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Know More Than SAP – Your SAP Career Depends On It

You’ve made the decision to invest in your SAP education. You’ve started the courses, you have a career path in an information technology department or consultation capacity mapped out, and you feel confident enough in your technology skills that you can achieve some success. Excellent. Now, what do you know about business?

Some readers will have some ready answers about small business financing and accounting, marketing plans and even tips about hiring and firing employees. These ideas are a good place to start. However, it will take more than a general small business background to be successful with SAP.

Your SAP Career Depends On It

While a number of the basic ideas translate from small businesses to the types of large businesses that run SAP systems, they become more complex as they require additional scalability into enterprise-level concepts.

You Must Learn Business!

What’s the BIG idea, then? Why can’t we just learn SAP and go about our merry way consulting, managing, implementing, and maintaining systems? The answer is because businesses are not IT departments. But IT departments do need to understand their businesses, particularly on a system like SAP, where an entire enterprise relies heavily upon its functionality.

The more an SAP consultant understands a particular business, the more likely it is that they will be successful in presenting SAP as a valid solution for their needs. The more an SAP systems manager understands the company they work for, the better they are able to understand the business’ ongoing customization and maintenance needs.

If I haven’t lost you yet, you are hopefully starting to understand the value of educating yourself about your particular industry in addition to learning your SAP skills.

Recall some of the key areas of SAP: accounting, human resources, logistics, and so on. Are you at least conversant in these fields? Do you understand how different transactions within the SAP system track to processes that need to be fulfilled in each of these areas? If not, you may want to consider rounding out your education with courses or reading about these key business areas.

Another important thing to consider is being able to speak the language of your particular industry. You may be able to speak comfortably about computer specifications, programming languages, and network issues, BUT:

  • Are you able to understand the kinds of recruitment issues your average human resources department faces?
  • Do you know the language of financial accounting?
  • Are you able to explain the development cycle of your company’s particular products and how they fit into the logistics processes of your SAP system?

You may also be asked by your business to customize certain functions, whether through tailoring particular SAP settings or even creating custom  ABAP based solutions. If they give you a set of specific business processes they want incorporated into SAP, will you be able to understand their needs when they don’t necessarily speak “IT”?

Learn Business Skills Now

If you are still in the job search phase of your SAP career, now is a good time to work on understanding the kinds of businesses you are targeting. If you take the time to meet with individuals that are in business in order to learn what kinds of struggles they have with their computing needs, you will begin developing the vocabulary needed to show potential employers that you understand what they want from their systems and reassure them that you are speaking the same language.

If you already have a job, you have a built-in system at your finger tips for learning more about what you can do to advance your career by serving your company better.

Schedule some time to meet with some of the people in charge to see how things are going and what they are struggling with. If you can come up with a solution using SAP, you become an even more valuable part of the company.

For those still learning SAP skills to implement in a future career, now is the perfect time to do a bit of extra homework, even if it’s just taking a business class at the community college or picking up a book for some extra reading.

However you acquire your business expertise, it will serve you well in your career as an added bonus for those who hire you to help them with their SAP needs.

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About the Author:

Pete has been working with SAP technologies for over 10 years. He started out as an ABAP consultant and then moved on to BW where he has worked many different clients covering a wide variety of industries. "I love introducing SAP technology (especially BI) to new clients and showing them how they can go from zero to hero within their business in super fast time". Contact me on twitter @PeterMoxon