How To Retain SAP Consultants in the long term
In IgniteSAP’s recent article “Your SAP Workforce- Effective Strategies for SAP Talent Acquisition” we discussed how to build a team of experienced and qualified SAP consultants for implementation projects. Now we will focus on how to ensure your business can retain SAP consultants in the long term: providing continuity for the business, and saving the time and cost of rehiring periodically for the same roles in your SAP team.
Building a long term plan to attract and retain SAP consultants is fundamental to any business which has invested in SAP solutions. The first aspects to consider is the economic environment, the SAP job market, and how these will change over time.
Trends In The Tech Jobs Market
Though the Germany economy has recently contracted slightly, it is comparatively vibrant, because the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector has not been subject to the same economic pressures as other areas according to assessments by the US International Trade Administration.
“Germany has one of the largest ICT markets in the world and the single largest software market in Europe with 95,808 IT companies… and an estimate of 1,124 million employees in 2022… Key players such as Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Adobe, IBM, Oracle, and SAP have large market shares. There are also many highly specialized SMEs in the market. In 2022 revenue in the different IT sub-sectors consisted of USD 45.3 billion in IT-Services, USD 34.9 billion in IT-Hardware and USD 34.1 billion in the software sub-sector.”
The SAP Services Market In Germany
In the recent 2023 ISG Provider Lens SAP Ecosystem report German SAP services providers said they were expecting exponential growth. The main driver of this is the upcoming support deadline for legacy SAP software, particularly SAP ECC and SAP Business Suite.
ISG’s director for technology modernization in Germany, Dr Matthias Paletta said:
“Service providers are actively preparing for the coming transition to S/4HANA. Many of them are responding by expanding their partnerships with SAP as well as with hyperscalers”
The SAP Skills Gap
A lack of skilled IT professionals specializing in cloud computing, AI, big data and IoT has further increased demand, and this is particularly relevant to the hiring of SAP consultants.
As SAP commits to root and branch modernization of its software services SAP practitioners are required to retrain and augment their skills to match the expanding market for SAP services catering for businesses using new SAP products and services.
This means that HR managers seeking SAP talent in Germany and elsewhere are operating in one of the most challenging job markets today, and highly qualified SAP consultants are constantly being approached with job offers regardless of whether they are already employed, so it is crucial to make sure your business is an attractive employer: for prospective employees as well as existing ones.
Salaries offered for permanent positions must of course be competitive, and businesses must offer an appealing a range of non-monetary benefits, like employee health plans and paid maternity/paternity leave, but these are not the only way to make your business stand out as a great potential employer for SAP consultants.
Businesses need a long term plan for retaining SAP consultants in order to meet their needs and this requires them to create a strategy to support this aim which is integrated with the business’s long term business goals. Creating a plan for long term retention of SAP consultants starts with understanding the various means of employing consultants with SAP skills.
Types Of Employment
SAP consultants can be employed on a contract (by project) basis, or on a permanent basis, and your SAP team may consist of a number of long term managers who work with both permanent and temporary staff. HR departments regularly requiring external SAP consultants as well as in house team members build a network of trusted suppliers to maximize their ability to get the right consultants when they need them.
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As the SAP industry pivots to a provision of cloud based software services, this will also mean that staff will increasingly work from their home office rather than on site, or a combination of the two.
Regardless of the location of employees, the company must work hard to create a safe and supportive working culture.
How to Retain SAP Consultants
1. Company Culture
SAP consultants are highly valued and so they are very particular about non-monetary aspects of their relationship with their employer, and this includes having at least thirty days of paid holiday per year and flexible working hours if possible. This can extend to offering long periods of leave to employees when appropriate.
As well as having preferences about how they are engaged professionally, SAP consultants also want to work for companies and organizations with an attractive working environment that takes account of employee welfare.
This means the company culture must be inclusive, and value their employee’s fulfillment and growth.
2. Inclusivity and Diversity
In its infancy, the technology sector was primarily dominated by white males but now SAP consultants can be found in all regions across the world, representing all members of society. An HR department will actively seek skilled team members from diverse backgrounds to leverage the full potential of the human resources available for hire.
Companies can implement and support inclusivity initiatives, attend industry diversity events, and showcase their credentials by discussing them in social media posts and internal newsletters. This will demonstrate the value the company places on inclusivity and diversity, widen the prospective pool of talent available, and organically improve the company brand in the eyes of all their employees.
