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How do I become a SAP Financials Consultant?

by Mark Chalfen

April 27, 2010

Working for a strong UK SAP Consultancy I get asked that question a lot. The type of people who ask that question varies a lot and the answer can be very different. My route to working as a SAP Finance Consultant was a fairly common one, I was working in Industry for an Accounting qualification and the Company had just installed SAP (nearly 14 years ago now). The Consulting partner came and went, and once the dust settled my Company had a number of questions that they could not answer as they realised the system did not do everything they ACTUALLY required it to do. Being new and not bogged down in office politics and having no allegiance to the previous IT system, I was chosen to be part of a team to ensure the SAP solution was a total fit for my Company. After a couple of years shadowing more experienced Consultants and attending the various SAP courses it all finally made sense and I became a fully fledged member of their IT team, and a junior SAP Consultant. Since then I have worked for a number of Companies, working for dozens of different clients, in different industry sectors and countries.

 

Before looking at the type of character that is required, you need to look deeper into what the role of a SAP Finance Consultant. In Essence the basic role of a SAP Finance Consultant is that of a translator. You need to translate the business requirement of the Finance department, be that business process, or output of a report and turn that into a process that business users can perform in a simple easy to follow manner. This may involve liaising with technical resources to build reports, or amend existing functionality, as well as working with other SAP Functional Consultants from other modules that feed into the Finance module.

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In terms of professional characteristics that are required, you either need to come from an Accountancy background – similar to my story and then get involved working as a super user, or you need some form of IT background and then you need to understand Finance. At a very high level you need to understand the core Financial business processes and the integration points with other modules and you need to know who you can influence those processes by changing the configuration inside ERP. You cannot wake up one morning and decide today I am going to be a SAP Finance Consultant – it is something that you need to work at, and you will develop over time. Working with various SAP using clients will provide you a better insight into the difference between systems, business priorities and level of bespoking. You need to use all of that experience moving forward so that you can provide the best advice possible to your current client. I have interviewed a few individuals who have passed the SAP academy for Financials but when you ask them questions relating to SAP and put the questions into a business content, they do not have the answers. My advice to similar individuals is to try and get a job with a Company who uses SAP, and work in their Finance department. By doing this those individuals should be able to understand better what they learnt in the SAP academy and over time become a useful asset to that Company.

Lastly, the world of SAP is ever changing, the Financial modules are utilised by nearly all of the Companies that use SAP. Whilst some Companies may believe their Finance modules are stable, they will always be new implementations and new functionality being implemented. Over the past few years, SAP has re-focused on the SAP Finance modules and there have been some significant changes which Companies are now looking to exploit and implement, so the future for those that know the new functionality looks bright.

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