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Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor

I got the idea to write this article from SAP mentor Nathan Genez  after he made this comment on twitter last week “Now that everyone who works in the SAP industry is an expert, what's next?”  It got me thinking that everywhere you look people and companies are claiming to be SAP experts when in fact only a fraction meets the true definition of the word. I think it is important to keep in mind what being an expert really means and per Wikipedia the definition is as follows:

An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person.


I asked Nathan for his thoughts on the topic and he was kind enough to share the following "I think the key phrase of the wiki definition is the last sentence; “An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person” with the key words being “beyond that of the average person”.  As the SAP industry has matured, the knowledge and sophistication of its customers has matured as well.  To me, the average consultant probably has 5 years of dedicated SAP experience and been through 2-4 go-lives.  Looking primarily at metrics such as those, a true expert would have 2-3x those numbers."

I agree with Nathan that as the SAP industry has matured and the knowledge level needed to be an expert has increased, many people misunderstand what it truly means to be an expert. Most of the true experts I have had the pleasure of getting to know in the SAP industry come from very diverse backgrounds and geographical locations but all share some of the following in common:

  1. They have a very large SAP network and are well known by their peers and public for their expertise.
  2. They are very active on the SAP Community Network or similar platforms as bloggers, moderators and answering questions.
  3. They are presenting at the major SAP or User Group conferences.
  4. They have a strong social media presence on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.
  5. They are involved in SAP Press or the Expert publication as authors or technical editors.
  6. They are actively involved in SAP User Groups such as ASUG or DSAG.
  7. They have a history of being involved in successful projects and ventures.
  8. They have a narrow area of SAP in which they claim to be an expert.
  9. They know all the key people within SAP in their area of expertise.
  10. They are current on the latest and greatest SAP technology as well as what is coming in the future.

The bottom line there is no shame in not being an expert as it can and should be a very exclusive club. It is a great goal for all of us to work towards and hopefully you can use the list above to help you towards your journey of being an SAP expert. Special thanks to Nathan for his help with this article.

90 Comments
Former Member
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Jarret, The requirement or a path way to become an expert, may not be depending on the popularity of the person, we have seen popular persons are not always complete and expert and some times proved unworthy of the popularity,Also unpopular persons also proved very much expert in many cases.Participation in social media is only a personal choice.Also I disagree with any one who says expertise in a particular area/skill makes any one expert
How ever, I want to add, here my own definition on expert,
"An expert is a person who can apply his  experiences in to diverse utilization, and has the knowledge of the end result,or at least predict the end result with a minimum variation. the degree of variation will determine the expertise, As such, there is no 100% expert in any field or any area,
Coming to SAP expertise, Each project/assignment is unique and the similarities are all most none, If it were similar,then there would have been a a single pre-configured, pre-set, plug and play SAP system.So the past experience would not be of any use here as the past experience cannot be applied in to-to.How ever the experience of "approach to the solution might/can be applied, that too only to some extent and the end result can only be "planned".
Concluding the above, SAP expert is a non definable object :),i.e. the more you dig the more you find your self "appear" to be alien to the subject.This is the single truth across all the definitions.
I would like to see any comments on this.
Former Member
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OK - maybe I didn't understand the comment.  I feel strongly that the SAP expert should:
- sacrifice valuable time that is better spent in projects
- share valuable SAP knowledge / internal business knowledge because this is _business_

My idea of an expert is someone that tries to educate and help the next group of people.  I know when bringing in a consultant our #1 priority is knowledge transfer.   WOW - really?  Sharing knowledge is what makes us all better.  Including the "SAP Expert".  They can not know it all.  No one can.

Taking time out to write blogs, answer questions, educate...  Again you can learn so much by doing all these things.  People take your ideas - repond and make you think in a whole new direction.   That is a great way to become a stronger SAP "expert".

Losing time off of a project.  THat can be bad.  My idea is that you always try to hit your dates on a project.  That's why you will see me disappear off of SCN at different times.  I will be too busy to do much of anything outside work.

