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SAP Certification Sale is Bad News

I recently noticed that SAP was starting to run another 50% off sale for certification when I came across the following: North American Certification Promotion Announcement – Starting March 7 until June 30, 2011, please use promotion code 11CERTQ2 at Pearson VUE to register for exams in the US and Canada at a 50% discount. This promotion code WILL NOT be extended past the 6/30/2011 deadline.”

I have always enjoyed a good sale but when I continually see SAP discount their certification it goes to the root of the findings in the SAP Certification: The Certification 5 Report that a lot of changes are still needed with SAP certification. The bottom line is that a strong certification program does not need to discount their offering 9 months a year to drive people to get certified. For reference, I checked with my brother who is a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) and he has never seen Cisco discount their certification.

I would have assumed the certification sale was to help hit education revenue targets for North America but that does not appear to be the case per Thought leader interview – SAP Certification Manager Sue Martin on Transforming the SAP Certification Programme

John : What is SAP’s motivation, is to make money from certification as a revenue stream or to make SAP projects and customers more successful?

Sue : Only the second! If making money from certification is not the main goal of SAP (and not sure I believe that) than I would love to hear an explanation as to why for 9 of the past 11 months they are offering discounted certification. SAP needs to be focused on making bringing more quality to the certification program and making it more respected in the marketplace before they put it on “sale” again. 

My main issue with the sale is that it minimizes the credibility of the entire certification program not due to the cost but to the fact that a whole group of “sale shoppers” will get certified before the program has had a chance to roll out additional changes. Let me give an example and for reference I was certified in SAP HR in 1998. It is equivalent to me buying a house for full price (i.e. certification) in 1998 that had a solid value in marketplace and waking up 13 years later to find out that not only had the title/deed to my house disappeared (SAP doesn’t acknowledge Respect SAP Certification), I have the title company (SAP) telling me I can get the title back if I pay more money (upgrade certification) while at the same time thousands of people were walking around with a fake titles to my house (people fraudently claiming to be SAP certified) and throughout this all the houses on the street are selling for half price because although everyone likes the neighborhod no one is will to pay full price because they didnt believe in the quality of my neighborhood (view of SAP certification in marketplace). I realize this is a bit extreme but it isnt far from the truth.

Change may be coming but it happening extremely slow especially given the “new” SAP leadership and direction. The Certification 5 group of mentors is doing a great job trying to move this forward and I think everyone has the same desire to see SAP certification take its proper place within IT certifications and not be continually be on the sale/discount rack.

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  • Jarret, you hit on some key points for sure.

    “SAP needs to be focused on making the SAP certification program something that is desired and respected in the marketplace so that 50% off sales won’t be needed to get people interested.”

    It’s hard to argue with that point.  I’m not sure, however, that the perceived quality of SAP certification is primarily tied to price. I think the rigor of the testing has more to do with it than the price. In other words, while you raise a very important point, I don’t know how widespread the perception you are having is. It would be interesting to find out. Perhaps other SCN readers will share their views.

    To me, the most discouraging SAP certification news of the spring is the disappearance of the Master level from SAP Education web sites. It’s like the third level no longer exists. Which means the only levels publicly available are pure multiple choice. That is sadly far from the gold standard SAP Education should be aspiring to.

    I have no doubt that around Sapphire of this year, the C5 will learn more about what SAP’s plans are with certification and I’m glad for the dialogue we have had to date and some of the improvements made. But there is a long way to go and speaking only for myself, the developments you are commenting on here are not the ones I was hoping to be talking about with SAP Education this spring.

    We should have a clearer understanding of where this is all headed within a few months. Clearly we need it.

    – Jon

    • I was asked the same question in Twitter back channels. My answer was pretty simple: 50% off something of dubious value doesn’t increase its value. Neither does encouraging more certification through price mechanisms. If the fundamentals are the same who cares?
      • Great point Dennis as SAP shouldnt be running sales until they listen to some of the advice from the C5 and fix the certification program.

        Something tells me that if SAP charts the right course for certifications than 50% off sales will be a thing of the past.

