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Memo to SAP, Re: Certification 5 White Paper

TO:  All SAP Executives and Board Members
FROM: Andy Klee, Klee Associates /
SUBJECT: SAP Certification and the Certification Five
DATE:  April 26, 2010

By now, many of you have read the detailed call to action on the subject of SAP Certification by the Certification Five (Cert5).  The Cert5 are all SAP Mentors:  Martin Gillet, Michael Koch, Leonardo De Araujo, Jon Reed and Dennis Howlett. 

If you haven’t read the blog introducing their work (including the 55 page writeup of findings and recommendations), you can find it at:  SAP Certification: The Certification 5 Report.  Comments from other SCN members on the Cert5 blog are worth reading as well.

Their primary recommendations are being considered and responded to by SAP management:

  • Tie certification more closely to relevant field experience and problem solving skills, especially at the professional level
  • Establish a certification ‘influence council’ of customers, partners, and community leaders
  • Provide a timetable for the now-postponed Master level certification
  • Help customers by educating them on how to evaluate and hire SAP professionals
  • Increase LOD offerings and strengthen online exam preparation

The 55 page White Paper is well worth reading as it lays out in detail the Cert5’s recommendations, and SAP’s preliminary responses to many issues. 

I researched SAP certification previously, and haven’t returned to the topic since writing a 15 page primer in July, 2009:

As a disclaimer to the comments that follow–my company provides SAP training for client project teams and superusers, and we also publish the ERPtips Journal–a library of tips and techniques for SAP clients and consultants.  So some of my comments may be influenced by what I do professionally.

The single most important, and difficult to implement, recommendation in the Cert5 White Paper is:  “At the higher levels [Professional, Master], they should consider themselves as having demonstrated levels of skill that are genuinely recognized…such as lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects and accountants are recognized.” 

SAP’s response is that SAP is not in the business of preventing people from practicing their chosen profession.  But, no one is saying that failing a certification process should prevent someone from earning a living.  The methods and rigor imposed by professional certifications (Law, Accounting, Engineering, etc.) should be investigated further.

A second major theme emerging from a reading of the Cert5 White Paper is that very few SAP mentors (and presumably not many very experienced SAP consultants) are certified today.  If SAP ever hopes to change the perception of the marketplace that SAP certification is a ‘nice to have’, then SAP must do something about this gap.

I would not be surprised if SAP quietly starts a program of free refresher training and certification exams for these leaders in the SAP ecosystem.  Once more mentors go through the process of becoming certified, they will probably have positive things to say about the experience, and more consultants and SAP customer employees will choose to become certified.

I urge those of you who are interested in SAP certification to read the Cert5 White Paper and contribute to the Cert5 discussion.  Start here: SAP Certification: The Certification 5 Report.

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