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What is the best way to build a career path where I can evolve into an SAP role instead of one that is Customer Service based?

Former Member
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In October 2011, my previous employer converted to SAP, as the rest of the worldwide entities were already using SAP. At that time, I was an Order Coordinator, where my job role was to process all of the Inside/Outside Sales Representatives orders for the US. Because of my keen attention to detail, the speed in which I learn new roles and general IT knowledge, I was asked to be the SAP SuperUser for our Financial Operations team. I quickly began to learn the roles of Order-to-Cash, Customer Master Data, Pricing Conditions, Contracts, some Material Master Data, and even Customer/Material Pricing Audits. I also performed manual customer billing in SAP until the automatic modules were implemented. Knowledge of these roles created a need for me to become a trainer to my team, where the SAP Consultants left off. After only working in SAP for the few months after the conversion started, I evolved out of an Order Coordinator rights of access and was given a not-so-typical role as an "analyst". I had more than a firefighter role in SAP, as my normal log in credentials gave me full rights to all of these modules and even special reporting. Our parent global company realized necessity for my role and followed proper protocol to authorize the access changes to still meet the SOx regulations. Prior to using SAP, I never thought I'd fall in love with it and enjoy my job so much, but it happened! Despite my previous employer's less than perfect data that was copied into SAP, we managed to have an efficient ongoing process to clean it all up.  I became more of a liaison between Financial Operations and our IT Dept/SAP Consultants. I "translated" the technical steps that IT/SAP Consultants were trying to teach everyone and trained my Financial Operations team in a way they would understand. I truly enjoyed my job, even at our most difficult moments.

However, after all of the fun I was having while working in SAP and truly gaining a ton of useful experience and knowledge, "life" happened and I had an opportunity to move from Atlanta, GA to southern California. I've searched for months to find a new career here in California with a company that I could continue my learning experiences and become more proficient in SAP, but I'm a little lost. My search to find jobs have only given me possibilities in Customer Service positions or ones that are SAP sales/programming based. I'm floating in limbo and looking for help from the SAP community on where I can go from here to get back into a career path with SAP.

I'm 28 years old and I'm currently finishing my Associate degree in Business Administration. I'm a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), certified with the Help-Desk Institute as a Support Center Analyst, and also completed my previous employer's Quality Advocate Certification which focused on Six Sigma and Lean concepts. Prior to leaving the company, I was being considered for a company sponsored training in the Six Sigma Green or Black Belt program. I've recently started working a contract position as a Customer Service Rep, processing orders, but the company will be completing an SAP conversion in May 2013; so only a few months away. The problem I have in this position is that I feel frustrated in learning their current software when their entire team seems to have their own personal ways of doing their job. I prefer to have structure and perform job duties the right way, then building on that to make the job more streamlined. I spoke with my recruiter but he feels I may be a bit premature on feelings about working in this contract position. I may be just feeling a little impatient in having to wait another 3 months to see if the company may even hire me on permanently and what role I would have with SAP, beyond Customer Service Rep. I'm hoping to get some direction from the SAP community on where I might focus my attention in learning SAP. My hope is to find a position working with SAP like the one I enjoyed so much back in GA. I'm even considering options to learn the programming side. I think SAP is a great software package once people understand how it's designed, or can be designed, to work.

Please help!!

I'd be happy to provide my resume to anyone willing to review it and give me some pointers. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

5 REPLIES 5

former_member182378
Active Contributor
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Erik,

Side comment: Many members might not reply because of the mammoth amount of literature they would have to struggle through.

Please put forward your question succinctly

Thereafter, you could give supporting details.

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Erik,

Continuing on the lines of "put your question forward succinctly" -

Erik wrote:

I'm hoping to get some direction from the SAP community on where I might focus my attention in learning SAP. (*)

I'm even considering options to learn the programming side.

I think these are the questions / points, for which you need input.

- Also include the module name in the above (*), most probably you are talking about SD module.

So, the questions can be:

1. Where I might focus my attention in learning SAP SD?

2. Would it be a good option for me to learn ABAP?

Thereafter you can give a brief about

What activities you do at work.

What type of work you like - Functional or writing code?

In my opinion, this would get you more responses.

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Erik,

Have you thought of enrolling yourself for a SAP course. As you have some functional experience, you can opt for once of the functional modules in ERP or CRM.
Check out this link for more details http://www1.sap.com/training-and-education/by-solution.epx

A formal certification will help you with options with system integrators or competency centres run by several SAP customers. 

You should opt for a course in ABAP or any other programming language only if you are keen to build a career as a technical consultant. For a pure functional role, it is nice-to-have but not a mandatory skill. You could also gain workable knowledge about the software that runs behind the applications in a role on the functional side without having to go thru a course in programming.

Hope this helps.

Former Member
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Hi Erik,

Reading various details in your past job profile I think you are better off educating/training yourself in Order to Cash module, Which is primarily SAP SD(Sales & Distribution). Eventually with your past expertise you could make a good functional SAP SD consultant. And also slowly you could expand into Logistic modules as well.

As Pras said, Try to take a course in ABAP only if your planning to make a career as a SAP Technical consultant.

Good Luck.

Srikanth

Former Member
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I appreciate the length and detail of your post. I struggle answering questions from folks who give too little info. It's refreshing to have too much info for a change.

I'll summarize your post and give suggestions:

You have very strong end user experience, almost bordering on support level SD knowledge. You have experience with the way that at least one company implemented SAP SD but don't have many years of experience with different approaches, so you can't pitch yourself as someone who's "been-there, done-that" outside of the SD world and you can't bill yourself as having SD functional knowledge to the extend that you could be a consultant for SAP SD.  (See FAQ: Different Career Paths in SAP for descriptions of different traditional SAP career paths.)

You've moved to Southern California, which is chock full of companies using SAP, by the way, and you're having a hard time finding the right job. Your education is probably going to be problematic at this point. Most SAP related jobs require a Bachelor's Degree at a minimum. Definitely keep on going with your degree. I don't know where you're doing your associate's degree, but you might want to look in to Cal State Fullerton, which has an *excellent* SAP focused business degree program. (http://business.fullerton.edu/).

You've found work at a company but had to start over at a lower level of responsibility. Since the job you just landed will be transitioning to SAP in 3 months, you have an opportunity to repeat your previous rise by volunteering to be a super-user again. Alternatively, you could talk to the group within your company and express your desire to help out supporting the system from the back end. Traditionally, companies lose a few folks immediately following an implementation, so there's a good chance that if you make your desires and skills known, that you'll be able to move onto the support team once a position opens up.

All of the above assumes that you want to continue on the functional side of SD. You didn't mention any aptitude or preference for programming. It is certainly easier to get programming jobs than functional jobs (see How did you get your start in SAP?), but it seems like you really enjoyed the functional side of SAP. I do *not* recommend learning an SAP skill for which you have no desire simply to get a job, hoping that you can switch later. Use the skills you have to get the job you really want, doing something that really excites you. It's far to easy to fall into a job simply because it's there and get trapped and burned out.

Hope this helps!

Best regards,

  --Tom