        • I am surprised at the implication that working on making exams more affordable  – especially for freelancers who have to consider carefully every investment in their career success as they are paying it from their own pocket – and enhancing the program for it to be of more value seem to be viewed as two mutually exclusive areas of focus! The continued improvement of SAP’s Global Certification Program includes both of these elements and lots more and – to refer to my quote from the John Kleeman interview – it is in SAP’s interest to ensure that we offer certification which is of high quality + high validitity + easily accessible (without compromising on security) AND affordable for all target groups. I think you will also find that SAP is not the only IT company to focus on affordability as part of their certification program. Most other programs you will look at are offering free retakes etc. to improve the affordability of their exams. I find it less surprising of course that the points of view are clearly divided between those of us with 15+ years of experience who are not contemplating recertifying at this time and those of us who are considering taking an exam. Having been a freelancer for many years myself I would never consider the fact that I was able to pay 50% less for my exam as a disadvantage – or an indication of the value of the certification. The value of the certification is directly correlated to the amount of work – albeit learning or on the job experience – I have invested in getting that certification – not the price.    
          • Somehow my comment from yesterday didn’t make it, but what Susan says was exactly the point I tried to make: while there may be valid points on improving certification , I don’t think lowering the price has ANY necessary relation to the quality of certification.

            Before I joined SAP this would have certainly influenced my decision to even consider getting certified. I know for a fact that price is a factor, especially for smaller consulting companies.

          • Frank thanks for the comment and the bottom line is if there is perceived value in the marketplace than even at the current 100% there would be no issue for even the small consulting shops.

            My first consulting company spent about 15K sending me to a 5 week certification and didnt think twice about it because back in 1998 SAP HR was so hot (Jon Reed calls it wild west days) 🙂 that they could place me on a billable assignment with just the certification in hand (scary but true)

          • Susan I think you make a good point on affordability being important.

            My main issue with the sale is that it minimizes the credibility of the entire certification program not due to the cost but to the fact that a whole group of “sale shoppers” will get certified before the program has some enhancements that I think we all agree should be made.

            I realize that SAP doesnt engage outside parties in their pricing decisions but I think this would have been a great opportunity to get the opinion of the C5 as well as other mentors on the implications of another 50% off sales especially given all the research they pulled together last year. 

          • I am sorry Jarret – but I have to categorically disagree. The Associate certification exams have already been enhanced over the last 3 years to be more relevant and job task based. All “old” exams are now retired and these exams go a lot further towards validating Associate level skills than they have possibly done in the past. In addition the Professional exams are scenario based exams based on business problems and case studies written by Senior Consultants with years of experience in the field. They test understanding  and the ability to apply experience and knowledge to solve customer problems at a very senior level. The people who have studied and brought in their extensive field experience to pass these exams are not “sales shoppers” – they are senior individuals with much better things to do with their time than spend half a day sitting in front of an exam for the sake of a bargain.
            The C5 proposals are being considered for enhancements to the program – looking at ways that we can make the Master level worthwhile or at ways we can test hands-on technical skills – but it is a grave misperception that the people who go that extra mile to certify now are in for an easy ride.
            Hope that helps
          • Susan just to be clear the enhancements I was refering to were not related to the actual associate test as you guys have done a good job on that.

            On a side note I dont think the test were ever “easy” especially if like many it is your first exposure to SAP.

          • Thanks for that Jarret!
            I would not like anyone reading this who has not been through the certification to think that SAP certification is easy. Thousands of people put a lot of time and effort each year into getting certified and it would be very unfair to nurture that assumption.


    • Thanks for the comment Jon and all the great work that you and C5 are doing to help improve SAP certification.

      I was surprised to see your comment on the Master Level certification being removed as SAP seems to have struggled on that specific certification and it shows a lack of vision and follow through which is disheartening.

      I didnt clearly articulate my argument on the discount but at the core I hate seeing them push additional people through during the sale until they have had a chance to fix the overall certification program. The last thing the market needs is more people with the current certification.

