I can see a question like: "Hello, my name is Mr(s). XY, I am a fresh graduate and want to get into SAP/ I want to change the course of my career to SAP/ etc. etc." nearly every day. I understand that these people have no idea (or very unclear idea) about what to do, where to start and how to ease the pain of learning. Of course, sparing some money is an important part of the story. I also understand that we, people with some years of experience could spare these people days of struggling with every hour we invest in their education.
P.s.: sorry for one more article covering the same topic again and again...
The only problem is one cannot save the world and cannot teach all the newcomers. I feel a need to write a little more about the topic, because if it would save few hours of just few newcomers, it was worth the time.
And of course I would like to spare some time explaining the same things to new people every day (they could search and find my older posts in the Career center, or I could collect the links for them, but the result aleayxs the same: everybody wants a personal attention and does not understand the basics, the foundation to build on the real career, is the same for all the people). So I blog about it, because it could help them to find these lines and through the text I am able to articulate, that the basics are very much the same (fresher or experienced guy, developer or consultant, basis guy or manager, boy or girl, young or old).
So, dear fresher, fasten your seatbelt and prepare for a drive. Other people could suggest other ways how and where to start learning about SAP, this is mine:
Get your hands dirty, immediately!
Understand, that there is a SAP/ABAP trial system available for download (there are many more SAP things available for download, but I still think the ABAP stack trial system - sometimes called the MiniSAP - is the best starting point for like everybody).
There are so many people, who plan to start the learning process attending a formal training (well, I am not sure if you can call the SAP staff "factories" in India a formal training, but you pay a lot of money, what is one of the most important factors, so I feel responsible to cover it as well). I don´t understand it. Maybe it is because the custom is different in my country, I didn´t have to attend any special training to get my first SAP job (an average programming skill was enough, thanks boss, for offering me the chance to learn on the job!). But even then: If I were aware of the existence of the trial, I would download it and try it myself immediately.
Even if you insist on attending a formal training, install and try the SAP trial BEFORE the training. Why? Because you will use the time, you pay for, the best way you can. The others will start searching the SAP menu while you can use the time to ask questions, you were not able to answer at home. This way you can get the most out of the training (well, instead of trying to understand the keywords during the first days, you can actually create something, isn´t it great?).
Even if you are not going to become a developer, you need to understand the concept of the transactions, the database concept, the data dictionary concept (DDIC) or the way the standard functionality can be customized (configured).
Understand that for certain positions the ABAP trial system is like 90% they need to be able to do their real job. Example: If you´re interested in SAP BW, you can get a really working BW engine in the trial system. The standard SAP content is not a part of the installation (so you cannot just configure, what is delivered by SAP in all the installations), but you can develop many "real" things to learn how it works. The same applies if it comes to the ABAP itself. You can learn ABAP WebDynpro, Adobe interactive forms and most likely many more things I cannot even name.
Even if you would find, that SAP is nothing for you, the result is positive. You didn´t spend much money to be taught it is not for you. And if you start to like it, well, then welcome to the SAP world.
By the way, thanks to some changes of the SAP portfolio during last months and years, notice the BusinessObjects a brand/ suite of business intelligence tools and systems is a part of the SAP portfolio as well. You can download the trial version of these as well. Check for yourself at SAP BusinessObjects downloads site.
Understand what is going on and so you can pick a part suitable for you. You don´t know what are the options? The best way is to check the list of SAP modules (if you would like to become a module consultant), check the list of technologies (like WebDynpro, ABAP, adobe forms, ALE etc. etc. If you want to become a developer, you first stop could be NetWeaver at Wikipedia for example). Where you can find these? Wikipedia and Google can provide answers for nearly every question. I always start there. If you say you didn´t find anything (like the guys asking me this question through the personal emails or trying to pretend no sources are available when asking the questions is asked in the forums), I don´t believe you. Not now, when we have zillions of "fan" content pages from the Community people, another zillions of SAP help pages etc. Learn to search. Some people say SAP means something like "search and" + add one suitable word starting with P.
