SAP Consulting Secrets and Keys to Success

The Secrets to SAP Consulting Success:
Foreward to Russian Edition of the SAP Consultant Handbook

Jon Reed’s web site introduction: In 2008, The SAP Consultant Handbook will be issued in a Russian edition. For this occasion, I wrote a new foreword that describes what I see as the keys to SAP consulting success and why this book has remained relevant.

When we first published the SAP Consultant Handbook in 1999, I had no idea it would be so successful for so long. Most technical books have a limited shelf life. In the case of our book, we saw two other books on SAP consulting come and go, yet the demand for our book continued.

Now, we have the privilege of publishing a Russian edition of this book with ExRP. This is a great opportunity to look back on why this book has been so successful, but also to give the reader some perspective on how to use this book to further your SAP career.

So why has this book been so successful? One reason is that my co-author, Michael Doane, is a uniquely gifted writer. In addition to his classic SAP books, Michael has published many novels and has sold screenplays based on those novels also. He brings a light and witty touch to his business writing. I am told the Russian edition keeps some of this humorous flavor, and I’m glad to hear that.

Another reason this book was so well-received: while the SAP market has changed a lot since 1999, in some ways, it hasn’t changed much at all. We revised this book a bit in 2002, but the essence of the book remains the same. The same can be said of SAP. With the latest SAP release, ERP 6.0, SAP has finally dropped the "R/3" language from its product, but while ERP 6.0 is "web service enabled," it is still, at its base, a client-server product, just like R/3.

And even with all the new components SAP has added, from NetWeaver Mobile to e-procurement, SAP is still fundamentally about solving business problems, and its core ERP functionality is still at the heart of its market success.

Of course, even as I write this, SAP is undergoing its biggest transformation since the early ‘90s, when it shifted emphasis from R/2 to R/3. In addition to being the business applications leader, SAP wants to be a leader in service oriented architecture (SOA). SAP also wants to become a leading "business process platform," driven by its NetWeaver technical architecture.

However, at this time, we do not know how successful SAP will be in this expanded market. When you start competing on the basis of technical architecture, you are now competing with IBM, Microsoft, and your old friends at Oracle. It remains to be seen if SAP can earn the same reputation as a leader in SOA as it has established in enterprise business applications.

So how do these market changes affect this book? I advise using this book in two ways: one, this book will provide you with a grounding in the core ERP business concepts that SAP continues to excel at with its ERP 6.0 product. Second, this book is based on timeless consulting advice, written in an easy-to-read style. Consulting as a discipline does not really change that much. The technical know-how evolves, but the fundamentals of what makes a good SAP consultant can all be found in this handbook.

To get the most out of this book, you will want to combine the historical grounding of this book with new information on the SAP product line of today. For this reason, I have told ExRP that they may translate some of my most popular articles from my current web site, JonERP.com, and post them on their web site so you can get the latest information on today’s market.

And for those readers who speak and understand English as well as Russian, you can visit JonERP.com at any time, and obtain all of my latest SAP market analysis. You can also listen to my podcasts with industry insiders.

One of my projects for this coming year is to complete the sequel to the book you are reading now. Because this book has become such a reference in the consulting field, I am not going to try to rewrite it further. What I am going to do is to issue a companion volume, one that picks up on the themes of the book you are about to read and takes a look at where SAP is headed next.

There’s no doubt that concepts like "Web 2.0" and "SOA" are going to continue to change the ERP marketplace. We can expect the skill set of the SAP consultant to evolve also. But in many ways, this evolution is good news. Now more than ever, the market requires consultants who are not just lucky enough to get some SAP training, but who have a deep grounding in the technical or functional areas they specialize in.

What you can take from this book can be applied to any emerging SAP skill area. Whenever you commit to mastering the best practices of your particular industry and skill set, you will be rewarded with projects from companies that appreciate your passion for SAP and your commitment to "continuous improvement."

Some of the rates mentioned in this book may be hard to obtain in today’s market, but that’s not all bad. Companies were overpaying for superficial skills that did not get to the core of their business problems. Those implementations tended to go over budget and were not a success.

Fortunately, since that time, SAP has changed its course and delivered a superior product with a proven implementation methodology. But all that would mean nothing without skilled consultants. And that’s where you come in.

Today’s SAP market is truly global - you can be working in your home in Moscow and logging onto a project in California. Or you could be opening a new plant in St. Petersburg for a company based in Japan. No matter where you work, there are keys to developing the kind of client relationships that keeps your skills in demand.

It is our hope that this book will help you to foster those kinds of relationships. More than any other factor, SAP consulting success is about helping SAP customers achieve their goals and then acquiring those customers as references. I hope that this book will help you to navigate through the next phase in your SAP career and earn the track record that the great consultants achieve.

We are honored to be publishing this book in a Russian edition. Some of my favorite authors (Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy) were Russian, and just as I have enjoyed reading their translations, I hope you enjoy reading mine.

Jon Reed
President, JonERP.com
"Career Answers for SAP Professionals"