      I have seen first hand what my brother has had to go through to get his CCIE certifications and well as the respect and controls that has in the marketplace. SAP should look to model their certifications after that if they are serious about giving it some true clout and prestige in the marketplace.  If they do that there will be no need to have 50% off sales and the end result will be better for SAP and the community.

    • Hi Jon
      good comments. To your point around the Master certification  – this was removed as a result of the feedback last year in an attempt to manage expectations in the market. As you know we are setting up the Certification Influence Council – a group of external customer and partner stakeholders – to help us get a clear and customer driven view on the further needs of the certification program. I personally am very optimistic based on the feedback from the C5 and other stakeholders that the Master certification will be a welcome enhancement and we can identify some realistic timelines for its introduction. But the CIC will help us make that decision. Hope that helps.
  • I may be a proponent of the sale but only if it hit 100%.  Why not let people sit for at least one component (if possible) of the exam?  Or let people sit for one exam for free but the price returns to the normal rate for all subsequent exam sittings.  This issue of free vs. discount has been discussed for years and most economists have reasoned that free is better.  The trick is to cap it or have an expiration date so that consumers are compelled to respond and feel that they are actually getting a deal.  A 50% discount just makes me think that I’m wasting the other 50% when the discount no longer applies
    • That is an interesting idea especially if revenue is not the key factor for SAP certification and especially true for folks like us that are sitting with outdate certification but have very update skills with the new SAP products.

      Would be curious to get an offical response from SAP on Nathan’s idea.

      • Problem is that even it were free, there would still be some of us “odd ducks”, who wouldn’t get certified due to a bad fit. 

        Part of the problem is that tracks for certification miss certain skill sets and don’t always mesh with what people are looking for from their resources.  I think fixing the content would solve any pricing issues with the cost of the exams.

        I still have very open but skeptical mind on this whole issue.

        Take care,


        • Hi Stephen

          You make a good point as I got my certification when I was starting SAP 13 years ago but cant imagine a scenario where I would take the time and effort to get another certification unless there was a dramatic difference to how they were perceived in the marketplace.

          I asked SteveBogner who is a senior SAP HCM consultant with 15+ years of experience on twitter if he would take the certification test even if it was free and his response was “No, because my time isn’t free and there are many other value-producing activities I can spend time on” which I would guess sums up the views of other well respected senior non certified SAP consultants.

          Thanks for the comment.


      • there’s a lot of consumer psychology that goes into it… and I’m no expert in that area…  but giving a discount can backfire.  As I said previously, consumers (err…  SAP professionals) eventually tend to view discounted items as having lesser value…  it erodes their confidence in the product.  This is more prevalent in cases where items are consistently discounted and this is SAP’s first attempt at it.  Still…  not a good path to go down in my opinion. 

        SAP needs to increase the adoption of Certification in the market so that customers can use it as a differentiating factor when they hire and train their staff and/or consultants.  We all know that.  But they also need to make certification a bigger staple in the market and that’s where pricing can play a role.  If they offer the first certification for free… and maybe it’s a small certification…  then it might drive greater adoption in the market.  It starts to get people thinking more and more about certification which drives them to increasing their level of certification.  Again, lots of consumerism here because I think it’s been researched and proven that consumers are more inclined to improve their status in a program ONCE THEY ARE IN IT. 

        • I think there is a perception if a product is discounted repeatedly that it has less value or that its “regular” price is to high (hence wait for the next sale).

          This is 2nd time that SAP has run the promotion as they did it all 2nd half of 2010 and now for this extended period in 2011. My guess is for many folks the “regular” price is now 1/2 price.

          Couldnt agree more on making certifications a differentiating factor and it was when I got mine back in 1998 but it was more the “wild west” back than when you could use your certification to get your foot in the door (at least in the US market in HCM)

    • Hi Nathan
      I am the opponent of giving it away for free:-).My experience of having done that with other programs has shown that unfortunately human nature kicks in and people don’t prepare – so it normally results in little more than very high failure rates. Making it more affordable by offering discounts is a much better way to go because the investment for the individual is less in monetary terms but not low enough to just go in and “wing it”. I don’t know if this works for you as an official response but it is my take on it.
      • Thanks for chiming in Susan as you can tell there is a lot of passion around certification and I believe that is a very good thing.