Again - really - how much time doe it take?  I usually spend around 30 min. in the morning prior to work.  It expands my knowledge.  Again I ask - What really is an expert?  Does this blog define it?  Maybe not.  But I don't think you can become better without sharing information, networking, and opening up to others the things that you find...

The expert should help!  It is good business to promote and share information.

Michelle
Former Member
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Provoke away - I love a good debate.

My very American viewpoint.  Perception becomes reality.   I know if different situations, I have heard that from upper management.  I work strange hours 6:30 AM - 3:30 PM.

So perception - even when I work late - is that I don't work long hours.  That becomes a reality in some people's minds.   (I try to ignore them.)  However, when it is upper management well it can be a CLM (Career limiting move)  Not to worry - I love doing what I do.

By the way, perception of the time I spend on SCN.  That isn't always a good one either.  Too much time means "I don't have enough work".  Go figure!  Sad but true.  Again I make sure to annouce that I do most of this on "off-hours".  So my talking about what I do is the only way to keep the perception from becoming reality.

Now - other companies - I do a quick search on SCN when looking at applicants.  It really is not the only thing that would help me make a decision.  There is a lot more to it.  AND I am not the only one that gets to weigh in.  But I do a quick look to see what they have done.  

Junior's writting books.  I think that's great!  How else are the pre-juniors going to learn?  Remember there are all levels of SCN people out there.

Michelle
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Hi Sven

Thanks for the comment and it is great to get your opinion on this topic.

Wouldnt you agree that as the SAP industry matures most people dont self promote themselves unless they have the inherent qualities already.

As far as the SAP Press book if we look at the SAP HCM space the last few have been written by Jeremy Masters, Martin Gillett who I know personally and would consider experts in their area (so you are in good company) 🙂

I do agree that most consulting companies are good at selling people to clients that dont always have the skills needed to do the job and one of the reasons I wrote Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant (Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant)

The last thing I will mention is dont you think a real expert could not only "use that time to read, what the real experts publish or go home and play with teir IDES system to learn" as you mentioned but also do many of the things on the list?

On a side note, I have even heard rumors of some so called SAP HCM experts trying to form and do a regular podcast series...what has this world come to 🙂
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Thanks for the comment and found your view of "SAP expert is a non definable object" interesting as so many people in the industry find it easy to define themselves as an expert 🙂

I was hoping to get some discussion started around this topic to bring to light how difficult it is to be as well as define an SAP Expert.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Hi UB

Thanks for the comment but I totally disagree with the fact that 80-90% of the True Experts dont have any connection to 1-6.

If you are a true expert you should be able to balance your time and get the project experience as well as do many other things. It is important to note that sharing valuable knowledge is a two way street and not only do you get smarter when you share but you get much back in return.

I would be curious to hear about the area of SAP that you have the deepest expertise in....and I can give you 2-3 names that do 1-6 and would like you to tell me they are not experts.

Thanks again for your comment and this is a great discussion.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Thanks for the comment Michelle and I very much agree with you (and enjoyed your blog this morning).

I wrote this in an article last year and still very much agree with it.

5. Knowledge Transfer - We all know individuals in the industry that try to hoard their knowledge thinking it will make them more valuable. There used to be a lot more of these folks before the SAP Community Network was formed and sharing became more fashionable. I still remember during my first month of consulting an individual who had 1 year of experience (that was lot in early 1998 for US Payroll) who would not explain or provide any help to either his fellow consultants or client resources. He confided in me one day at lunch that the client would never let him go because he had “all the knowledge”. The interesting thing is that he was the first one to roll off the implementation and yours truly stayed as although I had very little knowledge at the time I was more than willing to share it with everyone. I learned very early that the more I shared, and the more questions I got, the more I learned.  If you want to continually learn and become an expert in your area share all your knowledge as you will get way more back in return.

Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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I would hope being an SAP mentor help with the "perception" issues as it is a great program and team of people.

