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SAP hiring practices of 2010 and beyond

Hiring of SAP consultants 


  • Hiring consultants within SAP during 2010 has polarised with an intense focus on ROI (Return On Investment) budget restrictions, this mean that each hire must be made in the most cost effective manner, which includes hiring at the lowest cost and hiring the most suitable candidates to fulfil the role’s scope.


Agency layers?


  • After the Y2k slump, the market went from the multiple agency solution to the newer Preferred Supplier List (PSL) where only vetted agencies could provide CV’s to a company hiring staff, but in the past few years even these PSL’s have mutated to incorporated companies that find consultants through mass mail shots to agents – which, in effect returns to the multiple agency practice of the late 90’s.
  • However, it also ensures that each consultant that is presented to a customer comes with multiple layers of commission attached to them – which pushes the price of the consultant up and the actual wages of the consultant down.
  • With the emergence of the cost cutting solution, companies are selecting to avoid these layers and work directly with consultants – with many of the large consulting houses opening their own internal agencies to avoid the price of commission – however these come with static over head costs which reduce the efficiency of the solution.
  • With such facilities as job boards, we many times find that an advertisied job has indeed already been advertised by several other agents, hence a consultant has to be very wary to check that he/she has not already been put forward to an advertised role. 


Direct contact and hire solution?

  • A solution would be to hire consultant directly for instance when they attend career events or other SAP events, however the candidates you find here are not always the ones you want, those tend to be already hired by someone else…..
  • There are now so called ‘direct connect’ solutions, which basically mean what it sounds like – it brings both consultants and customers in direct contact and removes the entire agent process. LinkedIn uses this kind of solution, however as we all know it is not SAP dedicated. 
  • By removing agents from the equation it reduces costs, but to improve ROI it is important to improve expense while also saving time and ensuring that the hired consultants can actually perform the role required – possibly as important as this, is knowing the reputation of the consultant before even contacting them – regardless if they are freelancers or consulting house staff who are only available ‘for rent’ for a  project.
Final word and your thoughts.
  • Using a ‘connect direct’ solution does however mean that the hiring managers/personnel manager themselves actually do the search work, something that has become uncommon because there has been a long acceptance of simply farming the work out, even though the amount of work is very minimal, there is a certain amount of resistance so far, but would it be worth their time to search, contact, interview and hire directly, if they could save their company money/budget when the time required to find and assess a candidate is no more than a few minutes?  What is your thought?
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      • Hi Muthu, please see my answer to Hussain, I would also like to add that even if a product is good and provides excellent value & service, it is not always that easy to get people to use it – as people really are creatures of habit and most do not like venturing out of their comfort zone.

    • Yes Hussain, we have seen and heard about this many times over the years, not just for this job portal ….it is never easy to re-train peoples habits….they tend to do and use the things they are used to and most comfortable with, which is a great shame…many people do loose out this way, not just in the SAP arena but in life in general.
    • Well, Greg, direct connect brings consultants and hiring managers together without the agents or layers – so when looking for a consultant, a hiring manager can select from all suitable consultants that are available and not just those “an agent” happens to know – so there is a better choice – plus using a direct connect model, the costs are greatly reduced, so the allocated budget pays for improved skills rather than commissions. Hope this answers your question? If not, please let me know.
  • This would be a great thing is the market ever adopts to it.  Even if it were just a small segment or for certain types of customer requirements, both SAP customers and consultants would benefit.

    For it to work 2 things must happen.
    1. Consultants need to do a better job of profiling themselves.  LinkedIn and SCN are a great place to start but I see too few people engaged in both sites in any reputable way.

    2. Customers need to put forth more effort then merely emailing a few sentences of requirements for a particular skillset.  If they could spend an hour or two working with a site like consultantbox and do a bit of the legwork themselves (such as searching), they’d benefit with both a better resource and reduced cost.  Better resources yield better and cheaper (long term) solutions at a lower risk to the customer.

