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The Value of Certification

I was recently reading a discussion in the New York Times entitled, “What is a Master’s Degree worth?”  and the thought of our SAP certification program came to mind. Not surprisingly, the assessment of value has comes into sharper focus the more uncertain things get whether one is discussing academic degrees or technical certifications.

In fact, in the current economic environment, individuals are consistently looking to find ways to burnish their credentials and I believe certification is one of the more effective ways to do it.

Andy Klee of Klee Associates recently posed the question, Is SAP certification important?” More than a few individuals wrote back stating that the true measure of a consultant’s worth is their experience – not their degree. To be sure, this statement has resonance in more than just the world of IT certification.

But it was a response posted by Darren Hague that caught my eye. He stated that, … the people who are passionate and motivated enough to (a) read the question and (b) post an answer are the kind of people who are generally pretty good at what they do. Hence the answers tend to be “experience is everything”. Unfortunately, we never see much about the implementations that failed because of incompetent consultants – by their very nature, those stories tend to stay private. I think that SAP sees more of those stories, though, and has reacted by completely overhauling the certification system recently (in fact, it’s still being overhauled). I think we will see improvements from this, and I hope that SAP is able to release figures showing a correlation between the new certification and reduced project failures.”

Again, the challenge is with absolutes. Does an SAP certified staff guarantee you a flawless implementation? Certainly not.  But does it help to mitigate implementation failure? You bet. IDC’s Performance Impact Study  “Skill and Certification: Key to Achieving Technology  Value”  found that “Teams with certified architects and developers deliver projects on specification, on time, and on budget more often than other teams”  In other words, certification is better than no certification.


While considering the notion of broader SAP certifications, one also has to fold in the idea of certifications in the context of Business Suite 7. In his blog regarding Business Suite 7,

Jon Reed points out that “….the niftiest aspect (of Business Suite 7) will be that “no more conventional upgrades” are needed. Of course, there’s a big catch here: you have to be running ERP 6.0 to benefit from the “no more upgrades” mantra.”

Nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems, but if even a small measure of the “no conventional upgrades mantra” is met, Business Suite 7 will have real impact on the SAP Ecosystem. Those positioned with a greater degree of learning in the area, as defined by certification, will be in a better position to benefit from it’s eventual adoption in the marketplace.


So coming back to the original topic, the value of certification, one has to consider the following:  In the 2008 Certification Magazine salary survey , certified employees experience positive wage differences of 30% from their non certified peers.

Does this mean the cert gets you a job the moment you’ve completed it? Not on your life. But does the certification, in conjunction with other aspects of your professional career, add value? I believe so.

In future topics, we’ll cover how SAP is addressing the overall IT certification process with the newly expanded program, throw in some guest bloggers and through it all, see if we can’t learn a bit more about the topic.

Cheers to your comments

Richard Strattner

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      As a relatively new SAP consultant I definitely see the point of certification, as it's a way to push yourself to acquire some of the basic skills.

      For more experienced SAP consultants however, a successful trackrecord of projects and good personality are very important, and certification to a lesser degree a "nice to have".

      I have two Java certificates, which i.m.h.o. are passable just by cramming. So to this extend, the exam's character and content also determine the value of certification.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I am not surprised that certified consultants earn more on average than consultants without certification. Nor is it surprising that the educational value of certification is greater than absolute zero.  But correlation does not mean causality.  Certified consultants may have traits that other consultants don’t.  Those traits, rather than certification, may be why they tend to earn more and perform better.
      As my colleague Dirk Leifer wrote recently, the debate about current certification debate often misses the point ( What we really should be talking about is how make certification mean something.  Too many consultants fake it by saying they are certified because they attended a class.  And test scores alone are not as meaningful as when test scores are combined with other factors -- like number of successful implementations completed.  If certification earned people’s respect, than so would the consultants who earn certification.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      The value of certification should be viewed as an indicator. If a consultant holds an SAP Certification it indicates that they have some level of knowledge which enables them in the SAP world. Teaming that with effective and successful project or similar experience will provide further proof points of a consultants worth to an organisation.