MySAP Career: HCM Functional Lead Consultant

I am giving SAP career Progress of experienced SAP Practitioners as MySAP Career  in my blog. The intention is to get a SAP Career summary of successful SAP practitioners in brief. I am sure this will help candidates who are planning to start SAP Career as well as those who are already working in SAP Consulting area..

MySAP Career: HCM Functional Lead Consultant :

  1. What is your current position/position last held?

Functional Lead (Human Capital Management Module)

  1. Your Qualification

Commerce Graduate with three Post Graduations. All from Pune University

First one in Commerce, another one in Computer Management followed by Business Administration.

  1. How long you have been working in SAP Consulting area?

Started working in SAP area since May 2013. Its 2.5 years now.

  1. What was your professional experience before you moved to SAP area and how long?

I was working as a recruitment professional for 10+ years with top IT companies. I have handled Campus & Lateral Hiring and Recruitment Analytics in my past stint.

  1. How you started your career in SAP?

While working with all these top IT companies, I realised that Online HR systems and good reporting helped management and HR function specifically to do a lot of Analysis. This Data Analytics further triggers good support for HR decision-making.

Strong ERP system like SAP helps achieve this via a central database globally.

I joined one of the top engineering services company as a Functional Lead for HCM module.

As my core area of interest and domain was recruitment, I was assigned for SAP eRecruitment Module.

  1. How you got your initial SAP training?

I got trained through SAP Authorised Training partner at Pune. It was online training as I was working at the same time. Online Training had the flexibility to attend the training anytime during the day and late evenings as well from Training partner’s location.

  1. How you started working on your initial SAP Projects?

After joining this Organsiation, I started supporting different HR sub modules and simultaneously started working in functional role through small enhancements required in system.

  1. Have you done SAP Certifications?

Not as of now. This is in process and will be completed shortly.

  1. What are subsequent SAP trainings which you did for your SAP career?

Within our organisation I got trained on Training and Event Management and some custom modules.

  1. What are the important/Critical points one should keep in mind for SAP Career progress?
  • Good Domain Knowledge
  • Patience to learn and grow in Organisation
  • Connect with SAP via SCN and SDN websites and building good network outside organisation as well.
  • Constantly in touch with Latest Info via release notes from SAP.
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Different Ways for Career shift to SAP: SAP Training for pre selected Candidates

Different Ways for Career shift to SAP: SAP Training for pre selected Candidates

“How can I get into SAP?”

This is a common question asked by most of the people who want to move to ERP/SAP career from their non SAP career. As discussed in earlier posts, it depends on your professional qualification, your domain/technical experience, Soft skills, your training in particular area and the most important is the Opportunity you get for this career move..

In my earlier notes, I have discussed different ways people have followed to enter SAP Career.

One of the ways which some people have followed is getting trained for a pre selected employer.

This model is  beneficial for the candidate as well as the “would be employer”.

This has been followed by many SAP Consulting organisations which require no. of  SAP consultants in a particular domain area. This is mostly called as “Train & Hire model” and the methodology is as follows:

 

  • The prospective Employer identifies the SAP Skill Resources requirement for a Functional/Technical area.
  • The Employer either plans to conduct Training themselves OR Collaborates with an SAP Authorised Training Centre.
  • There is normally a pre screening of Candidates for suitability as SAP Consultants which is done by the Employer. This Pre selection of candidates is based on professional qualification, your domain/technical experience, Soft skills, and suitability to work as Consultant etc. etc….
  • The Candidates have to complete the Authorised SAP Training followed by SAP Certification. Depending upon the Organisation, Training Academy the Training Cost is partially/Fully paid by Candidate.
  • Most of the Employers in above model, do give a Conditional Offer Letter for employment before start of the training. This is applicable only after completing SAP Training & Certification. This will vary from Company to company.
  • Normally there will be a final selection process after completing SAP Training & Certification.
  • Once you join the Employer, the normal induction process is followed just like any lateral recruit. and your Career Change to SAP is complete.

There is a possibility of undertaking to serve the Employer for a minimum period and many organisations do insist for it.

The above path will give an opportunity to move into SAP and is one of the most suitable for a Career change.

.

SAP Consulting Career Path

There is always an anxiety about Career path in SAP Consulting and its more true for those who are switching Career to SAP.I always come across a question about Career Progress path in SAP Consulting.

Let us understand the different roles available in a typical SAP Consulting organization. The three broad streams normally available are Consulting, Technical and Project Management/Program Management…One can continue in the first two to become Expert in the area chosen or after a good experience move into third with additional skills..

