In our previous article we discussed the openSAP learning platform. This week we will give an overview of the some of the other routes by which we can engage in the process of lifelong learning around the subject of SAP, and the best strategy for ensuring this activity results in an improvement in our employability.
Firstly lets clear up one thing, the sheer volume of SAP products and the speed at which they are developed means that although it is possible to have a working understanding of each of the key areas of SAP, it is necessary to concentrate or specialise in one to three particular areas. SAP software solutions are developed by teams of hundreds and consequently it would be impossible for a single individual to cultivate a complete understanding of every aspect of every product.
This realisation is actually reassuring and stops us from being overwhelmed by the mass of content to internalise. What we must do is look for the areas of SAP that suit our personalities and pre-existing skills, then cross-reference these with a review of the areas of SAP which are most in demand by employers. We will return to this later in the article but for now we shall begin with a quick discussion of the learning resources available.
These can be divided into two categories: those resources that can result in opportunities for certification, as well as and those which increase the sum total of our understanding, but do not result in qualifications. We should not underestimate the value of other courses or platforms but these should be seen as supplementary to the primary activity of getting ourselves officially recognised as certified professionals. This last remark should also be qualified by the fact that formal education, even when it leads to qualifications is only part of the story: and here is why.
The fundamental way you can demonstrate SAP knowledge to employers is through actually working on an implementation project, but in the candidate selection process we substitute this lack of direct interaction with employers with a summary of our previous experience in the form of a CV or résumé. The other aspect of the process is to list our qualifications. SAP Global Certification is the best means, other than pointing to past experience, of demonstrating our fitness for the position or contract for which we are applying, so the acquisition of SAP certification should be at the centre of our strategy for expanding our SAP skill set, but it should not be relied upon as the golden ticket to ongoing employment: particularly as SAP is constantly developing new software so our qualifications are always slowly going out of date, and we should have an eye to refreshing them periodically.
So SAP Global Certification is the apex of the pyramid but it is best for our working knowledge to be supported by actual real-world experience of projects and supplemented by engagement with the other resources which I shall list below.
There is of course a support portal maintained by SAP which gives access to searchable documents for specific information when you require it, including SAP Notes, the SAP Knowledge Base, and SAP community, but this is not classified as a educational resource despite providing useful information.
Along with this other informative resources for SAP which are not strictly educational in the sense that they are not taught and do not result in qualifications are the wider SAP Community Network (which has nearly 450 specialist user groups), SAP technical blogs and User Groups such as DSAG, UKISUG, and ASUG. These last organisations also run conferences and webinars which include useful presentations and tutorials for professionals.
We talked about more formal educational platforms provided by SAP like openSAP last week and also mentioned the SAP Learning Hub. This is the point of access and purchase of SAP course material content that results in certification and so it is the centre of your network for building and maintaining SAP skills. From here we can see that it is also possible to get access to SAP Live Access which works in conjunction with SAP Learning Hub classes to provide hands-on experience of real-life software environments in which to practice building and using SAP systems.
As well as resources provided by SAP themselves there are also courses in SAP software provided by universities and other 3rd-party online learning platforms but these should only be considered if the courses are run by SAP educational partners and result in SAP Global Certification.
Now we need to address the main obstacle other than the commitment of time to qualifying and engaging in lifelong learning as an SAP professional: the financial cost. We should add that there is good news and bad news.
First here is the bad news: the investment is substantial. The courses that SAP offers which result in Global Certification cost hundreds for individuals and thousands for organisations. In fact if one were to engage in a steady program of personally funded SAP learning for career development, the cost could potentially stretch to thousands each year. This is one of the reasons why we recommend that individuals make the most of the free platforms such as openSAP and get as much of their overview of the current SAP landscape by reading SAP blogs regularly. This material can form the background to a more targeted program of courses from the SAP Learning Hub.
SAP does provide a lot of flexibility in how one can take courses so while the professional edition of SAP Learning Hub (Public Cloud Version) with access to certification paths currently costs 2,760 Euros, solution specific editions are available at a reduced rate and the Enhanced Student Edition which is available to students registered with a university is currently £456, (529.60 Euros).
