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What’s Next for a Techno-Functional Person Torn Between ABAP and CRM?

I recently heard from a reader who was torn between a desire to pursue ABAP or CRM, or remain as a techno-functional consultant. This person had some CRM/SD configuration experience and some technical exposure but he felt like he wasn’t especially strong in either area. So what should he do?

In this case, our reader was asking which job he should pursue to enhance his career. He wondered about pursuing a techno-functional role or perhaps applying for a production support role.

  There are several aspects to this question that need to be understood. First, in terms of applying for new positions, everyone’s skill set is a little bit different. Some SAP professionals find themselves in a position like this reader’s where they aren’t sure how marketable they are. They may have an unusual combination of skills - in this case, some lighter ABAP but no serious interface or user exit type work, and some basic configuration in CRM and SD but no experience designing or configuring new business processes.

When you have a unique skill set like this one, the only way to know for sure what the market thinks of you is to put your resume out there and apply for a variety of positions. See what kind of response you get across the board. The areas where you have the highest level of response will give you a good indication of which aspects of your skills are most marketable.

It’s also important to understand what your "ultimate SAP job" looks like. For example, I think it’s hard to succeed as a 50/50 techno-functional consultant. There’s too much to master in SAP. The best mix is 80/20 one way or the other. Some people think the only direction you should go in is the functional direction. I don’t agree. There are still some great development positions out there. However, I do think that programming careers in SAP are tougher to navigate. So if you’re on the fence, you want to go in the functional direction.

In this case, our reader’s ideal position is a full-fledged functional consulting role. So how does he get to that "ultimate role"? Well, he starts by applying for a range of jobs to see which roles he is currently qualified for. The idea is to form a "bridge" between his current role and his ideal role. Until he has some serious interviews and job offers, he won’t know for sure how marketable he is and which areas he qualifies for. It never hurts to aim high. So the first step is to apply to functional consulting roles. If there’s no luck getting those kinds of jobs, plan B is in order.

Generally speaking, I find that if you can’t land a consulting role using your ideal skills, you should consider asking your current employer for a more expanded role gaining new skills, or else apply to a full time role with a company that either has a good new role for you or has a reputation for cross-training their employees. Take the most forward-thinking offer you can, even if the salary is a bit lower than other offers. At this stage in your career, skills exposure is more important than money.

The last few years, it was hard to find to find a functional consulting position until you had deep configuration skills. But that may have changed a little bit given the high level of demand for SAP consultants currently. That’s why I’m trying to be careful about offering definitive advice to people. You may find some good opportunities out there right now if you set your mind to it - it’s that kind of market.

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