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Is it riskier to stay with a stable but less challenging job, or face the open job market?

I have seven years of experience with SAP. I used to be a programmer but I became a CO configurator when we were short on people. Then I passed the CPA exam, so I was trained in CO and ABAP during the implementation (I have my bachelor's degree in Finance/Accounting and a master's in MIS.) I worked on an implementation for a year exclusively in CO, then I switched back to MIS to be a DBA and I also worked on Basis.

I excelled in functional configuration (including product costing and PA), and I also did some configurations for SD, IDOC, MM, LIS, FI and PP. I also completed a data archiving project by myself. I have five years of experience with Basis DBA. However, my skills become obsolete since I am still using 4.0 and my company doesn't want to spend money in IT and we are not going to upgrade until next year or later.

The reason I am staying because of stability, but I feel that I am risking my future and going backward. Should I jump ship now or wait for the upgrade? I would like to go back to China or Hong Kong in a few years. I wonder what area should I focus to stay on the top of the game -- Basis or FI/CO or others?

I hope all the readers of this column read your question, because it's one of the most important in this batch. You hit the nail on the head: For an SAP consultant, it's often riskier to stay on a long-term "maintenance" mode job than to hit the open market. Being stuck on 4.0 is going to make you obsolete. You do need to move on if you want to stay in the SAP field, you can't afford to just wait a year or two for an upgrade.

As to which area you should focus on within SAP, I think it really depends on which skills other companies are willing to invest in. I'm tempted to suggest you stay with Basis, since it sounds like you might have more recent exposure in that area. You should basically start applying for new positions and see what kinds of jobs you are offered. I could see you getting a Basis job and helping a company to upgrade to R/3 Enterprise or beyond. With your functional background, a Basis/BW skill combination might be good for you, as you could bring a range of functional knowledge into the installation, design, and administration of BW InfoCubes. This might lead you into a rewarding new phase of your career as a techno-functional SAP business intelligence consultant. That's just one possible scenario. The main thing is to get yourself on a newer version of SAP as soon as you can. The rest you can continue to sort out as you go forward.

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