10 steps to being a great SAP consultant
Author David Jannotta thinks he knows the answers. Here are, according to him, 10 simple steps to becoming a Master SAP Consultant.
Planning is an essential stepping stone to business success –actually, everything else! This is especially true because the IT world is dynamic, fast-paced and driven by innovation. If you don’t plan, you get lost and get left behind.
Plan for two time frames: Strategic or long-term, and operational or short-term.
2. Act like an entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is someone who is his own man, or woman. Many of the entrepreneurs we know say they find it difficult to have somebody giving orders to them or at least cramping their style.
This could undoubtedly be very satisfying. However, it comes at a price as well. You need to be creative, independent and resourceful. Think out of the box. While there are rewards, there are risks as well. Sometimes there is no stable flow of income, or a delineation between work time and personal time.
Have passion, have vision, and embrace the risks that come with the path you’ve chosen.
3. Know the basics of the IT development process
What are the basic steps for carrying out an IT project? These are:
Feasibility study. Is the project even possible at all? What are the costs and can we afford it?
Definition of objectives and scope. Make sure that you are working within established bounds and that expectations of the client are grounded. Don’t promise the moon. List down exactly what you can deliver.
Feedback. We don’t work in an island. We have to be open to feedback, both positive and negative. Only through genuine feedback can we really improve.
Assign Project Sponsor. We all hope the project goes well and works as envisioned. But just in case it doesn’t…who gets the blame?
When you’re a SAP consultant, chances are, you are already good in what you do. However, nobody has the monopoly of expertise. Every one of us has something we don’t quite know. There is always something to be learned.
An easy way to get stuck in a rut is being content with what you know and have. On a regular basis, assess your knowledge and behavior. Try something new once in a while and recognize that the feeling of security — in knowing exactly what you can do — may breed complacency. Challenge yourself to explore unfamiliar territory.
5. Be a problem solver
There are many problems and we are impressed with people who can identify what is wrong, and why the things that are supposed to work sometimes do not. We like to own a problem, break it down so that we can feel we are still bigger than it.
All this means nothing if we do not take the next logical step, which is to SOLVE a problem. Ultimately, that is what is important -how to make things work again, despite the difficulties and the glitches. You’re an inventor if you make things work. You’re a hero when you make things work again, despite…
6. Be flexible
Sure, there are rules and steps that guide people on how to perform their tasks. There are experts who will tell you that this is the way they have always done their jobs. There are specific solutions for specific projects — you just have to read the manual.
A career as a SAP consultant entails flexibility in terms of seeing applications even when they are not within the bounds of existing solutions. Sometimes a little problem may arise and this can lead one to explore possibilities not tapped before.
7. Know your limitations
Then again, despite embracing the innovation, flexibility and creativity, a successful SAP consultant knows his or her limitations.
However good we may be, we are not invincible. There are tasks that are outside of our area of expertise. We must be the first to acknowledge them — or else, we over-promise, and then under-perform, much to our own detriment. Knowing your limitations means being humble enough to acknowledge that you can only do so much and that you would now need to call on other experts to render that part of the service they can do better than you.
The client will appreciate this more than you know.
Networking is not standing in the middle of the room, sipping wine and making idle, small talk.
Networking is building relationships with people with the same interests and expertise as you do.
It gives you the opportunity to talk about recent successes or failures. It makes you rethink your approach to certain things and situate yourself in the industry.
Remember, this is not about you rising to superstar status as an SAP consultant. This is about you contributing to the existing body of work that would help make life better for people and organizations around the world.
Interviewing is nothing more than being genuinely interested in the person whom you are talking to and believing that they have something important to contribute to the agenda.
Nobody likes talking to people who talk too much about themselves. Take the other approach and ask the next fellow many things about himself or herself. Who knows, they might have your next lead, next opportunity, or next solution.
Allow others to tell you what they want and what they can do. More often than not, you will be surprised.
Before meeting a client, or even going to that cocktail, make sure that your preparation goes beyond your choice of a good suit.
You have to know who you’re talking to: The organization they represent, the current situation and the potential needs of the company. You also have to have a background on the representative: experience in the industry, previous engagements, and even some personal things — nothing creepy, though — that would establish rapport between the two of you from the beginning. The subsequent shop talk would be highly satisfying.
We all know that SAP consultants are highly skilled, hardworking, excellent professionals especially if they practice the first nine steps enumerated here.
All these will amount to nothing however of the SAP consultant neglects his or her personal life in favor of career.
Look at that which really makes you happy and whole. Is it spending time with your children? Taking your wife to dinner dates? Trekking up the mountains or playing an instrument? Is it one or a combination of these, and more?
Whatever it is, you have to pursue this passion in the same manner as you act on your passion for SAP consulting.
You will not only be a successful business professional, but a happy, thriving individual as well.