Have the right pre-requisite for a job switch

A ZDNet Asia reader asks how best to enter the ERP field as a functional consultant.

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Q. I am a BCA graduate. I have close to six years of work exposure in BPO (voice process) and am currently working as business development executive dealing with ERP consulting services.

I am very seriously considering shifting my career to the ERP field as a functional consultant since I have very good communication skills, which I believe will be an added advantage for a functional consultant.

I have been researching on the ERP field by exploring various ERP websites and trying to get information from friends, colleagues, etc. I am not getting a clear idea as to which module I should choose to get a break into the ERP field.

From various sources I learnt that a relevant domain exposure is very essential to the module that I choose in ERP. If my domain exposure is not relevant to the training module that I choose, I will not get a break at all in the ERP field.

However, I am very much eager to switch my career to ERP as a functional consultant since I am not a very tech-savvy person.

Kindly advice me to take a right decision, because I don't want a situation where after taking up the ERP course and then ending up without getting a job in the ERP field, which will be loss of money and time for me.

I have done a software programming course long back and also a software testing course that I was not comfortable with. Can I take SCM/HR/CRM and get a break into any of these modules or do I stand chance only for CRM??

Kindly advice me please.


Career advice from Tay Kok Choon, country manager of JobStreet Singapore:

Hi Sini,

Business development focuses on looking for clients. When a potential client surfaces, the functional team will move in with the demonstrations, presentations and in-depth explanations of what the solutions can provide.

Can we assume a common understanding referencing the job scope that you have in mind?

As a functional consultant, a large part of the job scope involves understanding clients' needs and translating it into workable solutions for them. Clients normally relate to functional consultant in layman terms. They translate the needs into a solution by working with the IT team. Solutions include applying business process re-engineering (BPR) techniques and adopting service oriented architecture (SOA) designs.

This entails both an understanding of IT and business. It used to be that business development and IT personnel each spoke a different lingua and didn't understand each other's worlds. Given today's IT climate, in which IT practitioners are not just the backroom boys but also the specialists who talk business, in short, they have become "effectively bilingual".

Keeping the above in mind and from what you relate to us, I think you have strong interest to pursue the role as functional consultant.

Strong communication skills is not the only pre-requisite.

Personal qualities like being technical competent, able to work under pressure, willing to do self-study and research, organized and structured in problem solving, discipline and able to maintain good documentation, tactful and willing to work with people with vastly different goals and concerns, familiar with general business and operational conditions are important too.

As such, planning for the switch to be a functional consultant is highly important.

Go for opportunities that capitalize on your business knowledge (six years of work exposure in BPO) and product knowledge. Being tech-savvy is not critical but not able to marry business and IT product knowledge can be a major set-back in helping customers with an effective solutions. For instance where capability is lacking in either business or product, than much effort has to be made acquiring them from a theoretical perceptive and with some practical hands-on experience.

We wish you best in this pursuit; do keep in mind that strong functional consultants in specific area(s) are developed over time and not acquired through some formalize training.