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Switch skills set from java to SAP / ERP mid career

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12/26/12 9:25 PM
I have been programming in java/unix/oracle/app servers/middleware last 13 years and now I don't want to do it anymore . I want to start a new career in ERP implementation preferably in SAP or Oracle apps initially as technical person and later as functional . Has anyone done it . I may have to start at a lower level to begin with . what are the potential risks . Anyone in IT would like to add any comments ? . I see rapid growth as ERP consultant as compared to programmer / architect .
12/26/12 9:25 PM
12/26/12 9:30 PM
I don't think it'll be as big of a switch as you imagine - at least the general impression I have is that your problem solving skills and thought processes are the most important part of a programming/technical position, and that all translates into the new role even if it means a little bit of a ramp up period.

Hopefully someone else chimes in with more intimate details - this is just my impression.
12/26/12 9:39 PM
I currently have an opening for an Oracle person and one of the KEY requirements is to have another set of skills (SQL, other DB, Exchange, whatever). Our environment is too fast-paced to have someone say "I have to sit here and examine the results of last night's cold export; After all, I'm the DBA"; If you are not versatile enough to work in whichever is the most demanding realm at the moment, you wont fit it.

I'd say that dual skill set (or background, at least) is a good choice.
12/26/12 10:27 PM
after having worked with both I think you'd be backtracking going from Java to SAP. Much more interesting and challenging work to be done with Java IMO.
12/26/12 11:41 PM
Just curious, what makes you want to get out of programming?
12/27/12 12:00 AM
OP, SAP has different modules. Have you decide which modules are you going to pursue your career on? The field on SAP had a lot of choices. For example, you can be a SRM SAP consultant or implementation.
12/27/12 12:24 AM
Erp is the way to go
12/27/12 1:01 AM
I've worked ~10 yrs in managing middleware projects for a smaller ERP/CRM, and I'm planning to retrain myself in Microsoft GP, (Though I hear there's a huge demand for anyone with MS SL experience and a pulse..) My partner does the coding, I did the sales, and knowing how the front end tied into the schema, wrote the spec.

SQL should be an easy pickup, and will come in handy, especially when it comes to reporting.
I've played around with SSRS, and the Census offers some really nice datamaps where you can visualize your data by zip code easily, and built for developers. (Crystal Reports requires a less technical skillset, and is more of a pain to use.)

If you can whip up a mobile app, you'll get heavy spotlight and referrals from the ERP's sales force. If you can, own the rights your code to license to others, and make it reusable. (Keep the presentation and business logic separated.)
Lastly, if the ERP is SaaS, you will have much more limited access to data.. Anything SQL Server based, and you can just run profiler and data diff to find what table's it's touching.


As far as being an implementation consultant, you'll have to get in with one of the ERP vendors. They have CPAs/Hardware/Software/Mobile specialists that they assign to a project. It's a very tricky, very intense business, with a lot of risk of failure due to miscommuication and managing expectations. Typically, the client is looking for a platform that will closest fit their business model, and customize to fit the rest, and when mistakes are made, they tend to be spectacular. (Hershey's, Waste Management among others.)

Best of luck, and let me know if I can answer any questions.

12/27/12 4:30 AM
I suggest you hit the Gartner's reports for emerging technologies / hype cycles and pick your choice. Some of them are virtualization , cloud computing, big data, User Experience, SAAS. Most of these areas have a lot of demand and less supply so your rates don't have be low.ERP is broad based. SAP, Oracle Financials, MS GreatPlains and even QuickBooks offerings. Unfortunately in the ERP industry, experience counts but how do you get experience without working on ERP? Another thing you want to avoid is commoditization. Java and .Net are now commodities as you find dime a dozen programmers from India. Same with database administration. Can you try leveraging your domain expertise?
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