This question was asked to me in Quora.com and below was my answer:
An Oracle Functional Consultant works on the set of packaged software solutions called Oracle E-Business Suite(EBS) , or its more recent version; Oracle Fusion/Oracle Cloud.
Oracle EBS runs on-premise, which means the software + data live predominantly on client’s servers, it can also be hosted on the Oracle Cloud. Oracle Fusion mostly runs in the Cloud. From the perspective of the functional consultant, the hosting is transparent.
Projects happen for many reasons; I have worked on implementation and upgrade of EBS/Cloud, projects for regulatory reasons(e.g. SEPA), Business change or re-organization, Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures.
Projects can run over a long period, for implementation and complex projects 12 months plus would not be unusual. Projects can have international aspect since a lot of Oracle EBS/Cloud customers are multi-nationals. A project could involved a shared service centre and local(in-country) market teams and a centralized project team that travels to work with each market. Working as a functional consultant is an interesting job for these reasons.
With Oracle Cloud, the project timelines should be shorter as this is a Solution-driven approach(EBS was requirements-driven). EBS tended to have many customizations and integrations which lengthened the timeline considerably.
Oracle Functional Consultants
Oracle functional consultants work in Oracle projects or in Business-As-Usual teams. Both teams consists of a management layer, functional consultants, technical consultants & DBA roles. Larger projects or teams may contain roles with different titles.
A functional consultant captures the business requirement and translates that into a workable solution that satisfies the business. It is a customer-facing role, but requires understanding of the options available in EBS/Cloud, and technical appreciation also.
Not many people start their careers as Functional Consultants, many transfer in from three areas:
- Business Super User roles
- Support Roles
- Technical Roles
Oracle Functional Skills
A functional consultant working on projects should strive to acquire 6 key skills; Objectives, Requirements, Design, Build, Test and Transition. These 6 key skills are the bedrock for a successful career; you will not likely be asked to do anything outside these 6 tasks as a functional consultant. These 6 key skills are also the key phases of an Oracle project, in that sequence.
6 Key Functional Consulting skills – 6 key Oracle project phases
Transferring into Functional
Each of the 3 roles involve skills that are useful as a functional consultant. You transfer into functional using your two existing skills, and build up the remaining four skills over time until you have the full functional skillset, six skills
⦁ Business Super User roles – Build and Test skills
⦁ Support Roles – Design and Test skills
⦁ Technical Roles – Requirements and Test skills
In my functional consulting roles I have worked with people who transferred into functional from each of the above areas.
My Oracle Functional Career
I studied programming in college, and started my career as an technical Oracle guy, working mainly with SQL, pl/SQL, forms and reports. My first permanent EBS job was with Symantec, where I also discovered the ability to work as an indepenent consultant. I quickly moved into functional consulting, starting with Oracle in their European HQ, and built a consulting career working and living in Europe. I worked for multi-national clients mainly and lived or worked in Amsterdam, Prague, London, New York, Brussels, Lisbon and Zurich.
I strongly believe the future for technical on-shore consultants is limited, and reducing all the time. For this reason I transferred into functional roles to future-proof my oracle consulting career.
I used my existing technical Build and Test skills as a basis for transferring into functional roles, and built the remaining 4 skills over time. I know have the full functional skillset, though still learning.
The Future of the Functional Consultant
The coming of Oracle Cloud presents new challenges for the Functional consultant. Oracle Cloud is not like EBS, and the projects, and therefore the Oracle functional role are also different. It was possible to build a career on integration with/customizing EBS, this is less certain in Cloud does not allow customizations. Customer-facing skills, always important in EBS are very important in the Cloud world. The ability to have conversations around clients objectives, elicit their requirements, understand the features of Oracle Cloud are of prime importance with Cloud.
Technical appreciation is a factor to understand and explain the Cloud architecture, and integration with Cloud will be part of the Cloud world, but less than with EBS. I worked with many multinational clients who customized EBS dramatically, this is not possible with Cloud. In the majority of my clients, legacy systems formed part of the final landscape so integration with EBS was the majority of the project. While there are integration points to Cloud its not clear if the same level of solution complexity will be possible in Cloud.
Oracle say that standard Cloud functionality should replace old customizations and legacy system integrations, a noble aim which takes no account of political reality on the ground.
One thing is for sure, the Oracle functional consultant role will get a lot more interesting in the future!
You may find this post interesting; it goes into detail of Oracle consultant skills, knowledge areas, personality attributes… Become an Oracle Functional Consultant – I Love Oracle…