Expand +



Become a Leader in the Consulting Business and Drive Your Clients to Success

Winni Hesel, Enowa Partner and Co-Founder, Shares Insights on Leveraging SAP Solution Manager as a Vehicle for Success

by Winni Hesel | insiderPROFILES, Volume 6, Issue 2

April 1, 2015

SAP Expert Column

Winni Hesel, Enowa partner, sheds light on his background and provides advice for how to launch a successful career as an SAP consultant in this Q&A. Hesel, with more than 20 years as an SAP consultant, discusses how he developed an expertise in SAP Solution Manager and offers some tricks of the trade, including how to stay in front of the latest SAP technologies.




For this guest column on launching a successful consulting career and building SAP software implementation expertise, insiderPROFILES recently spoke with Winni Hesel, partner and owner of Enowa, an international SAP and business strategy consulting company. Winni shares his journey into the consulting field and how he developed his proficiency in SAP solutions, namely SAP Solution Manager.



Q: How did you get your start working with SAP software, specifically gaining your SAP Solution Manager expertise?

I got my start in the SAP consulting world right out of university in Germany in 1991. My university had an SAP R/3 system installed, so during my master’s program, I was exposed to and was able to explore SAP software. After college, a lot of consulting companies were seeking talent that wasn’t readily available in the mid-‘90s so I jumped right into projects with consulting companies and formed a general understanding of project methodologies, project documentation, business process documentation, and business process modeling. I did a lot of global rollouts and implementations of SAP software many years before SAP Solution Manager even existed. I picked up SAP Solution Manager in 2007 when adoption began to take hold. Getting the expertise in this solution was a mix of training, being exposed to the use of it, and working on projects where the technology played a large role. The company I co-founded had a close relationship with SAP in the US as well as in Germany. Diving into how to build expertise with SAP Solution Manager was a growth option for our company because not many companies had an SAP Solution Manager practice at the time.

Q: What made you realize it was time to branch out and start your own venture?

I realized that I had an incredible talent pool of individuals around me who could collectively do better and leverage better what everybody was trying to achieve individually. Since we founded Enowa, we’ve been able to exponentially grow and adapt to the shifting market demands, because we are more than just an SAP Solution Manager consulting practice. It played a slightly larger role when we started it, but now it’s less than 10% of our revenue. We also grew the other areas of the business. The bread-and-butter business of getting SAP software ready to go for net-new clients is still a big and important piece of the business. But bringing very talented individuals together in a company, which you can then go to market with, gives you a vehicle to become an SAP partner and be recognized in the SAP space; that definitely helps in being successful in the SAP market.

Q: What challenges did you face when growing the company, and what surprises did you encounter?

The biggest challenge that you have with growth in the consulting market is keeping the talent, culture, and team dynamic somewhat the same. You want to continue that startup mode — that vibe you get when starting a company, while you grow into a global partner — to customers as well as to SAP. It’s been exciting, but keeping the same culture and team dynamic while you grow is definitely a challenge. We have had steady organic growth, which in many ways validates the recipe that we are following; we want to consistently exceed client expectations, so we don’t compromise on quality.
As far as surprises, if you look at the SAP philosophies and visions, some have gained more traction than others — for example, SAP mobile solutions and SAP HANA. I think SAP HANA is going to stick, and it’s clearly trending that way — as for mobility, I think SAP will most likely need to re-group on that. The secret is to figure out which of SAP’s technologies and visions you want to follow or extend your capabilities in. We have a model where we encourage clients to a certain extent into new SAP technologies, and with that, we help SAP nudge some of their visions along. In other cases, we explore options together with clients based on what they want to try. That’s also been a very good path to follow.

Q: What’s the importance of staying up to date with continued learning, training, and education, and what are some best practices to ensure you are current in these areas?

We have a goal for all of our employees to take SAP training and additional education every year that they are with us. This ensures they stay abreast of the latest advancements in the technology or in their specific SAP area. Specifically with SAP Solution Manager, it has become important to know it even if you are a normal SAP consultant implementing supply chain management or any purchase-to-pay or order-to-cash processes, for example. This is because SAP Solution Manager is becoming a tool of choice to support implementation projects as well as rollouts and upgrades and the work you’re doing in them. As IT landscapes grow more complex, more centralized tools are required to get everything under control. The latest functions in SAP Solution Manager and some of the third-party tools that connect, collaborate, and integrate with it are a good mix that every SAP customer should look at and evaluate.

Q: Is it good to have extensive knowledge and expertise about SAP business applications before diving into SAP Solution Manager?

It depends on the road you’re looking to take because SAP Solution Manager primarily has two routes: You can go in as a technical consultant, or you can think of it more from a business process and project management perspective. The most-used functions in SAP Solution Manager — the technical monitoring; connectivity of systems; and IT service management, which is managing SAP incidents or changes in SAP landscapes — don’t necessarily require a broad understanding of any kind of module or SAP application.
Of course, it helps to have a good foundation — maybe you’ve been a Basis consultant or a developer in the past, or you understand how a support desk operates, routes tickets, and resolves end-user problems.
In other words, if you go the technical route with systems monitoring, ticket management, or change request management — where all the transport goes through SAP landscapes and reflects all the changes anyone wants to apply — that’s where you are better suited to have a Basis background and don’t need an application background. If you choose the other route, it comes in handy to have an understanding of the business applications that SAP provides, because as an SAP Solution Manager consultant, you’re talking to project teams about how to document business processes, for example. You need to understand what a scenario is and what a business process is, as well as what a process step is and how many transactions are associated with it. So there it would be advisable to have a few years of SAP background in the general application area before jumping into that SAP Solution Manager area.

Q: What advice do you have for young professionals starting out in the field and looking to break into SAP Solution Manager consulting?

The biggest decision people should be making early on is which of the routes discussed earlier they want to take, whether they want to stay more technical or more toward the application area, project management, and business process documentation and modeling. That will define what they should go after, what training they should sign up for, and what projects they want to get involved with. I do also recommend younger professionals seeking employment or a career start with small-to-midsized consulting organizations. We’ve seen over and over that people who are just coming out of college have a very narrow scope of work when they enter into a project, so they might only be figuring out how a ticket is created in SAP Solution Manager, but nothing beyond that. You need to get as much broad exposure you can to any of the SAP applications, including the different functions of SAP Solution Manager, to build a solid foundation for years to come.
And don’t expect to be an expert in just a few months. It takes at least two years of learning before you can speak intelligently and help people with design. During this time, if at a smaller company, it’s good to be a part of multiple projects; if you only work on one project for those early years, you won’t get the exposure you need as a junior. Multiple projects will expose you to different industries, client cultures, and SAP setups; being stuck in one project is the worst that can happen during the first few years of your career.

It takes at least two years of learning the different functions of SAP Solution Manager before you can speak intelligently and help people with design.

Q: Looking back at your career, is there any advice you’ve received that really helped you?

The one piece of advice that dates all the way back to my time in the university was to make sure you understand both sides of the table when working with an implementation team that puts in an ERP system like SAP ERP. Ideally, you understand the business side of it so if you are a purchasing consultant, you know what it means for a purchasing manager to do his daily job duties and know about putting in SAP functionality to support purchase-to-pay processes, which is just one example from the SAP application side. On the SAP Solution Manager side, you should know the business side; in this case, the business side is the IT department or the helpdesk. You need to understand what their daily problems are, be able to transfer or translate that into the functions they need out of the SAP systems, and know how you can make it easier for them to do so.
Having an understanding of how businesses and IT organizations operate and the expertise to set up SAP software for them was an unbelievable asset through my career. That’s what everybody early on told me, because back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, they were still breeding two types of people — those who had MBAs and those who understood databases. It took a long time for those two different breeds to get along and understand what they wanted from each other. If you can bridge that gap in your career, that’s outstanding.

An email has been sent to:


SAP Expert Column
Winni Hesel

Enowa Partner and Co-Founder

More from SAPinsider


Please log in to post a comment.