Over the past few months I have had numerous conversations with faculty regarding TERP10 and whether their students should do it and what benefits they would receive from completing it. We currently have a dozen UK&I institutions that are participating to some degree in the program and the main points raised seem to be:
What does it contain
What benefit does it bring to the student
What benefit does it bring to the employer – is an employer likely to find it attractive
How does it fit into an overall SAP career
What is the benefit to the university
These are all valid points and I shall try to answer them to the best of my ability.
What does it contain – well the course objective is to enable students to see how a modern enterprise system is an iterative, cohesive system with nonetheless the possibility to specialize in areas of specific interest. There are components that cover sales and distribution, finance, and HR, but perhaps half the material is about manufacturing. This isn’t because manufacturing is less or more important than any other industry but because it is an excellent example to illustrate the need for specialization and granularity to business roles in a large company but that these roles or functions need to be able to communicate and integrate in such a way that one process blends into another seamlessly and with information being made available from one process to another in a logically consistent manner. The key word is integration which is why the course is entitled Business Process Integration.
As to what benefits it brings to the student. These are numerous and some are not at first obvious. The initial benefits are that it gives a good overview of how to navigate through the SAP system, how to enter and extract data and reports, how to push a process forward in an IS environment and how different functions use the same system in different contexts in ways that are similar but tailored towards specific requirements. However there are also less obvious benefits. The first of these is that many students of business or IS will have taken multiple courses and had studied other roles as electives such as HR within an accounting course or marketing within operations. TERP10 shows that each of these functions is integrated into a cohesive whole via the use of a modern EIS so that marketing can directly gain access to relevant information created by operations, or that finance can see when an invoice has been raised by procurement. In short business functions though separate and distinct are also integrated. The second is that it places a new validity on material taught in class – a kind of ‘told you so’ that reinforces that process types and forms are indeed used in business and here is supporting evidence in IS form. This should raise the enthusiasm for non-SAP learning in return.
For the employer the TERP10 qualification show three things. First the student has understood SAP to a degree that they have passed an exam whilst still at school. This in itself is worth its weight in gold as it already shows to implementers that they have a potential consultant and to customers that this person could rapidly pick up how they use their own MIS internally. Second it shows a mature and focused attitude towards learning and career development – this person has invested their own time and money in learning SAP. Third – this person is already ‘ahead of the game’ as they will already have had exposure to the SAP system, have had that exposure integrated into class learning so they understand the real world applicability of MIS; and have already had a period most likely of weeks or months of study which otherwise the partner/customer would have to pay for themselves!
The benefits to an SAP career relate to the ability of the student to now make accurate and mature choices about career development. They may already have formed an idea as a result of TERP10 which aspects of ERP interest them and can therefore evaluate opportunities from that perspective. They may even decide that an SAP consulting career is not for them but have had any fear removed of using SAP in a role within a SAP customer. Indeed it may even make them more confident in their appreciation of the roles of other people as they understand the connection between MIS development and organisational structure and change.
To the university the benefits are too numerous to include all here. Perhaps the main benefits are firstly that it gives students an Sap Certification before the point at their career when they should have been able to obtain one which means that those students immediately become more highly prized and employable. It signals to industry that this is a university which takes employability and ‘real world skills’ seriously and is prepared to work with industry to secure a better future for its graduates. It enables students to see the tangible implementation of knowledge that they would have received through their core university courses and electives. It enables faculty to draw on a case study of real use of an MIS for business purposes. It shows to government and regulators that the university is entrepreneurial and innovative in seeking out skills and knowledge development innovations and is not afraid to try new techniques and technology.
TERP10 is an excellent initial SAP Certification and a worthy addition to the opportunities presented to universities and students through the University Alliance Program – I passed it myself in 2008 and wish I had studied it five years ago!