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On average I get about three mails a week with the question: ” How can I become a BPXer” Many of you are coming from a technical background as well as people from a functional background.  In this blog I will try to explain what I know, also what I do not know to date ( March 2008 ) and what we are working on within the BPX community network team.

Where to start first

I always suggest to people to start with going to the The Community Answers the Question: What Does a Business Process Expert Do?on BPX and click on what does a BPXer do:

There are some real resources provided by the community such as Mario Herger”s series.

Business Process Expert Part 1 – What Is the Problem Today?
Business Process Expert Part 2 – How Can the BPX Solve the Problem?
Business Process Expert Part 3 – What Are the BPX Skills and Tools?

Last year at TechEd in Las Vegas, I provided an introduction session on how to become a BPXer and that was recorded in video and is available to you for free.

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One of the key slides in the presentation is a spiderweb diagram that I provided with 6 key vectors an aspiring BPXer need to educate themselves on:

  • eSOA & IT Knowledge Skills ( TOGAF, ESC, CE, Enterprise Architecture, etc)
  • Business Process Modeling(& BPMN) Knowledge ( e.g. Six Sigma and BPMN )
  • Application & (Industry) Solution Knowledge ( what is available, how to use)
  • Composition Tool Knowledge ( such as ARIS & Visual Composer )
  • Web 2.0 & Community & Social Media Knowledge
  • User Experience and UI knowledge
  • Soft Skills & Practical experience

Some people might think of this as 8 or more vectors. However when people ask me how can I become a good BPXer, from what we have learned so far these are some of the true essential vectors someone should have. Similarly we always say that a BPXer is someone with one foot in business and one foot in IT.  As I have evolved my interaction with more BPX community members I think we should at least ad one extra vector (perhaps more as mentioned before)

  • Ability to build and sell a business case & manage a project from start to post implementation & measure

Some people have told me: you should put that into the soft skill and practical experience bucket. I leave it up to you, the audience to decide.

So far SAP Education has not indicated that they will start providing certification in areas such as soft skill development, social & web2.0 knowledge development,  or Business Process Management and Modeling ( But Bruce Silver in the  BPX community took a good first stab at BPMN basics )

Certification by SAP

SAP education is starting to provide some certification and one of them is this starter certification for a BPXer:  Associate Certification by SAP

I want to make a few comments here in that the first BPX associate certification from SAP Education only covers 2 of the 6 vectos as earlier defined by the BPX community.  This certification currently focuses heavily only on SAP tools & integration aspects, instead of also a necessary generic approach (e.g. like modeling basics – ARIS is neither a generic tool, nor does it cover all standards, nor is it the most common tool in the industry – currently this is still Visio). This certification of reaching the associate BPX level would be probably not be enough to satisfy our customers. I think you should be able to add it to your skill set and curriculum, but I hope people understand that it does not mean that you can just become BPX associate in a few days – This would be both the demise of the carefully branded term Business Process Expert and would not help customers in the field. Currently the curriculum seems very “geeky” oriented and we should make sure that we cover BPX minded people from both sides: that means basic business classes for geeks, basic technical classes for suits. (we do cater to both audiences (demographics show) It is a start nonetheless.
There are also some industry specific certifications such as for Oil & Gas or by solution area such as ERP or for CRM or other solution certified consultant experience, you can go to: http://www.sap.com/usa/services/education/certification/index.epx
They also have an entry level certification for an associate enterprise architect and I suggest you have a look at the components of the course ( Enterprise Architect Framework , etc )

What is next

Our community network BPX team is currently working diligently ( together with SAP education and other experts from universities) to create a wiki where we will provide guidance on a per role basis on what courses to take ( as you can imagine this is not a small task) We want to include guidance for people in roles such as business analyst, application consultant, solution consultant, process developer, IT manager, LOB manager, BPM manager and more. We are thinking to provide that in a wiki, so that our BPX members can update, provide feedack, improve and share more. We only started recently, so I will be able to share with you more on timelines in a next blog. We also probably want to state that to become a BPXer at an associate level is really more like a MBA/MS study than just doing a 10 day course.