The Career Paths normally are Junior/Trainee Consultant, Consultant, Sr. Consultant, Project Lead/Manager, Program Manager/Principal, Practice Head/Director…The titles may vary from organizations to organizations but roles will be similar..Many companies call these as K1, K2…..K6 level Consulting and the Billing rates are normally linked to this level.

Let us see briefly the different roles in SAP Consulting:

Project Trainee: Many companies recruit Project Trainee for student’s college Project term. The students are working on internships for a defined period with consulting team and are given a defined work assignment.

Junior/Trainee Consultant: This is an entry-level for aspiring Consultant/Technical team member who has no previous experience.. Most of the companies recruit Technical team members in this category and give them Technical training and provide opportunity to work under Senior team members. These are typically ABAP Developers, Basis persons..Normally it takes 2 to 3 years to move to a Technical Consultant position for these Junior Consultants.

Consultants: Consultants are the key team members on Project Team for deliverables. Functional Consultants are normally having a 3 to 5 years of Domain/Business Process knowledge experience in their area. This is followed by formal training in SAP in the relevant module and SAP Certification. The Consultant will be working as a team member under the guidance of Senior Consultants.

Senior Consultants: Senior Consultants normally have 3 to 7 years of SAP Consulting experience. A Senior Consultant is responsible for a functional area in the project and generally manages project sub teams for his/her area. There is a larger role of Client interaction for these people and some time they may be managing a small project.

On the Technical side, Senior Consultants normally will be managing a Development Team and will be responsible for defined Technical deliverables.

For detail of role of a SAP Functional Consultant pl. see my earlier post here  http://wp.me/p2uGi4-1l

Project Lead/Manager : Manager normally will have at least 7/8 years of SAP Consulting experience. They are leading Project Teams which may consist of Functional and/or Technical team. Manager will be responsible for Project deliverable and is Consulting companies face to Client. Project Lead/Manager is responsible for overall project and oversees Budget, Cost, Deliverables. They are expected to be knowledgable about SAP project management methodology.

Program Manager/Principal: Program Manager leads a large Project or oversees multiple project engagements. Program Manager normally gets involved in full Project life cycle consisting of Pre Sales to closing of Project.

There are Functional/Technical Consultants who do not get into project/man management and pursue a Career Path in their area of expertise. They are the Experts in that area and are typically guiding multiple projects. Such very Senior Consultants are designated in many Consulting companies as Principal Consultants.

Practice Head/Director: Practice Head is overall In-charge of SAP Consulting practice and is responsible for overall Budgets and growth of the practice. In small consulting organizations he/she may be CEO of the organization.

There are many roles & responsibility definitions for the above roles, but with above, one should be able to understand the SAP Career Progress chart available. One need to plan and review the Career Plan & progress on continuous basis.

 

 

Your CV/LinkedIn Profile is your ‘Brand’

Other day, I was interviewing an aspiring SAP Consultant. She was SAP Certified but without any SAP Project experience. Her earlier functional experience was very good and her communications skills were also good. We were somehow getting a feeling that she has a bit of casual attitude. The interview panel had shortlisted her. The only thing which the panel found not up to the mark was her CV. The feedback was given to her and then we just looked at her LinkedIn profile. It was just giving name, college name, qualification and the name of company where she was working prior to SAP training…

HR representative promptly raised a question – Do you think we can present this candidate as SAP Consultant who cannot prepare a professional CV or maintain own LinkedIn profile?

In a second incident, I got an email about SAP Career guidance and the candidate gave a very brief professional background. I just thought about checking his profile on LinkedIn for more details and was surprised. His LinkedIn profile was briefer than what he had written to me in email!!

Your profile is your ‘brand’ and do take efforts to make it up-to-date and professional. I am again repeating below my earlier write-up on how to keep your LinkedIn profile updated

Keep your LinkedIn Profile Updated

In today’s world your presence on FB, LinkedIn, Google is used by many to understand you as a person, as a professional. Professional profile on LinkedIn is referred by Recruiters, HR Managers, and your colleagues/Superiors.

In spite of knowing the above facts, many people do not update & maintain their profiles correctly and in turn loose some of the opportunities..Somebody who is looking for a job, prepares his/her CV taking lot of efforts but many times ignores LinkedIn profile. Here is a simple way to ensure that your CV & LinkedIn profile are in sync and are updated.

