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
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.