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How to Become a Successful Project Manager in the SAP World

When it comes to working with SAP SuccessFactors and the wider SAP catalog, project managers have a wide range of training options, including a “Stay Current” learning strand that allows them to maintain their technical certifications. Nonetheless, you may be wondering—why is it so important for project managers to maintain these certifications. In this article, we explore how staying certified is an important factor when becoming a successful SAP project manager.

Why Project Managers Need Both Soft Skills and Hard Skills

Project managers must have important soft skills (behavioral and social skills), such as planning and organizing, leadership and influence, communication, negotiation, and conflict management, to effectively manage a team during any kind of project. They also require hard skills (technical skills), for which the project manager has the support of their team (PMO, solution architect, technical lead, technical consultant). Even with this technical support, project managers must never stop trying to think outside the box, in a process of continuous improvement.

Project managers who understand what is being discussed by their technical teams have a significant advantage over those who do not. With even just a high-level understanding, they can effectively contribute to the discussion of the scenario and the solution proposed, making them critical to identifying risks and evaluating opportunities. Project managers in this position can be more proactive, anticipating the identification and mitigation of risks, bringing important points to the discussion, and promptly taking action when required.

This isn’t to say that project managers must have comprehensive technical knowledge in order to excel in their roles. Some degree of knowledge is, however, always an asset and will help project managers overcome any insecurities they have regarding a lack of technical knowledge. If these feelings are left unchecked, they can lead to the project manager listening and not actively contributing. This leaves them unable to interrogate, challenge, and propose solutions that are presented by the team.

3 Ways Technical Knowledge Contributes to Better Outcomes

By achieving a basic level of technical knowledge, a project manager can:

1) Support the Technical Team During the Projects

In many situations, the technical team is impeded by multiple factors such as unavailable tools, poorly defined processes, or lack of resources. With the information obtained from the technical team and a minimum of technical knowledge, the project manager can be more effective in eliminating these impediments with the team, customers, and suppliers.

This increases the overall perception and satisfaction of the technical team since the project manager will act and delegate while understanding the context. They’ll also better understand how any solution relates to the project goal.

2) Support the Client in Their Strategy

When executing a project for the client, a well-informed project manager will get to know the client’s reality and support them more effectively in defining the landscape and solution strategy. With this context, they must then seek the best solution to meet the client’s particularities, while being aware of new features that are constantly being released by SAP. This improves the client’s perception of the partnership and level of satisfaction, as the client recognizes the partner’s effort and genuine interest in their operations.

3) Support the Commercial Team in Its Actions

With minimal technical knowledge, the project manager will be able to assist with pre-sales tasks, especially those involving clients who work in familiar environments. Such environments and knowledge will allow the project manager to be precise in their proposals, as well as when elaborating on proposals (aware of the base and new clients).

Project managers can obtain technical knowledge by actively participating in discussions during projects (especially during the Explore phase), participating in technical and solution webinars, and carrying out training in the OpenSap and Learning Hub platforms. In addition, the experience of managing projects naturally results in good opportunities and knowledge.

Conclusion: The Best of Both Worlds?

In summary, while project managers should have to acquire the same level of technical knowledge as a consultant or architect, they can become a more complete professional by having a minimum of technical knowledge. In the same way, technical consultants would be more complete if they had minimum knowledge of project management and SAP Activate methodology, as they would understand the many actions and concerns of the project manager—in the end, the best of both worlds.

We wish you success in all of your projects!

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About the author

Marcelo Martins is a Project Manager at Effective People.

Marcelo has 34 years of experience in IT and 20 years of experience in leading teams and IT projects. His leadership skills involve managing, developing, and motivating teams to achieve goals in an organized, documented way, with high-quality projects and using the best practices recognized by the market.

He has expertise in outsourcing, software factory, and international projects.

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