At the other end of the scale individual courses such as the HA200 – SAP HANA 2.0 SPS05 – Installation and Administration five day course costs £3,555, (4128.85 Euros)
It is important to point out here before everybody throws their hands up and considers other careers that the average salary of an SAP consultant in Germany for example is currently around 3,840 Euros per month, with many exceeding that average.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to pay for the training courses yourself. Your employer may be interested in enrolling you on a course or you can consider taking employment with one which is actively promoting employee learning and development, and organising a rolling program of SAP training. This is not as unusual as it might at first appear.
Recent global events have caused a trend toward increased employee learning and development programs to accelerate. According to a recent report published by Mckinsey, organisations are:
“…acutely aware of the importance of learning in today’s business environment. They understand that technology is changing the nature of work and the roles within it. They also understand that the ability of the workforce to learn new skills, model new behaviours, and adapt continuously is key to sustained success. Hence the elevated role of the learning-and-development (L&D) function, which must work together with business leaders to enable an organisation to learn effectively, at speed, and at scale.”
In practice in our context this translates into a new need for companies and organisations to redouble their efforts to expand on the skills and abilities of their workforce. That means that employers of IT professionals may be very receptive to the idea of funding SAP training for employees if they do not have a program in place already.
Capgemini, for example, is one of the leading employees of SAP practitioners and has partnered with Harvard and Coursera among others to create a digital learning platform called Next, which includes SAP course content.
“‘Next’ gives all Capgemini learners access to 250,000+ courses and 3 million learning activities from 1200 sources, empowering them to fully customize and optimize their individual learning journey. All development activities on Next are recognized internally and many externally, with numerous external certifications available free of charge.”
So while large-scale SAP product service providers do not necessarily share publicly their ongoing and accelerating need for increased employee learning and development we can infer from other actions that they are interested in doing so to the extent that they are providing training in SAP to their employees.
We can also gain some insight into the importance to SAP service providers to have employees who are fully trained and certified from a document published in February 2021 by SAP.
“SAP Global SI Certifications” summarises the most recent statistic regarding the number of SAP certified individuals in each of the top SAP Global Partners: in total and by solution area. This indicates the importance to each organisation of ensure a cohort of SAP-fluent employees and also in which solutions they have the most trained and certified employees. This document can be used to give guidance as to which SAP partners may be the best employers for SAP trained and certified practitioners and even which areas of SAP would be considered the most valuable areas to learn: thereby increasing the potential employee’s value to the company.
The top six companies in the list by number of certified individuals in employment is:
IBM: 7776 and their area of greatest certification in SAP is S/4HANA (4031 employees)
Capgemini: 7259 and their area of greatest certification in SAP is S/4HANA (4213 employees)
Accenture: 6358 and their area of greatest certification in SAP is S/4HANA (2333 employees)
Deloitte: 4339 and their area of greatest certification in SAP is S/4HANA (1537 employees)
Wipro: 4053 and their area of greatest certification in SAP is S/4HANA (1863 employees)
NTT itelligence: 2921 and their area of greatest certification in SAP is S/4HANA (835 employees)
For more detail from the full report click the link above.
We can see that these companies are all substantially ahead of the rest in terms of SAP certified employees and we can also see that of that group the most important skill to get certified in if one wanted to be employed by one of these top six companies is to obtain certification in S/4HANA. If we dig in a bit further we see that the next type of certification for SAP valued most by this group of employers are for ERP and SAP HANA, then Technology and Successfactors.
The report also breaks the statistics down into variation by geographical region.
Not everyone is going to be interested in working for these specific companies or training to obtain certification in these particular areas of SAP, but it will be interesting to a lot of SAP practitioners beginning their career and also those interested in expanding their SAP skill set if they are interested in applying to these companies. In general we can say that training in S/4HANA appears to be most desirable to employers.
So how does your organisation address employee learning and development?
If you have anything you would like to add to the conversation around strategies for expanding your skill set please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are particularly interested also in what type of organisation you prefer to work for, from large corporation to boutique or start up, as we will be looking at that subject over the next week.
Are there unexpected benefits to smaller companies, or is their more job security in the international powerhouses?
What strategy for learning and certification would you adopt in order to appeal to these different types of employer?
If you would like to discuss your career or are looking for a new employer reach out to [email protected] and we can help you to find a new path.