folks did not need to be hardcore Visual Basic programmers, but they did need to have a good knowledge of Siebel Tools and the Siebel technical environment. I always wondered if the same would hold true when SAP CRM job orders started popping up, and sure enough, that is indeed the case. I see very few "purely functional" SAP CRM jobs out there. Even those positions that require the business process/big picture skills you're well-versed in also tend to require some technical abilities, such as installing/managing middleware solutions, handling bdocs (Business Documents) via RFC, etc.

I imagine there's still room for the occasional CRM business process expert out there, but for the most part, I expect successful SAP CRM consultants to be much more technically savvy than the typical R/3 functional consultant. This is a very interesting contrast to other mySAP solutions such as APO. In the APO market, there are plenty of functional "configuration" jobs in various components of APO that are very similar to a typical R/3 functional position. The same is not the case in the SAP CRM world. This is not to say that there isn't a place for you in SAP CRM, however. You just need to commit yourself to mastering more technical tools than you are used to dealing with in R/3. This does not necessarily mean you need to become an ABAP programmer. The CRM consultants I know talk about mastering SAP CRM middleware, bdocs and IDOCs, setting up Remote Function Calls, etc. These are skills I believe you can acquire.

One interesting note: I recently published an interaction with an aspiring SAP CRM consultant on mySAPcareers.com, and he emphasized the value of certification in breaking into SAP CRM. Since I tend to be skeptical about using certification to break into new areas of SAP, I think I'm obligated to point out a potential exception to this rule in SAP CRM. This consultant (who had a similar SAP background to yours, but with ABAP as well), landed a good role on a CRM project after getting certified in Internet Sales and Customer Interaction Center (CIC). Since he had no previous CRM experience, that's a success story worth sharing. Although you don't have the ABAP background he does, perhaps those certifications would give you an edge in the market and also help you to identify the key technical skills you need to become a successful SAP CRM consultant. Good luck!

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