Nowadays, SAP is a very common term but only a few people know exactly how it works. This article will give you an idea of how SAP is useful to us as Chartered Accountants.
Opportunities in SAP for Chartered Accountants
Let us try and understand how does SAP is creating opportunities for Chartered Accountants in India or outside. A German company named 'SAP' developed an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. SAP is mostly involved in R&D of ERP and other similar software packages. However, SAP doesn't implement its software for its clients.
SAP has an enormous range of features & the implementation of SAP differs from company to company. Because of this implementation complications, various IT companies such as Accenture, IBM and many more came up with the idea of SAP consulting. The implementation of SAP requires engineers with the knowledge of software coding and IT companies had these engineers.
Now, the IT companies needed was some more people with the understanding of the business process (like Chartered Accountants). The Chartered Accountants acts as a bridge between engineers and the client’s business. Role of a Chartered Accountant is to ensure that implementation of the SAP system as per the plan of the management & the generated output is in compliance with accounting & taxation principles.
There are various modules of SAP such as Human Resources, Production Planning, Project Management, Treasury, FI (Financial Accounting), CO (Controlling/Management Accounting) etc. As Chartered Accountants, the core areas of competency in SAP are FI and CO (commonly referred to as SAP FICO).
For a Chartered Accountant involved in financial accounting, statutory reporting, costing, taxation (direct and indirect) etc, the modules which are most relevant are SAP FI (Financial Accounting) and SAP CO (Controlling/Management Accounting). A qualified Chartered Accountant can choose to be an SAP Consultant or to be a certified SAP Auditor or to be into the Finance team of an organisation having SAP ERP or be a certified SAP Trainer. The options are endless. Although the training in SAP is advised it's not mandatorily required, it increases the chances of getting hired. There are various sets of certifications & training for SAP FI & SAP CO.
The FI module mainly deals with accounting, preparation of financial statements, year-end adjustments, tax computations etc whereas, CO module deals with the costing related issues as well as management/internal reporting. Among others, it covers Internal Orders, Cost analysis, Budgeting, Inventory Control, Cost Allocation, Cost Centers, Profit Centers, etc. It depends upon your interest, you can look to specialize in the modules of your choice.
Following Traits of SAP Consultants:
- Credibility to transform good ideas into a reliable tangible product. Ideas are only good until they are formulated together with technology to realize some tangible and great! Typically there is no shortage of ideas on SAP projects because you are literally reshaping how the entire companies work. What is lacking behind on many SAP projects is the members that can transform those typical ideas into the system to show users the end-to-end process. Without seeking an optimal solution, it’s very difficult to imagine how it will work and what issues might come later. SAP project needs the quality project to be delivered.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills. Communication is one of the major keys in any position, but the accelerated and integrated nature of SAP projects necessitate frequent communication skills in the right manner, to the right people. This signifies escalating issues when required, sharing important design decisions and communicating status with the project.
- Excellent teacher and willing to teach others. As an SAP consultant, user or support person, you will predictably spend your optimum time in teaching others about SAP and other variety of solutions. For an instance, to download a report from SAP, the user will also require the help to use the report in Excel. A desire to teach and patience are crucial in SAP implementation.
- Strong dedication to work on weekends when required to meet project deadlines. Working for long hours and even on weekends is often on an SAP project. People who gripe about the hours and who try to shift their work on others will miss serious opportunities to cultivate something good out of their career. Having a positive attitude makes a huge difference.
- A strong focus on SAP solution quality. There are generally two or three ways to construct a process in SAP and each of the solutions has its own pros and cons. But an only single solution can be chosen and it must meet most business requirements. The chosen solution should be fully understood and communicated to the process owners.
- Ability to provide the solution for issues instead of dwell on them. Projects in SAP normally have the vast scope of a rotating timeline and too often deliverables are over-promised by consulting firms. Resulting in an overworked and tiresome team trying to achieve impractical deadlines and ensuring frustration. There are several things in life, and particularly in work, that no one can control. Focusing on providing a solution rather than getting upset and frustrated. This will show your leadership abilities and assist other members to stay focused on the end goal.
- Translating Business to technology. Technology drives most of the business processes, so it is very important for technical and functional SAP consultants to really understand the purpose of SAP reports, enhancements and transactions.
- Ability to foresee risks, issues and escalate to leadership. Escalating issues and risk to leadership is key for leaders to realize the true status of the SAP project and to take crucial decisions on resources, budget, and timeline. Furthermore, raising risk and issues in the right format and at the correct severity is important. Critical issues require a phone call over an ordinary e-mail and must be communicated immediately. Minor issues can be discussed in a status meeting and it shouldn't be over-dramatized.
- Enhance the decision-making procedure: With SAP Consultants, businesses can able to create a shared database with extremely high quality and hence it is highly responsible for real-time streaming and also improves the decision-making process as well.
- Preparing accurate future scenarios: By possessing enhanced information, businesses can easily create accurate estimation as well as predict for future scenarios.
I hope this write up you a brief understanding of how SAP works & how a Chartered Accountant, as a professional, can make a career out of it.