Let’s look at the types of Oracle Consultant describing Consultant Skills, Consultant Personal Attributes and Consultant Typical Knowledge Areas:
- Functional consultants/Business Analysts (B.A.’s)
- Technical Consultants
- Hybrid Functional/Technical Consultants
- ERP Super Users
- Project Managers
- Database Administrators
Functional Consultants gather and analyze the requirements, design, configure & test the solution, and support the business once the project has gone live. Technical Consultants allow the project to implement customized functionality including reports, interfaces to external systems, workflow, conversions among others. This allows adjusting the standard Oracle functionality according to project requirements.
The following diagrams illustrate the common skill-sets of technical consultants. Over time a consultant may pick up skills in both areas, but the project team will generally hire a person specifically for a “Technical” role.
The application is delivered with a number of standard reports, which will meet most business requirements. Once an additional requirement has been agreed, the Technical consultant decides if an existing report can be modified, or if a new report is required.
An interface transmits data from one system to another. The technical consultant builds the architecture so that the required data can be successfully transmitted and understood by both the sending and receiving
Many of the Oracle EBusiness suite transaction flows are now controlled by a Workflow. Oracle standard workflows are designed to implement most common business flows. If a new requirement in this area is identified, the technical consultant modifies the workflow to manage the new requirement, and ensures no impact on standard transaction flow.
XML is used in Oracle Ebusiness suite to create reports & to transmit data according to document standards. These standards specify a message architecture to describing an object, and allow more efficient communication between systems. For instance the Open Applications Group Integration Specification(OAGIS) specifies message architectures called Business Object Documents(BOD’s) that define the fields contained in a sales order, for example. Once an XML message meeting this sales order message architecture is created, it can be transmitted and understood by different systems in an Oracle supply chain.
When a business is migrated to Oracle, historical data is required in the new Oracle application. This data can be defined as master data (customers, vendors etc), or transactional data (historical invoices, purchase orders). Import of these data types into the new system allows the system users to leave the old system behind. Conversion specifies what data types need to be imported, what range of each data type will be imported, how the import will be achieved, and how the results will be validated.
Business Intelligence Tools
BI tools allow the collection and display of correct information to a business audience. Data is typically reported, summarized, analyzed & distributed to various business users. The information provided is then used to enable business decision-making. Technical consultants provide the architecture and design the reports to meet the business requirements.
Consultant Knowledge Areas
The following diagrams illustrate the common knowledge areas of a Technical Consultant :
Application data for each module is stored in the corresponding tables. For instance Receivables transaction information is stored in the ra_customer_trx_all table, whereas the receivables line information is stored in the ra_customer_trx_lines_all table. Knowledge of these table structures, and how to join them together, is a basic skill for an Oracle technical consultant.
An Application programming interface(API) is a stored procedure used to create & update data in the core Application tables. These very powerful tools allow update of Oracle data from customized components. A technical consultant will use these API’s when creating interfaces between Oracle and an external system, designing customized screens or Workflows.
A good technical consultant is also a thorough tester. Testing technical changes requires technical and functional knowledge, and a thorough test is the proof that the component operates according to the specification. Testing strategies should be agreed between technical and functional consultants in the early stages of development, as this will save much time when the official testing phases start.
A functional consultant designs the inputs and outputs from any customized component, but it is the technical consultant who decides if, or how best, this can be achieved. An experienced technical consultant can discuss and explain technical feasibility of a solution with the functional consultant, until a compromise is reached.
A workflow is used to direct information to various business departments according to business rules. For instance, a sales order is captured by the order desk, fulfilled and shipped by the warehouse, and is invoiced to the customer by the Receivables department. Workflow is used to control this flow. A large number of standard workflows are provided as part of the standard Oracle package. If the client has an unusual business process flow, this can be controlled by modifying the Workflow.
Personality Attributes of a Technical Consultant
The following diagrams illustrate the Typical Personal Attributes of a technical consultant. It’s useful to review the diagrams to see whether your personal attributes correspond to what is required. With time and experience a consultant will develop attributes of many types, but this is a useful comparison to your personal attributes.
A technical consultant uses analytical skills frequently on an Oracle project. A good technical consultant reviews the functional requirement, and presents technical options to the functional consultant. Logical thinking is also required to ensure technical implementation of the solution will be feasible, stable & supportable.
Technical consultants will gain functional knowledge from discussing solutions with the functional consultants, and from prototyping and testing their own solutions. Good functional knowledge shortens design & development cycles, and ensures delivery of a good solution.
Testing is one of the most important areas of technical consulting. A thoroughly tested technical solution is the foundation of a successful Oracle customization. A good testing strategy should combine functional and
technical elements, using the skillsets of both consultant types to ensure the customization will operate as per the requirement.
Recommendation of technical approaches to project requirements is an important responsibility of the technical consultant. A good knowledge of the toolset allows the technical consultant to recommend good solutions.
Knowledge of the Oracle application is a useful skill for a technical consultant to have. With some application knowledge in the subject area, a technical consultant can have an informed opinion, when discussing the solution with functional consultants. This allows for a deeper level of solution
understanding, and should ensure a better solution is delivered.
Technical consultants are required to discuss the feasibility and delivery of technical solutions with functional consultants, and with the project management office. The primary problem faced by a technical consultant in this area is how to communicate a problem to the appropriate audience; who may have no technical knowledge
So the above is a model to follow, but technical consultants come in many shapes in sizes, and few of them will have all of the above characteristics.
You can check out some ideas I had on developing yourself as a technical consultant on this page: