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How to Become a SAP Consultant [update 2023]

Consultants with SAP knowledge are in high demand and not easy to find. Due to the lack of qualified and experienced SAP professionals, the SAP consulting environment offers the advantage of high pay and excellent career development compared to other positions in IT consulting. Expert SAP consultants are in great demand on the job market and usually have no problem finding a varied and challenging job.

If you are interested in starting a career as an SAP consultant or would like to change your career, then this article will answer all the important questions about starting and everyday work as an SAP consultant.


What exactly is SAP ERP?

The successful management of a company is closely linked to administrative work and many organizational activities. This includes e.g. B. Coordinating all processes needed to provide a product or service and maintaining all documentation needed to comply with country-specific legal requirements.

In the past, these highly administrative activities were carried out manually, tying up enormous capacities and incurring costs. Modern ERP software, such as SAP, takes over all these tasks, which means that these processes run automatically in the background.

SAP is a Germany-based software company and one of the world's leading providers of software for controlling business processes, so-called ERP systems (Enterprise Resource Planning).

With the introduction of the SAP R/2 and SAP R/3 solutions, SAP established a global standard for ERP software. SAP's ERP system is the most widely used in the world today. It helps the company to efficiently manage end-to-end activities.

The current solution, SAP S/4HANA, is the latest generation of ERP software from SAP. SAP S/4HANA is an intelligent suite that connects all applications for the different business areas of a company on one digital platform.

It can also include new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and thus offers new possibilities to better manage and evaluate company data.

SAP ERP release development
Temporal development of the SAP ERP system

An overview of the main ERP systems of the German software company SAP SE

SAP products are designed to meet all process requirements of companies. Therefore, SAP solutions are in principle interesting for all companies, regardless of size and industry.

The 388,000 companies that use SAP are primarily large corporations (94% of the world's 500 largest companies are SAP customers), but also include many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Since around 77 percent of all business transactions worldwide are processed via an SAP system, it is not surprising that SAP consultants are in great demand.

The software of the SAP group must always be kept up to date and adapted to the changing processes of the modern business world. The chances of having a secure job and good salary prospects for the coming decades as a SAP consultant are therefore very good.

What does a SAP consultant do?

As the name implies, a SAP consultant specializes in the most commonly used ERP system, namely that of SAP. He has the necessary expertise in dealing with a wide variety of SAP applications and adapts them to the individual business processes of the respective customer.

His main task is the implementation of the SAP solution in the company and the subsequent training of the employees who have to deal with the system on a daily basis.

So an SAP consultant works at the interface between IT and the department and must therefore have the necessary understanding of business processes and the underlying IT landscape.

Especially in S/4HANA transformation projects, many companies also want to redesign their business processes and optimize system configurations. The SAP consultant is of course a sought-after helper for this type of project, because he is familiar with a large number of SAP modules and can set up core processes, organizational structures, transaction and master data in the system and explain their integration to the various stakeholders in workshops.

Good SAP consultants not only know how something works, but also why. You know very individually developed SAP systems from large corporations, but also the SAP standard and best practice approaches. By using their expert knowledge of the module or topic in question, they help their customers to achieve better performance in the company.

Basically, there are four different types of SAP consultants:

  1. SAP sales consultants do not need to have specific knowledge of the various SAP modules. The real task of this type of consultant is to win over customers and educate them about the advantages of an SAP implementation.

  2. SAP function consultants talk to customers about their needs and requirements. You are responsible for the configuration of real scenarios in the SAP software. For example, you configure different sales organizations, countries, currencies, etc.

  3. SAP developers/technical consultants adapt the SAP ABAP software according to the customer's specifications. SAP technical consultants are responsible for developing new SAP business applications or improving SAP software. Developers are responsible for coding JAVA and ABAP programs.

  4. SAP Basis Consultant/Network Administrator focus on network management and network related SAP configurations such as network control, server maintenance or user administration.

Why are SAP consultants in demand?

In particular, the ongoing digitization of the economy is driving the demand for SAP consultants ever higher. This is particularly evident in the large number of ongoing projects aimed at making business processes more efficient. Since such processes can be automated by well-functioning ERP systems, SAP consultants are being used more and more.

Another factor that is causing an increased demand for skilled SAP consultants is the transition to the new SAP S/4HANA system. By 2027, all companies will have to migrate from their old SAP system to the new and improved SAP S/4HANA system.

Because from this point onwards, older systems, such as the currently widespread R/3 system, will no longer be supported by SAP. Although 2027 is still a few years away, the demand for consultants to accompany the transition to S/4HANA is increasing.

