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Author's profile photo Former Member

I would get SAP certified if….

Certification is a hot button issue now – thanks to my SAP mentor buddies collectively known as C5. SAP Education, especially Sue Martin, has had some great conversations with C5, and the rest of us on this topic. If the roles were reversed, and if I ended up in Sue’s role – I probably would have quit my job, or taken up heavy drinking or something 🙂 . But Sue has been very patient, and C5 gang have always been making their case professionally. C5 also got to meet SAP Co-CEO, and I am sure he has a great interest in this matter too.

 

Meanwhile, I remain uncertified, with very little interest in changing my mind on the topic. As I have mentioned several times before – I do not put this as a top hiring criteria either. But after talking to C5, reading about it a lot, and debating with my friends – I think I can come up with some scenarios that would make me (and I suspect others too) keen to get certified. Since SAP has a 3 tier program – let me try to organize my thoughts in that fashion too. My hope is that SAP certifications will prepare candidates to walk into SAP assignments with certain abilities. This means, the learning program should teach certain skills – and then certification should measure the proficiency attained.

 

I have been chided before for not using inclusive language in blogs before – but me being as lazy as ever, let me just make a GLOBAL declaration here that  no gender difference is implied in my blog unless explicitly stated otherwise.

 

1. Associate Level

 

When I get an entry level person in my team with an associate level certification, I do not expect this person to independently do any design. I would be very happy if he can take a design done by some one else, and then do the required config and development.  I would expect his code/config to be extensively reviewed by an experienced member of my team.

 

However, I would like the person to know a few things

 

1. He should know how a project is run. He should understand ASAP at a theoretical level –  or whatever methodology is applicable. 

 

2. He should know how to do some elementary debugging and unit testing.

 

3. He should be aware of SCN, other SAP sites, OSS etc and how to look for information.

 

4. If he went to a programming class, he should know an overview of few SAP modules. For example, he should know how to create a simple sales order. He should also know where I define order types in IMG.  If he knows this much, he can relate to how SAP works at a high level.

 

5. Conversely if he went to a functional class – I expect him to have an overview of ABAP. He should know what user exits and BAdIs are, and how to find them. And he should know how to put data into SAP from a file.

 

The general idea is – he should have specialized skills in a given area, and a high level idea of how SAP software works.

 

2. Professional  Level

 

Next level up, I would look for a lot more skills, on top of associate level .  I would like to see documented work experience with references. She should know few ways of solving a given SAP problem, and discuss the pros and cons and defend her conclusions. She should be able to supervise a couple of people, and make status reports. This should be a person who can prototype scenarios with minimal help. I would expect to look at SDN and find some contributions – good questions and answers in forums, or a blog etc.

 

While I do not expect her to conduct a blueprinting workshop by herself the first time around, or do an end-to-end architecture for the project, I do expect some competency in following.

 

1. Very proficient in debugging and testing. And at this level – I would expect her to know some integration issues too. An SD person should also be able to think of A/R related issues on FI side for example. Or an ABAP programmer should be able to performance optimize code easily.

 

2. She should know how to write a good OSS message.

 

3. She should be able to translate the output of blueprinting into SAP speak with minimal guidance, and ask necessary questions in workshops.

 

4. If she is a techie, I would really like her to know parts of  at least one SAP module from configuration side. And in a module she does not know – she should be able to figure out from IMG and debugging and so on, how config settings affect transaction behavior.

 

5. If she is a functional person ( is it right to say funkie?) – I expect this person to know how to set a trace to find tables and security and so on, and do some debugging by herself before calling on a full time techie.

 

6. She should be able to write specs for RICEF and config, and answer questions from recipients of the spec. She should be able to adapt a template for specs to what is suited for the project.

 

7. She should be able to temporarily backfill a Solution Architect and hold the fort without too much trouble.

 

I would expect the lion share of all qualified SAP consultants to fall into this category

 

Mastr Level

 

This is the guy who walks on water and is worth a king’s ransom. This is a person that an SI or client will fight for in open market to hire. Not only should he be able to do everything that a Professional level person can do – he should do it better, and then go above and beyond.

 

1. He should be able to make an end to end solution design for complex projects, effectively using the deep knowledge of specialists at master level.

 

2. He should be a master in impact analysis – he should be where the buck stops for all technical decisions in his area. He should be able to identify the right stakeholders from all around to solve a given problem that he cannot solve by himself.

