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S/4HANA Cloud Consultants Wanted

There is an increasing need for consultants with expertise in SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

This is driven by the impending deadlines for legacy SAP product support, the need for better technological capabilities, and the strategic growth of SAP.

In this article IgniteSAP will discuss the current market demand for S/4HANA Cloud skills, and explore the reasons behind this surge in demand, with advice for attracting and retaining top talent for consultancies, and also outlining steps for consultants to improve their career prospects, in view of the widespread migration to S/4HANA Cloud. 

The Impending ECC Support Deadline

As we approach the 2027 deadline for support of SAP ECC (2030 for Extended Support), businesses must accelerate their migration plans to S/4HANA Cloud to avoid potential operational disruptions. According to user group surveys most customers have not yet started though many acknowledge the need for cloud migration. 

The end of SAP ECC support presents a significant challenge for organizations still reliant on older systems. This deadline requires prompt action to avoid operational risks associated with unsupported software, such as security vulnerabilities and compliance issues.

DSAG Chairman Jens Hungerhausen recently said “Every SAP customer who’s not on S/HANA, they should really start on the transformation journey” in an interview where he also pointed out that many organizations will now struggle to migrate to S/4HANA Cloud if they have not already begun. 

This is only one among many reasons for organizations to upgrade to S/4HANA Cloud, causing a consistent requirement for consultants who are skilled in providing services around S/4HANA Cloud migrations. 

Technological Advancements Driving Demand

Organizations are seeking to use capabilities in S/4HANA Cloud, such as AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics. These enable businesses to gain deeper insights, boost operational efficiency, and innovate at an accelerated pace.

For instance, companies can use AI to optimize supply chain management, improve customer service, and accelerate financial operations.

Also, the inherent benefits of cloud computing: like scalability, flexibility, and reduced IT overhead, make S/4HANA Cloud an attractive proposition for businesses of all sizes. The cloud-based model facilitates updates and maintenance, ensuring that enterprises always have access to the latest features and security enhancements.

Market Trends in SAP Consulting

S/4HANA Cloud adoption is on a steep upward trajectory. According to speakers at SAP Sapphire 2024 in Orlando, there is a marked increase in the need for consultants who possess deep expertise in S/4HANA Cloud implementations.

SAP CEO Christian Klein announced that over 6,000 customers have successfully adopted RISE with SAP, which includes S/4HANA Cloud as part of a package of cloud-based services.

Additionally, GROW with SAP is gaining traction among smaller to mid-sized customers. This program, now includes additional features and services like SAP Sales Cloud to make it more attractive and accessible. 

The adoptions demonstrate the growing trust and reliance businesses have on SAP’s cloud solutions to drive their digital transformation agendas. As a result, consultancies focusing on these customers are seeing an increased need for S/4HANA Cloud expertise.

Gartner’s latest report on ERP market trends “What Is the Level of Adoption of SAP S/4HANA in 4Q23?” predicts that cloud-based ERP solutions will dominate the markets, and SAP was also recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant 2023.

IDC’s recent report on digital transformation highlights that organizations are prioritizing cloud migrations to enhance their competitiveness. The report emphasizes that businesses adopting S/4HANA Cloud are better positioned to use advanced technologies, which are now integral to modern business operations.

The IDC Worldwide Software and Public Cloud Services Spending Guide, public cloud services is projected to reach $219.3 billion by 2027. Yes, that’s $219.3 billion.

The question is, are there enough consultants with the skills and experience to meet demand?

Future Growth and Career Prospects

Industry analysts forecast continued growth in the adoption of S/4HANA Cloud over the next five years. The demand for S/4HANA Cloud consultants will be driven by several factors:

As more businesses move their ERP systems to the cloud, the need for skilled consultants to manage these transitions will become more urgent.

The integration of AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics into S/4HANA Cloud will require consultants who are proficient not only in SAP, but also in these emerging technologies.

SAP’s continued global expansion efforts will open new markets and create additional need for S/4HANA Cloud consultants in various regions.

Consequently, career prospects for SAP consultants specializing in S/4HANA Cloud are exceptionally promising. With the right skills, certifications, and experience, consultants can expect to see an increase in job opportunities and potential for career advancement.

Given the current skills gap in consultants able to provide S/4HANA Cloud services, this will likely result in unprecedented competition for their services. This has deep implications for the SAP consulting services: for consultants, who will be able to command higher rates and salaries, and consultancies, who will have to employ them. 

Building and Maintaining an S/4HANA Cloud Skills Pipeline

Building and maintaining a reliable pipeline of skilled S/4HANA Cloud consultants is now critical for SAP consultancies, and putting in place the right strategies now will pay dividends later in the rush to migrate customers to S/4HANA Cloud before 2027/2030.

