I have been studying the SAP skills marketplace since 1995, but have never had the chance to help organize a comprehensive survey on SAP salaries – until now! Recently, I collaborated with Panaya on their SAP Salary Survey 2010. The results of that survey are now out, and show some “cautious optimism” for SAP salaries in 2010. The survey also brought to light a number of revealing stats pertaining to SAP salaries by gender and education level.
In this blog post, I’ll analyze some of the significant survey results and also share a few of the graphics that bring the data to life. This was my first SCN post with screen shots – hopefully it looks all right! (Before I go further, you can get Panaya’s full 18 page SAP salary survey for yourself with a (free) sign up form). A couple of times, the results were surprising enough that I’m not sure what to make of them either, so feel free to comment on this post!
Setting the stage: The survey compiled 430 responses, 71 percent from SAP customers and 29 percent from systems integrators. Almost half (43%) of the responses were from North America, with Europe providing 37% and the rest of the world 20%. This is a pretty diverse group of results, and 430 is a decent sample size to work with. With that context in mind, let’s check out some of the most interesting results from the survey.
My take: This is not a surprise – salaries and rates are a function of supply and demand, and there are less experienced ERP 6.0 people than those working on previous releases. I will admit that I’m not 100 percent certain why the 4.7 pay rates came in lower than 4.6, but I’d say two things: first, the discrepancy between 4.6 and 4.7 rates is not large, and also, we do see a phenomenon sometimes in IT where those professionals who remain on older releases after others have moved on can see a temporary bump in pay. So lingering on 4.6 projects can may pay off for a short period of time for some SAP professionals, but in the long run, it’s better to pursue the most advanced release exposure rather than staying on older releases for rate reasons. Call it the lesson of the Cobol programmer.
We know that in general education levels affect salaries. But how does this work in the SAP world, where, in theory, you can go pretty far without a degree if you get the right hands on skills? As it turns out:
My take: I’m not surprised to see that MBAs in general are the most powerful degree in the SAP field when it comes to salary. That may be a function of position – those survey respondents with executive saleries (like SAP Directors) are more likely to have MBAs than hands-on programmers. So before you go seeking an MBA degree for a salary bump, keep in mind that you’ll probably also need to be willing to climb the management “food chain” in order to see that pay raise!
Also: don’t assume that because those taking management classes in this survey are making higher salaries, that adding a management class from a local community college will do the same for you. I would guess, if we peeled back these results, that management classes in this context reflect a general climb in management level and management-level pay.
If anyone is surprised to see doctorate-level degrees having less impact on salary, don’t be! I have been involved in SAP pay assessments since 1995, and I can tell you that the SAP field in general does not really have a clear place, salary wise, for doctorate-level achievements. This is not to say that such degrees are irrelevant to SAP work, but the connection from a pay and business relevance standpoint has never been super clear. This survey bears that out.
Now, onto some controversial and important data: the SAP salary breakdown by gender:
My take: It was discouraging to see that as women in this survey advance in the SAP field, the pay discrepancy seems to increase. Things start out well, but the pay does not seem to keep pace with male colleagues as careers progress. This is only speculation, but I am assuming that part fo the issue here is that women are still facing more roadblocks advancing within the field, so the deeper the experience level, the more the gap in pay kicks in due to lack of executive advancement. But please note, this is my speculation. What is NOT speculation is that this survey pointed to some SAP gender pay discrepancies.
But there’s another interesting factor – the gender pay differences varied greatly by region:
Perhaps one of the messages here is that the “rest of the world” has a thing or two to teach North America and Europe about gender pay. But here, I think we need to be cautious and say that to truly get a handle on SAP gender pay variations across the world, more research and a larger survey sample size would be needed. I would view this survey not as the final word on this issue, but as an indicator that more research is needed. I’m sure no one is surprised that the gender gap in SAP pay is not resolved, but before the women in SAP march on Walldorf, or for that matter before we all march on Walldorf, it’s good to remember these issues are hardly unique to SAP.
In fact, as Panaya points out in the survey results, the gender pay gap in their SAP survey results is actually less than the overall averages tracked by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):
“Women [in this survey] earn 8-12% less than men in Europe and North America, while salaries are basically the same for both genders in the ‘Rest of the World.’ These gaps are lower than the gender gap reported for the general working population in the 17 OECD countries, which was an average of 17.6% in the latest available survey.”
Good food for thought/action at any rate!
Finally, the survey has some good information on how SAP professionals are viewing their skills development in 2010. Since this post is already pretty long, I’ll save some of this information for a future post on one of my blogs, but here’s a survey graphic that breaks down some of the skills goals by SAP role:
Obviously, the Basis and development role are distinct enough that it would be useful to pull out more data on how the two roles view their skills outlook, I”ll see what I can do to pull that out, either on this survey or in a future survey of my own. Nohuge skills surprises here, with upgrade and BI skills topping the list, and Solution Manager making its presence felt. There is more skills advice in the survey I’ll cover in detail at another point.
Meantime, I would be remiss not to note that the impact of the economic downturn was clearly reflected in the survey results, not the least of which was the indication that SAP professionals are being asked to take on more duties without necessarily seeing a pay bump.
Here’s how Panaya summarized this aspect of the survey:
“The economic downturn during 2008-2009 seemed to have a number of impacts on the respondents’ jobs.
1. The most common change noted by the respondents is more responsibility. In many cases, this is cited as a result of the need to do more with fewer resources.
2. Competition on jobs has intensified, so increases in responsibilities, hours, and skills have not necessarily resulted in higher compensation.
3. Companies are putting greater emphasis on better utilizing their existing systems and resources, more efficient processes, and tighter controls over system changes.”
I would close by saying that point number three looks like a fruitful one for skills development (can you help SAP users make their systems more efficient, compliant, sustainable – the “greening of SAP skills.”) Oh, and what about that “cautious optimism” I referred to in the opening paragraph? There are several indications in the survey along those lines, but one I can mention in closing is that over half the respondents (52%) are expecting an increase in salary in 2010. Let’s hope they are correct!
Well, there’s a lot more in the survey I didn’t get a chance to cover here, including more detail on bonuses, current pay and 2010 expectations, as well as differences in pay between end customers and implementation partners, but you can check that out at your leisure. Meantime, I hope this blog post shed some light on some key SAP pay questions. Thanks to Panaya for funding this useful survey.