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Conceptual thinkers wanted

Experts say SAP professionals should focus on communications, business process orientation and conceptual thinking skills.

SAP professionals looking to make themselves more marketable tend to focus solely on improving their technical skill sets. How do I build expertise in How can I sharpen my BAPI skills? Should I take an XML class?

Experts say SAP professionals would be wise to focus more on communications, business process orientation, and even conceptual thinking skills. "Those are the kinds of skills that are most difficult to find in the SAP sector," says Linda Pittenger, president and CEO of IT/human resource consultancy People3, a Gartner Group company in Bridgewater, N.J.

This is especially true now that SAP is moving more into the business-to-business sector with "Technologists are typically analytical thinkers," Pittenger says. "But once you start entering the E-business world, you need to have more conceptual thinkers on the team, and those are difficult to come by."

Pittenger says SAP shops uncover conceptual thinkers by asking certain questions during the interview process. For example, take a look at the following interview question:

"If you were to start your own business, how would you go about it?"

Pittenger says an analytical person will take you through the steps: do this first, do this second, do this third. A conceptual person, on the other hand, will tell you more about the kinds of industries and businesses they want to be in. "The difference is readily apparent," she says.

Although conceptual thinkers are more difficult to come by in the SAP world, don't lose heart if you answered the question analytically, she says. Strong SAP teams need both types.

"If you have too many conceptual thinkers, then nothing will ever get done," she says. "And if you have too many analytical thinkers, then they will tend to build more what they think is right, and not necessarily what the business needs. Having both types of thinkers on the team is very important."

The key is in knowing where you are in the skills arena and playing up your strengths, she says.

For more information, contact People3 at

Cummings is a freelance writer in North Andover, MA. She can be reached at

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