 

3. He should have an extremely good network in SAP ecosystem. I would go on to suggest that if some one gets certified at this level – he should have a special access to SAP development and product managers to call on for questions and discussions. He should be like a platinum level frequent flier (hmm..of 10 years ago, not today’s service level by most airlines).

 

4. There should be professional give back – he should compulsorily do something to contribute to the knowledgebase of SAP professionals  by instructing classes, writing on SDN , presenting at SAP events and so on. If he does not – kick him out.

 

5. He should know how to integrate non-SAP and SAP systems optimally for getting the best value for his client. He should be able to build effective  business cases for integration, upgrades and so on. Since SAP already has value engineering – I assume they can help SAP education with this aspect.

 

If PMP enough for SAP Project Management ?

 

Managing SAP projects is a specialized skill. I believe that the generic PMP certification is not enough to prepare some one to manage an SAP engagement. So I would also like to see SAP offering a focused education and certification path for Team leads and PMs. I would think that PMP education can somehow play into this too. I am keen to hear what SAP and SCN members think of that.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Doen't Professional come first before Master in the certification level, or this is how you wanted it.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      good point - I will change it..no point confusing people with what I think...I just meant to indicate 3 progressive levels. Thanks for pointing this out, Tapera.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      I enjoyed reading this post, it made me think. Thanks

      Ádám

      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas
      Hi Vijay,
      Conversely, I will likely continue to get certified, as I find it a good motivator for me to learn.  It also forces me to learn outside of my area/domain of expertise, and allows me to be a better team member. 

      For example, after my BW NetWeaver Associate test, I was able to quickly answer my Security admin's questions on BW authorizations.  Additionally, I was able to better troubleshoot DTP's better.

      Interesting point re: PMI/PMP; I first got trained in ASAP and then 5-6 years later obtained my PMP.  I think both are needed; often they are complementary tools.  What I like about the PMP certification is that you need continuing education to continue the certification; I think that was mentioned in the C5 report and I like the idea.  I also liked your suggestion of SDN contributions and articles; that could contribute to the continuing education, I think.

      As always, thank you for writing a thought-provoking weblog.

      Tammy

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      That is excellent, Tammy - I am sure Sue and Team will love that you already are motivated by certification.

      On the PMP/ASAP thing - I am an equal opportunity anti-certification guy 🙂 I did not do either one. After I saw a few folks with no direct Project Management experience get PMP with flying colors,I somehow did not find the motivation to pursue it. Also, when it was my turn to move to management - I did not find that not having PMP was a hindrance. Some lessons from MBA did help me on financial management, and the rest I picked up from books, internet and mostly from managers that I looked up to in my younger days. But I have checked out the PMBOK in detail, and I am convinced that it is good stuff. What I like the most about it is the continuing education feature.

      Cheers
      Vijay

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Tammy,

      I do agree with you that getting certified motivates you to learn something new out of your field, and this is exactly my case. I did not have any idea about SAP until I started studying MSc in Project Management. One of the courses was ERP, which in turns guided me to SAP.
      Now I am trying to catch the train with you to understand what is SAP and ERP.

      Regards,

      Wael

      Author's profile photo Witalij Rudnicki
      Witalij Rudnicki
      ... but once again my response was getting too long, so it went as a separate weblog piggybacking on your post 🙂

      Yet another view on SAP Certification and its levels

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      This is how things work out for me in SCN blogs - I open my loud mouth and say something from my POV, with no intentions to thik about what others thik about it :). People way smarter than me spot the swiss cheese arguments I make - and then make better arguments. Collectively - every one has a good time, and we learn.

      Just kidding - thanks Vitaliy for your post. I am sure others will join the debate and SAP gets a tremendous amount of information from all our thoughts.