3. Internal Communications and Employee Engagement
With the advent of cloud computing technology, and as more and more projects can be conducted remotely, internal communication strategies and platforms have become central to both business processes and employee welfare and retention.
If employees feel disconnected from their employers and colleagues they are more likely to look for alternative employment elsewhere. Businesses therefore should initiate proactive strategies for employee engagement to retain SAP talent as well as other team members. Some methods to increase employee engagement and personally identify with the business include:
Surveying employees: regularly distributing surveys to employees asking for their thoughts and feelings about the business can help employees feel more part of the team as they are included in conversations about the business as a whole, but also assess how this changes as the business grows and the company culture develops.
Core Values: the company culture is defined by its core values and ideally these should be shared to a great extent by all employees. By promoting core values like inclusivity and employee welfare a company can encourage its employees to personally identify with the company as their social group: sharing a sense of achievement when the company succeeds in its business goals.
When all members of the team subscribe to the same set of values them this also creates an emotional bond between them, helping them to communicate better and work more efficiently as a group.
Recognize employee achievements: celebrating the success of teams or individuals who have excelled in their work and rewarding them helps these employees feel that their effort is appreciated and provides a role model for other workers to follow.
This can also include team members who have gone out of their way to help others. Rewards can be monetary or gifted experiences like a day at a health spa.
Transparent and Open Communications: As well as conducting regular surveys employees should have access to channels of communication other than email like online message boards. This will keep team members in the loop and give them a platform to air concerns about day to day operations before any issue gets out of hand. This should also promote equality between managerial levels so that honest feedback can reach up the chain of command to the executive officers: giving a clear view of the current state of the workforce’s opinions about ongoing projects.
The Open Office: for some time now the office environment has been designed as an open space in which employees are free to move and to talk easily with their colleagues. Businesses will benefit from open offices with a range of shared private spaces provided for one-to-one meetings and conversations. This also helps employees to feel part of a community.
Strategies to promote communication and employee engagement go a long way to showing your SAP consultants they are valued team members and will help them to equate the business’s success with their own success: helping to retain this important portion of the workforce.
Experience management tools like those found in SAP SuccessFactors can help employer to keep track of their employee engagement initiatives and help employees to focus on their jobs and be more productive.
4. Career Progression and Up-Skilling
Along with the development of a strategy for employee engagement, businesses should also pay particular attention to the needs of their SAP consultants to expand their SAP skills and progress in their careers.
SAP is constantly innovating and developing is portfolio of software services with a current emphasis on the areas of cloud computing, AI and ML, analytics and automation.
In order for SAP consultants to work at the peak of their abilities and stay relevant to requirements of the industry they need to periodically update their set of SAP skills.
Regular employers of SAP practitioners should ensure that these members of the workforce are given the opportunity to take courses in various modules of SAP which are provided by SAP through the SAP Training Shop and SAP Learning Hub. In practice this may mean offering these employees periods of reduced working hours while they undertake these courses and even funding their training as this investment will pay a return on investment if it helps the business retain SAP consultants in the workforce.
This is because sourcing, assessing, onboarding and training new SAP consultants for a role in the business is a high and repetitive cost to the business and all of these costs can be eradicated by retaining skilled SAP consultants.
Depending of the size of the business, for the same reasons, it is also good practice to internally promote SAP consultants for technical and managerial roles rather than fill new roles with entirely new hires as the business expands. SAP consultants who are already employed by the business will understand the business structure and operations already and have pre-existing relationships with other team members.
5. Understand Your SAP Consultants’ Needs
Like any relationship, the employer/employee relationship requires deep thought and consideration, so it is important to put in place the time and resources to respect that relationship.
Building a long term plan to attract and retain SAP talent is fundamental to your business’s long term goals because SAP software and services provide businesses with the means to take advantage of innovative technologies which are disrupting the ICT sector.
Without a strong SAP team businesses will not be able to keep up with their market competitors in their line of business, so the value to a business of SAP talent is greater than the cost of employing them.
Ensuring that your business retains a pool of talented SAP consultants should therefore be considered part of the overarching business strategy.
The jobs market for SAP consultants is extremely competitive and these valued professionals know their own value so it is important to understand their needs and provide for them if you want to maintain a strong SAP team to help your business digitally transform and become future proof.
If you require support with your SAP hiring needs, speak to one of our in-house SAP career specialists today. Call us on +49 (0)21173714895, or submit an enquiry for someone to call you back here