The Corona crisis has once again significantly exacerbated the demand situation. Many companies stopped or postponed their S/4 transformation during Corona for the time being.

This will result in a veritable backlog of projects in the coming years up to 2027, which will drastically increase the need and thus the job prospects for SAP consultants.

What are the requirements for a career as a SAP consultant?

The SAP consultant training is your ticket to a great and very well-paid career.

If you have the technical and interpersonal skills required, you can go far.

To be successful as a SAP consultant you need three core qualities:

  1. You should have a very good understanding of business processes (especially accounting transactions),

  2. You should have a very good understanding of the technical possibilities and functionality of the SAP system,

  3. And you should have very good communication skills in order to successfully advance projects together with your customers.

If you meet these three requirements, you can start a successful and highly lucrative career in the SAP environment.

The SAP ERP system itself is divided into various modules that map their own areas of business processes. A SAP consultant usually specializes in one or more modules.

A good SAP consultant does not need to know the technical details of all modules. The choice of your focus module can also reflect or expand on your previous experience.

If you already have experience in finance and controlling, for example, it makes sense to specialize in the SAP FI and SAP CO modules first. Overall, there are currently the following modules that can be used in a company:

  • SAP FI module for finance

  • SAP CO for Controlling

  • SAP SD for Sales

  • SAP PP for production planning

  • SAP MM for materials management

  • SAP QM for quality management

  • SAP HCM for HR

  • SAP PS for project systems

  • SAP CRM for customer relationship management

  • SAP SRM for supplier relationship management

  • SAP BW for the Business Warehouse (or Data Warehouse)

How can I become a SAP consultant as a career changer?

There are many ways in which a career changer can enter the fascinating world of SAP consulting. Below are some of the most common ways to become a SAP consultant.

First of all, you should choose a SAP module that may reflect your previous interests and strengths. In general, however, it is advisable to start with the SAP FI and SAP CO modules, as these modules are used by all larger companies and form the heart of the ERP system.

Each module is divided into a user page - i.e. the view that a user (e.g. an accountant) uses, and the customizing view - the view that an SAP expert uses to adapt the system to the company's circumstances.

It is advisable to first build up theoretical knowledge in the area of the user perspective in order to understand the technical and process-related relationships. To do this, you should first read the user manuals for your chosen module. Once you understand the user side, it's a good idea to move on to books that deal with customizing your module.

This enables you to understand the underlying setting options of the corresponding SAP module.

For the SAP FI module, I recommend the FI user book and then the FI Customizing Book read. In the area of SAP CO, I recommend the CO user book and the CO customizing book read. For all other SAP modules, you should go to the Rheinwerk-Page for corresponding books. The Rheinwerk publishing house has established itself as the golden standard of SAP literature.

SAP certification as "Proof-of-Knowledge

After you have acquired theoretical knowledge in the user and customizing area, you should prepare for certification in your module. SAP enables consultants to complete certification in each of its modules.

A SAP certification is considered very respected in the market and is regarded as "Proof-of-Knowledge". You can complete the SAP certification both online and in a training center. Due to the small number of certified SAP consultants, your market value will increase noticeably by successfully completing the certification.

Gain practical experience in an SAP consultancy

So that you don't have to jump in at the deep end as a freelance SAP consultant, it is advisable to first gain practical experience in an SAP consultancy. In an SAP consultation, you can then apply and deepen your knowledge as part of a transformation team. On these projects you will notice that the job of SAP consultant is very varied and you can continue your education.

My path to becoming a successful SAP consultant at VISUS Advisory

Before I worked as a SAP consultant, I was a strategic consultant myself. Since I wanted to deepen my technical knowledge in order to also support my customer with the implementation after the concept phase, I decided to pursue a career in SAP consulting.

My path quickly led me to VISUS Advisory, a consulting boutique in the area of SAP transformation and data analytics. VISUS also supports career changers like me in developing into a SAP consultant.

When I started, I was able to choose two focus modules. Based on my previous experience in process consulting, I have specialized in the SAP FI and CO modules - the core of every SAP system.

At VISUS I was given three months to read up on the theoretical application and customizing basics. In weekly coordination meetings with the experienced managers, I was able to ask questions about the topics I had learned and received helpful tips. After completing my three-month theory phase, the SAP certification exam was due, which I successfully passed.

After passing the certification, I immediately continued. Within two weeks I was sent on my first project at a DAX company. Since then I've been learning something new every day and I get the feeling that I'm bringing real added value to my customers.

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