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The Importance of SAP Education

The demand for SAP consultants is driven by the evolution of ERP systems and the increasing complexity of digital transformations across various industries. The need of modern businesses for SAP-proficient consultants who can implement these systems has never been more critical.

In this article, IgniteSAP will discuss university-level courses which include SAP, and online SAP training programs. We will illustrate the pros and cons of each educational route for consultants, helping them make informed decisions about their career development.

The Future Workforce

As part of a response to the increasing need for SAP consultants, SAP is addressing the skills gap through a variety of educational initiatives and partnerships.

SAP Next-Gen is a program designed to encourage innovation and prepare the future IT workforce, involving over 2,800 educational institutions in more than 100 countries, that combines academia, industry partners, and SAP customers.

This initiative emphasizes experiential learning and co-innovation, providing students with access to SAP technologies and methodologies, so they already have some experience of interacting with SAP systems before they are employed by consultancies or other organizations.

SAP’s University Alliances program collaborates with academic institutions worldwide to integrate SAP technologies into their courses. This initiative also allows students to gain practical, hands-on experience with SAP software, preparing them for real-world situations.

Through this program, universities gain access to a wide range of SAP resources, including software licenses, teaching materials, and training modules. Students benefit from learning environments that simulate actual business scenarios, using SAP solutions such as SAP S/4HANA, SAP Analytics Cloud, and SAP Fiori.

The program includes workshops, webinars, and networking events where students can meet with industry professionals and SAP experts. The University Alliances program also supports academic research projects, so students can explore innovative solutions to current business challenges using SAP technologies. By creating closer ties between academia and industry, SAP University Alliances bridges the gap between theory and practical skills, making graduates more attractive to employers in the SAP ecosystem.

The Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) in Germany, founded by SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner, is an institution specializing in IT systems engineering and design thinking.

HPI offers bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs with a focus on project-based learning and real-world problem-solving. HPI collaborates closely with companies like SAP on cutting-edge research in areas like cybersecurity, big data analytics, and AI.

University Courses for SAP Education

University education offers several advantages for aspiring SAP consultants. Primarily, through the depth of knowledge acquired through an academic program. Universities provide a comprehensive understanding of SAP systems, covering both theoretical concepts and practical applications.

Universities often have extensive resources, such as libraries, research facilities, and access to the latest software, which enriches the learning experience. Students also have the opportunity to begin building valuable networks with peers, professors, and industry professionals, which can be instrumental in their career development.

Some university programs explore various SAP modules, for a well-rounded understanding of the system. They also incorporate interdisciplinary studies, providing a broader context for how SAP integrates with business processes.

Online training programs, while flexible and convenient, usually focus on specific aspects or modules of SAP. The approach in universities is designed to produce well-rounded consultants who are equipped to handle a variety of challenges in real-world scenarios.

Employers value the in-depth knowledge, critical thinking skills, and hands-on experience that university programs typically provide. As a result university graduates can sometimes be more successful during the hiring process.

Online SAP Training and Certification

Online SAP training platforms provide an alternative route for aspiring SAP consultants. Official SAP educational platforms include openSAP (which offers free SAP courses, SAP Training Shop, and SAP Learning Hub. These platforms offer a wide range of courses, covering various SAP modules and specializations.

Third-party providers like Coursera, Udemy, and many universities, also offer online SAP training programs. These platforms are designed to cater to different learning needs, from beginners to advanced practitioners, and provide access to up-to-date content and interactive learning experiences.

There are multiple benefits of online SAP training, making it an attractive option for many learners. One of the most significant advantages is flexibility. Online courses allow students to learn at their own pace, making it easier to balance education with other commitments, such as work or family. 

This is particularly beneficial for professionals who are looking to expand their skills without disrupting their current job. Online training is generally much less expensive compared to university education: it eliminates the need for commuting or relocating, and some courses are offered at a fraction of the cost of university tuition, so it is a valuable and practical option for many.

Importance of Hands-on Experience in SAP Education

Hands-on experience is essential for mastering SAP systems and becoming a competent consultant. Practical training allows students to apply theoretical concepts in real-world scenarios, enhancing their understanding and problem-solving skills. It closes the divide between learning and doing, ensuring that prospective consultants can handle the complexities of SAP implementations and configurations with confidence.

Universities recognize the central role of hands-on experience in SAP education and have integrated practical projects and internships into their programs.

For example, the Technical University Munich (TUM) is part of the SAP University Alliances program and offers a substantial practical component through its University Competence Center (UCC).

This center provides students with access to SAP software and the opportunity to work on real-world projects. Additionally, TUM’s SAP STAR program is a multi-year rotational training initiative that allows students to gain practical experience by working on various SAP-related tasks within different teams.

For those pursuing online SAP education, there are platforms that offer practical training alternatives. Wizcore, for instance, provides training courses that include hands-on work experience through internships.

DTS IT Solution offers a career-centric internship approach that aligns SAP education with individual career goals through practical, customized learning, mentorship, and real-world projects. Guided projects on platforms like Coursera also allow learners to work on simulated SAP tasks, providing valuable hands-on experience in an online environment.

Some Universities for SAP Education

When evaluating universities for SAP education, several factors must be considered to ensure the best learning experience and career preparation. Key criteria include; the extent of SAP-related content in the curriculum, alliances and partnerships with SAP, the amount of hands-on practical training provided, the level of preparation provided for certification exams, and any benefits such as reduced fees for certification exams. Universities that excel in these areas are more likely to equip students with the skills and credentials necessary to appeal to employers.

