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Note that Jon blogs and videocasts on a variety of SAP and enterprise web sites. The easiest way to track all his content is through his JonERP Feedburner feed, which you can subscribe to via RSS or email. There is also additional video content to subscribe to on JD-OD.com. Jon also posts audio versions of much of his content on his JonERP iTunes Feed. To pose questions to Jon directly find him on Twitter.

Should You Green Your SAP Skills?

One of the bigger surprises at Sapphire 2009 was the emphasis on sustainability. I expected some discussion on this topic – I did not expect it to be a centerpiece of Leo’s keynote or a major emphasis of SAP’s new “Clear Enterprise” campaign. This led me to Tweet at the conference: “Should SAP consultants ‘green’ their SAP skills?” I had a couple interesting responses; in this blog entry I’ll riff a bit on what this might mean.

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What Are You Expecting From Sapphire 2009?

Yesterday, someone asked me what we could expect out of Sapphire this year, in terms of SAP’s major announcements. Guessing at these scoops is good fun because SAP makes a point of keeping keynote announcements under wraps, and no, not even SAP Mentors get a look at the envelopes that Leo Apotheker and other keynoters will be opening. But that question got me thinking. I realized that at Sapphire, there are always three lines of questioning: 1. The agenda SAP is trying to set; 2. The agenda customers are truly interested in, and 3. The questions I am most interested in. So let’s take a look at how these might overlap, or not.

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How Should an SAP Consultant Take Advantage of LinkedIn?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about marketing yourself as an SAP consultant lately. That’s not a surprise given that jobs are hard to come by, for reasons I get into in my recent podcast with SAP Mentor Vijay Vijayasankar on the impact of offshoring on SAP consulting. I’m getting enough questions on the topic of self-marketing that I’m actually about to do a webcast that addresses these themes with MBO partners and ERP-Consulting.com. There’s an understandable confusion about which social media web sites can actually help with a SAP job search. Add to that the overhype that has come into play with Facebook and Twitter in particular, and you wind up with too many web sites, too little time.

  One good starting point is to separate out active job hunting from the long term pursuit of “building a great consulting network.” For the immediate gratification of finding a position next week, the job boards are still a big factor. When you think about LinkedIn, sending frantic emails to your contacts every week that you’re looking for a new position is going to backfire. So what tactics do work on LinkedIn? And what kind of payoff are we going after?

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How Do You Track the SAP Market in Real Time On Twitter?

Twitter has become a real asset to me in my work tracking SAP market and skills trends. More importantly, it has deepened my relationships with many very smart and interesting people in the SAP community. As a result, I decided to do a couple of YouTube videos on my Twitter experiences and make some recommendations on how to go about following SAP folks on Twitter. I did this partially because I think there are misconceptions about how to use Twitter that you need to throw out in order to use Twitter effectively. I’ll share the videos I did in this post, as well as some additional thoughts I didn’t get to share in the videos about making your Twitter experience worthwhile. Editor’s note: the YouTube videos may not display properly in your browser. Until we fix it, you can see the videos referred to here.

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What Was Your View of the Latest SAP Certification Debate?

I recently took part in a major discussion on the SAP community network pertaining to SAP certification. The discussion was inspired by a post from ZDNet blogger, Enterprise Irregular, and SAP Mentor Dennis Howlett entitled “Should You Be Certified?” In his blog post, Dennis riffed on a major theme that SAP has stated for the year: to emphasize the importance of certified consultants as a means of improving overall consultant quality. Dennis put the certification discussion in the context of project success and failure, asking: if certification can improve the quality of consultants, then perhaps certification can have an impact on the success of SAP projects? My own comments to Dennis’ post were extensive, and I’d like to share them here with my JonERP.com readers. They also received an interesting response from Sue Martin of SAP, who has been a guest of mine on an SAP certification podcast, and who is directly involved in where SAP certification is headed next.

Post update: Anyone interested in this topic should check out the Enterprise Geeks’ latest podcast, which features special guest Dennis Howlett and has an SAP certification theme. You can read my take in the Geeks’ comment section.

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What is the Difference between IDS (Aris) and NetWeaver BPM (Galaxy)?

I write about the SAP Business Process Expert (BPX) skill set because to stay marketable, we have to look beyond the present. SAP professionals don’t want to miss out on skills that might someday make the difference between landing a job or not. One of the most important aspects of the BPX skills profile is gaining experience in “next generation” process modeling tools. No, we don’t see this kind of tool experience as a required skill on many SAP job orders today. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t understand how these tools might fit into what we need to know.

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Is SAP Backing Down on Enterprise Support?

When you are blogging on a fast-moving issue, you can get caught with postings that seem out a bit out of date the moment you publish them. This has happened to me lately with SAP support. On Monday of this week, I issued an in-depth post on the issue of SAP support for PAC, and how it did (or didn’t) connect to ASUG’s dismissal of CEO Steve Strout. Almost as soon as I published the entry, some important news broke. The news didn’t change the fundamentals of the piece, but it still meant an update is needed. Meantime, I was also about to post another piece on SAP support, this time looking at some of the underlying issues of the support quality.

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How Do We Expand the Discussion on Enterprise Support?

When SAP raised its maintenance fees from 17 to 22 percent on July 16, 2008, it was not surprising that there would be ramifications. Some have speculated (though I can’t confirm it) that these ripple effects even include the decision from the ASUG Board (the North American SAP User Group) to end the term of CEO Steve Strout. Some have also hypothesized, based on the “Oracle versus SAP” report recently issued by Forrester, that those SAP customers who hold off on upgrading to ERP 6.0, partially due to their frustrations over increased support fees, could even be won over by Oracle if Fusion can indeed be produced in a ready-for-prime-time format in 2010 as planned. This would imply to me, and hopefully to SAP as well, that customer satisfaction over SAP support is something to be taken very seriously.

