Effective Strategies for SAP Talent Acquisition
Strategies for SAP talent acquisition are essential. A highly skilled SAP workforce is the primary asset required for any SAP project to remain on schedule and within budget. Without the knowledge and understanding of the technology, any implementation is likely to face serious delays while the project is redesigned, potentially from the initial scoping stage.
While the design of many SAP projects begins with a scoping stage, the real start for many organizations is to create a recruitment strategy based on business goals, and to hire SAP consultants with faultless understanding of the right SAP modules and also project management skills.
The current conditions in the SAP labor market are extreme due to a fundamental shortage of SAP specialists and higher costs of living in every region of the world. Attracting SAP talent to your organization is of crucial importance, and more importantly, it is necessary to make the right hires from that limited talent pool to ensure successful completion of implementation projects.
This week IgniteSAP will explore effective strategies for SAP talent acquisition, because your company needs SAP to achieve its business goals, and needs the right SAP consultants to implement extend or maintain an effective SAP system.
We will cover:
- The importance of SAP talent acquisition
- How to identify your SAP skills requirements
- How to source that talent
- How to build and retain a skilled SAP workforce
The Importance of SAP Talent Acquisition
According to a 2022 survey by UKISUG (UK and Ireland SAP User Group), the skills gap for core SAP modules such as S/4HANA is increasing, and the number of organizations concerned that a lack of S/4HANA skills will slow their migration from SAP ECC to S/4HANA rose from 71% the previous year to 92% in 2022.
A key driver of the need for more consultants with S/4HANA skills is that the support deadline for SAP ECC is 2027, meaning that many organizations of legacy systems will be required to upgrade with the next 3 years in order to be able to go-live on S/4HANA across their IT landscape before then.
This is causing a huge spike in demand for S/4HANA specialists, but other SAP modules are also being updated at a rapid pace in order to keep up to speed with paradigm-shifting technologies like cloud ERP, AI and predictive analytics.
The talent pool of SAP consultants is shrinking and SAP is constantly updating its solutions, so the need to acquire and retain SAP talent is becoming crucial for businesses reliant on SAP technology who need to maintain and expand their IT landscapes.
Tech Talent = Growth
Aside from the shrinking talent pool in the SAP ecosystem, the 2022 PwC Pulse Survey of C-suite executives found that 77% said that hiring and retaining talent was their most critical growth driver, which demonstrates that those companies that excel at the recruitment process see corresponding progress toward their business goals.
In addition, the same survey found that 60% of executives said that they were investing in digital transformation as a top growth driver, so it is clear that although hiring and retaining the right talent to facilitate digital transformation can be a difficult process, it is highly important for achieving business growth.
A well implemented SAP system leads to more efficient business processes, with automations reducing manual administration tasks, and end-to-end transparency helps managers and executives to make the right strategic decisions, aided by predictive analytics.
Identifying SAP Skill Requirements
All businesses will have different requirements for their SAP project, so the first step in creating effectives strategies for SAP talent acquisition will be to identify those. Analysis of the existing system and current SAP workforce as well as the future needs of the business, will reveal any gaps and roles that need to be filled.
When identifying SAP skills requirements these should always be aligned with the business goals, so hiring managers should always use these goals as the primary criteria when deciding what type and how many SAP consultants to onboard in order to avoid over-hiring.
Starting with business goals, enterprises will be able to define what sort of SAP system they need to achieve these, and therefore what sort of consultants will be required to create the necessary system.
It is also necessary for hiring managers to have a good understanding of the various types of SAP consultant: the basic skills each consultant should have, the various specialisms for SAP modules and for lines of business, and also emerging SAP roles which will be more important in the future, like SAP sustainability or AI consultants.
What SAP Skills Are Most In Demand?
The SAP skills most in demand currently are:
- Programming Skills (ABAP, followed by SAP Fiori and SAPUI5)
- Platform and Technology Skills (for SAP Business Technology Platform)
- Business Application Skills (for example, the ability to implement S/4HANA Cloud)
- Big Data and Analytics Skills (SAP Analytics Cloud consultants)
- Methodology Skills (so a project is consistent with SAP Activate methodology)
As well as a perfect understanding of SAP systems in general and their own specialism in particular, good SAP consultants will also be able to demonstrate good organizational, communication and managerial skills, as well as good interpersonal skills for customer-facing roles.
SAP consultants will be required to create IT systems to turn business ideas into reality with technical solutions. In practice this often means creating and managing a team to carry a project from the scoping stage to go-live so efficient project management is essential.
How to source SAP Talent
Once the business has a clear idea about the intended SAP project required to support the business’s goals, the next stage in effective strategies for SAP talent acquisition is to source the correct number of the right consultants to carry out the SAP project.
There are a variety of channels through which hiring managers can source SAP talent. Hiring managers can carry out this work themselves or partner with a specialized recruitment agency.
Where Can I Find SAP Consultants?
Online job boards can be hosted by specialized or general recruitment agencies. The advantages of using a specialized SAP recruitment agency are that there has already been some differentiation of clients and candidates before the vacant role has been advertised so that only high quality candidates are sourced, and this can save a great deal of time processing potential applications and interview procedures.
Good SAP consultants who work on a contract basis rather than for a single employer are well aware that they need to create their own network of contacts and so make themselves known to specialized recruitment agencies.
These people can also be found on professional networks such as LinkedIn and through SAP user groups like DSAG (the German-language SAP user group), but all professionals have preferred channels of communication and may not appreciate being contacted through SAP technical forums (for example) about job vacancies. If you use the preferred channel of communication your initial contact will be considered rather than ignored.
