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 Isabel Sanchez, an experienced SAP consultant and highly-regarded SAP trainer. Isabel has a background in finance and has used this knowledge to share her understanding of SAP as an SAP trainer for many years. She is a regular contributor to SAP blogs and has spoken at several live events, building her online following to over 14,000 on LinkedIn.
Hi Isabel, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. To start with can you give us a short background about yourself and your SAP experience?
I started in 2015, when I took a course about SAP FI. In that moment, I didn´t pay attention to the system and barely even used it. My focus, then, was being an accountant, so I let time pass and I was not using the system or even interested in it.
2018 was the crucial year. I applied for an official (and free) course, delivered by a public company. Despite being employed at that moment – the course was oriented to unemployed people – I was admitted. That is the moment when my SAP career officially started. The course was about SAP CO consulting. That was the moment I started to use the system. I followed the books, and through repetitions and studying a lot, in August 2018 I passed the certification exam. It was difficult, and half the classroom didn’t want to take the exam.
I started following relevant people on LinkedIn, and also as self-learning, I started recording some videos about some of the processes described in the books and it was then when I became more interested. Some of the people shared my videos and promoted me. I had my first interview etc., so it was good for my own marketing.
In 2019 I became certified in SAP FI and started officially working with SAP (the certification helped a lot). In March 2019 I started working as a trainer and I continue learning different processes related to logistics and finance modules. I can say it was an incredibly valuable experience – it gave me the global vision and links between modules.
Right now, I work as a consultant, in a DevOps team. The work is different, but also when I worked as a trainer I had to customise my own user, and I had to do some consulting tasks. I feel comfortable in a 100% consulting role, and I also add my background as a trainer, in the sense of explaining how to fix errors in the system and how some processes work.
And what about your current role?
Currently I am working as a consultant. The module I use is MM, the client is a manufacturing automobile company, and I am in a DevOps team. The project is a support project for Goods Receipt and all the add-ons and interfaces involved in it.
You’re quite a recent expert in SAP – how did you build up such a large online following so quickly? Any secrets you’d like to share with us?
Haha! You will not believe me, but this was, at least in my case, a question of luck, effort, and perseverance. When I first started recording some videos, I thought they could be useful for people, especially newbies like me. What I didn’t expect was that they could be successful, in the sense that people with many followers could share them.
People were interested in my videos, and posts, and started to follow me. So, I can say that partly luck was important. Without the luck, I would have never been known.
One thing triggered another. I created a few posts, in fact, I remember a period when I was especially creative. As a trainer, every post I created meant I was also learning – I had to customise data, explain processes/fields/buttons with my own words, edit screenshots, etc.
Right now, I am not especially creative because I have less free time. Believe me, I would go back to those posts and hopefully, the same creativity level.
And how important is LinkedIn to your SAP career and knowledge?
For me, it is particularly important. It’s a way of spreading knowledge, to get interesting contacts, and thanks to LinkedIn I got known and got the current work.
Also interacting with others and even promoting others is well seen. LinkedIn should be a collaborative net too.
Are there any SAP experts or gurus you would recommend our readers follow to learn about new trends in the SAP market or to pick up new skills?
In general, people that work in SAP are more updated with latest trends. However, for me a concise list could be this:
Wouter Van Heddeghem
Dr Marcell Vollmer
Jon Simmonds – of course!
Your current role is as an SAP consultant for a consulting firm. What made you move into this role from being an SAP trainer?
I have lately been particularly interested in working as a consultant, and not only sporadic tasks, but complete consulting tasks. So, I applied and applied, did some interviews, and got rejected several times.
I found a job offer where they required a Junior Consultant, for a support project in a DevOps team and manufacturing automobile company, so I didn’t hesitate and applied for it. After a few interviews I was a good match and my new boss (Philipp Nell, whom I followed on LinkedIn and interacted with in some posts) contracted me. The project belongs to the German headquarters, but I am hired in the Spanish filial of Sulzer. I can say that I am happy to be here – even happier that I am working as a trainer.
We see that you have recently spoken at the SAP Inside Track event at Fortaleza and have done in the past too. Can you give us an overview of the topic of your lecture? Is there a link available for our readers to catch up?
The topic was Consignment process and I divided it into two parts. Here you can find the links for these two parts:
• Vendor consignment process – https://blogs.sap.com/2021/11/09/vendor-consignment-process-s-4hana-2020/
• Customer consignment process – https://blogs.sap.com/2021/11/11/customer-consignment-process-s-4hana-2020/
I explained how consignment works from the point of view of purchasing and from the point of view of sales.
