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Should a senior FI/CO consultant pursue SEM? (part 2)

I'm a SAP (FI/CO) consultant and have been associated with implementations since 1997. I have worked in all areas of FI (except Legal consolidation - now ECCS) and CO (except ECCS and Product Costing). My last three assignments have been upgrades from various SAP versions to 4.6C. I have also attended a couple of virtual courses on BW too.

My question is what should be the direction that a consultant in my area take and how should he go about it? There seems to be a lot of hype about SEM, but I understand that it requires BW.

Your inputs would be appreciated.

(Continued from part 1)

It makes perfect sense to envision yourself as a consultant who has deep transactional FI/CO experience, but who also has the skills implementing strategic pieces of SEM such as the Corporate Performance Monitor (CPM) and the Business Planning and Simulation (BPS) module. But as we noted, it's hard to land SEM projects right now. Honestly, your best bet to break into SEM is to pick projects with companies that have a solid track record implementing the full suite of SAP products and aggressively installing the latest SAP releases. It takes a bit of luck, but if you pick this type of company, you just might find yourself in the right place at the right time when the company pulls the trigger on SEM. With your hands-on skills in related areas of SAP, you'd stand a decent chance of getting pulled onto the SEM team. Of course, the big problem is that the companies with the deepest pockets are the same ones that are most unsettled by the current corporate accounting scandals. It will be good to put some of these accounting woes behind us, so that more large companies make legitimate IT investments again. In the meantime, do your best to stay current in your skills, learn as much about the SEM solution as you can, and be prepared to seize that opportunity when it presents itself.

Finally, you raise an important question regarding the significance of BW to the SEM application. Clearly, any type of "Executive Information System" like SEM is going to leverage the existing data warehousing/reporting architecture. And that's where BW comes in. Most SEM consultants we've worked with have had some BW experience, and most SEM job orders we've seen do seem to involve both SEM and BW skills. Of course, things are always evolving at SAP, so there's no way to know for sure how essential BW will be to SEM in the future. For example, in recent SAP literature, we don't see "BW" referred to at all - rather we see "BI," or Business Intelligence, which is now being marketed as part of the mySAP Portals infrastructure. And SAP is currently marketing SEM alongside mySAP Financials - the implication being that if a company is running the mySAP Financials component, then SEM will function seamlessly. There's no mention of BW in the SEM marketing literature we just reviewed, but that doesn't mean BW isn't essential for SEM to functional properly on the back end.

In the foreseeable future, it's safe to assume that BW skills are going to be a factor for most SEM positions. And that's good and bad news. The bad news is that it presents one more area of expertise you'll need to establish. The good news is that BW projects are more plentiful than SEM projects, so it's possible that you could gain some valuable exposure to BW that would later help you break into SEM. But judging from the latest information from SAP, it seems that exposure to mySAP Financials is going to be a major aspect of the SEM toolkit on the functional side where you're focused. So that gives you something to shoot for. The bottom line for you: any business intelligence experience you are able to acquire via BW would certainly be helpful, but your main objective is to gain experience in the latest versions of mySAP Financials, and try to position yourself as someone who helps companies take strategic advantage of their transactional data. Good luck.

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