SAP PLM (product lifecycle management) is growing, and that means it’s time for SAP professionals to pay attention. Here’s what veteran SAP jobs expert Jon Reed had to say about the career opportunities a PLM surge may bring to your industry:
SearchSAP.com’s recent piece on the growth of the PLM market bodes well for SAP consultants for a couple of reasons: First, because PLM is becoming more central to corporate business processes, and second, because more and more companies are choosing the add-on extensions from their ERP provider instead of opting for best-of-breed solutions. This should be the case for PLM buying decisions also. We can also be confident that SAP puts a lot of stock in its own PLM product – PLM is a highlighted part of SAP’s Business Suite offering.
So that’s the good news. The more sobering aspect is that we have heard a buzz about PLM consulting from the year 2000 onward, and we have yet to see a big uptick in demand for PLM consultants. It’s important to realize that until the demand for a particular product becomes widespread, the consulting market will be limited to SAP’s own service line, its Tier One partners like IBM and Accenture and a handful of elite independent experts. A few boutique specialization firms round out that picture. Up until recently, that’s been the case for PLM, but we’re starting to see more widespread adoption of SAP PLM. I think we’ll see an even bigger surge in the demand for PLM skills a couple of years from now. At that point, more companies will have their core SAP upgrades behind them and will be looking to build on those long days of project work with strategic product line extensions.
That’s why I personally think the SAP PLM market will probably see its greatest activity in the 2-5 year window ahead of us. But it never hurts to add some PLM skills to your toolkit. The next question is: How would you go about that? Like most areas of SAP, there are numerous entry points into PLM consulting from both the functional and technical side. But let’s focus on the functional PLM opportunities. I see a couple of classic PLM profiles that work out well for functional consulting. One is that of the PLM industry expert who is new to SAP but has deep PLM and engineering experience outside of SAP.
These folks can be a real asset, especially as full-time employees who are pulled onto an internal project team. From the SAP side, the most common entry point I have seen into PLM is from that of the logistics-oriented module set including SD, MM and PP. We are also seeing some PLM project activity in the process industries and the Environmental Health and Safety area, so there are some entry points into PLM from those with industry expertise and SAP vertical experience in one of those two areas.
Finally, SAP is starting to gain some traction with its ECM (Engineering Change Management) product, so we are starting to see more PLM-ECM jobs. SAP skills associated with such roles include project/portfolio management, project collaboration (cProjects), design collaboration (cFolders), as well as CAD/CAM and DMS platform integration. We’re also seeing some PLM-related activity connected to the PPMDC Business Package, an up-and-coming “xApp” from SAP. That’s a lot of alphabet soup there, but if those acronyms are familiar to you, that’s a good sign that PLM consulting might be right up your alley.
Adding any of the above tools to your SAP skills would begin to position you for PLM consulting, and as the demand for SAP PLM skills picks up, you could be in a great position.
Jon Reed is the President of JonERP.com, an interactive web site which features Jon’s SAP Career Blog and his podcasts for SAP professionals. Jon has been publishing SAP career and market analysis for more than a decade, and he serves as the career expert for SearchSAP.com’s “Ask the Expert” panel.