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SAP Career Outlook 2010 - Special Feature

A Two-Part White Paper for the Career Center on SCN
By Jon Reed of

Jon Reed notes: In the spring of 2010, I was involved in a major collaboration with the Career Center on SAP Community Network. I'm now happy to announce the official release of my two-part white paper series on SAP career and skills trends in 2010, written exclusively for SAP. I'll look forward to your feedback, which can be incorporated into follow up blogs, podcasts, and videos. Both articles are also available to download as a PDF. Also check out: Jon's new piece on "Avoiding SAP Skills Commoditization." 

Pulling it Together: Combine SAP Skills Generalization and Specialization Print E-mail
There is a healthy debate about whether the most marketable SAP skill set is a generalist or a specialist. I fall heavily on the specialist side. The most successful independent SAP consultants I've ever worked with all have focused areas of specialization. But to be fair, when it comes to being a full time employee, there are times when having a broader SAP skills focus can be just as effective. I'm not going to settle that debate in this white paper. But here's how I recommend looking at SAP skills:
The best SAP skills combination is a core SAP skill combined with an edge skill that ties back to that core.

Think of it as a "core and explore" model. The core skill stems from the depth of your overall work experience and serves as your bread-and-butter area.

The "edge" skill is an emerging SAP skill area that might be a bit more of a gamble in terms of its real-world immediacy. You can afford to take a gamble on the edge if you also maintain your core. The edge is where you will find the best rates and add some "sex appeal" to your skill set, but the core is your protection in case you get a little further out on that edge than the skills demand will support in your region or market.

Of course, it goes without saying that even the core skill should be updated with the latest ERP 6.0 and NetWeaver releases whenever possible. And in some cases, it's good to have several "edge" skills to play off of.

For example, a Basis person decides to chase SAP Retail because a friend said it was hot. Retail configuration might be considered an edge skill in some cases, but unless it connects directly to the core, it's not a good skills extension. The two must be related to promote the overall vision of skills mastery.

Here are some example of core and edge skills combinations I've run into recently:

Winning SAP technical skills combinations
SAP Developer SAP Adobe Flex and Forms Developer
SAP Developer SAP Mobile Development (with CRM Sales)
SAP Basis Specialist SAP Virtualization Expert

Of course, how we define "core" changes over time. I consider Solution Manager to be a core (mandatory) skill for most Basis specialists in 2010. On the SAP development side, ABAP Objects is becoming a must-have core skill for any serious ABAP-er, and on the Java side, Agile development methodologies will become core also.

Winning SAP functional skills combinations
HR functional (payroll/benefits) SAP Talent Management and E-Recruiting
CRM functional (sales/service) CRM On-Demand and/or CRM Marketing
FI/CO functional EPM/BPC (formerly OutlookSoft)

Most of these examples are consultants I have personally worked with, with the exception of CRM On-Demand.

Let's say you have established your core skill and your edge skill. So what's next?

BPX, "soft" and "consulting" skills become the "general" skills that you wrap around your core.

If you don't have a good core and edge skill, the BPX skills are almost useless (I've met a lot of good out-of-work business consultants who didn't have SAP experience). The SAP skills (core and edge) are the teeth that land you the interview, the BPX skills are the polish that get you the job. Whoops - I don't like to use dental analogies!

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