        I think the grey area on the discounts is when they are as frequent as they have been in North America the discounted prices is now considered the regular price and further discounts are needed to get attention. It can be a vicious circle.

        On a side note I think the discount should be made worldwide if the goal is to lower the individual investment but still believe some improvements should be made before the next “sale” occurs.

  • We can only look in envy from the other side of the Atlantic – no sale here. I’m BO/Crystal, so the increase in certification costs is shocking.
    As a self-employed professional, I may just go without in the next release. My customers have never asked me if I’m certified, they’re just happy with my 15 years of experience.
      • Agreed, with 15 years of experience – you don’t need a bit-of-paper from SAP….but there are Agencies and Headhunters that use MUST have Certification X as a screening-method for filtering candidates.
        • Interesting comment on agencies and headhunters. I’ve been self employed for 4 years. At the start, I used agencies a few times, they were always asking for proof of everything.
          I’ve not used an agency for 2 years now, dealing direct with customers or via other consultants. Much more grown up model – this is my experience, yes I can do that, yes I’ll get on with it.
          • I have been independent in the Crystal (now BOBJ) space for about 14 years. Many of my clients in the Government sector are only able to contract via existing pre-approved VENDOR OF RECORD (VOR) agencies…so there is no ability to contract-direct.
        • Thanks for the comment as I found it surprising as I have never in 13 years had a recruiter, agency or headhunter ask me for my SAP certification.

          It is good to see that is occuring as “when” SAP fixes certification the longer term should be to make it so customers, recruiters etc ask for a certification information. That said we are a LONG ways from that happening.

  • I am waiting for certification to show up in my neighbourhood supermarket at every day low price 🙂

    Jokes apart, I seriously doubt if this 50% discount thing is going to change anything for the better.

    • Thanks for the post and if you have been shopping at the grocery store lately you will know that inflation is kicking in so we need the 50% sale to get back to year ago prices soon 🙂 I worked in the grocey business 10 years before SAP so it is near and dear to my heart.

      In all seriousness not only will it not change anything for the better but it will actually hurt as you will have more people getting certified before SAP has had a chance to make some of the fundamental changes that the C5 is proposing.

      Lets just say I dont expect this blog to end up on the SCN homepage.

  • Hi Jarrett

    Since the Pearson VUE promotion is North America-specific, let me explain why it was launched.

    Since March, 2009 when the Education@SAP LinkedIn group was established, I have been engaged in countless conversations with customers, partners, and independents about SAP certification and its availability for those who wish to take the exams.  So you know, the LinkedIn group was created for this very purpose — to listen and engage with anyone interested in SAP training-related topics.   In our social media discussions, a similar message was mentioned repeatedly — certification exams have value to the individual however the price is not affordable at this time.  As a result, North America took the step to offer the 50% discount promotion at Pearson VUE during the second half of 2010.  The promotion turned out to be an overwhelming success based on the number of people who earned their certification credentials during the promotion. 

    Since the promotion ended last year, I have continued to receive countless messages both privately and through our social media channels regarding the perceived need for further help with exam availability.  In March, 2011, North America Education kicked off another discount promotion effective until June 30, 2011.

    While we debate the value of certification and suggested enhancements to the current certification program in this forum, the promotions were, quite simply, North America’s effort to (1) drive quality into the market through the continued development of a certified community as well as (2) act on the feedback received through our social media engagement.

    I welcome further comments. 

    • Kenneth, I don’t feel as strongly as some of the other commenters that the certification discounts imply a cheapening of the product. I also think the LinkedIn SAP Education group that you are involved with is by far SAP Education’s most successful public endeavor in terms of transparent dialogue and feedback.

