Home S4HANA S/4HANA Mastery: 10 Crucial Skills for the Modern SAP Consultant

S/4HANA Mastery: 10 Crucial Skills for the Modern SAP Consultant

by Ugur Hasdemir
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The digital revolution is upon us, and if you’re an SAP consultant, you’re on the front line of this transformation. Companies worldwide are now implementing or migrating to the latest version of SAP’s ERP system – S/4HANA. So, what skills do you need to navigate this landscape successfully and to stay relevant in the market? Here’s a list of the top 10 hard and soft skills essential to a successful SAP consultant in the S/4HANA era.

1. Comprehensive Knowledge of S/4HANA – Hard Skill

Understanding the intricacies of S/4HANA is the foundation of your success as an SAP consultant. From the Fiori user interface to the embedded analytics, you must master every detail. This is generic and valid across all functional areas in SAP.

For instance, during an migration project, you could be utilizing the new Fiori apps to replace legacy custom transactions or workflows. Use Fiori’s flexibility to create a more streamlined workflow. You should be aware of the extensibility possibilities of the Fiori apps to avoid costly custom developments.

Make use of the free available training and learning resources from SAP. Like Open SAP, SAP User Enablement simulations, Process Navigator (previously Best practice explorer) and roadmap viewer. You can explore the (paid) trainings from the SAP Learning hub. There are several companies providing great discounts on yearly subscriptions on SAP Learning Hub once a year. After having followed these trainings I highly recommend to go for certification in you own area. This will validate your knowledge level.

SAP S/4HANA Core 2022 Library (ondemand.com)

Process Navigator – SAP for Me

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The best way is learning by doing so you have to start working on your first S/4HANA project as soon as possible after you are up to speed with your knowledge. If this is not possible in the short term, I highly recommend to get access to a Fully Activated Appliance in the SAP CAL library. You can rent these systems which are fully activated including transactional data. Great for proof of concepts and exploring the capabilities.

2. Ability to Leverage SAP HANA’s Capabilities – Hard Skill

SAP HANA’s real-time analytics capabilities are one of its strongest features. Harnessing these can provide valuable insights to businesses.

For example, in a retail business, real-time analytics could be used to analyze customer buying patterns and inventory, enabling the company to adjust their product mix and stock levels as per demand, improving customer satisfaction and sales.

Here the key role of an functional SAP consultant should be guiding the customer through the huge repository of available best practice content. There are so many CDS views delivered by standard which can be optimized and combined to deliver the desired insights without extensive effort and programming.

Next to this, you should be aware of the other capabilities in the SAP ecosystem as well. With SAP BTP, S/4HANA Core is easily connected to other (cloud) solutions which might fulfill your customers requirement better.

3. Understand Business Processes – Hard Skill

Having in depth knowledge in the S/4HANA capabilities is nothing without having business process knowledge. Ability to map business processes to system functions or scope items is crucial. You must analyze and understand the current business processes and then determine how to adapt them to S/4HANA.

Take the example of an organization that wants to improve its procurement process. You could propose the use of Ariba, SAP’s cloud-based procurement solution integrated into S/4HANA, to streamline procurement and reduce costs.

4. Project Management Capabilities – Hard Skill

You must understand project management methodologies, to ensure that the project stays on track. In our case, SAP Activate is the new agile mythology. You should be fully aware of all the content coming with Activate and how it can provide the project a jumpstart.

Imagine your client wants a rapid implementation of S/4HANA. Applying Activate methodology, you can leverage the guiding principles, documentation, system building blocks and templates to jumpstart your journey.

With this, you will not become the highly skilled and experienced project manager. That requires years of experience on the job. By the way, not everyone can and will be a good project manager. However for a functional SAP consultant this will give you the necessary project management skills to excel in your project.

5. Data Migration and Integration Expertise – Hard Skill

Data migration from legacy systems to S/4HANA is often one of the most challenging parts of an implementation. A deep understanding of SAP data services and the Migration Cockpit is crucial.

For example, a company might have data in various formats and databases. You’ll need to consolidate and clean this data before migration to ensure seamless integration into S/4HANA. You have to understand the capabilities of the Migration Cockpit which is the standard out of the box data migration tool for S/4HANA. However, it will not always fulfill the needs of a particular project.

6. Change Management Skills – Soft Skill

Transitioning to S/4HANA can be disruptive for a business. As a consultant, it’s your responsibility to manage these changes smoothly. I recommend to read the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” written by Spencer Johnson. The book is a short parable about change, and how people react to it. Throughout the story, the author uses the characters and their experiences to convey the message that change is inevitable and that the sooner one adapts to it, the better.

For instance, during a project, you might need to ensure that users can comfortably transition from the old GUI interface to the Fiori user interface. Creating a comprehensive training program and assuring users that support will be available throughout the process can alleviate concerns and ease the transition. In this specific example, it always help to show users to which classic GUI transaction a new Fiori app is comparable to. Sometimes a Fiori app replaced several GUI transactions at once in order to simplify. With this method users can make the connection easier.

Don’t forget that Fiori is not always an improvement. Be honest and know that it’s technically still possible to launch GUI transaction in the Fiori Launchpad if its needed or if its fit the purpose better.

7. Effective Communication Skills – Soft Skill

As an SAP consultant, you’ll need to communicate effectively with a diverse range of stakeholders, from top management to end-users.

If there’s a significant modification in the system, like moving to a new module in S/4HANA, you need to clearly communicate the benefits and changes to all stakeholders to ensure buy-in and adoption. Be prepared to have conversations on different levels. For me it’s always the most enjoyable part of my job. We have conversations with people on the factory floor and right after a board meeting with the management. It required flexibility and adaptability.

8. Ability to Drive Innovation – Soft Skill

With advancements like AI, Robotic Process Automation, and IoT being integrated into S/4HANA, you must not just adapt, but drive innovation in the solutions you provide.

For instance, in a logistics company, you could use the IoT capabilities of S/4HANA to enable real-time tracking of goods, resulting in increased transparency and efficiency. Or you could utilize SAP Build Process Automation to build automation for automatic clearing of GL open item.

9. Problem-solving Skills – Soft Skill

You’ll undoubtedly face challenges during implementation. Your ability to solve problems quickly and efficiently will determine your success.

For instance, suppose the client’s IT infrastructure isn’t compatible with S/4HANA’s requirements. In that case, you could propose a hybrid approach, with some services running on-premises and others on the cloud, to ensure a successful implementation.

10. Continual Learning Attitude – Soft Skill

The SAP landscape is always evolving, and so should you. Being open to learning new technologies and updates is vital.

For example, SAP is continuously introducing new capabilities into S/4HANA, like machine learning and RPA. As a consultant, you need to stay updated on these advancements to offer the best solutions to your clients.

Being a successful SAP consultant in the S/4HANA era demands a blend of technical skills, soft skills, and a drive for continuous learning. By owning these qualities, you’ll be equipped to guide businesses through their digital transformation journeys, adding immense value and ensuring your place as a trusted advisor in this evolving landscape.

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