Or you can browse the SAP curriculums (a little complicated for a newcomer, but it can help you understand what is your position in the large world of SAP. Especially where you start and where you go and what steps/ SAP courses you need to take to become a subject matter expert). Check the curriculums here: SAP Education training catalog (main page) and if you click a little more (deeper) you can find the whole path/map from a newbie to an expert like the SAP NetWeaver Programming Core (ABAP). You can click any of the steps and check, what are the important parts of this step so you can focus on the basic stuff at the beginning and grow with the curriculum.
Choose your destiny
Now you should be able to understand, what the basic options are. Not like every detail, but I hope you got a general picture. It is time to decide about the career you are going to follow. This is the important part. I am sure you think your case is somewhat exceptional and any advice, you could use, was never provided (please use the Search, at least time to time...) or does not fit into your situation, but believe me, the following points apply in all cases (at least one applies like every time):
What is your background and education
Do you have a degree in computer science? Then you can pick your SAP career freely, I believe (but still you´re expected to be more technical than functional, maybe?).
Do you have a degree in accounting? You could become a great SAP Financials consultant (if you have any prior accounting experience, then you could become a really good one, understanding both the SAP guys and the users, what is always a big plus!).
If your degree is not connected with IT, you depend on the market options. Get a job, where the company could use your education or where they will accept and appreciate your skill set.
Do you have a friend with some SAP experience? Is he/she ready to help you? Then you could pick a field where you can get some help at the beginning. Is there a way a member of your family can help you get a job in one of the areas you think about? Go for it!
What are your opportunities
Maybe this is the most important part of this text! If there are no opportunities, you can have any wishes, any education and any experience and it helps you nothing. So, let´s look into this. Did you check the SAP market in your region to understand, what fields are demanded and what is/will be your chance to get a job within a selected field? You must keep this in mind after you get the job as well. Does the employer have projects, where you can use your core skill? What is the future of the company about your field? Do they regularly have opportunities for the role you´ve chosen? Are there any senior colleagues that could help you grow, teach you what, where, why and how?
What are your wishes
Do you have a dream job? Well, I don´t tell you go for a total dream; I mean like a job you´re qualified to do and it would bring you the feeling of a nice job. Or you don´t want to work as a developer anymore and think you could make it into the functional side (and you have some experience, that would help you become a good functional consultant)? You can follow your heart (I know people who were following their hearts and are happy about their current SAP jobs, but you must always judge carefully if you can make it with the job. You will spare a disappointment for yourself and for your employer as well).
What is your prior experience
Do you have any prior experience? You probably have one. Is an experience with a CRM solution from another vendor (like Siebel)? Then your experience count. How much? Maybe like 25% 50% your experience could count like 99%, but you need to be able to translate your knowledge from the old system to the new one. I mean the processes in CRM are general and do not vary that much, but you need to understand how things, which you know from the old system, work in SAP. They most probably are covered in SAP, but work in some other way.
Do you have a prior experience with project management? Great! But the risks slightly differ in SAP. The methodology (called ASAP, ASAP Methodology Roadmaps and Phases) is specific for SAP. You need to understand new roles, understand the qualification catalog, which should help you to get the workforce. And many more.
Do you have prior experience with Java? Great! Learn, what are the Java opportunities in the SAP world and how to translate the pure Java terms into the "SAP Java" You can start here: XY: From Java developer to SAP Java developer a blog of mine.
I am sure the message is clear now. There is one last thing about this "translation of experience" I would like to share. Some people don´t have any prior experience with IT tools in their field of expertise. Like the example with the CRM, but without Siebel. Like if they guy was a salesman, understands how do the leads, opportunities and everything works, but didn´t use any special software for the work (sounds a little crazy, not to use any software these days, I am said to exaggerate a lot, so do not believe me every single word).
Or an accountant who has no prior experience with enterprise software. Even these people are welcome and their "functional" experience count. Don´t be afraid, maybe it will be easy to teach you how to operate invoicing (for example) in SAP. Easier than teach your favorite ABAP developer to do the accounting (I have never met anybody, who would be able to teach me the basics of accounting...).
I hope I provided enough points to help you decide if, what, how and stuff. These questions are not easy, but it is the Community at your assistance (if you behave, some people don´t understand the relationship between the etiquette and a help offered for free).