Ensuring a stable pipeline of talent can be achieved through a combination of retention and training of existing consultants experienced in S/4HANA Cloud, along with attracting new employees with S/4HANA Cloud skills. 

Offering attractive salaries and comprehensive benefits is essential to draw top talent. Competitive compensation attracts the most skilled professionals but also demonstrates the consultancy’s commitment to valuing their expertise.

Training and Professional Development

Continuous learning and professional development are vital to ensure that consultants remain relevant and knowledgable about technological advancements.

Certification programs offered by SAP, such as those for S/4HANA Cloud, play a critical role in validating and enhancing the skills of SAP professionals, but while these provide evidence of a baseline of skills in this field, real-world experience is valued more highly by SAP customers requiring these services. 

Online training platforms and boot camps offer flexible learning opportunities for both new hires and existing employees. These platforms often provide interactive, self-paced courses that cover the latest features and best practices for S/4HANA Cloud.

Other Strategies For Talent Pipelines

One effective strategy for improving the S/4HANA Cloud skills pipeline is through partnerships with educational institutions. These can provide access to a steady stream of well-trained graduates ready to enter the SAP consulting workforce.

Mentorship programs for new SAP consultants holding S/4HANA Cloud certifications, delivered by those who already have experience with S/4HANA Cloud projects, are another valuable tool for skill development.

Regular knowledge-sharing sessions, such as webinars and workshops, can keep the entire consultancy team up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in the SAP ecosystem.

Consultancies can also develop comprehensive in-house training programs that cover all aspects of S/4HANA Cloud, from basic functionalities to advanced features. These programs should be tailored to different levels of expertise within the consultancy to provide constant access to consultants with the right skills inside the organization.

Providing clear career progression paths and opportunities for advancement within the organization can be a significant draw for potential hires. This includes offering leadership roles, further specialized training, and opportunities to work on high-profile projects.

Cultivating a positive and inclusive work environment is necessary for attracting and retaining talent. This includes promoting work-life balance, encouraging teamwork, and recognizing and rewarding employee achievements. This can include monetary bonuses, public recognition, and further opportunities for professional development.

Aligning Careers with S/4HANA Cloud

Given S/4HANA Cloud’s role in SAP’s cloud growth strategy, and the high requirement for related services, consultants can benefit significantly by developing extensive skills in S/4HANA Cloud, alongside their chosen specialism in other SAP modules or SAP solutions for industries and commercial contexts.

The RISE with SAP and GROW with SAP initiatives are also flagship offerings by SAP. For consultants, understanding these programs is crucial as they now frequently form the foundation of client projects. Specializing in services like RISE, and GROW, increases their marketability and value to clients.

Maximizing Opportunities

Engaging with professional networks and associations such as DSAG, can provide valuable connections and insights for consultants, particularly around S/4HANA migrations. Participating in events, forums, and webinars helps consultants stay informed about industry trends and opportunities.

Consultants should regularly update their S/4HANA Cloud knowledge through SAP’s training resources, industry publications, and online courses to stay ahead of technological advancements.

If their employer does not already support SAP training, it is a good idea to make a case for why this would be a good investment for the organization, but even if this is not supported, further training in S/4HANA Cloud is a personal career move worth the initial outlay. 

Pursuing advanced S/4HANA Cloud certifications can differentiate consultants from their peers. These certifications demonstrate a high level of expertise and commitment to the field.

Once certification has been obtained, working on a variety of S/4HANA Cloud projects across different industries can broaden a consultant’s skill set and make them more versatile. This diversity of experience is highly valued by employers.

Building a strong professional profile on platforms like LinkedIn, highlighting S/4HANA Cloud projects, certifications, and achievements, can attract potential employers and clients. Writing articles, presenting at conferences, and contributing to SAP community discussions about S/4HANA Cloud are excellent ways to demonstrate expertise.

Acquiring High Demand Skills

As the SAP consulting landscape continues to evolve, S/4HANA Cloud expertise is quickly growing in importance. The impending deadlines for SAP ECC and the rapid technological advancements within S/4HANA Cloud create a compelling need for skilled consultants among new and existing SAP customers.

With the right qualifications and experience consultants can contribute to fulfilling increasing market demands, and be well compensated, but also significantly improve their professional prospects.

SAP consultancies, on their part, must implement effective strategies to attract, retain, and develop a large enough pool of top S/4HANA Cloud talent, so they are able to meet the changing needs of their customers.

The key to success lies in continuous learning and skills development, and a deep understanding of the evolving role of S/4HANA Cloud in the SAP portfolio. As the need for S/4HANA Cloud consultants continues to rise, those who invest in their skills and stay ahead of the curve will undoubtedly reap substantial benefits.

If you are an SAP professional looking for a new role in the SAP ecosystem our team of dedicated recruitment consultants can match you with your ideal employer and negotiate a competitive compensation package for your extremely valuable skills, so join our exclusive community at IgniteSAP.