    • The benefits from adopting a “self profile” attitude would assist both the consultants and the customers however the accuracy of the information must be ensured to make it a reliable source – leading to lengthy partnership agreements. Along with accuracy it needs to add value – if a consultant is not available for 1 year they need to be deselected from searches or if they are historically FI functional they don’t want to know about SD roles etc.
      The question of the customer doing leg work is a problem as, for so long they have simply done as you say – a few sentences on an email and wait for the agency to stack up the layers. Hours of searching are not the problem, it takes under 5 minutes to add the most complex role and start filtering the results, editing the choices is even faster – but those 5 minutes are a problem to some still.
      The point you make about better resources yielding better projects in the long term is something of a mantra that we repeat every morning, it is impossible to underestimate the importance of having knowledgeable resources available rather than just cheapest, SAP can be excellent but only if the people deploying it know how to maximize its potential, which is the original idea for selecting SAP.
      Companies are on an ever decreasing budget, this makes cutting layers and commissions ever more important, by removing these the customers budget has more spending power for the quality consultants – sometimes customers are surprised when they find the “working price” of a consultant compared to the price they pay. Sadly the consultants already know all about layers!

      • For some customers this will require some effort but there are many already out there (at least here in the US) that are sophisticated and experienced enough to find the right consultant.  They have enough experience to accurately read through a consultant’s resume and they’re active in the SAP community (ASUG, SCN, conferences) to know how to find the right people.  There are many small niche consulting groups with their own specialties (BOBJ, security, FI, CO-PA, BI).  I think it behooves a customer to take more ownership of this and establish a relationship with some of these customers.
        • Completely agree that many customers are now very attuned to reading CV’s and understanding the underlying consultant, however it is only the consultants who should not be hired, that will work hard at pretending to be what they are not. Reducing their ability to cause chaos while rewarding the professionals is important for everyone in the market today, these consultants usually have to be carried on projects and often leave problems behind that are difficult to find and repair.

          The niche consulting houses are often an excellent option, they carefully vet each consultant within their niche because, for a smaller company one bad hire can, as we all know, be a disaster, both financially and to their reputation. Many offer exceptional “value realisation” and expertise to customers.

          The ASUG, SCN and conferences are an excellent community solution – however the “rogue” consultants continue to operate by jumping from project to project causing chaos or just wasting budget.
          ASUG and SCN are an outstanding force, but supporting them in this, is our aim – not, in any way, replace them.

          Ownership is a complex beast, but I would agree that excluding the niche groups, is to preclude some outstanding SAP consultants and consultants of these standards, are invaluable in delivering outstanding solutions.

  • Hi Vips,

    I hesitated to write this comment, and this is probably my third or fourth attempt at getting the tone I want.  I understand that what you’re suggesting offers both sides of the employment equation a fast, cheap way of making the correct hire / no hire decision – it helps both sides, because the employer can get the new employee working sooner, and the employee doesn’t have to wait around, possibly knocking back other offers, or maybe accepting them, which means we start all over again.

    Now, it’s a sensible way of hiring and one I’d like to see take off, but we do have the chicken-and-egg situation.  Companies won’t see the need for it until they find all their prospective consultants are using it or similar services, but the consultants won’t use it till the employers start using it.

    What concerns me is that your vested interest isn’t made clear.  With a very minimal discussion of the alternatives, you arrive at the conclusion that the ‘direct connect’ model of hiring is better than the alternatives – especially if “the time required to find and assess a candidate is no more than a few minutes”… which just happens to be the business you are in.

    I have three major concerns;
    1) I see the need this kind of recruitment fills and how useful it can be to both employer and employee, so I’m concerned that people may see your vested interest in promoting it here and turn off.

    2) Related to this is my experience with some (by no means most) Job Agents.  I’ve had Agents:
    * forward my resume without informing me,
    * forward my resume for jobs I wasn’t suited for,
    * suggest I’d take less pay than we’d agrred on,
    * suggest I wanted MORE pay than we’d agrred on,
    * over state my qualifications,
    * understate my qualifications,
    and so on.  Suggesting your way of business is the ‘bees knees’ without properly disclosing that it IS your business is nowhere near as bad as any of the practices I listed above.  However, it does make think twice about recommending your particular company.

