Book Review: The Essential SAP Career Guide & GIVEAWAY!!!

Copyright 2013 by Espresso Tutorials GmbH

Copyright 2013 by Espresso Tutorials GmbH

ANYONE WHO LIKES OR COMMENTS ON THIS POST. TWEETS @POSTGRADSAP OR E-MAILS ME AT TRACYMLEVINE@GMAIL.COM WILL BE ENTERED INTO A RAFFLE TO RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF “THE ESSENTIAL SAP CAREER GUIDE”. I WILL MAIL YOU THE GIFT DIRECTLY FROM AMAZON.

A consultant friend/acquaintance/fellow post-grad of mine, Tanya Duncan recently published her first book, The Essential SAP Career Guide. Talk about over-achiever and by over-achiever I mean role model. She has a blog, a husband, a dog AND a book… clearly she’s doing something right. I can’t complain though 2/4 for a 20-something will placate me for at least the next 365 days. Before I review her book however, I HAVE SOMETHING SERIOUS TO CONFESS… ***achem spoiler alert*** The reason my blog exists is because of Tanya. My manager happened to stumble across it one day while surfing the virtual world and passed along the link. The rest is history. Did I mention that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, back to the book. THE BOOK. THE INCREDIBLE BOOK. In the preface, Tanya touches on the reason why she began writing an SAP career guide and it makes total sense. There is nothing like it out there. Beginning your career in SAP is incredibly overwhelming, not even a senior consultant can know it all, which it makes it very difficult to know where to begin. I would recommend Tanya’s book to anyone starting out in SAP consulting, in the industry, or any SAP partner that is looking for a valuable resource to provide to young consultants within their organization (or training program, like the one I started in).

Tanya’s book is separated into 5 main units. I thought the information was presented in a clear and concise manner. As someone who has been in the field for over 2 years, I even learned a thing or two (or 64)! Below are some of my thoughts on each of these sections… my two (or 64) cents if you will.

  1. Introduction to SAP: One of Tanya’s key points (that I 100% agree with) is that the biggest success factor as an SAP professional will ultimately be your ability to articulate SAP in terms of functional business processes. The section also touches on SAP in today’s market, competition in terms of other ERP software solutions and the business impact of utilizing such software. SAP consultants are also required to have inherent leadership qualities and verbal and written communication skills.
  2. Starting your SAP Career: Tanya did a great job detailing the differences between a consulting gig vs. a career as an industry professional. I will say that one of the unique aspects of my position in SAP is that unlike a lot of post-grads I can confidently say that I have found a career, not just a job. Furthermore, one of the biggest “pain points” that people identify with Generation-Y is, for lack of a better term, “the ADD mentality.” Ultimately, most Gen Yers don’t believe in company loyalty and like to change things up now and again. If this is you, then a career as a consultant may be very fitting, as it will give you the opportunity to work on many projects with many clients. Tanya also discusses the traditional SAP consulting career path from intern or analyst to partner as well as the benefits of a small vs. large firm. As someone who works at a consulting firm that would be deemed “mid-market” by standard industry terms I want to offer some additional tidbits about why some might find a small firm more appealing. Primarily, although the career path at a large firm is mapped out from day one, sometimes large firms have an “up or out mentality.” It’s not always possible for someone who is comfortable in their current position to remain in that role. Second, diversity is of the utmost importance at a small firm. For example, if you are a FI/CO consultant, you won’t get pigeonholed into only A/R configuration during an implementation. Your efforts will be focused across all aspects of the business process as well as key integration points. In this section, Tanya also highlights the benefits of independent consulting, functional vs. technical roles and how one can transition from an industry to a consulting role and vice versa.
  3. How to find a job working with SAP technology: I fell into SAP consulting by chance, so this wasn’t as applicable as the rest of the book, however, this chapter discusses everything from interviewing to resumes, which are vital skills to review if you are consultant who is preparing for a client meeting. One point of contention (sorry TD), I personally believe it’s imperative to discuss compensation during the interview process especially if the interviewer specifically asks you for a range regarding expected salary.
  4. SAP Terminology, Tools and Methodology: SAP Terminology… hallelujah! Boy, do I wish there was something like this when I was starting out. My friend, Evernote, and I have started quite the little dictionary ourselves. Deployment methodologies, common SAP tools (ie. Solman), this is where things got a little dicey for me. AND ALSO WHERE I LEARNED A LOT. I realized that we all have a lot to share about our strategies and the tools that we find most beneficial. I found this section incredibly worthwhile. Tanya did an excellent job in articulating the concepts behind Business Process Redesign and how SAP can be a challenge when business requirements dictate a need for change, either in regards to the business processes directly or in relation to customization of the SAP landscape.
  5. Important SAP Skills and Concepts for Beginners: Some things cannot be learned nor taught. The same can be said for professional skills. I truly believe that anyone who possesses the professional skills, is smart and has a willingness to learn can be an SAP consultant. The technical skills are those which can be accumulated over time, no SAP professional is ever done learning. Tanya’s guide provides young professionals with the tools and information to begin navigating the system on their own and understand the key technical requirements to make changes within the system.

