Monday, 9 December 2013

Switching Career to ERP Consulting

We receive numerous queries relating to training on various topics. Many of the questions received by us relate to the choice of track for a person seeking a career in ERP Consulting. Typical questions are –
·         Should one work towards becoming a Functional Apps Consultant or a Technical Apps Consultant?
This seems to be a very common confusion for those who decide to switch their career into becoming an Oracle Apps Consultant. It becomes important to find an answer to this question especially if you are about to commit huge amount of money into an Oracle Applications Training Course. Finding the right answer to this question is very important, as it can possibly change the course of your life.
While there is no right advice, as the ultimate success of your decision depends on quality of training, your interest and understanding of the subject and most important of all - your attitude.
Remember we can help you understand the subject and clear your doubts but ultimately you will be facing the interview by yourself. So your understanding of the subject has to be absolute.
Understanding the Roles
You have probably heard of terms like Functional consultant, Technical Consultant, Techno-Functional etc. Those not familiar with these terms need to understand their meaning. So here are some guidelines to help you, that will hold true in most cases:-
Functional Role
1. You can work towards becoming a Functional Consultant if :-
a)     You are from an Accounting Background
b)     You were a Super User for Financials/HRMS Manufacturing Modules for many years. You may even consider taking up a Support Analyst role.
c)      You have never written a "Hello World" program, regardless of the programming language.
d)     You are a MBA from a non-technical background
e)     You don't mind spending most part of your day in meetings & writing documents.
f)       You understand the overall ERP system very well, and how it all hangs together knowing the dependencies between various modules.
2. You must work towards becoming a Technical Consultant if:-
a)     You are from a technical background, regardless of the stream i.e. Electrics/Comps etc. Even a Civil Engineer can make into a good Oracle Apps Technical Consultant.
b)     You want to be a technical Oracle Apps consultant but you fear whether you can succeed. Remember, fear is important, as it gets the best out of you.
c)      You find writing lengthy documents very boring.
d)     You like to get a feeling of having achieved something each day.
e)     You do not have much patience, then surely you must not be a functional person. Some of the end users can really test your patience to limits.
f)       You don't mind taking difficult challenges at times.
g)     You can't be bothered to know how say Order Management links with General Ledger.
Pros of choosing a Functional path
  1. Legislations and business rules do not change as often as does the technology changes.
    Hence your knowledge can be carried forward from one version of Application to another.
  2. No knowledge of technology is required although it is helpful if you know some basic technology programming like sql and architecture concepts
  3. Most of the work is done onsite which requires discussion with users
  4. Number of functional consultants required in any job is less than the number of the technical consultants required
  5. Boring at times, because too much time gets wasted in meetings.
  6. Will require frequent travel or long duration onsite visits
Cons of choosing a Functional path

Technical Role
Pros of choosing a Technical path
a)     For each Functional person, there are at an average 3 to 5 technical consultants. Hence more job opportunities for Technical Oracle Applications Role.
b)     If you are an immigrant, then you face lesser comptetion from local workforce in western countries. For example, in USA/UK I have noticed more locals doing functional job than those doing technical job.
c)      Many technical people switch to functional roles latter in their career.
d)     Not much emphasis on educational background. This holds very true in non-Tier1 technology companies, where you will be recruited (provided you have some experience) purely on the basis of your technical skills & technical knowledge.
Cons of choosing a Technical path
a)     You have to keep up with ever changing technology and toolsets.
For example tools like Oracle Forms may be totally redundant after 5Years from now.
b)     More and more work in Oracle Apps is moving to Functional domain. To give an example, prior to introduction of self service personalizations, a developer was required for any single change to the layout of the screen. However now, a functional or even a business super user can be trained within half a day to do Self Service Personalizations.
Switching between Roles
Moving from functional background to ERP
  1. Knowledge of functional processes helps to understand the functional aspects of the ERP modules
  2. People with deep expertise in Financials, Supply Chain and HR can easily do so.
  1. Inspite of having experience, you would be at an initial disadvantage
  2. Your take home pay may take a hit
  3. You may have to report to a junior person in a project or in the organization
Moving from technical to functional role
Lot of technical people have moved from technical role to a functional role. However, this may not work for everyone. For those wanting to move from technical to functional there are several options
  1. Get trained on Oracle Apps Technical and leverage your technical experience to move into a Oracle Apps technical role and after familiarizing yourself with the new role, look at options to move into Oracle Apps functional role
  2. Get trained on Oracle Apps Functional role and then try and move into a functional role directly
But good future certainly will be for those that know both Functional & Technical. A techie with functional knowledge and business understanding will always excel.

Remember...A tech consultant is never just a programmer....a tech consultant is the one that can co-relate each line of code that he/she designs/writes with the business requirement for which development is being done.
Entry level oracle apps programmers have below responsibilities:-
  1. Developing simple reports using D2k report writer
  2. Developing simple forms using D2k
  3. Developing views that can be used for example in discoverer reports
  4. Developing code for custom.pll to provide zoom etc(now done using forms personalizations)
  5. Registering concurrent programs, menus, form functions etc
  6. Simple forms/self service personalizations
Advanced level oracle apps programmers have below responsibilities:-
  1. Leading teams and providing solution approach
  2. Developing interfaces,  scripts/programs for data migration into Oracle Apps
  3. Designing and building custom extensions and customizations with series of screens possibly with tight integration with other Oracle Apps screens/interfaces/API
  4. Developing and customizing oracle workflows. Modifying account generator workflows.
  5. Developing self-service extensions to OA Framework using jDeveloper.
  6. Troubleshooting critical issues
Choice of Modules
Financial Track
The most commonly implemented modules in the Financial track are Payables (AP), Receivables (AR), Sub-Ledger Accounting (SLA) and General Ledger (GL). Two other popular modules are Fixed Assets(FA) and Cash Management(CA). So we suggest that you MUST do training on AP, AR, SLA, GL and then consider doing training on FA and CM as per your requirement.
SCM Track
The commonly implemented modules here are Puchasing (PO), Inventory (INV), Order Management (OM) and Advanced Pricing (AP).  So it is suggested that you undergo training in these modules if you want to pursue a career in SCM
HCM Track
The commonly implemented modules are Human Resources (HR), Payroll (PAY), Self-Service Human Resources (SSHR).
It is generally suggested that you decide on a track based on your experience, choice and future plans. Do not do individual modules unless you have a specific need in your work or your company is sponsoring the training.