Moving with the Times – The Year in Review

Posted on July 2014 By Judy Cole

​Where did the year disappear to? It’s the end of the financial year already and time for me as a manager to reflect on the company/team performance, to review the SAP market and to put new goals and plans in place for moving forward.

In order to understand where we are going as an individual or a company, I believe it is important to first look at where we have been. As a recap; the past year has seen more change from a recruitment perspective than any other year I have seen. The recruitment world has changed significantly with the push to in-source recruitment functions within the large corporates. Some people believe that LinkedIn has made external recruitment company databases redundant; this coupled with the Australian market in general being quieter and the infamous election that seemed to go on forever, resulted in companies holding on to their money for Q1 and Q2. This past year has seen some of the larger more generalist recruitment companies close their doors for good.

In my opinion, the last year has forced a change in the typical recruitment model – one which was needed. How can we as an industry expect never to change the way we work when it is us who have probably seen the most amount of change across our clients? The retail industry was forced to adapt with online shopping, Australian automotive companies gave in to pushing the manufacturing offshore where it is cheaper, the music industry changed significantly with the invention of smart phones and who can forget what happened to Kodak?  It should be an example to all that if you do not move with the times, eventually the times will move past you. So why should the recruitment industry be different? That has been a focus of Speller International over this last year.

Internally we pushed an “add more value” theme. The team were not only targeted on sales, but on building their own personal brands in order to become “Market Experts”. We very proudly introduced our “Social Media Strategy” with our intention to add value to our customers by sharing the information we have gained over the years. Our newsletters and blogs have been met with very positive feedback and has opened up the communication channels with everyone in the SAP market. People now ring us not just for recruitment advice, but on what we know about SAP products, managing and motivating teams, personal  career growth and…. inevitably… where they should drink!!

As well as having a great impact externally, this also had a great impact internally. It allowed the team (if they wanted) to really try their hand’s at something new – writing articles, curating articles, investigating new technologies, market trends and much more. This has all added to the internal development of all of us at Speller International – we have had a learning year…a tough year; a stressful year… but a very fulfilling year.

 As for the SAP market, it faced ups and downs with some people saying it was the quietest year yet, while others disagreed. I think the SAP market went through somewhat of a “learning year” also. There has been lots of change and adaptation for SAP consultants; technology has been changing quicker than most can keep up with and SAP has been no different. Businesses are only limited by their imagination and creativity (or should I say their IT consultants imagination and creativity) and if consultants are not willing to evolve then they are finding themselves left behind.

For us, we found the SAP market unpredictable; given the fitting timing, I will describe the year with Soccer terminology… ”It was a game of 2 half’s”. We experienced a year of 2 half’s; the first half being quiet and indecisive, teasing us with glimmers of business but never really getting up there. We had one or two busy areas but as a whole it was inconsistent. The second half took a while to get going and the start of Q3 was very quiet across all IT but perhaps that was just the calm before the storm because the last 4 months have been busy busy busy and show signs of continuing this way.

 So what were those busy areas? I am sure it will come as no surprise that within our SAP/IT division SAP BI/BO was by far our busiest area this year, closely followed by SAP CRM and SAP Data roles (SAP Data Migration, Data extraction and Data Analyst positions). SAP FICO had a solid year, significantly up from last year…I am not sure if that is due to the ever growing team down at Orica, but it is getting trickier to find SAP FICO Consultants! 

 At Christmas I talked about SAP ABAP being quiet and attributing that to outsourcing…unfortunately it does not seem to have picked up much, but I have noticed some of those larger projects beginning to feel the pain with the outsourcing model. My prediction for next year is that we may see an increase in SAP ABAP positions but with a twist; much more business facing, not as much “hands on” coding but more to review and quality check the code that is being done offshore.

Project Management roles have also been quieter this year with the Senior SAP Project Managers feeling the most pain, rates are significantly lower in this area with companies opting to take on junior or mid-level project managers instead.

Our Change Management, Training and Documentation division was also up and down this year, showing a very strong first half, followed by a very quiet Q3…. but it has picked up over this last quarter with an increase on SAP Training roles.

SAP Master Data has been our busiest area within our Corporate Services division, which seemed to carry on from the Data theme within IT – I think this year companies have really been investing in getting their Data “up to scratch” and maintained; realising that it is one of their most valuable assets and potentially preparing for some big projects… maybe!!? Corporate Services has also been busy with SAP Payroll Officers with companies now stating that SAP is a “must have” skill for these roles.

 Canberra and Melbourne have been the busiest cities in Australia with Sydney not far behind. The Sydney market is going from strength to strength after a shockingly quiet few years prior. SAP CRM has really been the “Golden skill” in Canberra predominantly with DHS taking anyone and everyone…through Wipro, or Fujitsu, or CSC …well, let’s just say they don’t seem to be fussed where the talent is coming from despite Wipro initially having won the work.

WA has been the quietest state for us this year, BHP seem to be rolling a lot of people off. The only new large project I have heard of is Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Group. Qld is steady, Rio flooded the market a little by rolling off a lot of their SAP team but the various Qld government departments are still going strong.

 The Consulting Houses have been thriving with plenty of work to go around; Capgemini still busy with their big Melbourne projects having grown their SAP practice 300% over the last 12 months. NTT Data and UXC Oxygen seem to be fighting it out between them for the more medium sized projects and the support contracts…both seemingly doing quite well and also buying up whichever smaller partners they can get their hands on! Plaut, CSC and Fujitsu maybe missing out on some of the Melbourne projects but they are all being kept busy in Canberra and Sydney. So, the competition across the partners is healthy. The questions left to answer are; Who will buy Plaut!!? Who will win Orica?? And can Accenture make a comeback in SAP this year?

Most industries are going well, FMCG is very busy, Utilities still going strong as usual. While Australian Manufacturing is still a dying industry, the Australian Logistics and Transportation companies are thriving and loving SAP EWM!

Over the years people have speculated as to just how many more large SAP “Greensfield” projects there can be now? Recently people have said with absolute certainty they will start to dry up, and I have been asked if there really are that many more new projects coming through. The short answer is YES! *Cough *Cough (keep your eye on Toll!!). But if that doesn’t eventuate, not to worry! SAP won’t let you down…. we now have “Brownfield” projects! PHEW!! This is the re-implementation of SAP and really seems to be the trend going in to next year, with some people saying that they are even more challenging than Greenfield projects.

SAP HANA, Cloud and Mobility are now here to stay. Currently raising more questions than answers, there is absolutely no doubt it is an exciting time in the SAP world. Having lost a few fans after SAP introduced auditing their customers; it seems to be almost forgotten with the smooth announcement that SAP Fiori and Personas will be included in existing SAP licences and maintenance.

So, with this push to “the new technologies” it is now, even more important than ever to push your pride to one side and invest in yourself this year.  Train yourself, learn from the people around you, ask questions and don’t assume you know everything.

If you are hoping to succeed in this changing environment than don’t be surprised that you may need to make some changes yourself.

The message to my team and in some ways to all of you is that this industry will continue to evolve over the next year and we are in for another learning year, another challenging year and another year where we can expect to have our ego’s bruised. We can expect to be beaten up on price and we can expect to have to work harder to achieve the same results, but if you are open to change, open to learning and can take the time to add value to everyone around you then at the end of the year you will have grown as individuals and/or as a company. With the new technologies looming, the re-implementations already starting and the in-sourcing/outsourcing tug of war still in full swing there is a lot to look forward to and there are a lot opportunities open and ready for someone to take!