SAP Consultant Income Sustainability
The worldwide recession is taking hold and so the salary that you initially negotiated as an SAP consultant with your employer is no longer going to have the same value.
In order to preserve your standard of living in this challenging economic climate you need to consider if your current position is sustainable in the long term.
As an SAP consultant you are a highly skilled and sought-after employee. The successful outcome for a business by your efforts on a contract will provide a return on investment within months, so the customers themselves are willing to pay, knowing that their own income will increase.
Are your current employers recognising this? While there is always some risk involved transitioning from one position in your career to the next, the rewards for being proactive in this regard are substantial, and can set you up for even greater rewards in the long run.
Your place of employment is a social environment and while working in a team you have become emotionally invested in the success of the business, as well as the success of your peers, and it can feel like you are abandoning those who trust you, but your employer may not be giving you the salary you require to stay.
You don’t have to jump ship. You can negotiate for a better compensation package with your current employer, but even in that case it would be best to have a good understanding of the current SAP jobs market beforehand.
In this article IgniteSAP is going to share some ways that you can increase your income as an SAP consultant.
So once you are confident in your professional abilities and have a wide range of experience to inform your professional practice, how do you make the most out of the time and energy you have spent acquiring your highly desirable skill set?
1- Be The Best You Can Be
Being an SAP consultant is not just about having an encyclopaedia knowledge of SAP.
Turn up to work at your desk with your mind focussed on the task at hand, with a proactive attitude. Help your co-workers to feel the same by displaying enthusiasm and confidence (without getting on their nerves).
Be organised, read your emails, take notes, actually prep for client meetings, and always check that any activity is genuinely working towards the common goal.
By consistently achieving the necessary goals in the short and long term, and doing so under pressure with a minimum of fuss, you become an asset to your co-workers as well as your employer, and this positive association with you will naturally contribute to your selection for promotion or towards a great reference for your new employer.
We might call this developing an aura of competency. You will reassure people.
2- Understand Your Core Module
Presumably you have already trained and gained experience in your primary area of SAP, and you naturally keep up to speed with software updates for that.
But don’t just review the text on “what’s new in Version 22.214.171.124”: notice what is coming down the road. SAP is constantly working on ways to improve their software solutions so notice when the executive for your SAP specialism writes an article for Forbes or makes a speech at a Sapphire event. Notice if SAP acquires a startup with functionality which is relevant to you so you are ready for any substantial changes to the software you rely on to make your career work.
3- Diversify Your SAP Knowledge
Alongside a deep understanding of your core area, you should have complimentary understandings of other modules of SAP that are relevant to your practice. This will of course give you more options when considering what SAP implementation projects you would like to work on. Diversification will mean that you can take opportunities that are not open to those that only specialise in one area of SAP so be open and engaged with the idea of lifelong learning and periodically set aside time to update and improve your SAP knowledge and gain SAP Global Certification in a variety of SAP solutions which relate to each other.
4- Understand The Business Context
You must also have a profound understanding of the business context of the software that you work with. The IT systems which you implement are a means to an end and must be aligned with the goals of the business that is employing you, either through a consultancy or as a freelancer. It is important to have an intuitive understanding of business processes and the daily requirements of those who are the end users of the systems that you create. Read industry blogs and news stories about the area of business you typically work in so you know what are the current issues for that industry.
5- Be A People Person
You are far more employable if you can demonstrate that you have the human skills as well as the technical and business knowledge to work in a team with people you know and strangers as well. Even if you are open and helpful to your colleagues, some of them may require you to demonstrate that you are an ally and can help them achieve their own goals before they will be comfortable working with you. Don’t overdo it, just make sure everyone knows they can talk to you about anything.
The primary skill you should be able to show here, along with being a great colleague, is that you are a good communicator: by which I mean you are able to not only speak clearly and to the point, but also write well, and read body language so you can make appropriate adjustments to the social context of your working practice.
6- Develop Your Team Management Skills
Manage yourself and your time affectively, but also learn how to direct people in such a way that it does not rely on authority. Your authority as a manager comes from the fact that you are working towards what is best for everyone. Make sure your team understands what is required from them at the beginning and establish clear lines of communication. Break tasks up into manageable chunks so that your team members don’t get overwhelmed and reassure them that they can approach you with problems as they arise.
Management skills are key to developing a career as an SAP consultant so go out of your way to be a popular and productive team leader when circumstances require this.
7- Be Flexible And Go The Extra Mile
SAP services are delivered all over the world and as a consequence of this you should be willing to travel to take part in projects, potentially for months at a time.
Even if you are working from home then expect to make allowances for cross-timezone collaboration. You will be required to work outside of nine to five, sometimes from nine in the evening to five in the morning. If this is what is required on occasion to get the job done on time and within the budget, then this is what will help your career.
There will be times when you are putting in late nights and early mornings but the reputation you are forging is something that will set you apart from your peers. You will make a name for yourself as someone who can be trusted and as a consequence you will be considered as someone worthy of promotion or as someone who could be a candidate for a more lucrative position elsewhere.
