How to become a SAP consultant? Interview with Jakub Kaźmierczak, SAP C/4HANA Consultant
SAP consultants must be able to find themselves on the dynamically developing market, respond to the growing expectations of customers, and constantly improve their knowledge. Many challenges and a wide variety of projects make this position ideal for personal and professional development.
Jakub Kaźmierczak, who is responsible for the development of SAP C/4HANA projects at Apollogic, describes the specifics of a SAP consultant’s job. SAP Customer Experience products cover key aspects of customer relationship management: sales automation, omnichannel marketing, or personal data administration. Jakub’s team implements and maintains cloud and on-premise solutions adjusted to the requirements of companies operating in the B2B, B2C, and B2B2C models.
What qualifications do you need to get your first job as a SAP Consultant?
In my opinion, the most important skills in this profession are determination, perseverance, and resistance to stress. The latter is particularly significant during implementation projects, as their realization is often accompanied by nerves caused by a busy schedule, upcoming deadline, and circumstances that the implementation team does not always have an influence on. Part of the consultant’s job are presentations made for a given implementation. To demonstrate certain solutions to the client, therefore self-confidence during public speaking will be a valuable skill. My example shows that even if, at the beginning of the career path, the presentations are challenging and cause stress, as the years go by and the experience is gained, self-confidence increases during the presentations and in contact with the client. If I were to point out other qualities that might help a candidate for this position, it would undoubtedly be the ability to work in a team, communication skills, efficient time management, and an analytical approach to work.
Is a certificate necessary to work in this position?
A certificate confirming passing the SAP Global Certification program isn’t necessary to get the first job. It’s certainly a great asset to the labor market, especially if it’s a certificate achieved in a subject area where the candidate plans to develop further. It should be remembered that at the beginning of the career, a consultant develops teamwork skills and learns from scratch the system in which he or she will then specialize. After some time, strengthening the theoretical knowledge and becoming familiar with the system’s functionalities, the moment comes when Team Leader decides that a given person should take the certification exam to systematize knowledge about the product.
How has your position and responsibilities changed over the years?
There have been many changes since the beginning of my work for Apollogic. When applying for the position of a junior, I had basic knowledge about SAP systems gained during my studies. One of the subjects at the Poznań University of Economics and Business in Informatics and Econometrics was related to integrated IT systems and lasted one semester. I got to know the SAP system from the end user’s role – I dealt with transactions, creating orders, shipping, invoicing. I learned about the Consultant’s work, configuration practices, and system implementation process only after I was hired. I joined the Team because Apollogic was then about to start an implementation project and needed the support of a consultant who would take up the task within a few months. At the beginning of my work in this position, I focused on learning and getting to know the possibilities of system configuration. After gaining the necessary knowledge, I started working on the project as a member of the Project Team carrying out system implementation. At a later stage of my career path, I was responsible for, among other things, running a SAP Marketing project, implementation of the entire system, communication with the customer and its partners responsible for maintaining the commerce solution. Along with the experience I gained, the number of my duties in which I was involved in the presales process also increased. In practice, this means that when information comes from a potential customer about the demand for a specific solution, the Consultant verifies received requirements, makes sure that the business needs have been addressed to the right Team, and the product Apollogic offers will meet the client expectations. The role of the Consultant in the presales process is also to suggest adaptations of standard solutions to the customer’s requirements and to assess the time needed to implement the system. Another turning point in my professional development is replacing the SAP C/4HANA Team Manager during the absence. Currently, my duties include onboarding of employees, establishing individual career paths for each Team member, distributing tasks among consultants, providing them with training materials to prepare them for project work, monitoring progress, and many other administrative activities related to team management.
What are the differences between the duties of a technical and functional consultant?
A technical consultant is responsible for configuring the systems and adapting them to the needs of the customer (the company we implement the system at). A functional consultant knows how the system should look and operate from the perspective of the key user. In the case of our Team, there is a division into implementation consultants and support consultants. Implementation consultants more often have direct contact with the customer and deal with system development. Their job is associated with frequent trips, flexible working hours, a variety of projects, and many challenges. If you want to work in this role, you have to be ready for a task-based approach to your work and not always a standardized working day. If I were to list the qualities that an effective implementation consultant should have, it would be assertiveness and negotiation skills. It’s worth noting that the so-called „project workload” is variable, which means that we aren’t always able to estimate the number of project hours in the long run. It all depends on the available projects, customer requirements, the scope of the project, and the adopted work schedule. Support consultants, in turn, are responsible for maintaining the system and solving requests for the system already in operation. Working hours are more standardized – usually eight hours a day for full-time employees. The work of a support consultant doesn’t require frequent trips to the client, although such trips
What skills and how many years of experience are required for a Leading Consultant role?
The decision to nominate a Leading Consultant is made by Team Leader together with the People Manager. The determinant of whether a candidate is a suitable person to take on the role of a Leading Consultant isn’t only the length of the internship in the company, but above all, the project experience gained so far and the technical and team management skills. At Apollogic, we have assumed that a consultant participating from beginning to end in at least one, or preferably two, implementation projects, not necessarily in its full cycle, may be the Leading Consultant.
There is a belief that an SAP Consultant is one of the best-paid roles in the IT industry. Do you agree with this statement?
Indeed, there is such a common conviction, not only among students and graduates of IT. How does this opinion relate to reality? The wage of an SAP software consultant certainly exceeds the national average. Still, it should be remembered that earnings increase with the experience gained, the number of implementations carried out, and roles performed during projects. The salary for this position in many companies consists of a fixed basic salary and an allowance for time worked during the project. In order for work to provide us with a satisfactory salary over the years, we have to give a lot of ourselves, expand knowledge, and constantly develop our skills.
What challenges do you face most often?
The biggest challenge is contact with the client and building partnership. The ability to communicate and establish project assumptions is crucial as it facilitates the efficient organization of Consultants’ work and estimation of hours needed to finalize implementation. A new challenge for me is Team management, which involves a lot of responsibility. I care about setting the direction of Consultants’ development in accordance with their preferences. It’s also important to maintain the high involvement of all Team members and provide them with new challenges. Therefore, the aim of the Team Leader is to find a golden mean between the Apollogic’s expectations and the realization of Consultants’ professional plans. When performing presales tasks, it’s a big responsibility to estimate the project’s time consumption according to pre-established assumptions, because it involves a declaration that it will be completed on time. My role is to take into account all circumstances that may affect the planned implementation of the system, to clarify customer requirements, and to identify areas where additional information should be obtained.
What do you value most in your job?
In my job, I appreciate the variability and diversity of projects, many challenges, the opportunity to get to know the different systems my Team is working on, the constant development. In this position, you can learn something new every day. If you’re involved in project work and are not afraid of challenges, you should undoubtedly think about starting as a Consultant.
If you’re interested in new technologies and planning your future with IT, applying for a consultant position is the right choice. SAP is developing to maximize the potential of cloud solutions. The labor market will need qualified people willing to implement the strategy of the digital transformation of enterprises.
- On 20/03/2020