Its every professional’s dream to choose a right career that is not only professionally satisfying but also financially rewarding. However, access to career counseling to make better and informed career decisions is one of the areas where we don’t have or find many resources to turn to. As a result, we turn to our friends, family, peers, or mentors to help us choose a career path or make a transition to a different career. A career in SAP ERP can bring great professional satisfaction, while also being financially rewarding.
Here are some of the more frequently asked and encountered questions on SAP:
What Business Process Knowledge, Educational Background or Professional Experience do I need?
Table 1 relates to the SAP ERP components and the corresponding business process knowledge, educational background or professional experience that helps in attaining greater success in SAP ERP career.
SAP ERP Component
Business Process Knowledge, Educational Background or Professional Experience
Procurement, logistics or supply chain management (SCM)
Sales and marketing
Production and operations management, Engineering degree in any discipline
Maintenance management, an Engineering degree in any discipline
Logistics or supply chain management (SCM)
Project management including PMP certification
Human resources management
Computer science or computer engineering
Computer science or computer engineering
Table 1: Professional experience or educational background needed for relevant SAP ERP component
What does an SAP ERP Implementation Project look like?
When a company implements SAP ERP project, it entails going through the five phases. These five phases are the following:
Project Preparation: In this phase, initial training and overview sessions on SAP ERP are held to provide a greater understanding of component-specific features and functionalities and how they integrate with each other.
Business Blueprint: In this phase, the existing business processes or business functions of the company are mapped in SAP ERP. In other words, how business process owners will eventually perform the business functions in SAP ERP system. For example, if a company is currently using work order to produce a material, this work order will now be referred to as production order in SAP ERP.
Realization: In this phase, the SAP ERP system is built to a company’s business processes, and massive data collection exercise initiates. The data can be customers, vendors, employees or products of the company. Several rounds of testing are also held in this phase.
Final Preparation: The final SAP ERP system, known as a production system, is readied in which the business process owners will enter live and actual data. A final round of SAP ERP system testing and end-users training also take place in this phase.
Go-Live and Support: This is the most critical phase of the project when users are entering live and actual data and occasionally get stuck in the system. Helping users by quickly attending to any errors or problems encountered ensures that the SAP ERP system runs smoothly.
How do I step my foot into the world of SAP ERP?
If you work in a company that plans to implement SAP ERP system, then you should strive to be part of the implementation team. You will gain invaluable experience by going through all the five phases just covered and learning what efforts and activities each phase entails. Your biggest asset will be your in-depth and comprehensive business process knowledge of your area of work.
If and when you come to know that a company plans to implement SAP ERP system soon, try to join that company and be a part of the implementation team. You can improve your chances of being hired in such a company if you get the necessary training and certification to stand out from the crowd. See next section on available SAP ERP training options.
If you want to make a consulting career in SAP ERP then try to find opportunities available in several authorized consulting firms in Pakistan. Some of these are Siemens Pakistan, IBM Pakistan, AbacusConsulting, SuperNova, Excellence Delivered (EXD) and Allied VMS. Your chances of getting a break in consulting fields improve if you acquire the necessary training and attain certification from these consulting firms. If you enroll in a training program of any of the authorized SAP ERP consulting and training companies, there is a good chance that they will offer your internship, subject to availability of current or upcoming projects or other vacant positions.
SAP ERP Training Options
There are several SAP ERP authorized training centers such as Siemens Pakistan, IBM Pakistan, AbacusConsulting, Imperial Soft, SuperNova, Excellence Delivered (EXD) and Allied VMS. The fee ranges from approximately Euro 5,000 for an intensive 21-days Instructor-lead training (ILT) to approximately Euro 2,100 for 5-months of eAcademy. The eAcademy is computer-based training (CBT) and the trainee can spend as much time as possible to learn approximately 200 hours of training content.