Although SAP service provision is a global industry with millions of people involved, you will find yourself part of a community. The same faces will pop up in your daily life: colleagues and regular customers of your employers. Perhaps you will regularly meet your peers from other companies at conferences or find that you are working with people one year who had been your competitors the previous year.
Develop rapport with your peers as well as your own team. Treat every one with respect regardless of their position at a company and demonstrate interest in what everyone has to say. You will learn a great deal about the evolving SAP ecosystem through these unofficial channels and learn some invaluable technical knowledge as people take the opportunity to display their own skills and understanding.
Make relationships with people and foster these relationships, contribute to online communities and blogs, make presentations, and offer your help. The connections you make through these activities will help you in unexpected ways in the years to come.
9-Share Your Knowledge
As a part of the networking process, but also as a way to participate in the current conversation about the technical, business, social and ethical aspects of being a practicing SAP professional, it is important once you reach a certain stage in your career to maintain a presence in the various channels of communication about SAP.
This is not taking up bandwidth for the sake of your reputation but as a way to ensure that you do not get left behind. By contributing to the conversation you make it crucial to know what is going on in your chosen industry in the short and long term. Make yourself aware of SAP’s long term strategy and how the business model of SAP is changing, and engage in discussions about this.
By being a participant in the discourse and sharing your knowledge and experience with others you cannot get left behind, and have an up to the minute awareness of the context of your profession.
This knowledge and understanding will mean you are able to speak with confidence about the bigger picture and maybe even be seen as a source of SAP wisdom. As a side-effect of this you will become far more of an asset to any potential employer. Perhaps even SAP themselves.
10- The CV: Write The Story Of Your Life
Stories are powerful. A CV is your chance to tell a compelling story about yourself, and why you would be an asset to any team as an SAP consultant.
When candidates are selected for new positions or for promotions the first means by which they are represented is through the CV. You may have been recommended by word of mouth because of your excellent reputation, you may have been headhunted by an executive because of a previous successful project that displayed professionalism and skill, but that recommendation is followed by a review of your CV.
There is a lot of information to pack in to a CV but it also needs to get the message across quickly that you are the person for the job. Seriously, nobody wants to wade through another 20 page CV when they have tens, perhaps hundreds to go through. As long as you can give an honest account of yourself then keep it short and sweet.
Alternatively, you could have a short version and a long version of your CV, and make it clear on the short version that the longer, more detailed CV is available if that would be useful.
The CV should present your knowledge and experience: what SAP qualifications you have (SAP specialisms and supporting knowledge of business operations), a summary of some projects you have worked on.
A detailed list of SAP qualifications you have acquired will not be the only reason you get hired.
Non-SAP business experience is also valuable as part of a CV as this may support your application for projects which would benefit from this. So, if you spent some time working for a logistics company before becoming an SAP consultant then this will make you far more credible as a candidate for an SAP project implementing an SAP system for a logistics firm. Even if you were a teacher or in the armed forces, then the peripheral skills which you gained in those contexts may be of interest to your prospective employer.
You should mention you primary language and any other languages in which you are a competent speaker. This is of course desirable as the combination of languages may be crucial to the contract under consideration: for example, you may speak English as a primary language but be proficient in French and this would be ideal if you were working for an English-language company with a contract to implement SAP in a French language country.
Recommendations by past employers can be useful as they provide an external source of information on your professionalism, but those references should also make clear the advantages of working with you as a person. Because you will in all probability be working as part of a team it is certain that your ability to generate rapport, understand and be understood by your other team members will be one of the factors by which you get selected.
Following the idea that you might have a short and long CV, you could also have a template CV that includes the basics, which you augment according to the position for which you are applying: so if you are applying for a contract to be an SAP consultant implementing a system for an import-export company then you can extend the short CV with information which demonstrates your experience for that context.
Finally, always tell the truth in your CV: represent the best of yourself, and your fitness for the role, but don’t stretch it too far. There is no point applying for a job which you are not going to excel at once you have your feet under the table.
Time For A Career Review?
As you are no doubt aware the IT services industry is expanding faster than the rest of the global economy, and within that category SAP services are in high demand as they maintain a substantial market share of this booming market.
As an IT professional specialising in SAP you are likely to maintain a standard of living which is somewhat over the average, but the influence of inflation means that the value of your compensation package will be less over time.
The market for SAP services consultants in particular is tight because of the skills gap, but it is necessary to periodically review your position within that market to see if you are making the most of your hard-won skills. If you do not get a pay rise in line with inflation then you are earning less now than when you started in your current position.
Employers of SAP consultants are well aware of the need to compensate for inflation and salaries are being adjusted to maintain their ability to attract the best talent.
Assuming you are in fact the best at what you do, then you are missing an opportunity to get the best market price for your skills and services as an SAP consultant, so it may in fact be time to review your relationship with your employer and see what other options are available.
By putting into practice some of the methods and habits described above you can make yourself even more attractive to those competing for your talents.
If you would like to discuss these issues with one of our dedicated team and make the most of your skills then join us at IgniteSAP.
Check out our current open positions in Germany