SAP, Freelance and Digital Nomads

Dmitry Kaglik

February 5, 2018


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Sand, warm sea in front of you, swimming pool behind, and a glass of an ice-cold drink on the table nearby your laptop. Isn’t it an ideal workplace for many?

That’s the life you can get living in a Southern country like Cyprus, Thailand or Indonesia. There are some people and organisations to help you with this lifestyle, for example

People who live a lifestyle like this, travel a lot and work at the same time got their own name recently. That’s the tribe of digital nomads.

Beach and sand
Beach and sand

But if you are an SAP consultant, you are very likely to be locked away in the office far-far away from this idyll. Why so? Let’s discuss.

First of all, not every SAP consultant is the same. There are full-time employees who get their money from the employer. If you are one of them, you are lucky to get your salary regularly. But you’re very unlikely to spend your days working from the beach. Your boss will tell you what you should do and where your workplace is.

Freelance consultants, on contrary, have the choice of the customers for whom to work. They have no (direct) bosses, which seems very tempting for many. But on the other side of the coin, they have no regular salary and need to fight for new projects and prove they are better than (many) others! Though being a freelance contractor you have a better chance to work from a sunny beach. At least, your direct boss will not tell you off – you are your own boss.

But even then, SAP consultants are very rare among the digital nomads. There are some additional barriers, and many of them are not so easy to overcome.

If a company runs SAP, then it is likely to be a large company with lots of security policies. You may need to have the company provided laptop, not your own. That’s an addition to VPN, security tokens and other encryption and access tools that are relatively easy to obtain. Delivering the laptop to a person in another part of the world is not something many companies would consider, especially if they have never seen that person live. Giving a “nomad” access to the system that is flesh and blood of the business management, that has all the financial information is risky. On another side of the same situation, having multiple customers with their laptops makes you less mobile. Putting multiple laptops near the glass of an ice-cold drink does not make your life comfortable. And you need to carry them all too.

Many parts of SAP consulting works include personal communications. Of course, this is a least concern for ABAP developers, but even they often need to talk to functional consultants. Functional consultants in their own turn need to interview their business counterparts, discuss details, train users and so on. It is not impossible to do remotely, but much easier to do face-to-face.

And last but not least, let’s face it: the market of SAP consultants has too many consultants and too little customers. Why would a client hire someone from another part of the world, if a local resource is available?

Plane and the beach
Plane and the beach

For sure, the location of the employee becomes less and less relevant in the current world of Internet and digitalization. Some of the areas of business have already become mostly remote-based. How long will it be before SAP consulting world becomes remote too? Only life will show…


Photos of author

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