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Author's profile photo Martin English

My second response to the SAP Certification 5 report….

Hi Guys,
  Thanks for your work on this initiative (and thanks to Sue Martin and the rest of SAP for their support).

Certification in XYZ (what ever XYZ is) is recognition of a certain level of Knowledge of XYZ.  While I understand that the many references to ‘SAP Education’ in the document are there because it is the name of the SAP group responsible for Certification, I suggest that the number references to SAP Education, classes and Learning on Demand indicate a failure to separate Certification and Knowledge (and the gaining of that Knowledge).

Regarding the current state of SAP certification, I think Dennis nailed it in his comments :
“in the early SAP Mentor intakes, not a single person nominated for position as a Mentor was qualified in anything SAP related!”
i.e. NONE of the most respected community members were SAP certified !!!  While I value my certifications, I can understand why others don’t value certification at all.  The Mentors got their SAP Knowledge via experience, both with SAP and with the other tools they integrate into SAP (such as flex, google wave, etc)  By contrast, Leonardo’s suggestion that SAP certification should reflect ONLY SAP related knowledge suggests that SAP lives and runs in total isolation.  For example, implementing email from an SAP system is a pretty standard BASIS / Technical task, but it requires more than SAP specific knowledge.  Under his scenario, would it require one person with both SAP certification and MSCE certification, or two people (one of each), or a BASIS person who knows just enough about SMTP and IIS (or whatever the platform requires, maybe sendmail on Linux) ?

This leads on to the point made by several people (encapsulated by Leonardo’s “What is what I refer to here as “SAP related knowledge”) about experience – Even determining which experience is useful (let alone more valuable) is difficult, before we get round to certifying it…. For example, I (probably) have experience on a wider range of OS / DBMS combination than most BASIS people, but by necessity they would have a deeper knowledge of their particular OS / DBMS.  How do we quantify the different value to assign to my experience versus theirs ?  Years or projects are insufficient – In either case, performing the same work 10 times is not the same as 10 years or projects of different experience.

In Chapter 4 Where SAP Certification is Falling Short, there’s a couple of paragraphs on ‘pre validating’ the people who wish to sit for Certification.  I think this makes sense, for both customers and the individual.  Without some practical experience within a particular area of SAP and how its used, Certification in that area IS pretty useless as an indicator of the individuals expertise and suitability.

In Chapter 5 Recommendations for Improving Certification, I am not impressed with the arguments for boards or subjective measurement of indviduals, for the reasons given in Sue Martin’s response. Country level certifications are not suitable for large scale implementations unless we also include a Global certification as well (instead of, for my last global implementation project, at least Australian, US, Chinese, South African and EU certifications).
I do believe that the separate levels of certification are good, but as Sue implies in her response, it should be hard (or impossible) to professional or master certification without experience.

Personally, I was very taken by the idea of “SAP as a Vocation”.  This rings true, both personally and when you go back to my original quote from Dennis’s comments (“in the early SAP Mentor intakes, not a single person nominated for position as a Mentor was qualified in anything SAP related!”).  In my case, and I think those Mentors that Dennis is referring to, they aren’t interested in Certification for certification’s sake.  They want Knowledge, both in SAP and in other areas, so that they can do useful valuable things with SAP.  Training and (self) education leads to that, with any certificates as a nice memento on the way.  That is alright for the individual, but what does the SAP Customer do ?  They want something similar – individuals who are committed to SAPs success because it is their vocation.

My view is that Certification should be possible regardless of the amount of formal education, but it does need to be a measure of the Knowledge required to perform to certain levels within an SAP project.  

  • Not just SAP specific knowledge; for example, project management skills for SOME of the Master level certificates, DBMS certification for some of the Professional and Master level certifications and so on,
  • Not just Implementation skills – a system that takes 6 months to implement can reasonably expect to be running for another 7 years (72 months),
  • Not just the basics – Customers want to leverage their SAP investment to the maximum,
  • Not just the latest and greatest – Customers still want to know if the person they’re hiring knows about THEIR specific release.

Once again, thanks everyone, for your work in putting this together.

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      Author's profile photo Bill Wood
      Bill Wood
      Until SAP takes a much more proactive role in providing a type of "official transcript" then all certification and training will be virtually worthless.

      All of these efforts will be wasted.  Today I get SO MANY FAKE claims of certification that it is frightening.  I see resumes with certification claims in individual process areas that SAP does not provide this for.  For example I recently saw a resume that claims "certified and Transportation and Distribution."

      What has happened is that without any formalized way to ensure or verify credentials any training and certification value will be destroyed.

      You folks have put a LOT of effort into this whole area that may create some short term buzz.  However the value is very limited until SAP provides "authorized" training programs, and then records actual qualifications so that a transcript can be produced.

      I no longer waste money on SAP training.  For me personally it is an unproductive and worthless exercise.  With the number of fakes who claim their searches of SAP help as "training" and claim "certification" I place NO value in it.  Actually, if their resume emphasis is on training and certification over actual experience I generally trash those resumes.  The minute the certification and training is made prominent the candidate has lower value to me.

      Bill Wood

      Author's profile photo Mark Finnern
      Mark Finnern
      Hi Bill,

      > What has happened is that without any formalized way to ensure or verify credentials any training and certification value will be destroyed.

      This is another argument for linking certification to SCN Business Card. We have that on our wish list for a while, just didn't get around to implement a solution.

      Once it is in the Business Card, it can than easily be pushed into your LinkedIn profile too major win for everyone involved.

      Would be cool, Mark.

      Author's profile photo Dennis Howlett
      Dennis Howlett
      @martin - you are expressing some of the detail to which we couldn't realistically get. FWIW - we did at one point start thinking more deeply about the issues you describe but realized if we tried to articulate some of those then we might end up with a coffee table book on the topic!!

      If yours and others responses at least gets SAP wondering what to do then I guess we'll have achieved something. We think we have the bones of a solution but it is up to SAP to take action.

      Given comments from people like @bill below - that's got to have been worth the effort. At least we hope so.