      That said, getting more folks certified does very little to drive “quality” into the market. That’s because many of the highest quality SAP professionals aren’t certified and SAP certification as it stands now has little do with what makes an SAP professional of high quality. In fact this kind of campaign runs the risk of confusing folks into thinking that a certification means they are hiring a superior SAP professional. Someday I hope that is the case but we are nowhere near that now. Whether you want to talk about validating soft skills, new SAP technologies of crucial import, or just bonafide field experience, SAP certification isn’t there yet in terms of quality validation. Discounts won’t solve that.

      I worry that your comment about “driving quality” indicates that SAP Education still hasn’t gotten this message despite a continually growing body of information that certification has yet to impact SAP hiring or be the benchmark many of us want it to be for advancement and excellence in the SAP field.

      I DO like very much how the Associates level, tied into the University Alliances, helps set a foundation for the youngest and newest SAP professionals. I believe that part is working and is a bi change for the better from say, 10 years ago. The rest is going to take much deeper and more radical efforts than discounts. For example, a much more robust e-learning and electronic certification exam prep program would be a better endeavor in my view than simply discounting the current.

      In addition to 15 years of conversations with SAP professionals and thousands of honest emails from them about their views there is our C5 certification survey which puts even more meat on the bones of these contentions.
      An analysis of the Certification Survey Results

      – Jon

      • Hi, Jon.  Really good input and well tied to the work of you and the rest of the Certification 5, which is important.  I would like to re-emphasize one point however.  You know that I have been a participant in these discussions and believe that certification in general has value even though it can be, should be and is (perhaps too slowly) being improved.  I would never, however, as a hiring manager (client or SI) make a hiring decision based upon certification alone.  I only use that (once verified as being legit – see Bill’s comment and my reply) as an indicator that the person has studied the material and knows it well enough to pass the test.  Beyond that experience takes over and includes both SAP experience, business experience and project experience.  We all make the point that it is not in the knowing but in the ability to do that makes a good consultant.  I think that this whole string Jarrett is a good discussion.  Thanks.
        • I will only add that I thought that long term goal of the Professional and Masters certification were to help hiring managers distinguish between candidates. There is a long ways to go but shouldn’t the goal be to design the Professional/Masters certification so that it includes SAP experience, business experience and project experience?

        • Art what your comment misses however is that many of the gold stardard certifications, including that of Cisco that SAP Education has looked at, DO have a major impact on hiring.

          I hope that you will join the C5 in making the case that we need a strong Professional and Master level certification as a rigorous roadmap for SAP professionals to aspire to. And yes, a strongly strengthened certification program would be a useful criteria for hiring managers, never a sole criteria but a useful one. I think if you study the other “gold standard” IT certifications you will find this is the case.

          Right now, certification has almost no relevance for the experienced SAP hiring manager *unless* they are hiring a junior employee in which case, as I have stated, I think SAP has made some progress and we have heard from managers who appreciate being able to hire certified SAP college grads. So we know that certification can be helpful.

          Arthur I can also tell you that studying programs like IBM (as well as SAP’s own BPX curriculum) it IS possible and very real to get more of a well rounded certification that just a multiple choice paper exam. To settle for that is to settle for less and ignore real companies that have accomplished a lot more.

          Please join us in raising the certification bar, because right now beyond college grads and juniors its value is a fraction of what it could be.

          – Jon

          • I can see first hand the value that my brothers CCIE has in the marketplace as it is common for firms to specifically request a CCIE.

            It is a bit unfair at this point to compare SAP to Cisco but also I think it is reasonable to use it as a model especially in the design of the masters level certification.

            In 13 years I havent had one firm ever ask me if I was certified and see hundreds of job postings a week and it is extremely rare to see SAP certification even mentioned.

            On a side note I think the UA and certified college grads is great program.