I dont know many junior consultants that have written SAP books as in the SAP HCM area most are very senior including Sven.

The interesting thing is through this discussion I realized that I missed a pretty important one for the top 10 which is

"An SAP Expert should understand the business and process as well as they understand the SAP technology."
Former Member
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Thanks Jarret for the appreciation,
"From 0 to 1 it is infinitely long" is my opinion
I prefer not to comment on the "self styled experts".
in other places of the forum I observed that a knowledge seeker is being rep-remanded discouraging the user.and also there are questions un-answered by "experts" and "mentors". What should be understood by that? is the expert aware of the answer or not? or the so called expert is hiding his ignorance behind the iron curtain of hypocrisy?
Marssel700
Active Contributor
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Krishna,
Actually to be be an expert there are no need to be famous and recognized, but it is impossible to well known without being a good professional. Without mentioning that a participation in the media is a Personal marketing to new opportunities. I I appreciated your comment.
Former Member
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Hi Marssel, Thanks for the comment,I am almost known to all "who is who in SAP",I am active linkedin net worker I own Erp freelancers group and almost another 60 like groups.All most a considerable number of clients world over know me or heard about me and they ask me suggestions for their requirements. It doesn't make me an Expert.
Marssel700
Active Contributor
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I believe that we can not be an expert in many areas. Maybe in a couple of them, but not many, because it would decrease the deepening of the skills.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Hi Marssel

Thanks for the comment and I very much agree. Personally whenever I see someone claim to be an expert in a bunch of SAP areas it is often a red flag and often they arent a true expert in anything.

Thanks,

Jarret
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Krishna....you mention that "All most a considerable number of clients world over know me or heard about me and they ask me suggestions for their requirements. It doesn't make me an Expert"

Why do these client reach out to you if they do not feel you have great expertise?
Former Member
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Ah...

But if you are an expert - do you think you are one?  That is the question. 

I know the people I think of as experts, are always learning and so they don't think they are experts.  They sure are to me!

Michelle
Marssel700
Active Contributor
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Jarret, certainly in all parts of the world are fake experts. If you let me add my point of view as functional consultant, I can say that it is made by a short-projects market, where they require high expertise to resolve errors caused by these very ones "fakexperts". The Beginners has little chance to be applied because this is a high level demand, and therefore artificially force up their own level to be able to get inside. This process becomes a chronic problem that results in Customer dissatisfaction, and especially the end user, who spends time off with their families to perform rework and endless corrections.

Best Regards
Former Member
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What I mean by that is being famous/popular may not be a certificate of an "Expert"
They don't call me "expert", May be with in their organization team they may refer me as one, Which doesn't make any deference to me.
Former Member
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Yes, I fully agree with you.Hey,Marssel, That's my bread and butter my friend,I only do that "setting it right" thing, no green field implementation,Those "experts"are are my "providers", By the gods grace,I have full work and expect the same in future 🙂
Former Member
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The day you think you are an "expert" that is the day actually you are in making of "the fake expert" Do you agree?
Marssel700
Active Contributor
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Krishna,

maybe it makes no difference for many people because they could be happy with their positions, but for those who intend to take higher flights, knowledge by itself is not enough. It should be diffused to be evaluated by the general public. If the feedback is positive you've got more credibility than before. Everithing depends on personal goals of course.

Best Regards
Marssel700
Active Contributor
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Ow yeah! 😄
Former Member
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The whole IT industry is oversaturated with guys full of bubbles. Being expert is ability to draw on past experience + research in new development and deliver best solution. Expertise is measured by someone ability to stay well informed on new development and stay ahead of his peers. In fast changing industry as IT, the ability to research and stay on top of the industry development and technology is a quality that is most valuable.
Being good at communication is important in IT industry, however in past 26 years in IT industry and 16 years of SAP consulting across 4 continents; the most brilliant guys that I would refer to be an Expert in SAP where quite introvert persons.  

The experienced SAP consultants can recall occasions where self proclaimed “Expert” delivered lot of hot air and noting else. Presenting material that is widely available does not make one - The EXPERT.  

