There are many qualities that an SAP project manager (PM) must maintain and exhibit throughout a project to lead the team to success. Apart from the necessary technical skills, success for an SAP project manager will be defined by their ability to activate their team and stakeholders. Oftentimes, those who work in technical capacities are not well-versed in communication or relationship-building strategies that ultimately can make the difference.
5 SAP Project Manager Skills
To ensure success and seamless integration on any project, and with any team, these are the key skills and traits that every SAP project manager should possess.
1. Trustworthiness. The most important criterion for an SAP project manager is that they can earn trust. Trust is the foundation of any successful working or professional relationship. Being able to gain one’s trust involves taking different actions and steps, and generally can be done by following best practices. These best practices involve transparency, openness, and humility. The SAP project manager and client must be able to collaborate effectively – to do so requires mutual respect and trust that can only be earned with persistence. A foundation of trust can be built and sustained by following Clarkston’s philosophy: we make our clients’ purpose our purpose.
2. Active listening. An SAP project manager must also demonstrate active listening skills. While this skill supports trust-building, it’s also important for the PM as a way to gather valuable stakeholder perspective on how they think the project is going. An important distinction to make is in the different types of listening and their value – listening to hear is different than listening to understand. The only way to gain useful knowledge is by listening to really comprehend and inquire further if needed. While our job as consultants is to share information with the client, their wants and needs are ultimately the starting point for any project and must be referenced continuously for the entire duration of the project.
3. Relevant experience. Prior, relevant experience implementing SAP platform(s) is important for any SAP project manager. It may seem intuitive, but many project managers have to start somewhere, and it’s very difficult for a PM to be successful without previous knowledge, skills, or experience. Of course, the PM does not need to have implemented the exact scope of the proposed client project; rather, the PM should have sufficient exposure to SAP applications to understand the client implementation landscape. Without this basic knowledge, it will be difficult to communicate expertise and demonstrate efficiency.
4. Active communication. A fourth criterion for an effective SAP project manager is solid communications skills with both the client team and the consultant team. Partner PMs are highly reliant on information provided by both groups and thus must be able to both give and receive it with ease. Clients look to the PM for clear communication about various aspects of the project – progress, issues, etc. It’s imperative that the PM understand the internal consultant team’s work process and any issues in order to best represent the team to the client. While some of this information is embedded within the project structure (e.g., various documentation), it’s just as important that the PM be active in communication – spoken and written – that enhances the dialogue required for project success.
5. Resourcefulness. The most effective SAP project managers have the ability to engage with resources beyond the project team and scope when necessary. Oftentimes, an outside perspective is necessary to obtain information and perspective that can aid in client project success. This could mean reaching into resources through consulting services, SAP itself, or possibly even previous clients to find relevant solutions that meet the client’s requirements. The PM must be confident and comfortable with this outreach and able to utilize surrounding resources for the benefit of a project in any situation that arises.
All in all, these criteria lay the foundation for success and problem solving within a project. Creating a safe space where both clients and fellow consultants feel understood, listened to, and valued is crucial to obtaining key input to achieve ultimate success with any SAP project.
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Contributions by Alexandra Hatsios