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What is the Biggest Mistake that SAP Job Seekers Make?

I have written about the fundamentals of a good SAP career strategy, but I continue to get career questions that raise these same points. So I decided to launch a series in my SAP Career Blog that talks about the main job search mistakes that SAP professionals make. Most of these mistakes apply equally to experienced SAP pros as well as those who are new to the field, though there are some distinctions between these  two groups we’ll get into as well.

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How Should SAP Consultants Respond to the Down Market?

It’s shocking how quickly our economic confidence can change. Along with that, professional uncertainties are exposed. So how should SAP consultants respond to the current market conditions? I have put together the following pointers based on my research to date. Just keep in mind the obvious disclaimer that no one knows exactly what lies ahead.

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What Were the Key Trends of TechEd 2008?

So, I’m back from TechEd 2008 and pulling together many different themes that I believe are of importance to JonERP.com readers. I’m going to use this blog entry to update with key links and useful information from the conference.

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What is the Latest on the SAP Maintenance Fee Controversy?

The Silent TechEd ‘08 Issue: Maintenance Fee Increases and Customer Dissatisfaction

In my PAC blog entry on TechEd, "Inside the Hype of TechEd 2008," I wrote about two topics that I thought deserved more airtime than they got at the conference: the Oracle-SAP lawsuit and the maintenance fee increase backlash. I noted that the latter issue is the one that concerns me the most. To be honest, the more I think about it, the more it bothers me. I’m not sure I gave this enough weight in my TechEd in Review piece. Just because an issue isn’t talked about doesn’t mean it’s not important. Sometimes, it’s the elephant in the room.

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What Are Your Plans for SAP TechEd 2008?

I’m looking forward to SAP TechEd 2008.

For one thing, TechEd 2008 marks the official unveiling of the BPX Skills Certification, which I recently did a podcast on for SAP BPX. I’m really looking forward to TechEd’s BPX Community Day as well. I’ll be moderating a BPX skills panel in the afternoon, so if you’re there, make a point of stopping by! Here’s a BPX Community Day schedule.

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What Trends Did You See at the BO Summit?

On Tuesday, August 12 in Boston, I had the opportunity to attend the SAP BO Summit. The Summit was an opportunity for so-called “Influencers” to learn more about the SAP BO Roadmap and the value proposition that SAP/Business Objects provides to SAP customers. Some of the main events from this summit are now posted online. You can also see the media relations notices from the event.

My goal when attending these kinds of events is always the same: to get an inside view of the key emerging skills that SAP professionals and project teams should be tracking.

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How Do You Shift from Basis Administrator to NetWeaver Engineer?

On July, 26, I conducted a podcast interview with Kent Sanders, Senior Technology Architect for CSC Consulting, about the beginning of the end for the traditional R/3 Basis Consultant, and how to make the skills transition to "NetWeaver Engineer." This was one of my favorite podcasts; Kent did a terrific job of breaking down the practical steps necessary to stay on the cutting edge of the technical side of SAP. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the Latest News on JonERP.com?

JonERP.com is now entering its second year!

Thanks to all of of you who have been a part of this site, posed questions and comments, and helped to make this site a resource for the SAP community. Great things are ahead! I’m committed to building this site into the best place on the web to make sense of SAP career trends, and I’m thankful to your continued readership and interest and excellent questions. Read the rest of this entry »

What is the Key to Marketing Yourself as an SAP Consultant?

Too often, SAP consultants focus only on skills. Yes, you need the skills, but learning how to get visibility for your skills is essential. That involves mastering all the aspects of job hunting, interviewing, and most importantly, self-marketing. If you’re an independent consultant, or aspire to be an independent SAP consultant, then marketing is essential. Marketing is also crucial if you are looking to eventually build your own consulting practice. Let me go over some key aspects to successful SAP marketing as well as some good and bad news about marketing over the web. Recently, I did a webcast on "Best Practices in Building Your SAP Consulting Business" that covered many of these points as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Is SAP Certification Worth the Money?

This is a very hard question to answer, in part because money is relative. If you have plenty of cash stashed away, then you can never go wrong with an investment in SAP certification. But, few of us fit into that category. That means we need a clearer understanding of how SAP certification fits into our career strategy. SAP certification is full of controversy because of the contrast between the importance of certification versus hands-on SAP skills. In this blog entry, I’ll summarize some of my views on SAP certification and hopefully we can get some comments going on this topic also. Read the rest of this entry »

Is There Really a Shortage of SAP Skills?

Every time I get back from Sapphire or TechEd, one story remains a constant: What are we going to do about the so-called SAP skills shortage? Or, if we want to push SAP on this a little bit, we could say, "What is SAP doing about the skills shortage?"; I have a problem with this line of thinking. Not because the skills demand isn’t real - it obviously is. But a simplistic view of the "skills shortage" doesn’t serve anyone in the SAP ecosystem very well. Read the rest of this entry »

How Promising is the SAP MDM Career Path?

I probably field as many questions about SAP Master Data Management (MDM) as any other emerging area of SAP. There are two ways to assess the viability of an SAP skill. One is to consider a tool like MDM as part of a broader SAP skill set. The other way is to consider MDM as a possible consulting focus and specialty. In this SAP career blog entry, I’ll consider both aspects of MDM in terms of its "skills marketability." Our bottom line is: how good does SAP MDM look on a resume? Read the rest of this entry »

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