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Level of Competency in ABAP for Functional consultants.

Former Member
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Hi ,

i just wanted to have inputs based on your experience , that what level of competence should a functional consultant should have in ABAP .

Should it be knowing the database , debugging etc. or should it be a step forward starting coding in ABAP .

As i was going through the certification details of Financials , in Application professional certification ABAP programming was a part of the requirments for the same .

I being a part of the FICO / FICA / FM modules , just curious to know what the experts have to say on this .

Dear Mentors can you please throw some light on the same based on your experience .

Regards ,

Dewang T


Active Contributor
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The best consultants I know are both capable of doing the configuration and the development. Not The Development, rather reports than all new development themselves, but without ABAP on a certain usable level you stand no chance to become a true professional. Only my opinion.

Well, this is SAP, so you´re not alone in most of the cases/ projects, but it speeds up things to know how things work and how to solve things by your own, it helps when you´re given a SAP newbie (ABAP "junior" = 3 months experience and this kind of "expertize").

If you don´t have certain ABAP skills, you´re more a superuser than a consultant. You cannot deliver things you can talk about. This is the important point for me: you sell "talks" if you cannot develop at least the demo/ proof of concept/ few parts of the solutions with your own hands.

I am no "functional pro" but don´t know any real TOP pros, who don´t know ABAP. I might be wrong or may lack experience to judge on large implementations, projects in different countries etc.

Looking forward to hear some more experience from the others,

cheers Otto

Active Contributor
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KNowing ABAP helps, and if you can develop ABAP objects on your own, it is an excellent second string to the bow.. As Otto Suggests, you can do certain stuff yourself without waiting for the ABAP guy to become free, or worse, if the ABAP "expert" doesn't have a clue..

However it is not really true, in my opinion, that a true professional MUST know ABAP. I work in a fairly succesful SAP Partner, and hardly any functional consultant I know can write a line in ABAP. I myself know enough to debug programs, that is all (although I may not be a super consultant, so maybe this doesn't mean anything)

Also in all of my recent projects, Functional Consultants have no access to any ABAP developer stuff like SE38 or developer keys... the AUthorizations Policy of the project has been to keep the functional and abap roles separate.

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Hi All ,

I have been closely reading the reply provided for the query that i have raised .

It looks to me that of course ABAP skill are necessary for a functional consultant and it would be an added advantage if he/she has a grasp on the subject . Moreover it would also depend on the attitude and appoach of the consultant . I have seen may consultants who when have an error at their sceen search for an ABAPer instead of taking the " /H " way .and trying to understand some nitti gritties of debugging .

I too have personally experienced this that if you debug the code then you come to know the flow of the programme , by doing so i was able for find a lot of FM in FICA which were very useful for me , going to simply se37 and finding the FM wont have helped me actually .

Based on the replies on the thread and based on my experience i am having a fair amount of clarity now that knowing ABAP helps you to think something new and opens up horizons for functional people for better solutioning , productivity .

I thank to all of you for your valuable comments .....

Get set ABAP ....

Cheers ,

Dewang .

Active Contributor
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I agree that it is not possible to become a functional senior without some ABAP knowledge.

Or to put it in another way, I wouldn't consider the person to be a senior if he/she is lacking certain skills.

Knowing how to debug immensely increases the time for problem solving. Especially when you're faced with an SAP error, if you know that the problem is in the SAP standard and not some custom enhancement you can then search for OSS notes or create your own.

Knowing the database will help you in communicating with the developers and it will thus lower development time.

I think the key word here is independence. If you know your way around ABAP you can do so much more stuff on your own. And you don't have to wait for ABAP resources to become available for you.

Cheers, Rob.

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And vice versa, the question is how much functionality of SAP modules a technical consultant should know ?

Or itu2019s irrelevant ?


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All senior technical consultants I know are able to do some basic customizing and all understand the functionality of the modules they are working in.

This helps in communicating with the functional consultants. And this allows them to solve a lot of issues without the need of a functional person.

Cheers, Rob.

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You need to be able to read, understand and follow ABAP code. But writing decent code is another matter, and best left to people who know what they're doing. Otherwise you'll end up with poorly written, hard to follow, hard to understand and therefore expensive code.

This may mean removing people who call themselves developers but also lack programming skills.

It's rather like learning a foreign language. I can read German fairly well, but constructing grammatically correct sentences, and using exactly the right words to make my meaning clear is somewhat more difficult.

For the converse. Well, if you've been developing in a particular area for more than a year and haven't got some functional knowledge, I'd suggest a different career might be in order.