Stop blogging get to know your system.
Former Member
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Well said, and nicely put John!!!what matters is the quality!!
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Thanks for the comment and viewpoint John as having 16 years of SAP consulting gives you a good perspective.

I will throw out two points to consider.

1.The "introverts" of today will struggle to be experts of the future given how information is starting to be exchanged via social media etc and even deeper I would question how a true expert could even be an "introvert" in the first place as part of being an expert is working with clients/business people and if I understand the word introvert that would be difficult. The experts of the future will on the most part be outgoing individuals.

2. "Stop blogging get to know your system" is interesting as I recently wrote a blog on Business ByDesign and HCM and part of the reason was I wanted to learn more about it. For me personally it forced me to learn and the questions I got forced me to dig deeper. To each their own but for many of us blogging helps us learn and this is from someone with 13+ years of SAP HCM consulting experience.
Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Ananda - Please provide some context to you posting your website link or I will have to report abuse to the SCN team.

StephenMillard
Active Contributor
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Jarrett.

An interesting and thought provoking post.  Personally I'm not sure I buy into that many of the points you use, but I get the idea of where you're coming from and I commend those who strive towards them - particularly around sharing knowledge and supporting one another.

I thought that while I'm here I'd add in my own thoughts on expertise....

There are several points from previous commenters around experience and time spent don't always necessitate someone being an expert and I don't believe reputation does either.

Thinking this whole "expert" business through conjured up a rather pseudo-historic scenario:

Imagine a man who has a sword and some combination of natural talent and experience that has given him some level of skill with the weapon.  In fact his skill is such that he can defeat any other swordsman within three days walk of his home. But he has never once had to.

So does that makes him an expert with no reputation?

What if it just so happened that one in every ten swordsman who lived more than three days walk from his home could defeat him?

What if his neighbour could actually best him in a fight using nothing but his walking stick?

Is he really an expert?

I personally think that the man is an expert with a sword ... for the area he lives in ... but it so happens that nobody knows or recognises this.

Returning to the original list of points, I think many of them pertain to the the building of an individual's reputation through deed within one or more spheres of influence.  As my scenario suggests even the level of skill is probably not an accurate relative measure of being an expert.  Rather I think it is the combination of skill level coupled with a sphere or frame of reference (i.e. who you are being compared to and what their skill level is) that is what is required to determine if someone is an expert.

Experts exist at all sorts of levels in all sorts of areas.  You just need to be sure to identify your frame of reference and your measure and assign a baseline - after all there can be more than one expert in the same place on the same thing can't there?

Hopefully there's some more food for thought in there.

Stephen.

Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Thanks for the comment and kind words and your example made me stop and question whether I was on the right track with this article as it was a bit of a rant and quick blog. After giving it some thought I stand by it and let me explain why.

Given that the definition I stated was “An expert is someone widely recognized” your example of the 3 mile radius doesn’t apply but that is EXACTLY the problem in SAP as everyone thinks they are an expert and by my higher standards that is not the case.

Lets say in your example the King (ie Large Global Client) wants to find the best swordsman ((ie Nakisa consultant) in the entire kingdom (Europe) chances are they will not be limiting the search to people within 10 miles of the office that claim to be an expert. While they may not use the 10 points I listed above I still believe that people who have done them have proven their skills outside of that 3 mile radius given the skill needed on several of them.

While I do believe reputation can grow quicker than expertise and vice versa there is some correlation between the two.

As I know you focus on Nakisa I would be curious to hear how many Nakisa Experts you believe there are worldwide and what you will have to achieve before you would consider yourself an expert?  Since there might not be a Nakisa expert living a few miles from you maybe you already are one :smile:


StephenMillard
Active Contributor
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My point would be that I don't know how many Nakisa experts there are world-wide.  There will be partners, SAP staff, Nakisa staff, ex-staff from some of the above.  I just wouldn't have any confidence in guessing ... but I'm sure they exist.  To me an expert who is unknown is still an expert.  It's just that their expertise is of no use to me if I don't know they have it.