Targeting The Right People
Targeting the correct SAP consultants is also something that needs to be done to save your time and theirs. An ideal SAP consultant profile should already be clear if you have followed the process for creating effective strategies for SAP talent acquisition.
If your company already has a strong brand and is well-known as an employer of SAP consultants then this can add an additional level of trust to communications from the outset.
Conversely, you need to be sure that the person you are approaching really is who they say they are, and genuinely has SAP qualifications and experience. SAP consulting is an extremely rewarding career and due to the high demand for SAP consultants there is a large number of individuals who fraudulently claim to be qualified and experienced. Though these people will be unmasked by a good hiring manager they can take up time and money and slow down the hiring process.
This is another reason why approaching an SAP recruitment agency may be the best course of action. SAP agencies have an extremely large and trusted network of professionals and employers who they work with repeatedly, and the value of their business is founded on these trusted relationships.
A successful SAP recruitment agency will be able to demonstrate honesty and ongoing collaborations within and beyond their network. They should also show that they work with employers and candidates to improve the hiring experience, and with candidates to help them continuously improve their professional practice in order to make them more valuable as employees.
The Employer Value Proposition
The Employer Value Proposition is an important part of a good recruitment strategy. It is related to a strong brand but is specific to the prospective employee. This needs to be clear before sources for SAP hires are approached, and incorporated into communications at this second stage of the hiring process.
In essence the EVP should encapsulate what the potential employee can expect if they are successfully hired at the company in terms of benefits and rewards, and culture and feeling.
It should clearly depict the type of work to be carried out, what the employee will be expect to contribute to that work, the compensation and addition benefits (including non-monetary benefits like flexible hours, pension and health plans), or further career opportunities.
The EVP can streamline the hiring process and narrow it down to those candidates who are very interested, and successful candidates can be selected from this smaller pool to be put forward for interview.
Access In-Demand Consultants
It is important to note that the very best candidates will in some cases not be actively looking for employment. These passive candidates do not need to check job boards because their services are in high demand. These professionals have their own network and are approached through their own trusted contacts such as recruitment consultants at SAP recruitment agencies with whom they have a pre-existing working relationship.
Good SAP recruitment agencies maintain huge networks and a detailed database of highly qualified and experienced SAP consultants. Employers can get access to some of these in-demand consultants by partnering with an established SAP recruitment agency like ours.
Building a Strong SAP Team
As well as hiring the right type of SAP consultants, effective strategies for SAP talent acquisition should always account for the need for these individuals to work well as a team. Once it has been established during the hiring process that the group of SAP professionals have the right SAP skills between them to carry out the implementation project, hiring managers need to be sure that they will also have the following non-SAP skills which are complimentary to SAP projects:
- Understanding the business requirements
- Analytical ability
- Listening and interpretational skills
- Project management and logistics
- Abstract problem solving
- Creativity and initiative
- Collaboration and teamwork
- The ability to negotiate and resolve conflict as it arises.
It is important to allocate a project lead and clear lines of communication so that when the project starts every team member understands their own role and responsibilities as well as that of their co-workers.
SAP Best Practices and the SAP Activate Methodology provide an excellent outline covering SAP and non-SAP skills and how to organize a team to begin an SAP project. It is a great idea to review this material in the course of developing effective strategies for SAP talent acquisition, and also be aware of the non-SAP skills for which team members will be needed when deciding how many, and what type of SAP consultants to hire.
Retaining SAP Talent
Retention of existing and new SAP talent is an important part of formulating a strategy for a business’s SAP talent pool. Along with the ability to attract top SAP consultants with a great employer value proposition, businesses should always provide for the needs of their SAP consultants to grow and develop their own professional practice over time.
Apart from the fact that this will contribute to future-proofing the business against its future SAP requirements, it will save time and money later on because it is easier to up-skill existing SAP talent than source, evaluate, onboard and train new employees.
As we have seen SAP consultants are in extremely high demand and so the business must ensure that it is a desirable place to work. Employee engagement strategy should maintain communication at all times between all levels of the organization as much as possible and the budget for SAP talent should reflect their value. Experience management tools like those found in SAP SuccessFactors can help employees to focus on their jobs and be more productive.
Candidates for SAP positions require very good renumeration for their services and budgets should be allocated accordingly. Other attractive elements to a working environment should include 30 or more days of holiday per year to avoid burnout, flexible or hybrid working practices where appropriate, the opportunity to work with the newest technologies, travel, as well as career progression.
Paying close attention to retaining valuable SAP talent reduces the workload of the SAP talent strategy and provides continuity in the business.
SAP Talent Strategy
Effective strategies for SAP talent acquisition should be integrated into the overall business strategy because SAP consultants help the business run efficiently and transparently, so it is a crucial part of achieving successful business outcomes.
If your business is expecting to carry out a migration or extension of its SAP system then the business should:
- At least partially pre-scope the project before the sourcing and hiring SAP consultants in order to have a clear idea of what type and how many consultants to bring in.
- Establish what SAP skills and non-SAP skills will be required to complete the project.
- Consider whether existing SAP talent within the business can manage or otherwise be part of the project
- Create an Employer Value Proposition: Clearly stating the benefits to prospective employees.
- Decide through what channel SAP consultants should be sourced.
- Consider discussing your SAP consulting needs with a specialized SAP recruitment consultancy.
- Consider how the SAP team will work together and allocate roles at the SAP talent sourcing stage.
- Take steps to ensure that the business is attractive as an employer in order to retain those hires.
By following these recommendations businesses can streamline their strategies for SAP talent acquisition, saving time and money, and ensuring they have the right SAP consultants for their implementations and transformations: leading to successful SAP projects and improved business outcomes.