How to add value as a Junior SAP Consultant

20 April 2011

Mark Chalfen

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

I've read a few blogs on the SAP SDN recently about what makes an SAP consultant, an SAP expert, and how to share SAP knowledge. They have touched on how SAP Consultants can grow and better themselves. This blog will provide examples of how a junior SAP Consultant can continue to improve and provide value to clients.

How do you become an SAP Consultant?

The route of becoming an SAP Consultant is normally achieved from either a business role, leading to a role on a SAP project, or an IT professional or graduate moving into SAP. There will of course be exceptions to this.

The first objective for any new SAP Consultant is to gain a good understanding of the solutions. A widely used phrase is "getting your hands dirty" - so working day-in and day-out with clients on projects or supporting productive environments.

When you are a junior consultant, the work will normally be received in a form that says something along the lines of..."This is the scope, please do X, Y and Z". Your job is then to do as you are told and perform "X, Y and Z". This provides the junior consultant experience of working with the product and hopefully in turn, should provide the experience that they can re-use on future pieces of work.

Over-time by working on different projects with different clients, or dealing with different issues, the junior consultants' experience will grow and the consultant will feel more comfortable with the product.

Progressing and adding value

So how does a junior consultant move forward and add value? The advice I provide consultants wanting to move to the next level is to question why they are doing what they are doing. This might seem simple and some may argue that they always ask why. However by asking why you get to put into context the reason for the implementation.

Here are some examples:

Question: Why are we implementing X?
Value: This will help you to understand the business drivers.

Question: What are the benefits of the implementation?
Value: This will help you understand what the client expects to get out of the implementation?

Question: What are your current issues?
Value: This will provide the consultant some scope of what they should try and implement.

There are many other questions you could ask and the real benefit of asking questions is so you can not only learn from them, gain a better understanding of the client, their business and their objectives and be better equipped to provide insight to other clients down the line.

If you don't question why you have been asked to implement X, you will never understand the linked business drivers. And if you don't understand the challenges customers actually have, you'll never be able to provide advice. If you keep on getting told what to do, you will become good at following orders, but that does not really add value to the customer or help you grow.

Summary

No matter where you are in your SAP career, one thing is clear, you can always learn more. You can learn more about the SAP solutions and technologies and how different customers plan to use them. However, if you want to become a trusted advisor, you need to question your customers to see why they want to implement SAP or change SAP. Once you can digest that, you can re-use that information, and provide insight into future customers to share these experiences and provide some true value add.

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About the author

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

Mark tells it straight - as an ex-boxer, what else would you expect?  Both his knowledge and experience of SAP products allow him to cut to the chase dispelling myths and hearsay.

As a result of working closely with various SAP Finance Product Management teams on product development, Mark understands these products inside out. This depth of understanding has led to him become a ‘thought leader’ in his field; after all, it is not often SAP consultants have helped shape and develop the very product they are selling.

Having such a strong relationship with SAP alongside being an SAP Mentor and Moderator means that Mark has an extensive network within SAP. For clients, this relationship proves to be a huge advantage and leads to configuration issues being resolved rapidly.

Mark has worked on short proof of concepts through to year-long multi-million pound global roll-outs. However, no matter how large or small the project, the true value Mark brings to his work is in the guidance he provides to senior stakeholders. In essence, he assists them to implement more effective processes and drive better behaviours within their finance teams.

Helping organisations transform their business with SAP S/4HANA is Mark’s current focus. The benefits of S/4HANA are numerous, including the simplification of tasks, embedded analytics and improved user engagement. Whilst the eventual move from SAP Business Suite into S/4HANA is inevitable, the journey to it is not always clear. Mark’s ability to understand an organisation’s needs coupled with his deep understanding of S/4HANA provides clarity and eases their transition.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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