Personally I can't even lay claim to being the foremost VSN expert within a few miles.

petr_solberg
Active Contributor
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Hey Michelle,

happy new year, shouldn't this be a wiki ?

Confused.

Petr.

petr_solberg
Active Contributor
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as part of my Basis activities at the current client I installed Nakisa and administer it, but I would not say I know it like I know other area of basis

but you're right there aren't many Nakisa peop's around

Petr.

Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Good discussion Stephen and obviously there is no "right" answer but if I use the Wiki definition as I mentioned above of "An expert is someone widely recognized " that would mean everyone should know the true experts. In my view there are a handful of Nakisa experts worldwide and the goal of the article was that the term expert was use way to loosely in the SAP world.  

Sounds like you are going to have to move as you must live in a competitive and smart few miles 🙂

Pazahanick_Jarr
Active Contributor
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Thanks for the comment Petr and with SAP starting to heavily push SuccessFactors Talent Management solution there are about to be a lot let Nakisa projects out there and my guess less and less people that specialize in it.

lukemarson
Active Contributor
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This is a good point and I have an example to back up Stephen's comments. We just hired someone who is ex-Nakisa with over 6 years of experience in designing, developing (core code), customizing and implementing Nakisa solutions at companies like SAP (he implemented the solutions that SAP run), Coca-Cola, Motorola, Australia Post etc. He also worked in the team that designed and created what are now the SOVN and STVN solutions. Pretty impressive? Well, I would consider him the biggest technical expert outside of Nakisa by far (as I expect some other Nakisa professionals who know the market would) yet no-one knows who he is, let alone if he is an expert. However, having known him for several years and knowing some of the projects he's worked on in Nakisa and Talent Management I would say without a shadow of a doubt he is one of the key experts.

Referring to Jarret's post (09-May-12 03:16), interestingly, I'm not sure if we would've hired him if he didn't have Talent Management experience because of the way in which the market is heading and the fact that just being able to implement OM solutions isn't enough to be a leading, all-round Nakisa consultant.

My colleague is going to start using Social Media so maybe it won't be long until he is known as an expert, but for now he is definitely one of the people that Stephen refers to. However, it is worth noting that there are really few experts outside of the knowledge of the well-known Nakisa experts that don't work at Nakisa themselves and there are 2 or 3 experts at Nakisa who have been there for several years.

I'm not sure how well the Nakisa example works with the rest of SAP, but I imagine there are some similarities.

petr_solberg
Active Contributor
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Hi Luke,

Nakisa has been one of my systems for the last 18 months, installs, configs, operational support.

We're now looking at going to Nakisa 3.0 on Java.

Doing my research I've come across your zillion blogs on Nakisa.

And I want to say, kudos to you !

Excellent, good job and thank you.

I've always looked at Nakisa as one of these funny components that one has

on one's cv, but more and more it seems Nakisa could get very big demand

wise and there could be money in them there Nakisa hills !!

All the best,

Petr.

lukemarson
Active Contributor
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Hi Petr,

Thanks for your comments! I'm happy that I am providing value to people out there.

The Nakisa market is quite big and will continue to be for some time, although I think there will be less demand because of SF.

Best regards,

Luke

petr_solberg
Active Contributor
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Hi Luke,

what's SF :smile:

Petr.

lukemarson
Active Contributor
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SuccessFactors :smile:

petr_solberg
Active Contributor
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I shall start digging and findout everything about it.

Then I will tell the Boss it's new and shiny and if we get it the company will make more $$$

Always works :wink:

Thanks,

Petr.

former_member182378
Active Contributor
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Jarret,

Thanks for the blog! The message is clear...keep working, keep improving your skills.

The terminology "Expert", "Principal consultant", "Technology architect" all this for me is BS (pardon my French). You are an analyst, let the customer decide if you are worth the pay or not.

TW

former_member741
Participant
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Nice
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