Eursap’s Ask-the-SAP-Expert: Abdullah Galal

Eursap’s Ask-the-SAP-Expert article is a feature designed to give you up-to-date information on the latest SAP news, featuring key thought leaders in the SAP space, as well as regular interviews with the best SAP consultants in the business.

This month, we feature Abdullah Galal, a hugely experienced SAP finance consultant who has worked across Europe and the Middle East in a contract and permanent capacity. Abdullah has his own SAP training YouTube channel and is a regular contributor to various SAP blog sites and forums.

Hi Abdullah, firstly thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. It’s traditional for us to begin with a get-to-know-you session. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Hi, Jon. Thank you for having me today, it’s really a pleasure to be a part of this thread!

I’m 31 years old and from Egypt. I’m married with 2 kids, and I recently moved to France where I found my new favourite activity: road biking.

And what was your first experience with SAP?

I was not sure which career path to follow after I finished my degree in Accounting, when I found a scholarship in a promising career called “SAP Consulting”. I applied and was accepted, and I didn’t really know where this path would lead me back then. I would say I’m a very lucky person.

You’ve been active in contracting and permanent roles in the SAP world. What is your preference of these two ways of working?

I used to prefer contract roles: I enjoy working for different organisations, the pay is better, the workload is more reasonable, and I enjoyed travelling a lot. However, currently I’m in a phase in my life where I prefer having a stable, permanent job to be with my family and raise the kids. I can’t travel a lot anymore.

From a pure career point of view, I definitely prefer contract roles. The only challenge that scares everyone is how to market and find new projects. However, once you develop your professional marketing skills, you will find that contract roles are much better than permanent ones.

Can you explain a little bit about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected your working life?

Oh wow, where should I start? I moved to France in mid-February 2020 to join a new company and I would normally expect some challenges because of this big change. Then after a month the Covid pandemic and full lockdown hit, so I didn’t even have the chance to meet my new colleagues or make connections, and we’ve been in remote work ever since then.

My family also couldn’t join me because of the lockdown, so I ended up staying completely alone for five months. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but then I started investing some time by working on myself and my channel.

Let’s talk about your YouTube channel The channel appears to be extremely successful, with nearly 22,000 subscribers. How did you first get into the world of offering SAP training on YouTube?

After becoming an SAP consultant I found it challenging to explain to my close connections what I do for a living! So, I developed a way to explain the meaning of ERP, SAP, and SAP Consulting in simple terms that people from different professional backgrounds could understand. One day I thought it would be useful if I recorded a video explaining this to my contacts on Facebook. I also uploaded it to YouTube, and it felt great! I feel very happy when people interact with my content and I feel honoured when people ask me questions and leave comments.

After starting the channel, I realised how much I love explaining things and I would be happy doing so for the rest of my life, but also that it’s very important to have the practical knowledge to transfer to others. This is why, until now I refuse to work only as a trainer and I always have a consultation role in parallel.

Is there a trick to how you managed to build up such a large following?

The main thing is consistency! My channel has a low growth rate and that disappoints me sometimes. My first video was published in January 2018, and today after almost 4 years of weekly videos, I’ve 22,000 subscribers. That’s what I say when I encourage others to start sharing: it’s not easy to build a technical channel, the growth is slow, but it pays off.

Second is passion, I can confidently say that creating online content is my passion, I spend hours planning topics, learning how to create quality content, learning the technical aspects of video editing and recording, and I enjoy every minute of it!

Do you have a specific type of SAP user in mind when you record your videos? And how do you come up with new ideas? Do you get suggestions from subscribers or do you rely on your experience?

I started with the SAP users and SAP Junior Consultants: those who are not able to land their target job because they don’t know how to use SAP well. So my videos would be of great help to anyone who wants to join a company using SAP or who wants to start a career in SAP Consultancy.

After a while I also started raising awareness on the new functionalities in SAP S/4HANA, things that we all need to learn to upgrade our knowledge from SAP ECC to give the best solutions to our customers.

For the ideas:
– I look into the comments and messages I get from the community, and if a certain topic is requested a lot, and I’ve practical knowledge in the topic I make a video.
– I look into my real-life projects, when I work on a specific cycle or fix a system issue, I like sharing the information with the community by making a video.
– I also like sharing the new things I’m learning, so when I learn anything interesting, I do some research and create a video – this also helps me understand the topic more.

Which video has been your most popular?

First there’s the video explaining the Goods Received/Invoice Received account (GR/IR) then there’s an equally popular video explaining the Difference between SAP ECC and SAP S/4HANA.

Your career is pivoting between SAP consulting and SAP training. Which holds the future for you?

They are both very closely related. Any SAP consultant must be able to create training content and deliver training to users or other consultants, and any good trainer must be up to date with practical consultation experience, so both of them must go together I would say.

Let’s come to SAP S/4HANA. The finance area has been completely overhauled since the ECC6.0 days. Do you see a shortage of SAP S/4HANA finance skilled consultants in the market?

We all need to spend time and effort to learn the new functions provided by SAP S/4HANA. Many of us are implementing S/4HANA using the old ECC solutions as we’re not aware of the new S/4HANA solutions, and that wastes a lot of the potential we can get from S/4HANA.

As a community of SAP Consultants, we’ve the duty to raise awareness of the new S/4HANA functions, and every one of us should use the online platforms to share their discoveries and thoughts on S/4HANA, otherwise we all lose to competing ERP software.

If we think about the future of SAP, what are the exciting developments which you have seen recently?

As a financial person, I admire the developments that happened in the areas of parallel ledgers, parallel currencies, parallel valuation, and Profitability Analysis. My favourite would be the Universal Journal, because it has made reporting and reconciliation a lot easier than before.

The question we always ask our experts: what advice would you have for new SAP consultants just starting out or established SAP consultants facing new challenges?

Build a professional network online and offline! Your online presence in the SAP community is very important as it will help you tackle the different technical and career situations. “You’re NOT alone” so speak up! If there’s something you don’t understand in a business process or in the system, ask the online community! Many experts share their knowledge continuously.

Work smart! 90% of what you’re facing in your project has been done before, check the different sources before reinventing the wheel.

Respect your customers, your colleagues, and your company! Our market is very small, and bad situations travel fast. So it’s easy to get a bad reputation in this field, and very hard to fix.
Don’t rush for high pay. In the SAP field, the sky’s the limit! Build your technical and project experience before rushing to join a support team in a customer company.

That’s great advice. Which of your YouTube videos would you recommend for SAP consultants who are new to SAP S/4HANA?

If the person has no SAP experience at all, then start with the Business Process videos for Order to Cash and Procure to Pay and if they’re going to work on costing then the “Product Costing” playlist.

If the person has experience with SAP ECC, start with the “Difference between SAP ECC and S/4HANA” then the new S/4HANA functions (Settlement Management, Advanced Return Management, etc.).

You’ve been pretty active in the various blog and forum sites in the SAP world for many years now. Do you have a feeling about how this has helped your career?

Definitely, everything I have now and for the last couple of years is due to my online presence. I had the chance to travel a lot, work on different projects and even relocate to a new country.

And what plans do you have for future videos for your channel? Any sneak previews of exciting content to come?

Profitability Analysis has always been at the top of my list. But up until now I’m still building the topics to present in a way that’s appropriate for such a great and important topic, so this will be released soon.

I’m also preparing some videos that are not technical but have some advice on how to become a better SAP Consultant, and how to manage the tasks efficiently.

Abdullah Galal talked to Jon Simmonds (Senior IT Architect).