My 10th grade HONORS (I swear, check my transcripts!) English teacher used to preach to us that whenever we write we should always aim to keep things “mini-skirt length.” That is, “long enough to cover the details and short enough to keep it interesting.” Kudos, Tanya Duncan, on an SAP book that didn’t bore me to tears and yet, still had depth.

About the Author:

DSC_9165-332x500Tanya Duncan is a SAP Finance & Controlling Consultant with Deloitte, the world’s largest private professional services firm. She has 3 years experience on global SAP deployments as a Controlling and Product Costing lead. Tanya currently reside in San Diego, CA with her husband, Joel, and poodle, Maddie. Her client-service work has taken her to Europe and around the United States. Previously, Tanya worked for Owens Corning, a Fortune 500 global building materials company in Toledo, OH. A graduate from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI, Tanya received her BBA in Management Information Systems. For further questions or more information about Tanya, please visit her blog or reach out to her via e-mail: Tbedro@mac.com.

The Essential SAP Career Guide is is now available on the following e-book sites:

The guide is also available in paperback on Amazon.

REMINDER: ANYONE WHO LIKES OR COMMENTS ON THIS POST. TWEETS @POSTGRADSAP OR E-MAILS ME AT TRACYMLEVINE@GMAIL.COM WILL BE ENTERED INTO A RAFFLE TO RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF “THE ESSENTIAL SAP CAREER GUIDE”. I WILL MAIL YOU THE GIFT DIRECTLY FROM AMAZON.

Here’s to the newbies,

@PostGradSAP

Tracy

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13 thoughts on “Book Review: The Essential SAP Career Guide & GIVEAWAY!!!

  1. well I wouldn’t mind a free copy of the book! Having said that . .could you write a post covering ABAP along the lines:
    what’s the job like? (hours, amount of coding etc)
    can later switch to functional?
    which is better : abap or func?
    salary: at the start and later.

    And best would be if you point me a blog covering ABAP if you know one – a colleague maybe.
    THANKS.

    PS: I’ll wait for my free book.. .

    • 1. What is your mailing address, I’d love to send you a free copy of the book! Of all my readers who have responded to the article, I think your questions would probably help you to most benefit from the book.
      2. Starting salaries for SAP positions vary based on if you are in the industry or in a consulting role. They also vary based on your level of expertise. I would say that in a typical consulting role (as an analyst in a training program) you would start at around 50K, but your salary would increase quickly. You could expect to make around 100K in 4-5 years.
      3. In regards to ABAP vs functional that is a trickier question. Both aspects of SAP consulting are not right for everyone. However, regardless of whether you are technically or functionally focused, it is always best to learn pieces of the other. Functional consultants are usually more likely to go into a managerial or sales role eventually and typically require solid client-facing skills including verbal and written communication.
      4. SAP consulting is NOT a 9-5 job. Some days will be, but during particularly busy times you can expect to work 12+ hour days and sometimes over the weekends. Functional consultants (especially at the start of their careers) typically do very little coding and spend most of their time doing discoveries to better understand the business requirements, working with master data from the legacy system and configuring the SAP system. Functional consultants also hold training and information workshops with the clients, write functional specifications and provide documentation on the project.