In the meantime I would like to invite you to add/comment at your disposal below in the talkback and comment section if you like… I also opened a forum area on the general BPX forum.

Hopefully this helps a bit

Marco

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9 Comments

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    1. Former Member
      My SAP experience is all over the place – started as an ABAPer, went on to do several things technical and functional, and currently alternating as an architect and a project manager.

      One thing I have seen throughout my career, is that business users do not have a good conceptual grasp on their enterprise data. As a result, a lot of great opportunities are lost because business folks resort to “human ETL” to patch together disparate numbers to form the basis for decision making.

      Most business users trust their BI team to deal with data. BI team no doubt will try their best to do the job, but who knows the business better than the BPX?

      It is in this context that I think a BPX should have a focus on how data should be organized in their organization – at the conceptual and logical layers, and leave the physical implementation to a data expert. Basically my contention is that “Data” should be a vector for a BPX.

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      1. Former Member Post author
        Vijay, you make an excellent point. If you look at the structure of the BPX community on the left hand side we do have analytics and performance management as an essential part of our BPX community. We see a lot discussions around performance management, KPI’s, benchmarking, calculating ROI, etc when we look at forums and wikis with BPX members.

        Additionally in the SOA area we see a lot of discussion around architecture frameworks, meta data models, etc ( I always grouped data architecture and modeling as part of the SOA vector )

        So I think it is an essential element that gets discussed in the BPM or SOA vector ( how do you measure progress by changing, updating a business process or data models ?), but I could understand as well that you would think about it as another vector as an element that needs to be discussed.

        What core elements do you think BPXers should consider educating themselves on, if you make data analysis and data management another vector ?

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        1. Former Member
          That was a super fast reply,Marco !

          I wrote a couple of blogs on the subject of leading projects from a data perspective. Please do have a look when you get a chance.

          I think BPX folks would do well to understand the fundamentals of conceptual data modeling. I have had a good deal of success educating the business team on my projects on conceptual data models, and what it gains them tangibly at the end of the project. Once they are convinced that it is not another “consultant thing”, it is amazing how theier perspective changes.

          Also, the beauty of conceptual datamodels is that you get top management support very quickly. The C suite loves data, and will usually support a data driven approach greatly once you show them the benefits.

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  1. Former Member
    Hey Marco,

    I like your thinking about BPX certification. It’s nice to know that SAP is rolling out such certifications, but as you point out, there is more work to do.

    I totally agree that it’s way too early to decide that one modeling tool such as Aris the key to client credibility. You are correct that many clients are still using Visio or other modeling tools. The last time I talked up one particular set of BPM tools on my web site, in this case IDS Scheer,I felt compelled to add an entry to my SAP Career Blog to share some comments from very credible folks who all had their own opinions about which tools might be best. Which tool is best is a healthy discussion and right now we are nowhere near consensus.

    I think the point is that we don’t know yet which BPM tools are going to become the de facto standard, so it’s way too early to standardize a certification around one particular tool in my opinion.

    I do like that SAP is trying to take on the challenge of defining the certifications for this skill set, however. By creating the first BPX certification, SAP lends credibility to the importance of BPX skills and perhaps raises the level of the debate on this topic in a good way.

    The other point you raise that I think is really important is that for many SAP professionals, becoming a business process expert is different based on what your background is and where your skills gaps are. I liked how you put it: “we should make sure that we cover BPX minded people from both sides: that means basic business classes for geeks, basic technical classes for suits.”

    In other words, right now, becoming a BPXer is about taking a personal inventory and filling in the skills gaps, which are going to be different for each person. Perhaps the ideal BPX certification would involve about six different components, and you could “test out” of the ones you had already mastered and then complete the courses in the areas you were weak in. And, of course, one of those classes would be on BPM tools, but it wouldn’t be specific to one tool or vendor, just as SAP’s own clients are all utlilizing different solutions, whether its Visual Composer, Aris for NetWeaver, Visio, etc.

    Great stuff Marco, look forward to furthering this conversation!

    – Jon Reed – 

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    1. Former Member Post author
      Thanks Jon. As our thoughts continue to evolve I am looking for your help, thoughts and guidance from an external perspective.
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