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In this blog, I am explaining my understanding of what it takes to be a functional consultant celebrated by client.  I have explained in my own way by comparison with various walks of life.   Good, bad or ugly – I would like to hear your comments :smile: .

Functional consultants (FC) play pivotal role in delivering a SAP solution that will make business user happy.  FC can make or break overall satisfaction of client engagement.

FC is like a Movie Director!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

We can analogize a FC role to Director of a movie.  Only the director will connect, instruct and coordinate with various parties (actors, technicians etc.) involved while making a movie that audience make a hit. Similarly FC will be the only touch point between various stake holders (business, developers, PMO etc.) while delivering a solution that end user likes.

Given the major role of FC, let us see what it takes for him/her to be successful at job.

There are 2 major factors that will attribute to successful FC.  In my opinion, below are the ingredients that will contribute in equal share (50-50) for a FC to be successful.  They are:

  1. SAP product knowledge
  2. Communication skills

What is “SAP product knowledge”

In SAP delivery scenario, understanding business requirements will be the first step. When business representative narrates business scenarios, FC in his/her mind must be able to map (atleast roughly) the requirements into SAP functionalities.  In implementation projects, RICEFW objects can be visualized while understanding the requirements.  This is possible only if FC is strong in SAP.

Below “3R”s are possible if and only if FC is strong in SAP:

  • Robust solution: delivering solid working and user friendly solution.
  • Right expectations: What to expect and what not to expect as part of solution.
  • Reengineer: identifying areas where business process needs to reengineer.

FC is like a Chief Doctor !

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

We can analogize FC with strong SAP knowledge to a Chief Doctor who can think of treatments and medicines when the patient explains the symptoms and problems.  As a patient eagerly looks at the doctor for medicine, the business user eagerly expects solution from the FC.  This is highly evident in production support projects.  If there is a business stopping high priority P1 issue then business looks for “stop bleeding” i.e. quick fix or first aid.  Long term solution can be looked at later.

What is “Communication Skills”

Sometimes a great solution can become a flop with client because the FC failed to sell the solution in the way it should have been.  A great solution sold in poor way can be analogized to a nutritious, tasty food being badly served.  Customer will not be happy in both cases !

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

“3P”s below are hallmark of a good FC:

  • Perfect Listener: FC is the main point of contact with client. Right from requirements gathering till go-live and post go-live support phase FC has to continuously and constantly listen and understand a lot of details.

  • Professional Presenter - verbal and written: should be able to clearly explain in easy to understand language avoiding any possibilities of misunderstanding.

- Should highlight positive aspects and create positive vibes.  I remember during an implementation how my boss projected a shortfall like an advantage.  The solution was a report that user has to run manually to get certain information. But in a meeting with client, he said “…user can run this report anytime as he wishes…”.  Not sure if I put across the point correctly here, but idea is to use right words and highlight right areas.

     -  A picture is worth a 1000 words. Should explain with tables and diagrams (flow chart etc.) as much as possible.

     -  FC will present loads of information to end users through end user training documents.

     -  FC will explain expected functionality to developers (ABAPers) through Functional Specification documents.

  • People dynamics: should be able to understand people (target audience) and customize the communication.

          - Should avoid technical jargons (table, fields, BAPI, BADI etc.) with business users. Should be able to speak business terminologies.

          - In meetings with business people should focus the solution from business user perspective. i.e. which data will user enter, look and feel of customized screen etc.

Thank you !