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This guest post is by contributor Jarret Pazahanick
Most everyone working in the SAP ecosystem has a “bad consultant” horror story they can share. Let’s face it: Hiring the wrong SAP consultant can leave you and your company drained emotionally and financially, as well as leave you with even bigger and longer-lasting problems with your SAP system.
A successful SAP implementation is, of course, determined by a number of factors, and these days it often requires bringing in outside expertise. Selecting the right consultant is critical: It can mean the difference between success and failure.
Two of the most well-known no-nos are hiring a consultant who has poor communication skills (he prefers techno-babble to a more formalized language, say English) and not bothering to check the consultant’s references beforehand.
Alas, there are more. Here’s my list of three sure-fire ways to sabotage your next SAP consultant hire.
1. You Didn’t Bother to Ensure That the Consultant’s Skillsets Match the Job You Are Trying to Complete. The first step in finding a consultant is to understand the specific skill set you are looking for. The SAP product suite is broad, and consultants tend to have very narrow areas of expertise. One of the common traps I see SAP customers fall into is that they always assume that large software integrators or their preferred vendors will have the SAP expertise that they need. While this is typically true in the core areas of SAP, it is not always true when it comes to the newer SAP modules, the latest product releases or for industry-specific modules, when you are typically better off to work with a niche consulting company, independent consultant or SAP directly.
There are many successful, albeit unconventional, methods that I would recommend to help find the right consultant. One example includes tapping your personal network, your company’s network, existing consultants, ASUG, SAP Community Network, LinkedIn, Twitter, SAP Expert authors and industry experts. The SAP industry can be small when you are looking for consulting resources, and most of the true industry experts will be very happy to help you find the right consultant if you reach out to them.
Good Practice: There are many different ways you can find the right consultant, and you should use several of them to ensure a good candidate pool.
2. You Didn’t Ask about Their Experiences on Similar Projects. Consultants working on your SAP project must have previous implementation experience and the proper skill set you are looking for. Experienced SAP consultants should be able to translate between business language and “SAP speak” in such a way that everyone can easily understand. If they have difficultly doing this, you should be concerned and question their experience.
In addition, remember that an SAP consultant’s resume should be used only to determine whether an individual is “interview worthy.” Although it is easy to fall into the trap of finding the perfect candidate “on paper,” you should never base a hiring decision on a resume alone.
Good Practice: It is important that consultants have the experience you are looking for, since the last thing you want is to pay for someone to learn on the job – that is, your job.
3. You Didn’t Ask for a Technical Interview. Doing a technical interview can often be a daunting task, since the reason you are hiring a consultant is because you don’t have internal SAP expertise in the specific area. But not doing so can lead to bigger problems when the consulting work begins. Here are a few basic steps you should follow:
a. Involve business and IT members on your interview team.
b. Set up an internal pre-interview meeting, lay out the specifics of the engagement and offer a script for everyone to follow.
c. Involve a technical IT resource or consultant that you trust to ask some specific SAP technical/functional questions.
d. Only ask questions that you have an understanding of the right answer.
e. Ask how they would solve an actual issue that will be part of the scope of work.
Good Practice: The goal of the technical interview is to get a comfort level that the consultant has the necessary SAP technical skills and business understanding to be a valuable team member.
Finding the right consultant is not rocket science, but it does involve some extra work on your part. Make no mistake: Hiring the wrong consultant will ultimately cause a lot more work and trouble for your organization in the long run.
ASUG member Jarret Pazahanick serves as the Managing Partner at EIC Experts, a company that specializes in SAP Human Capital Management and the Employee Interaction Center. Over the past 13 years, Jarret has completed 20 high-profile, full life-cycle SAP HCM implementations for Fortune 1000 companies, many of them global in scope. He is a SAP Mentor, HCM-Certified Consultant, moderator, and gold level contributor on the SAP Community Network and HR Expert Author. Contact Jarret at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @SAP_Jarret.