  1. Keep your latest CV for reference with you.
  2. Once you have logged in on LinkedIn, go to Profile..
  3. Click on Drop down Arrow next to EDIT and click on “Export to PDF”
  4. This will generate a .pdf file with your name as file name..This contains your profile title, Summary, Specialities, Experience, Skills & Expertise, Education etc….In fact its your CV.
  5. Save the file on hard disk.. This also works as your back up for your LinkedIn profile.
  6. Do a cross check and ensure to update any missing details on LinkedIn profile..

 

I am having experience in Testing in an IT Company & want to shift to SAP Career..

Recently I have met lot of people who are working as Test Engineer/Testing Manager in IT companies and who are looking for a shift in career to SAP. Most of them are not aware about what is Testing Career in SAP consulting and they assume a role similar to their existing one to be available in SAP.

One thing which was common in most of the interaction was related to the role they will have to play/available to them in SAP consulting.

I always suggest them to first understand the following before deciding on SAP Career shift :

  • What is an SAP Project.. whether it is implementation, support, upgrade etc…
  • What is the role of Functional,Technical (ABAP,Basis…)Consultant in SAP project
  • Then try to understand what is a typical Testing job available in SAP.

There is no role as a General Tester in SAP project , but it will be always a testing role for a particular module. It can also be a testing role for ABAP, Authorization control testing, Performance Testing etc…Thus the pre-requisite will be always the knowledge about that module, technical area.

Let us take an example of a requirement for SAP SD Testing job:

Minimum xx to xx years of Testing experience in Order to Cash Process of SD

Strong functional knowledge of SAP SD processes

Working knowledge of SD is preferred

….

Strong knowledge of Testing Process, Testing Tools and Quality Policy/Processes

OR see another senior level HCM Testing job requirements:

QA Lead – IT(SAP HR/HCM )

  • testing experience on SAP HR/HCM (PA, OM, PT & PY).

  • testing experience on interfacing applications like SuccessFactors, Kronos & Taleo.

  • experience in test plan, test execution strategy, status reports

  • Strong understanding of project management or software development life-cycle methodologies (ASAP, Waterfall & Agile).

  • Excellent knowledge of HP Quality Center test management tool and the structure of test artifacts (test cases, scripts, results and defects) within the tool.

It is very essential that, they first have to get into one of the SAP module or Technical area and then specialize in SAP Testing .

The module or Technical area to be decided based on individual qualification, experience & liking etc….(Pl. Refer to my earlier posts)

I am having experience in Project Planning, Purchasing & Production. Which SAP module should I select for training?

I met an aspiring SAP Consultant who was having total 7 years of experience in manufacturing industry in various functions. Let us call him Rajesh. He had started working with the company as Trainee Engineer and has worked in Production department initially before moving to Purchasing function. Subsequently he changed the job and got an opportunity to work in a multinational company. His job profile in this new company was Project planning & execution for setting up the new manufacturing plant.

He had made up his mind to move to SAP Consulting after doing a detail evaluation. He was not clear how to choose a particular SAP module for his training & career change. He has met couple of training centres for SAP training and each of them advised a different module- either PP or MM or PS.

Let us look at the key points Rajesh must consider while choosing a SAP Module:

  • Good Qualification: Rajesh is an Engineering Graduate from a reputed college/university and got his first job thru’ campus placement.
  • Considering his professional experience, he has to be in Logistics/SCM area and he can use his functional experience to the best level in this area while working in SAP. The domain experience in your chosen SAP Module provides you to understand SAP in a much better way. The preferred experience level is about 3 to 4 years & Rajesh has varied experience covering Production, Purchasing & Project Planning.
  • The experience level mentioned above has provided Rajesh with good understanding of day to day function in manufacturing and Project planning & execution. Rajesh has spent first 3 years in Production + Purchase function and subsequently has spent about 4 years in Projects function. The initial period gave him good manufacturing exposure and it has been used during the Projects planning & execution period to set up manufacturing plant. He can get into MM/PP/PS very easily based on his experience.
  • As part of Projects function, Rajesh was using MS Project for all planning & monitoring of execution activities. He has now a reasonably good exposure to Finance, Costing for his Project function.
  • Good exposure about various systems used for reporting in manufacturing and/or Projects..
  • Rajesh has above average Computer proficiency-.A very good hands on in MS Office, Projects..
  • Very Good Soft Skills.. One of the areas where many aspiring SAP Consultants lack is the Soft Skills area. As Rajesh has to communicate with people at all level, he has developed good written, verbal communications. He is also having an excellent proficiency level in preparing & making presentations.
  • Awareness about systems in general and ERP in particular. The company where he worked initially was using a home grown ERP system & Rajesh was using it..
  • Rajesh finds the Project Planning & execution function much challenging and he has become passionate about it.
  • The demand for SAP functional consultants in the areas of his interest was analysed using few job portals. This is not the most important decision factor but input about it is required.
  • After analysing & putting down the above key points, Rajesh himself was convinced that he should get into Project System module of SAP.
  • With most of the above requirements fulfilled, Rajesh will require a good SAP training, Certification and hands on project experience which will put him into SAP consulting..

