The top skills you need to land an EPM or ERP job - SystemsAccountants

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes The top skills you need to land an EPM or ERP job

It’s a great time to be looking for an EPM or ERP job. As these systems take rapid leaps in technological sophistication, demand for professionals who know how to use them to their full potential is high. Yet competition for roles can be fierce, so it pays to have the right skills, and ensure they stand out in your CV/Resume and job interviews.

An ERP (enterprise resource planning) or EPM (enterprise performance management) system is a core part of the business that operates them. These platforms require specialist software skills to ensure streamlined operations and the most valuable insights. If they can be harnessed optimally, they can accelerate an organisation’s performance.

You’ll need to be up-to-date on cybersecurity and AI, as well as accounting principles for many roles, but recruiters will also be looking closely at your soft skills. This includes managing stakeholder relationships, how you deal with change, and even personality traits like patience and resilience.

The roles involved in getting the best out of ERP and EPM systems are varied, requiring differing experiences and skill sets. To explore the career in more depth, read our report Mastering a Career in Finance Systems.

Why are EPM and ERP expertise in so much demand?

Globalisation, rapid technological changes (including AI) and cybersecurity are pushing firms to invest more in ERP and EPM solutions, such as Netsuite or OneStream. These also bring efficiencies of scale and can save businesses money in the long run.

Skilled professionals are needed to customise the system to the business, and ensure data security. In addition, they help keep projects on track, and can be the difference between a project being delayed or even failing versus being successful – so companies put great emphasis on finding the right candidate.

Many businesses are planning to hire for new technology roles this year, as well as recruit for vacated ones. For example, ERP integration managers are one of the most in-demand IT jobs of 2024.

Experience is key

Recruiters will want to see a proven track record. You should be able to show knowledge of whichever EPM or ERP system you’ll be working with, and strong technical expertise. If you have experience working closely with vendors, third-party providers, consulting firms, and cross-functional teams for successful integrations, shout about it. 

If you don’t have the experience, do what you can to obtain it. Even entry-level experience can lead somewhere. “A Finance Systems Administrator may be more support focussed at first, learning the basics, but they can become systems champions through project delivery work to enhance the EPM or ERP application and ultimately become the Finance Systems Manager,” says David Hammel, UK Managing Director of SystemsAccountants. “Because of their end-user experience, they know the technology inside out but if they also have a curious mindset for continuous improvement and ask the ‘why and how’ they will be quickly known within the business as the go-to person, and that can lead into more strategic digital finance systems roles.”

The top skills recruiters will be looking for:

Platform-specific skills

  • For ERP, familiarity with one or more ERP systems like SAP, Oracle NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, or Workday Financials is crucial.
  • For EPM, you’ll need to develop an intricate understanding of one or more systems. For example, Anaplan, IBM Planning Analytics / TM1, Cognos Controller, Oracle Cloud EPM (EPBCS, FCCS) or OneStream.
  • You’ll need to be clued up about cybersecurity too. As cyber attacks become more sophisticated, it’s important to know how to update and monitor systems to check for vulnerabilities and guard against attacks. There’s a real skills and knowledge gap with cybersecurity – so if you can demonstrate expertise in this area you could be at a real advantage compared to other candidates.

Broader skills

  • Database management and SQL can elevate candidates when applying for these roles. This is because fundamentally, these platforms are about organising and extracting value from large datasets. 
  • ERP and EPM professionals often combine finance/accounting with IT backgrounds. If you have experience with both, you could be well-placed for a career in these systems, with a pathway to senior, strategic positions. “Because of the way digital technology is coming to the forefront, finance professionals often experience a eureka moment, where they realise there is a career which isn’t just about the month-end close,” says David Hammel.
  • Candidates will need to understand how the ERP or EPM system relates to business strategy. How can it help further an organisation’s goals? It’s worth doing some research about the company that the role is with, and how the system could help them achieve their objectives or overcome challenges. A deep understanding of the organisation is an excellent way to score brownie points in the job interview.
  • Project management skills are essential. This includes project planning and execution skills, plus managing timelines and budgets. You’ll need to be adept at managing people – and managing expectations. Skimping on project management increases the likelihood that the project runs over budget or behind schedule.

“The key skill for finance is to be thorough and analytical. No messy work. You must cross the Ts and dot the Is. Key qualities include team management, team motivation and conflict resolution. You should have a solution-oriented approach, and be good at ‘managing up’ – understanding your manager’s needs, preferably before they even know them.”

Mariana van Bloemvallei

Soft skills

  • ERP or EPM professionals can benefit from good communication skills for several reasons. For example, you should be able to discuss projects with teammates clearly and concisely – and rally the team if a project goes off track. You also need to be an efficient and motivational communicator when it comes to managing stakeholder relationships. The software can touch multiple business operations: you’ll need to understand their objectives to have them pulling in the same direction. 
  • Problem-solving is an increasingly desirable soft skill for employers. For all the efficiencies that automated machine learning can bring, robots lack critical thinking skills. Being good at problem-solving means you have an inquisitive nature and are an expert troubleshooter. You should be able to identify and prevent pain points before they arise.
  • From AI to the cloud, technology is advancing at a rapid pace. ERP and EPM professionals need to be not just comfortable with, but excited by change. Whether it’s a new system or software updates, or shifts in the organisation’s strategy, you should actively seek out new technological advances, and plan new ways that technology can be applied.
  • Patience and resilience are two big personality traits that will serve you well in the ERP and EPM worlds. This includes coping with delays, and how you deal with stakeholders who make changes or who don’t understand technical language.
  • Recruiters will likely pay close attention to your ability to work both collaboratively and autonomously. Do you have a strong work ethic to work on tasks by yourself? Are you a self-starter? But are you also a team player? Can you work collaboratively, sharing knowledge and providing feedback? 
  • Depending on the role being applied for, leadership can be an essential soft skill. Director and manager-level jobs require leadership – you need to be driven, and an expert at leading a team. You should be comfortable advising the C-suite, and not afraid to make big strategic calls when necessary. 

To gain a deeper understanding of ERP and EPM systems, read our article, EPM and ERP Compared: What Role Do They Play in Finance Transformation?