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Kind Regards.


Edited by: Jen Yakimoto on Jan 27, 2011 8:58 PM

Former Member
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I worked for a multi-national SAP customer with about 50k users a few years back. The CIO had originally started in the company as an ABAP developer!

On one occasion he brought the CFO with him to my office to show him the debugger and how powerfull it is. I showed them both the new ABAP debugger of course.

That is the level of competency and interest which I now use as a benchmark.



Former Member
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Hi Dewang,

Being a FICO 'Techno'-Functional consultant myself i would say it is better to have alround knowledge in ABAP which in my experience worked in a good extent in minimizing 'Time',minimizing 'Money' and increased 'Productivity' in my project.

'Precision of the Application/Program' is attained when you communicate your need with proper and complete information to the developers to use their prowess.

"You know what you need and you should know how it can be done".

It really improves the Quality and Performance of the application when there exists a complete framework/logic worked out right from the scrap.

So,It is good to have a strong knowledge in every aspects of ABAP for a Functional Consultant to help in Resource Productivity,Performance,Quality which are some of the aspects for a well run project/company.


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Just to add one more piece of experience of mine:

it´s not like a functional guy is supposed to write new systems/ modules/ apps. It´s more like

- replacing FM with a Z variant of the FM with changes

- filling the architecture of app designed by a pro programmer with code

- reporting

- understanding how ABAP works so you can tell the developer using his language (sometimes even pro programmers create expensive code because they didn´t get what they´re asked to do...)

in general this is about debugging, creating your own pieces of code, not waiting for "developers" etc. As Matt said: do not expect/ let functional consultant to write ABAP stories... no expensive code, please!

cheers Otto

Active Contributor
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Matt has already said much of what I was about to say, but to add a couple of other perspectives:

There's a bit of a paradox: A top notch functional consultant can get by without ABAP if s/he knows exactly what config is where and which fields influence what. They're very rare, but I've met people like that. (More prevalent in HR which is highly config-driven anyway and with a convoluted technical side). Problem is, to get to a high level of competency requires either a lot of talent, many years experience, or ... you guessed it... ability to read and debug ABAP.

The other angle to this is what level of functional consultant? There are no clear boundaries - on the technical side you get the 'techno-functional' people as they are known, all the way towards a Business Analyst who in some cases doesn't even have an SAP logon.

In some ways it depends on the way the company/project is managed and available skills:

If the company gets their ABAP resources as cheap as possible, or offshore, then your functionals definitely need a good level of ABAP skills. If they go for a 'less is more' approach and hires a few top notch developers, then not-so-technical functional people are fine. I've worked on both scenarios and my experience is that the second can produce better results. Why? A really good developer has a sixth sense to know ahead of time which requirements will change and build appropriately configurable solutions. In the first scenario however, basic ABAP skills of a functional consultant do not cover what is good technical application architecture, and likewise an entry-level programmer won't be experienced enough to really follow best practice and avoid all the pitfalls.

On the other hand, the combination of functionals with little ABAP knowledge and budget programmers is something that can get very expensive fixing the results.

If you are thinking about contracting/consulting and working at several clients, then having skills "on the other side" is what gives you the edge, irrespective of whether you are a functional consultant or an ABAP developer.

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The good senior functional consultants in HR I met all had good a good ABAP skill set.

with dynamic actions and programmable rules and the way events are created in HR, I would even say it is a must have. This was for Personnel Administration admittedly, a payroll consultant might not need this as much, but I never met a lot of other seniors in the other HR areas.

Cheers, Rob

Active Contributor
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> The good senior functional consultants in HR I met all had good a good ABAP skill set.

> with dynamic actions and programmable rules and the way events are created in HR, I would even say it is a must have.

Hi Rob,

I didn't mean that it's normal in HR, it's still the exception to the rule. But I've met folks who only do very basic ABAP but can whip up a config-based solution with custom infotypes, evaluation paths and all sorts of whizzy stuff in a fraction of the time it takes to do the same with ABAP enhancements.

My biggest lesson was how little I know about HR



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Hi All,

I have seen frequently that the Functional Consultant with ABAP Skills has a much better hold on any issues reported, and is able to provide a workable solution which is both cost and time effective.

As the SAP Functionality matures, the line between a functional and technical consultant is hazy at its best.

Still there are some basic ABAP Skills which are a must have for any good functional consultant e.g. ABAP Debugger, Knowledge of User Exits, BADI and Tables to name a few.