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Projektarbeit

Hello,

I would simply like to ask you if you also do project work. Do you work as a freelancer or do you have a permanent position? Do you like to be on the road in different projects? What is it like with you?

For the last ten years I have completed three consulting certifications in the SAP area (SCM, FI ABAP), but it is still difficult for me to get access to SAP projects. Since I live in a more rural area there are not too many consulting firms here. When you come back from a six month training course you are highly motivated to apply what you have learned and it is very difficult to deal with the temporary employment agencies. When you have finally managed to acquire a project, it might be over after a year and you are looking for a job again and have to contact the authorities.

Translated to english.

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18 Comments

  • Jan 15 at 01:00 PM

    I am working as a freelancer for a number of years. And I can do my job for any consulting firm independent on location. Today we have fast Internet and using VPN we can work with any system located anywhere in the world.

    And most of consulting firms contacted me after reading my answers in SAP Community.

  • Jan 15 at 02:38 PM

    I work for Protiviti, which is a global consulting firm. I specifically do SAP BusinessObjects (BOBJ) installs, upgrades, and migrations, security reviews, admin training, and programming using the various SDKs to integrate BOBJ into other software. I am also the company SME for SAP Crystal Reports. I've been doing this type of work for almost 10 years. I find that working for a consulting firm works well for me because I don't have to find my own projects, that's all taken care of for me.

    -Dell

  • Jan 15 at 05:16 PM

    I worked as an independent since about 1996. For 22 yrs I did that until in 2018 I took a permanent job at a local company.

    I think doing project work depends on your ability to define your niche and specialty and clearly define to clients why you are worth it. Try to stay in your lane and don't spread yourself too thin. Independents usually need to have very good in-depth skills at a very high level to stay in demand. Companies can get bodies anywhere. You need to show why you aren't just another body with a certification.

    It also depends on you being able to network well. Identifying some key players. I didn't work with every headhunter that contacted me. I probably have over 100 headhunters connected to me in LinkedIn. But to find projects I only worked consistently with about 4-6 agencies. And only one person in each agency. Develop relationships with those 4-6 headhunters. Pick them carefully. Discard the agencies with high turnover. If the same agency keeps calling you but its a different person every time, steer clear of them. You're just a cataloged resume in a database to them.

    If you don't learn at least a couple of personal details about the headhunter, drop them. You don't need to know their life story but you should after a few conversations know some detail about them. Favorite sports team, a hobby, a vacation they went on, what they did over a weekend, etc. etc.. And they should know about you. What kind of projects you like, what amount of travel you want to do, how important is your family life balance, will you give a discount for remote work. Will you give a discount for longer projects? What rates are you willing to accept and what rates will you simply laugh at hilariously. Most of my key headhunters pretty much knew not to reach out to me if the rate wasn't at a certain level. Most knew not to bother me with bad projects.

    And with that small group, I was fairly comfortable that they were being fair and not making a ton of markup on me. Early on, at one project I had a good rate but later found out my rate was tripled by the time it got billed to the actual client. I never went back through that group again.

    As an independent you really need to manage your relationships much more, and often way more than you manage your technical skills.

    Craig

    • Jan 15 at 05:37 PM

      Very interesting. While reading I quickly had the memory of the about 100 phone calls I made with headhunters last year. Actually there were a few of them, where you had a good feeling and could talk about private matters. Thanks for this view of things. I will take a closer look at the people again.

      It's a vicious circle sometimes. You don't get good IT projects because you lack the experience in the module. Once you have gained experience, you want to educate yourself to understand the background and become better... and then you need new projects... and you don't get any, because they say "You just came from a training course"... You need projects... And finally, you have to keep up with the times and master the latest technologies like hana etc...

      Thanks for the valuable help.

      • Jan 16 at 03:10 PM

        Yes. it is hard to get started. That is why it is even more important to establish a personal relationship with headhunters. (Oh.. and I shouldn't have used the term headhunters...... kind of a negative term... they are recruiters or personnel specialists :-) ).

        With a personal relationship they are more likely to really work for you and try to place you because they "like" you. Because they think you are a good person. Because you've demonstrated good social skills.

        It can't even hurt to send a Holiday card or birthday card once in a while once you get to know them. (Social media and LinkedIn often can provide such info, some stalking skills come in handy). If their favorite sports team wins a big event send an email congratulating them. But please, the interest needs to be sincere. If its coming from a purely $$$ motiviation, you'll quickly be seen as a fake.

        Then when a requirement comes up, you'll come to mind first and they might not even search their databases for someone else.

      • Jan 16 at 03:30 PM

        Also, keep in mind how project work goes.