    3) Probably most important of all, I had some points I wanted to raise, a) about how various certifications and educational honors can be used to measure (or at least ‘signal’, in economic terms) the possible value of a prospective employee, and b) about how employers may need to sell themselves to the consultant to get the best available, but instead I’ve got all hung up on something completely different !!!

    Of course, this is my opinion only.  I’m happy to discuss this further (online or offline).  I’m also interested in hearing what others think about my concerns – Am I being over sensitive ?

    • Hi Martin,

      No, you are not being over sensitive and the points you make are valid, being completely honest with you the blog started off as a far more balanced expose of the choices – however, as we are new to blogging on SCN the blog
      was culled on multiple occasions and was left as you see it today (because it was too much of “an advert”). We now have a far better understanding of what is and is not allowed here.
      My apologies for the lack of continuity you have spotted within the blog – such as detailed discussion of alternatives – was too interlinked with solutions offered by CB and was therefore completely cut out. This left you wondering
      why no rational alternatives were discussed (I believe we ended up with the chicken stepping on the egg, all be it inadvertently! :-))

      That said, I would like to take some of your points up as they are very relevant and important.

      You say that this is a chicken-and-egg situation with consultants waiting for clients and… etc, completely correct and what is more, there has to be a “real life” reason for anyone to start the whole process.
      Having worked with SAP hiring for so many years we understand that is no easy task – however,
      we are partnering with an ever growing number of consulting houses, who are adding their internal “on the bench” consultants as available ‘for rent’, rather than “letting them go” and then being forced to re-hire and re-train new ones when the need arises.
      The net affect is that, while consulting houses are adding consultants to our database (which is a part of the egg in your example), they are by recruiting from the site, also becoming part of the chicken (not trying to refer to SI’s as chickens :-)). With more consulting houses adding staff and hiring through us, it is creating
      a snowball effect – and as you say, once consultants get the idea that SI’s are hiring through the site they will be more interested in being present.

      Your 3 concerns –
      1 – Perfectly valid point, one we have taken on board and will not repeat, however when you say that the answer happens to be our business model – in reality our business model is the result of years of research and conversations with consultants and clients – CB was created to resolve the issues the market wanted dealt with – not by any one person – but point made and taken.

      2 – Yes, fully understand your point here, the initial blog did declare that this was our business model (but too loudly), but by the time it was culled, that was completely removed, after reading the final blog again today it reads as though “funnily enough, take a look at this” which was never the intention, we are very proud of the solution and do not hide from our
      involvement at any turn – again, we take the blame for the final draft of the blog, but should have gone through it in entirety rather than culling small pieces. We learn something new everyday 🙂

      3 – The “word from the streets”, was that there was not one way to define a consultant’s standards, and a certificate alone was not enough. From what you wrote, I believe this is the point you are making? If so, we agree with
      that and therefor CB uses 5 criteria to assess a consultants abilities, to bring enough information from various, verified sources to give the hiring manager a more “holistic” view, than just a SAP certificate or just a set of
      references. It is the sum of the parts that create the value of the entirety.
      Regarding companies needing to sell their work to a consultant, a valid point and one we will take on board (thank you we are always looking
      for ways to improve and will incorporate that concept into CB.
      Regarding agents, as it once said in this blog there are many who are excellent and offer tremendous value while others act badly.
      The question we were raising was not the general professionalism but the restrictions that being in front of only one or two agents can cause. Added to the possibility of coming across one of the “worst kind”, but that was lost in
      the wash too.
      The bad agent is like the bad consultant, always potentially lurking in the next phone call, it is only when something goes wrong, that you know you have one!

      In summary, the blog started off as a fairly long and detailed view of the SAP market over the years, and how it has struggled to evolve in the
      internet world for contract SAP consultants, but ended up without the chewing gum that should have held it all together 🙂

      Please do let us have your feedback on this, as we actively want to learn and improve and that can only be done using open dialogue – hence the reason we started blogging on SCN in the first place.

      All the best, Vips & Simon