      Author's profile photo Vineeth Varghese
      Vineeth Varghese
      I agree with the need for a consultant with certification and structured form of practical exposures (Cross module or technical or even at an architect level)we expect from any team member these days.
      But my point on certification is having more value as this is an ideal tool to weed out all pretended solution architects out of the SAP spectrum. Your view is true when we live in a world where all consultants (whether certified or non-certified) are technically qualified. But, is it true? I dont think so..
      I still prefer to give higher emphazise to a Consultant with experience and SAP certification over a guy with just sap experience.
      Its just my 2 cents..
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      Vineeth - I agree with your statement "I still prefer to give higher emphazise to a Consultant with experience and SAP certification over a guy with just sap experience.". But as certification exists today - would you prefer a person with no experience but a certification, over a person with no ertification but with some experience?
      Author's profile photo Witalij Rudnicki
      Witalij Rudnicki
      Vineeth, your post actually brought to my memory another discussion that happened on LinkedIn forum. Some people openly confessed that they had fake CVs describing experience they never had - just to get the job. Hopefully proper certification would filter those guys out.
      Author's profile photo Bala Prabahar
      Bala Prabahar
      Vijay,

      Thanks for this blog. I don't believe certification would ever increase my probability of getting a job. So I would never get certified hoping it is going to improve my probability of getting a job.

      However I am open to getting certified for three reasons:
        1) Normally these exams make you think so I get a better understanding of software products. I use certification exam as one more way to acquire knowledge. 
        2) I use the certification exams to check my level of expertise. Additionally sometimes it also reports your weaknesses and strengths. This information would be helpful if you would like to focus more time on weaknesses.
        3) Thirdly, I take certification exam just for fun(like puzzle solving, sudoku etc):).

      Thanks,
      Bala

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      As it exists today, you and I share the same opinion that certification does not help much with job prospects. And for your point 3 - for me personally, it is way too costly a way to have fun. I would stick to the sudoku books I buy at airports 🙂
      Author's profile photo Witalij Rudnicki
      Witalij Rudnicki
      Vijay, why waste money for sudoku? Just have one ABAP-based for free on your laptop: Sudoku Solver written in ABAP / BSP

      Assuming you are running ABAP stack on your laptop 😉

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      LOL - I don't have an ABAP stack on my laptop anymore. But I did make my own sudoku on excel couple of years back, with some VB coding. It was not very elegant, and I just lost interest at some point.
      Author's profile photo Bala Prabahar
      Bala Prabahar
      Vijay,

      Yes, we are on the same page as far as benefits of certification is concerned.

      I didn't mean I would take certification exam in lieu of Sudoku or puzzle(there is time and place for everything). I just gave Sudoku as an example. Sudoku doesn't require any preparation (no, I don't buy those books on how to solve Sudoku); When I take certification exam, I certainly prepare for the exam.

      Thanks,
      Bala

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

      You write: "I would never get certified hoping it is going to improve my probability of getting a job."

      The thing with a job is, that you only have to be just a bit better than the next second one to get it. That certification can make the difference or something you learned while preparing for the certification came handy as a good answer, or it gave you more confidence going into the interview ...

      It may not be the obvious entry card to a job, but it may make the difference along the way.

      I once heard that Dirk Nowitzki sometimes practices on a unicycle to improve his body's feeling for balance. Next year may be that is giving him the edge. That edge may be the certification for you.

      Good luck, Mark. 

      Author's profile photo glen spalding
      glen spalding
      myself, i have no doubt that it is a good thing. i believe certification does NOT make you a "better" consultant, as the "better" consultants go one up on certification knowledge.

      BUT, it does
      1) put you on a base common ground with all other certified consultants

      2) show an aptitude that you can learn and have been at least through some formal education

      i have been employed purely because i was ABAP certified. the more you can separate yourself from competition, the better.

      if i was hiring, and i had two identical people on paper, of course i would hire the certified one. (and dont tell me there are no two people alike. on paper, everyone is alike. you got to get through that door first)

      so, why don't we just treat it like driving a car. get it done and out of the way.

      i believe it is a good thing.

      myself ? no i am not certified, but i am in the process of (and have been for the last year or so) 😉

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      There is another interesting discussion of the value of certification (here of developers) on http://blog.objectmentor.com/articles/2010/03/07/developer-certification-wtf

      Or yet another example, if you want to hire a magician for your circus, would you just ask for certificates and a CV, or ask the person to show a few tricks?

      Kind regards
      Torben

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      isn't staying uncertified undermining the whole point of certification? hey, it's just an exam, nothing more and nothing less, just like hundreds of exams out there: CPA, PMP, MCSD, Series 7...they are all needed, but we shouldn't expect more from them than they can actually deliver...now, if you let me i need to study for my next certification.
      Author's profile photo Bill Wood
      Bill Wood
      The one thing that is missing from ALL of these certification discussions and posts is the need for SAP to be able to provide a TRANSCRIPT and VERIFICATION of certification or training.

