I got the idea to write this article from SAP mentor Nathan Genez after he made this comment on twitter last week “Now that everyone who works in the SAP industry is an expert, what's next?” It got me thinking that everywhere you look people and companies are claiming to be SAP experts when in fact only a fraction meets the true definition of the word. I think it is important to keep in mind what being an expert really means and per Wikipedia the definition is as follows:
An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person.
I asked Nathan for his thoughts on the topic and he was kind enough to share the following "I think the key phrase of the wiki definition is the last sentence; “An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person” with the key words being “beyond that of the average person”. As the SAP industry has matured, the knowledge and sophistication of its customers has matured as well. To me, the average consultant probably has 5 years of dedicated SAP experience and been through 2-4 go-lives. Looking primarily at metrics such as those, a true expert would have 2-3x those numbers."
I agree with Nathan that as the SAP industry has matured and the knowledge level needed to be an expert has increased, many people misunderstand what it truly means to be an expert. Most of the true experts I have had the pleasure of getting to know in the SAP industry come from very diverse backgrounds and geographical locations but all share some of the following in common:
- They have a very large SAP network and are well known by their peers and public for their expertise.
- They are very active on the SAP Community Network or similar platforms as bloggers, moderators and answering questions.
- They are presenting at the major SAP or User Group conferences.
- They have a strong social media presence on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.
- They are involved in SAP Press or the Expert publication as authors or technical editors.
- They are actively involved in SAP User Groups such as ASUG or DSAG.
- They have a history of being involved in successful projects and ventures.
- They have a narrow area of SAP in which they claim to be an expert.
- They know all the key people within SAP in their area of expertise.
- They are current on the latest and greatest SAP technology as well as what is coming in the future.
The bottom line there is no shame in not being an expert as it can and should be a very exclusive club. It is a great goal for all of us to work towards and hopefully you can use the list above to help you towards your journey of being an SAP expert. Special thanks to Nathan for his help with this article.