      Thanks for reading! Please let me know if I can expand on any of these questions for you!

      @PostGradSAP
      Tracy

      • thanks a lot for the reply . .

        I should add I’m from Mumbai, India so that will surely factor into the pay scale. Also what do you think about the pay for ABAP programers?

        I’m currently in my ABAP training and from what I know most technical people eventually move onto managerial/functional roles after a few years of experience. And while you say consulting is not a 9-5 job I think ABAP is exactly that and nothing more.

        So for a start I’m okay with coding but eventually I would really prefer getting into consulting. Also a friend who works in BI/BO was interested in learning ABAP coding so is it that consultants do require technical knowledge so a switch from ABAP to consulting would be easier?

        Also my trainer has mentioned that CRM is doing very well in US market currently. And it would nice getting trained in CRM too if one if aiming for a job there. Would it be good getting trained in more than one module like that?

      • CRM is hot hot hot right now.It is definitely a valuable tool to learn and having knowledge across the SAP landscape is always valuable. However, I would recommend that you choose your learning path based on what makes the most “sense.” ie. I was a security consultant and am now moving into the GRC space. It would be pretty random if I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to learn the Finance or Controlling modules.

        In regards to pay for ABAP programmers, I would say it is probably higher than a typical functional consultant as a general rule of thumb, however, functional consultants may have more room for advancement over time. All functional consultants will pick up some technical skills (including reading and writing some code) over they length of their career, but rarely do people make the switch from a technical to a functional role, unless it is into management.

  2. I would like to thank Tanya Duncan for writing such a wonderful book which will help young professionals.
    I am in to SAP BASIS. I hope this book will be helpful for me to know the interview processes and job opportunities overseas.

    • Thanks Raj. I’m sure you will find the book helpful in your career. There are sections on interviews and careers available in SAP. Let me know if you have questions beyond the content of the book. I’d be happy to help.

    • I would HIGHLY recommend Tanya’s book as a first read. It will give you an overview of the industry and different types of opportunities available (both functional and technical roles).

      In order to learn the system, that can be tricky without a training program that gives you hands on access to an actual SAP system. SAP offers various classes for beginners, but they can be quite expensive. Before you invest in a class or apply for an entry-level position (in which they would train you on the system), get an idea of what part of the system you are specifically interested and what the new innovations are. Start reading articles online published by ASUG and SAPInside, those should help.

      Also, SAP Press publishes beginner configuration books for each functional area that are extremely beneficial.

  3. Pingback: PostGradSAP Review of The Essential SAP Career Guide | Tanya Duncan
  4. How should i start my career with SAP??? Is Certification essential for SAP??? I feel i may find my answers in book too but please guide me, how to proceed from an Software developer to an SAP consultant? and pls don’t forget to mail me SAP career guide.

    • SAP Certification is not essential for a career in SAP, however, I do recommend it once you choose and area of focus or a niche specialization. Certifications only help to build credibility with a client, especially if you are just starting out. To get going with SAP, I would start with basic SAP navigation and an understanding of the three major functional business processes within the tool: Order to Cash, Forecast to Stock and Procure to Pay. After you have an understanding of those, pick a functional area (or SAP module) to focus on. I cannot e-mail the SAP Career Guide, I only had one hard copy to give away on the blog, but it is available on Amazon to order.

  5. Hi Tracy,

    thanks for the great review. I’ll buy the book once it’s available again in kindle version on Amazon.

    As a junior SAP logistic consultant I’d like to know your opinion about career prospects in modules MM and SD. These might not be the hot topics in SAP, but as basic modules I assume they will be in demand for a long time. So hopefully I did a good choice going into this area.

    And what about new SAP technologies (e.g. recently aquired ARIBA or SAP screen personas). Which one is the most prospective in your opionion and which is just a hype?

    Ivan

    • Hi Ivan,

      Sorry I’m just seeing this comment now. Frankly, I think if you are going to pursue a career in MM & SD I would recommend also pursuing a niche specialization. Screen personas, HANA, mobility and apps, all are hot right now. You can’t go wrong by pursuing any specialization around analytic s or the cloud.

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