Moving to SAP Consulting – SAP HR/HCM

SAP provided training covers all aspects of Human Resources/Human Capital Management .HR professionals in an organization using SAP or having SAP Services ,are aware about the regular requirements of SAP Consultants and the basic requirements also.. There are many who want to become SAP HCM consultants and feel that it must be easy to pursue this career option. There is always demand for SAP HCM consultants and the demand exists ONLY for good knowledgeable HCM consultants!!

Let us see the requirements to become SAP HCM Consultant:

  • A professional qualification in HR is a preferred option but not mandatory. The qualifications are Basic graduation followed by post graduation in Human Resources. I have come across many excellent HCM Consultants who hold  only graduate qualification. (But most of them are having very strong HR domain experience)
  • Anybody who wants to move into HCM consulting must have working experience in that area. The domain experience in Human Resource function provides you to understand SAP in a much better way..The preferred experience level is about 3 to 4 years for a Human Resource professional before moving to SAP career.
  • It is expected that the experience level mentioned above has provided you good understanding of day-to-day Human Resource function in an organisation, processes followed, Report requirements, good awareness of areas linked to HR function etc. A good knowledge of your functional area and the processes is a MUST. Let me give an example: If you are working in the Recruitment function in the Organisation, you must be having good knowledge about Recruitment systems and processes currently followed in your organisation. Apart from this you must be aware about HR Master Data, Personnel Administration as carried out in your organisation and have some awareness about other functions like Time Management, Payroll etc..The section names may vary from company to company but one must be having a good exposure in those areas.
  • Good understanding of Rules/Schemes as followed in your function/systems. E.g. Organization Structure, Leave management, Compensation Schemes, Resource management etc…
  • Above average Computer proficiency-.A very good hands on in MS Office helps..
  • Very Good Soft Skills.. One of the areas where many aspiring SAP Consultants lack is the Soft Skills area. You will have to communicate with people at all levels and that will cover written, verbal and many presentations.
  • Awareness about systems in general and ERP in particular will be helpful. Those of you who plan to get into SAP HR payroll, TM, must know the existing systems thoroughly.
  • Knowledge about how HR Function interacts/integrates with other functions in Organization will be very useful in the long run..
  • With most of the above requirements fulfilled, you will require a good training and hands on project experience which will put you into SAP HCM consulting..

 

 

What is the typical role of SAP Functional Consultant?

What is the typical role of SAP Functional Consultant?

Every candidate who is considering Career shift to SAP has an anxiety about role of SAP Functional Consultant. Many of them are having Functional experience as part of their career and want to understand what they will be doing post SAP training & Career shift to SAP. The role of SAP Functional Consultant will vary based on the type of project he is working. The Project may be SAP Implementation, SAP Support (post implementation), Upgrade, Roll out etc….

I have given below the responsibilities of a SAP Functional Consultant for SAP implementation project. These will vary based on Project size, scope etc. but I have tried to cover the main responsibilities.

  • Provide expert advice on SAP functionality. The Consultant is supposed to be expert in his SAP module and should be able to provide in detail the functionality available in SAP. He should advice customer on how to use the best business processes as provided in SAP.
  • Collect & analyze customer requirements on the following:
    • Business processes and parameters: This is important for business processes to be covered in SAP and compile the various parameters required for subsequent Configuration.
    • Assist in data transfer mapping: Data is required to be transferred to SAP from the legacy systems (e.g. Master Data like Material Master, Customer/Vendor master etc..)
    • Determining reporting requirements: Standard SAP Reports and any Customized Reporting required.
  • Determine printed forms requirements
  • Suggest solutions to customer based on best business practices so that Customer gets Business benefits by following these SAP processes.
  • Assist in the development of business process descriptions
  • Conduct implementation & training workshops: This is particularly required for SAP Power users and then guidance for end-user training. Most of the implementations follow ‘Train the Trainer’ approach..
  • Provide guidance on end-user documentation.
  • Provide guidance on test plan. : How to test SAP functionality for the required Business processes and ensure that all scenarios are covered.
  • Conduct unit tests based on customer defined scenarios
  • Coordinate with other module SAP Consultants for Integration requirements.
  • Provide Functional Specifications to Technical team for any Customized developments..