At the end of instructor-led training or eAcademy, the candidate can appear for certification exam. This exam is for three hours and consists of 200 multiple choices questions. Successfully clearing the exam entitles candidates to declare themselves as “Certified SAP Associate Consultant”. There’s a certification fee of Euro 450. It is always a good idea to check for latest fees schedule, be it training or certification, from your preferred training institute. Also, check to see their hiring policies for certified SAP ERP consultants and current or upcoming SAP ERP projects, so you can get a career break.
As a word of caution, you must refrain from considering or attending unauthorized SAP ERP Training institutes as they offer little in terms of career value addition or jobs or projects placement. You must also avoid private tutoring by individuals offering SAP ERP training with steep discounts as well as online and virtual training. In fact, companies accord much lower selection priority to candidates of such unauthorized institutes/outlets.
A career in SAP ERP Consulting or on a Client Side?
If you work in a company that plans to implement SAP ERP soon and you are part of the implementation team, you will gain enormous value addition to your career when you’ll leverage your business process knowledge to ensure the same is mapped in SAP ERP. However, when the SAP ERP implementation is complete, the SAP ERP system has matured and users are able to routinely perform their business functions in SAP ERP, you’ll have little to contribute except occasional troubleshooting or implementing new functionality. If the company is large enough and have its in-house SAP ERP helpdesk or Competency Center, you’ll be part of the troubleshooting team, at best.
If you work as SAP ERP consultant and in a consulting firm, you’ll have endless opportunities to travel, meet new clients, implement SAP ERP projects for various industries and learn new features and functionality of SAP ERP with its every new release. With each new project or implementation, you career graph will exponentially rise and so will be your compensation. However, a career in SAP ERP consulting has its own limitations, such as you’ll never know how you’ll remain on bench if there is no new project, or when you have to look after more than one projects at a time. Further, as an SAP ERP consultant, it is often unpredictable as to where your next project will be. For example, you are currently deployed to a project in Karachi, but maybe your next project will be in Peshawar, Rahim Yar Khan or even in Dubai, or Riyadh (International deployment). This may affect your career planning, for example, if you want to continue further studies or have family commitments that prevent you from being away from home for too long. Obviously, you’ll not be able to move your family with every new project at different locations, as such projects are of normally 6-8 months.
Compensation of SAP ERP Professional
If you work for a company that is implementing SAP ERP, you may be financially rewarded for a lot of hard and long work that goes into implementing the new system. Further, the company wishes to retain such resources to take advantage of all the knowledge and experience gained from SAP ERP implementation for its business continuity.
In the first two years of SAP ERP consulting career, you will often see little or almost no compensation. But this changes dramatically in your favor as you amass more projects’ experience and start taking lead roles. It is also important to highlight that regardless of your industry or professional experience, when you initiate your consulting career in SAP ERP, you are still considered a “Fresher” and must start from the bottom-of-the- ladder.
Table 2 is the general salary break-up of number of projects with compensation. Here a project refers to end-to-end SAP implementation in which the consultant has gone through and managed all the five phases of the project.
Number of SAP ERP Projects
Salary (Rs.) in SAP ERP Consulting
0 – 1
10,000 – 30,000
2 – 3
50,000 – 85,000
4 – 6
125,000 – 175,000
More than 6 projects
200,000 and above
Table 2: Number of SAP ERP implementation projects and salary breakup
A career in SAP ERP is not just intellectually enriching but also professionally and financially rewarding. However, the start and the initial few years are slightly challenging before you are able to establish yourself as an expert or experienced professional. But, isn’t the learning curve in SAP ERP any different than any other profession, wherein one spends the initial few years digging the knowledge and experience trenches to gain expertise?
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns that I can possibly answer. You can also share your own success (and trials) stories of a career path in SAP ERP in the comments below.
Meanwhile, if you have found this article useful and informative, I encourage you to share it with others so that it benefits a greater number of aspirants wishing to enter the amazing world of SAP ERP. Thank you!