A new approach to processes: as an SAP expert, Daniel Fanter advises companies on using SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite in their HR operations. In this interview, he explains how the new SAP cloud solutions make consulting more dynamic and tells us whether the clichés about the life of a consultant are true.
Mr. Fanter, you are an expert on SAP HCM Suite and are passionate about your work. Why SAP?
I was immediately impressed by the complexity of SAP HCM Suite combined with its efficiency and performance. No one knows every detail of all the suite’s components – there are too many. SAP experts usually specialise in a single area. However, even after many years, you can still learn about new functions. Then there are the extensive changes such as the current conversion from ERP software to SAP S/4HANA and SAP’s cloud strategy. The latter is like a whole new world.
What sparked your passion for SAP?
During my business informatics degree, I specialised in enterprise resource planning (ERP) and came across SAP software for the first time. I wrote my thesis at an SAP consultant’s office in Hamburg. It was about the SAP module HCM (human capital management) and its use in companies’ HR management operations. At the same time, I was involved in an implementation project at a medium-sized company. I was able to look over the consultants’ shoulders as they went about their day-to-day work and learned first-hand how the module works in practice. I was delighted that I was able to configure the requirements I had just evaluated with the customer in the system afterward.
You have obviously stuck with SAP?
Yes. At Lufthansa Industry Solutions, I am part of the HR Projects & Services division which specialises in IT in human resources, especially SAP solutions. Some of my colleagues deal with SAP HCM On-site, others work with SuccessFactors, SAP’s cloud suite. I have been part of this team from the start and I am proud that we are still growing and developing.
Doesn’t working as an SAP consultant every day get a little monotonous from time to time?
Quite the contrary, I like the variety! The big SAP implementation projects in particular, whether on-site or cloud, aren’t just IT projects. It isn’t enough to just understand the technology and the processes. I also have to address organisational questions and can also adapt HCM Suite for my customer myself. As part of such customisation, I work directly in the system from the design phase through to implementation and therefore always know why and how something works. My job also involves combining cloud computing and on-site and implementing cross-system processes in a so-called hybrid model. This isn’t easy, because cloud and on-site systems are completely different from a technological point of view and also require huge changes to be made to the processes and in the organisation of a company. This diversity and the challenging work are things that I really enjoy.
“I was immediately impressed with the complexity of SAP HCM Suite.”Daniel Fanter, SAP consultant
What has changed since the suite’s software solutions were migrated to the cloud?
Cloud solutions bring a new dynamic into the day-to-day work of SAP consultants. The path to cloud involves a lot of changes. Often, processes have to be completely rethought and restructured. Introducing the cloud solutions from SAP SuccessFactors fundamentally changes human resources work. For one, the processes are transformed; the focus of HR management is also partially shifted away from administration towards more strategic work. This gives companies the chance to rethink and optimise evolved processes, some of which may have become overly complex.
And this is presumably what interests you?
I see it as a huge opportunity to be able to contribute to the introduction of SuccessFactors from the outset and prepare for the future of SAP HCM Suite. The change in my focus to SuccessFactors projects is of enormous benefit to me, because I can learn about brand-new, state-of-the-art technology and can also apply and expand my knowledge of SAP HCM Suite. Lufthansa Industry Solutions supports me with ongoing internal and external training and gives me the opportunity to attend global conferences such as the annual SuccessConnect. Certificates are also a matter of course here. These offers are also due to Lufthansa Industry Solutions’ SAP partner status.
That sounds like a lot of work. Is it true that, as a consultant, you work practically around the clock?
No, not at all. The usual clichés about life as a consultant are about 60-hour weeks, and also the concept of “up or out,” meaning that you have to achieve the next step up on the career ladder within a certain amount of time. Also, a distinctly dog-eat-dog attitude. None of these clichés are true of Lufthansa Industry Solutions.
The job is hard work, and overtime is also necessary in some project phases, but it’s not the norm. You should also be ready and willing to travel as part of the job, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire week out of the office at the customer’s premises. As part of my current project, I travel with my team for a maximum of three days a week. But mostly, it’s only two days. The most important thing is to approach projects as a team. You don’t get far on your own, and working alone is only half the fun anyway.
Daniel Fanter has been working as an SAP consultant at Lufthansa Industry Solutions in Hamburg since May 2018. After gaining a degree in business informatics and working for two years as a business analyst, he then specialised in SAP HCM Suite and SuccessFactors in the HR Projects & Services division at Lufthansa Industry Solutions.