Technical University Munich (TUM): TUM is known for its comprehensive SAP education program. As a member of the SAP University Alliances, it offers extensive hands-on training through its SAP University Competence Center (UCC). The SAP STAR apprenticeship program at TUM provides real-world project experience and rotational training opportunities, ensuring a deep understanding of SAP systems and their applications in various industries.

Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg: This university is another prominent member of the SAP University Alliances, known for its SAP-related courses. Their SAP University Competence Center hosts SAP solutions for numerous educational institutions.

Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences: Brandenburg University offers the ERP4Students program, which delivers online SAP courses. The program also prepares students for SAP certification exams, often at reduced fees, making it a cost-effective option.

Costs for University Courses

University-based SAP courses can be a significant financial investment. Tuition fees vary widely depending on the institution and the specific program. For instance, universities like Technical University Munich and Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg typically charge substantial fees, which can range from a few thousand, to tens of thousands of euros.

As well as tuition, there are additional expenses to consider, such as textbooks, software licenses, and technology-related fees. Moreover, students will likely need to account for living expenses, including accommodation, food, and transportation, if they need to relocate to attend their chosen university. These combined costs can make university education a considerable financial commitment, although many institutions offer scholarships and financial aid.

Costs for Online SAP Training and Certification Programs

Online SAP training and certification programs are a cost-effective alternative. Platforms like openSAP, SAP Training Shop, and SAP Learning Hub offer a wide range of courses at significantly lower prices.

Online courses can range from free offerings on openSAP to several hundred euros for more comprehensive programs on platforms like Coursera or Udemy.

For a well-rounded SAP education online, students will probably need to invest in several courses as they usually deliver training on specific modules, and consultants will need familiarity with the overall landscape of SAP, including core modules, and a specialism if they are intended to work in consulting services for a particular SAP niche. The certification exams themselves also come with fees, though some online platforms offer packages that include both training and exam fees at a discounted rate.

Value for Money, and Long-Term Benefits

When comparing the costs of university education and online SAP training, it’s essential to consider the value for money and long-term benefits of each route. University programs, while more expensive, provide structure, a dedicated learning environment. They offer access to extensive resources, and opportunities for networking and practical experience, which can translate into a more comprehensive understanding of SAP systems, leading to potentially higher starting salaries and better career advancement opportunities.

While online programs might lack the extensive networking opportunities of university courses, they still provide substantial knowledge and skills that are highly valued in the job market. Online training courses also adapt quickly to new SAP technologies and methodologies, which is a notable benefit given the continuous updates and additions to SAP technology.

So, both university and online training have their merits and can lead to successful careers in SAP consulting, but it is difficult to give a definitive answer regarding which is the best option.

Many aspiring SAP consultants establish a professional foundation with degrees in business studies or computer science, which may include sections in the curriculum introducing SAP. This equips them with a broad understanding of essential business processes or technical expertise. Following undergraduate studies, they then take a Masters Degree which includes SAP, or specialized online SAP courses.

This combination allows them to attain SAP certification, while demonstrating their background in business or IT. This blend of degree-level education and targeted SAP training positions them favorably in the job market, as versatile and well-rounded SAP consultants who understand the needs of their clients.

Career Prospects and Industry Readiness

The career prospects for SAP consultants are exceptionally promising in the current market. As businesses increasingly adopt advanced ERP systems, the demand for skilled SAP consultants continues to rise.

These professionals, who are in short supply, are indispensable in ensuring the successful implementation, customization, and optimization of SAP solutions across various industries. 

Consequently, SAP consultants often find themselves with numerous job opportunities and the potential for rapid career growth, so investments in SAP education and skills will certainly be paid back in higher salaries over the long-term. 

SAP Certifications

While proven experience is the prerequisite for many SAP roles, SAP certifications also contribute to a consultant’s employability and career advancement prospects. These certifications serve as a formal acknowledgment of a consultant’s expertise and proficiency in specific SAP modules, making them more attractive to potential employers.

Certified professionals are often perceived as more knowledgeable and competent, which can lead to higher starting salaries and better job positions, along with accelerated career progression and access to more challenging and rewarding projects.

Final Recommendations

Those seeking a broad, comprehensive education with networking opportunities and recognized qualifications may find university programs to be the most beneficial.

Institutions that are part of the SAP University Alliances, such as Technical University Munich and Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, offer robust curricula, hands-on training, and certification preparation, making them excellent choices.

On the other hand, individuals looking for flexibility, affordability, and the ability to balance their studies with other commitments may prefer online training platforms like the SAP Learning Hub.

For a well-rounded education in preparation for SAP consulting, consider obtaining a degree in computer science or business studies, followed by a period dedicated to acquiring SAP certification, either through a Masters level university-based course, or online, followed by a period of internship in a well-known consultancy. This is certainly the most expensive option, requiring tens of thousand of euros in all, but given the extremely high demand for SAP consultants, this comprehensive education in SAP will provide plenty of opportunities for a return on that investment.

Aspiring consultants should also consider internship or apprenticeship as a necessary feature of their education, as they need to build up extensive experience working on SAP projects, but at least to begin with, this should be overseen by a mentor from within their organization.  

Remember, education in this SAP consulting is not a one-off activity but a continuous journey of learning. Regardless of how initial training in SAP takes placed, professionals should expect to commit to continuous learning and adaptation throughout their careers.

If you are recently qualified and looking for a role in the SAP ecosystem our team of dedicated recruitment consultants can match you with your ideal employer and negotiate a competitive compensation package for your extremely valuable skills, so join our exclusive community at IgniteSAP.