        Most requirements go through a couple of stages:

        1. The client contacts people directly that they know. They ask consultants already working for them if they can recommend someone. (in really big companies this may not happen or happen on a very informal basis under the table because of corporate rules regarding hiring)
        2. In some companies they might have an established consulting partner. These are usually the big ones.. Infosys, Tata, IBM, Accenture, KPMG, Deliotte, etc. etc. They'll try to supply an employee on the bench with availability. In some cases, these companies serve as the hiring coordinator going forward.
        3. The hiring coordinator then contacts one or two "approved" vendors that they use. Those groups get an exclusive on the requirement for a few weeks. They submit any people they think could make the cut. If they have no one they might reach out to a handful of their contacts or smaller personnel companies. These approved vendors and smaller personnel companies are where you want to get in with.
        4. At some point a general all call happens. The requirement is posted on job boards and generally broadcasted to anyone that is listening. I usually would know the day this happens as I would get 2-5 calls in 48 hrs from recruiters I never heard of that found me on LinkedIn or in some old database. In most cases, I had already heard from one of my key contacts from number 2 or 3 above. Usually when I wasn't aware of it, it was because the rate was so low or the conditions so bad, my personal contacts knew I'd have no interest in it. But you can't rule these out when you are starting out. Sometimes, they eventually realize they can't get what they want and the client offers more. Don't hesitate to respond to someone and make a counter offer for what you honestly believe you are worth. Sometimes they'll come around. And sometimes you make a new recruiter friend. But resist the urge to cave and accept a low rate. It's very hard to work the rate back up once a recruiter knows you'll take something lower given time, the market and some strong bullying.

        PS> don't change your cell number. Once you start using it professionally, you need to keep it.

    • Jan 17 at 11:27 PM

      "Spam recruiting" has gotten so bad that Yahoo automatically sends some of their emails to the Junk folder. Those who make it to the Inbox are not difficult to recognize:

      - at least 3 different fonts, you can see where the text was copy-pasted;

      - obsession with exclamation marks "Hello <candidate> !!!!!";

      - always starts with intro "This is John Doe from ACME Corp.", as if we can't see the email signature;

      - generally sloppy text ("this is a requirement with our super-secret direct client" + forgets to remove the company name from the job description" :) ).

  • Jan 17 at 11:12 PM

    I have a permanent job at the moment and, as correctly noted in the comments already, if you plan to work as a consultant you need to define your niche. There is not the whole lot of demand for a "jack of all trades" until you have very many years of experience and eventually become an architect-level professional that can oversee a very complex project. For a beginner, having such mixed bag as SCM, FI, and ABAP, any recruiter / agency would have trouble placing you on a project.

    Can't speak for other countries, but in the US there are many opportunities for consulting work that requires travel. Large consulting companies are always looking to hire beginners who are talented and willing to learn. I'd encourage you to find the company names in your geography and just start applying for entry-level positions. "80% of success is showing up". :)

    Good luck!

    • Jan 18 at 10:29 AM

      Yes, much of what has been written so far is strikingly identical with the behavior of the market in Germany. I have already been working for 15 years in projects with different customers. But I'm not good at acquiring projects and I don't enjoy it, because then I would have become a salesman. The problem is also that there are hardly any consulting firms here due to the low density of customers.

  • Jan 18 at 06:28 PM

    Hi Marco,

    i would start with a different mindset, instead of trying to perform 'Projektarbeit' i would try to 'land a gig' and not to 'contact the authorities'. also, consulting is selling, whether one likes it not, but if one can actually over-deliver and save money for the customer then the customer would be calling you instead of you calling them. obviously, you need to avoid anyone who gets paid for helping you, but are out of the picture when you finally are at your dream project. in my mind, i have never stopped learning SAP and about SAP ever since i took my SAP Academy classes with KPMG in 1998 but i did slow down with the certifications.

    good luck landing your dream project soon.

    cheers, greg

    • Jan 20 at 07:43 PM

      Hello, Gregory,

      You're right, but when you come from an SAP ABAP course to certification as an SAP Developer Consultant, you feel a bit like you've just finished basic training with the German Armed Forces. The exercises are drill-trained for months to cover the certification topics and to pass the certification. It is not easy to land a gig right away. Afterwards you have to try to apply the new one. Fortunately it has been a little longer now, but it was really no walk in the park. But it's an incredible feeling to have the certification in your pocket even though you know that it was just the beginning. Meanwhile, I have worked through almost every book that deals with ABAP to get better.

    • Jan 21 at 08:45 PM

      As both Gregory Misiorek and Jelena Perfiljeva have indicated, when you are an independent you must also be a sales person. If you aren't comfortable advocating for yourself, you need to get to that point. Otherwise you need to become an employee with a consulting firm that will sell you. But of course, then you are an employee that happens to do consulting work. Your aren't an independent consultant.

      Maybe you might want to consider full-time work somehow.

      Maybe this old blog I wrote might be of interest to you:

      https://blogs.sap.com/2012/01/19/bench-time-and-family-dynamics/

      Craig

      • Jan 22 at 09:28 PM

        Exactly what you describe in the article, I mean. The following situation is also very familiar to me... "The first few weeks are always good. There's never a shortage of deferred tasks in the house to get done." But then boredom follows and you actually start to get... Unfortunately, I don't have a family, I would like to, but unfortunately, many girlfriends have left at the end of a project...

  • Jan 22 at 09:00 PM

    Build contacts, get a good reputation, get recommended. For one of my clients, I've been working for them for various projects for over 15 years. I only got my foot in the door in the first place through word of mouth, and because I was willing to take the risk of a 2-days per week contract.

    I'm now employed 50% by a small Swiss consultancy. The other 50% I'm still a freelancer. Currently about 1 day a week, but I'm hoping things will improve over the year. They usually do.

    I've never got work through the SAP community though. Strange that. ;-)

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