          • I am not exactly sure where this response is coming from since it clearly is not in line with what I said.  So, let me clarify my positions.  While I agree that certifications in other software companies likely has more relevance to actual skills and hiring decisions, I would point out that the targeted end point is generally getting a technology installed or operated, whereas ERP platforms have to be judged based upon how they deliver business benefits – quite a differnt value proposition.  Nevertheless, your point on other certification programs is a valuable one. 
            I have no clue why you would believe that I don’t support any point of view that believes Professional and Master’s certifications are appropriate, necessary and should be promoted (and accelerated).  Nothing in any of my blog postings would indicate otherwise.  I agree that there are many hiring managers today who minimalize the value of certification, to a great degree due to the length of time these programs have been around.  It may be interesting that you were personally certified in 1998, but hiring decisions in your case will or should be made on what you have done since and whether or not you have been able to create measurable business benefits (so, we are in violent agreement).  While I expect that the major SI companies had good (in some cases, very good) certification programs that they ran, I don’t think you would want to extend that to others who did minimal training, incomplete testing and falsified resumes as corporate policy.  I have personal knowledge of some of these, but the point is that there is no way to know which ones were good and which ones were paper programs, so it is hard to credit everything from that era.  Perhaps there could be a collection of all of the outdated certifications without attesting to the relative value of each. 
            I have also routinely supported raising the bar, including in comments posted here.  I believe that all of this work, including the work of the Certification 5, are  valuable contributions to this need.  I represent the broadest of the UAP programs in the market as far as it pertains to full MBA SAP Concentrations and SAP Graduate Certificates, which include TERP 10 as part of the curriculum.  If this is not raising the bar, I would find it interesting to know why not.  What I do believe, however, is that many consultants or graduates who would like to get into this career field listen to this discussion between 15 year veterans and draw the conclusion that this has no value and I categorically reject that.  I hope that this clarifies my thoughts.  Let’s get back to the discussion at hand. 
          • Art  – your explanations are good ones. I think the big difference between our viewpoints is that you are focused on the UAP areas – and doing great work there by the way- which is where I see the greatest progress and value for SAP certification currently.

            My focus tends to be at higher levels where both SAP professionals and hiring managers still need something more rigorous than what SAP currently offers. So I take issue with the idea that SAP certification can’t have a significant impact on hiring decisions because I think it lets SAP off the hook and I know SAP customers want to trust SAP certification more.  I get a bit edgy when a comment goes up around “SAP certification can’t be a trusted part of hiring” because I absolutely believe it can be.

            Yes, ERP requires business competency validation more than what Cisco does, but IBM for one has been validating business competencies very successfully and rigorously in a way that SAP can learn from, and I think will learn from.

            “Let’s get back to the discussion at hand.”

            That’s the one part of your comment I don’t agree with. These topics are inherent to a discussion about certification and anyone in this thread is free to comment about it in whatever direction they choose. I thought both your original comment and this one were worthy of discussion.

            Sorry if you took any offense, none was intended, and disagreements are healthy in my opinion.

            – Jon

          • Art thanks for continuing to share your views on certification but I have to take exception to the “listen to this discussion between 15 year veterans and draw the conclusion that this has no value and I categorically reject that”

            I think most senior consultants want to see the SAP certification program strong and respected in the marketplace regardless of if they are currently certified or not. 

            Certification DOES have value depending on the certification and stage of your SAP career but there is a core group lead by the C5 that thinks it can be better and I for 1 agree with them.

          • I certainly agree with you.  My comment was not to disrespect this conversation at all, but to point out that as 15 year veterans of the SAP wars, we have a different perspective than many of the folks just getting (or not getting) certified and how they can build a career.  I advocate strongly for building these programs also, and go further in that I believe that the University Community (represented through the University Alliance Program which does a great job) need to be a part of this solution.  I also believe that TERP 10 (Associate Certification in Business Process Integration) can and should be  a key component of these programs in business schools.  Rather than a technical skills course, this certification is a foundational understanding certification of how businesses operate at the IT Applications level, and therefore is ideal to be included with other courses focused on how to use SAP (or ERP) to produce business benefits. 

            I guess I am saying that I don’t think you are taking exception to my comment at all, just focusing on the value of these programs – that is a good thing.  Thanks again for starting this scrum – lots of good views expressed here.