Different Ways for Career shift to SAP:

“How can I get into SAP?”

This is a common question asked by most of the people who want to move to ERP/SAP career from their non SAP career. As discussed in earlier posts, it depends on your professional qualification, your domain/technical experience, Soft skills, your training in particular area and the most important is the Opportunity you get for this career move..

Assuming that you have the required professional qualification & experience, let us understand the different ways people have followed to enter SAP career.

 

  • Get involved in Implementation in your Organization:
    • Your current organization decides to implement SAP and you are one of the most competent employees selected to be part of the SAP implementation team. In most of the organizations, such employees are shifted from their current roles to the Core implementation team.
    • You may not be lucky as above, but are selected as a key user in a particular module. You get involved in process finalisation discussions, user testing/acceptance, even in end-user training also…
    • For both the above scenarios, employees are trained as per requirement level during the project.
  • You are one of the end-user of SAP in a particular function/module.. You have become familiar with SAP usage and know the business processes in your area.
  • You are already working/using another ERP and get an opportunity to move to SAP
  • Many people decide to pursue a career move to SAP and get trained in SAP
  • You are already in IT/technical area and get an opportunity to support SAP as part of IT team
  • You are in IT/Technical area and decide to pursue a career move to SAP and get trained in SAP technical area.
  • There are many IT consulting organizations, who recruit graduates, MBA, post graduates and impart them SAP training. This is part of their induction training and subsequent to training the employees become part of ERP/SAP team.
  • There are opportunities for Domain experts recruited by IT/Consulting organizations and trained in appropriate SAP Industry solutions..

I have listed some of the paths followed by people for moving into SAP.  The most important things are always Professional qualification, domain experience (functional/technical), good training, Certification, Soft skills and use of all these to ensure value addition to Organization.

The above different paths will give an opportunity to move into SAP and one has to work hard to become a successful SAP Consultant. This need to be planned & executed very well as it affects your career.

 

Moving to SAP Consulting – FI/CO

 

 As mentioned earlier, good demand for FI/CO consultants motivates many people to try & get into SAP FI/CO..There are many who want to quickly become SAP FI/CO consultants and feel that it must be easy to pursue this career option. There is demand for SAP FI/CO consultants and the demand exists ONLY for good knowledgeable FI/CO consultants!! The normal question asked is can I become SAP FI/CO consultant?

 Let us summarize the requirements:

 

  • A qualified Chartered Accountant is a preferred option but not mandatory..The other qualifications are MBA-Finance, Commerce graduates /post graduates, Cost Accountants. I have come across many excellent FI/CO Consultants who hold a technical qualification.
  • Anybody who wants to move into FI/CO consulting must have working experience in that area. The domain experience in your chosen SAP Module provides you to understand SAP in a much better way..The preferred experience level is about 3 to 4 years for a Finance professional before moving to SAP career.
  • It is expected that the experience level mentioned above has provided you good understanding of day-to-day accounts function in an organisation, processes followed, Report requirements, good awareness of areas  linked to Accounts function etc. A good knowledge of your functional area and the processes is a MUST. Let me give an example: If you are working in the Accounts Receivable function in the Organisation, you must be having good knowledge about AR systems and processes followed currently in your organisation. Apart from this you must be aware about Accounts Payable, Internal Audits, GL functions etc.. The section names may vary from company to company but one must be having a good exposure in those areas.
  • Good understanding of Codification Schemas followed in your function/systems.
  • Above average Computer proficiency-.A very good hands on in MS Office helps..
  • Very Good Soft Skills.. One of the areas where many aspiring SAP Consultants lack is the Soft Skills area. You will have to communicate with people at all levels and that will cover written, verbal and many presentations…I still remember an excellent process followed by leading IT/Consulting company for recruiting Trainee FI/CO consultants. Once all the qualifying criteria’s are met, the Candidate used to be asked to present any project/process of his choice for 10 minutes followed by 5 minutes of Q & A..
  • Awareness about systems in general and ERP in particular will be helpful..
  • With most of the above requirements fulfilled, you will require a good training and hands on project experience which will put you into SAP FI/CO consulting..