How To Become an SAP Consultant
Updated March 10, 2023
If you have an interest or background in software and computer systems and enjoy streamlining processes, you may want to consider a career as an SAP consultant—or, a consultant in systems, applications and products in data processing. With a strong job outlook and high earning potential, many SAP consultants find their jobs highly fulfilling. Learning about some of the primary responsibilities for SAP consultants and the steps you need to take to become one can help you decide whether this career is for you.
In this article, we discuss what an SAP consultant is, what their primary responsibilities are, the different types of SAP consultant roles that are available and how to become an SAP consultant yourself.
What is an SAP consultant?
An SAP consultant is a specialist who helps companies locate the right software to meet their needs. SAP is an acronym for systems, application and products and most SAP consultants specialize in one or two areas within the field of data processing: functional or technical. Most SAP consultants who have experience in areas like software development and programming focus on the technical side of SAP software. Consultants who have a finance background generally focus on the functional area within a business.
What does an SAP consultant do?
SAP consultants are responsible for evaluating, designing and configuring computer systems and software to meet the needs of their employer or client. They ensure that the workflows for the computer system are optimized and work well for the end-users. They also gather feedback from end-users and make modifications are necessary. While their specific responsibilities may vary somewhat depending on the type of SAP consulting that they do, some of the most common duties include:
Automating and optimizing AP and FI process, upgrades, fiscal year changes and OSDB migration
Developing an order-to-cash process including inquiry, order, billing and shipping
Configure the business's credit management functionality in order to streamline processes for accounts receivable
Developing user manuals and technical guides to cover the full order-to-cash cycle for end-users
Analyzing a company's existing computer systems, identifying areas for improvement and recommending solutions to the organization's management team
Types of SAP consultants
There are four primary types of SAP consultants:
Developer consultant: This type of SAP consultant is responsible for coding Java and ABAP programs.
Business and sales consultant: Business/sales SAP consultants focus on winning projects at the customer level.
Functional consultant: This type of SAP consultant works closely with developers to create custom code for ABAP programs, customizing SAP to meet the client requirements.
SAP basis consultant: An SAP basis consultant helps to install, maintain and fine-tune databases and SAP servers. SAP basis consultants may have other responsibilities as well depending on the size of the project.
How to become an SAP consultant
Here are the basic steps you should take if you're interested in pursuing a career as an SAP consultant:
1. Pursue a bachelor's degree
SAP consultants typically must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree to be eligible for the position, although some may qualify with an associate's degree and relevant experience. Start by pursuing a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field. You may also want to consider taking business courses since SAP consultants often work closely with an organization's financial department, streamlining processes and increasing efficiencies.
2. Pursue SAP training
After completing your bachelor's degree, you should consider pursuing a structured training course that focuses on Basis, CRM, SD, MM or other functional or technical areas of expertise. This will help you decide which area of SAP consulting that you want to specialize in. It will also give you the knowledge you need to offer accurate guidance to businesses.
Most training programs offer certification at the end. A certification can help show potential employers that you have the base level of understanding that they need. It's particularly important to help you obtain your first position as an SAP consultant. A certification typically becomes less important as you gain more hands-on experience in the role and can emphasize that experience on your resume and articulate it within interviews.
3. Gain relevant experience
Before you pursue a role as an SAP consultant, it's a good idea to first gain relevant experience in an office environment. For example, if you plan to pursue a position as an SAP financial accounting consultant, you should start by obtaining a position with the finance department. This will help you better understand the different processes that are used within a finance department and where improvements can be made. Because of your SAP training, you will also be able to see more clearly how SAP can support those processes.
Depending on the amount of relevant work experience you have on your resume, you may need to start by pursuing an internship. This is a great option if you are still pursuing your bachelor's degree. Look for companies that have SAP implemented already and inquire whether they are accepting interns.
If your degree is complete, another option for gaining experience is to join an IT consultancy firm. Firms like these often hire junior consultants, which would allow you to learn in a real-world environment while working closely alongside more senior-level consultants.
4. Consider a master's
You may want to consider pursuing a master's degree to set yourself apart from other candidates who are applying for job openings for SAP consultants. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have advanced degrees in computer science or in business administration with an emphasis on information systems.
5. Gain consulting experience
In order to qualify for SAP consulting positions, it can help to have past experience in a role as a consultant. Consider looking for a position as an SAP MM consultant or functional consultant.
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