I also developed a presentation that can be downloaded from this link.
And how did you get involved with SAP Inside Track?
Last year, Manuel Robalinho contacted me because it would take place as the first edition. Despite not having experience in all those kinds of events, I accepted. Elaborating the structure, the steps, and a vision of all the steps were time-consuming tasks, but I finally did it and it worked fine.
For the year 2021, I asked Manuel if I could do my presentation. Manuel accepted my request, and I did the presentation that I mentioned earlier.
To be honest, I would do more presentations. The reason is, like the videos that I recorded, or posts done by me, that I learn so much preparing them.
You have several certifications in SAP. Which certifications did you take and how important would you say that certification is to your career?
The certification that I am proudest of is the first one, SAP CO. After finishing the course and seeing that the exam was not exactly what we were taught on the course, many people from our classroom gave up and after the second exam, only three people wanted to complete it.
Eventually it turned out that I was the only person in the classroom who did it, and I was one of the few people overall that finally passed it. For me, this exam was the inflection point. If I say that everything started after passing it, I could be exaggerating, but it is the truth.
Having worked as an SAP end-user, an SAP trainer and an SAP consultant, this gives you unique insight into the end-to-end business process of SAP. What has been your favourite job role amongst these and why?
For me, the ideal work would be:
– Operational and business skills of SAP end-user.
– Global view of the processes and communication skills of SAP trainer.
– Technical and programming skills of SAP Consultant.
I would add, in general, knowing about SAP S/4HANA and Fiori. This is a question of updating knowledge.
You’ve also worked heavily with SAP ECC6 as well as with SAP S/4HANA. With which system are you currently working?
I am currently working with a specific system for a manufacturing automobile company, based in SAP ERP.
In another project (which is not where I am working with) they are developing all the functionalities in SAP S/4HANA and Fiori. In the future – a year or two – when this project ends, we will also be in charge of the support for SAP S/4HANA.
If you ask me which I prefer out of the work, I´d say SAP S/4HANA. In fact, all the last presentations/posts/videos are based in SAP S/4HANA. Having said that, I don´t mind which system to use. What I don’t want is to lose track of the innovations.
And what are your favourite innovations in SAP S/4HANA?
For me, the most important innovation is the HANA database, the reason is the time spent to run a process or a program. I consider it especially important not to lose time with a system thinking and thinking…
Another innovation is related to Fiori, it´s amazing how easy it is to use.
You have your own website (https://isabelsanct.com/). What made you start that up and what plans do you have for it?
Right now, and because I have been quite busy with my current project which is time-consuming, I have stopped for a while to update and to build it up. My idea for 2022 is to continue building it, integrating my own explanations, videos, presentations, etc.
Also, my idea is doing the website as a reference for newbies that are interested in how SAP S/4HANA or ERP work, the main processes, the main modules.
You certainly are busy – we see you have your own YouTube channel too, with lots of useful SAP videos on (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCwfYt9MUSK5jyUrBe4-XmQ). Can you tell us a little about that?
Yes, that channel was initially intended to be an extension of my own website. The idea was adding videos, with my voice, in this channel, and using the same videos for longer explanations on the website.
As already mentioned, my website has not been updated in a while and I will continue when I have more time to focus on it. However, I will be adding some videos made by me when I see interesting processes.
Can you tell our readers what is the driving force behind you sharing your knowledge online, in blogs and training materials?
I’m not sure how to answer this question! I guess it´s a question of putting myself in the place of a reader and trying to explain things in a way that can be understood. Sometimes, and more in SAP, when you try to explain something and you add technical terms, abbreviations, acronyms, etc., it makes it difficult to understand. That is one of the reasons to do the material.
What can our readers look forward to from Isabel in the coming months and years? Do you have any plans you would like to share with us?
I am happy as I am right now. This project is interesting, and new for me. Also, I will push my website, continuing with building. I would like to be as I am now. I hope this is the starting point for my consulting career, so I must thank my current company, Sulzer GmbH, for this opportunity.
Finally, one 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?
This question is quite easy to answer. Everybody involved in SAP systems have started at zero. So, I would say that patience is vital: don’t stop applying for junior roles, and study hard. Be honest, don’t lie on your CV and don’t pretend to be senior in your first role. SAP work must start from the base.