      Without that it is worthless!  I can not tell you how many resumes I see with "Ceritified in XYZ" listed and SAP doesn't even offer that type of certification.  It is commpletely made up.  Or worse still, claims of a legitimate type of certification but no way to verify it.

      Until there is some objective way to verify certification (like Universities who provide sealed transcripts directly to an authorized requester) then certification and training are worthless.

      As I wrote other places, I suspect that "Certified Business Process Expert (BPX)" will start showing up on hundreds, or even THOUSANDS of resumes by the end of next week even though SAP has just completed a PILOT training program. 

      If I didn't have ethics, morals, and my own reputation to worry about I'd be "certified" on paper in SD, MM and BPX by the end of next week on my resume too!

      In my opinion the certifications are WORTHLESS until that issue is resolved.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      I avoided that on purpose because C5 and SAP themselves have brought it up many times. I am 100% in agreement with you - there should be a valid and easy check of certification that is also portable.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      "So I would also like to see SAP offering a focused education and certification path for Team leads and PMs". I second that completely.
      Also, I thank you Vijay & Vitaliy for bringing up this discussion. I had questions since quite a long time that throws clarity in this forum.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Nice blog and interesting discussion as well. Thanks!
      Ondrej
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Everything said and done, when are these trainings and certifications happening in India. I've been SAP folks for past 2 years and nothing has moved so far......
      Author's profile photo Dennis Howlett
      Dennis Howlett
      @vijay this is invaluable input to the process the C5 are working through - as both a Mentor and representative of one of SAP's most important partners.

      As you know, we are endeavoring to push through the idea of an Influencer Council as a 1st step towards SAP fully appreciating the nuanced but important interests of all stakeholders in what we believe is a foundational issue.

      It is all too easy to get bogged down in details on this but then the devil is always in the detail. The broad picture you are painting is encouraging because it tells me that at one level at least we are making the case. I don't know if you remember but when I first mooted this issue, almost to a man, commenters hated the idea. If we can get people like yourself to see what a valuable certification might look like and persuade you to see our vision then I am very hopeful that great things can come of this.

      Once again - many thanks - plenty to consider. And of course be assured the C5 will continue to be as transparent as the need to protect innocents allows.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author
      Thanks Dennis - glad you find the POV of me and all the folks who commented to this blog useful to the C5's process.

      Also just to make sure you and other readers understand this right - this blog is just my personal opinion, and I am not making this as a representative of IBM.

      Author's profile photo Chris Paine
      Chris Paine
      Excellent post!

      I think I agree with what you say about the levels - but it is only the idea of a special relationship between SAP and "Master" level certified consultants that would make me want to get certified. Everything else there doesn't really matter - anyone who knows enough about their area should be able to tell rapidly in an interview if the interviewee does or does not know. Why do you need a piece of paper to say this - knowledge and experience are a lot harder to fake than a piece of paper - so you're going to have to do the legwork as a recruiter anyway.

      I was certified years ago - but I've never bothered to even think about updating it. But the possibility of being able to skip past first and second level support when lodging a service marketplace issue - now that would be worthwhile (and what's more I think I could get work to pay for that priviledge - what's more client would be likely to be happy to pay for that - especially when you think how much they are happy to pay for SAP consultants...)

      to summarise - Master (which doesn't exist yet) might be worthwhile - but what's the point of the others?

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Guys,

      I have 6 sap certifications from abap in 1999 to BO crystal reports in 2010. What I like abt certification is personally it helps me in understanding the tool. When I started working in BPS-SEM I forced myself to prepare for the certification so that I read the training material and documentation properply. I don't think it helps you in getting a job .

      Author's profile photo Chris Paine
      Chris Paine
      Isn't that a very expensive way to learn a new skill?

      Surely, if you were dedicated enough you could learn the content without then having to sit the certification?

      How does the certification alter in any way your value to your current employer or for future employment?

      However, if it works for you - I'm sure it is a good way to motivate yourself to learn - and that is something that many people lack!

      Author's profile photo Witalij Rudnicki
      Witalij Rudnicki
      Chris, getting new job is not the only ROI possibility 🙂
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      For beginners of SAP SD I would also suggest to visit

      http://www.sap-sd-certification-questions.com/