          • Sorry Jarrek – but I have to agree with Art on this one.
            In a conversation which includes statements such as the following
            “it will actually hurt as you will have more people getting certified before SAP has had a chance to make some of the fundamental changes that the C5 is proposing” and “The last thing the market needs is more people with the current certification” or “a whole group of “sale shoppers” will get certified before the program has some enhancements” clearly discredits the efforts of thousands of members of our community who have the experience and also dedicate the extra effort in achieving a certification they are proud of. I take serious exception to that as well I am afraid.
          • The bottom line is that Art, me, C5, 15yr SAP vets and you all have a common goal to make the SAP certification program something that is desired and that companies looking to hire SAP professionals seek out and demand.

            I dont mean to disrepect any of the work that has happened over the past several years and I know change can be slow but I hope we all agree there is a long road ahead.

          • On a side note I am personally one of the thousands of people who have experience AND have dedicated the extra effort to get certified so the last thing I want is to do is discredit that. I want to make what we all have better.
          • Sue, I’m less concerned about the cost reduction (we can all speculate as to why, good marketing, drum up slow business, etc.) than I am about the value of the certification itself.

            Again, I noticed you mentioned there is work being done to integrate certification status into SCN profiles.  Until that happens, whether the course is free or costs twice as much, to me PERSONALLY it has no value.

            When anyone can list on their resume that they are “certified” or they have taken training class A, B, C, etc., and there is no way to independently verify that the value is limited at best.

            If I were dishonest and unethical I would just list that I am certified in SD and MM.  Who would know the difference?  I’ve been doing them since 1994, I’m sure I could pass both tests.  But until the actual connection is there to validate that certification it is useless to me.


            Art works for a college, the university provides transcripts.  If someone claims they took the SAP courses there THEY can prove it.  If I pay $5K a week for SAP training I can NOT prove it. 

    • Hi Ken

      Thanks for jumping in and providing some clarity as you can tell anything related to certification is a item many feel very passionate about (which is a good thing)

      I would first like to say I have a lot of respect for the effort you and the group has done over the past year raising awareness of SAP education especially in social media (ie SCN,Twitter,Linkedin).

      A few things to consider:

      1. Having the certifications be on sale on the second half of 2010 as well as early in 2011 will send a mixed message as to what the “real” regular price is. Lets just say those countless msgs are only going to increase over time.

      2. Since when does SAP offer a 50% deal just because people ask for it. I am sure customers would love to wake up tommorow and have software license costs reduced by 1/2 but that isnt how it works. A valuable product should be repeatedly discounted and I think that is the issue at the core.

      3.Volume of people getting certified does not drive quality as it only drive quanity. If anything it reduces quality as until some of the changes the C5 are advocating are put into the place it is the “same old same old” certification which has proven to not impact hiring decisions or used in any meaningful way to seperate “good” from “weak” consultants.

      Thanks for your comments.


  • I remember when I got my CFA…almost no one had one then I was number 13310!!!!  I remember when I used to think certification was important until I began working for a consulting firm that has a lot of Junior resources that are certified in maybe 7 or 8 different SAP areas!!!!!  There is a huge difference between being a consultant and being a good test taker.  The SAP certification process does not distinguish well between the two concepts.
    • Thanks for the comment and I know that is one of the key areas that the Certification 5 group is working with SAP to improve on with their Professional level certification.

      You may find it interesting that this is wording on SAP Education Website regarding certification…sure sounds more than being a good test taker which by the way in the current certification testing format I agree with 100%.

      “Few credentials in the business world carry the value of SAP certification. Those who hold it have honed their skills through rigorous study or direct experience. They have demonstrated their abilities by passing demanding, process-oriented exams”

      On a side note congrats on the CFA certification as that is a certification that carries a lot of respect in the industry.

  • Everyone and their brother claims to be “certified” and adding more “certifications” only dilutes its value further.

    I had a fascinating exchange with a couple guys on LinkedIn recently.  They both claimed to be certified.  I asked them if they had their certification card from SAP with their “S” number and could log on to the SAP site and show me if I had a project.  One of them claimed when he took the cert exam in South America SAP would not provide him with a certification card or an “S” number.  The other one just claimed he got “certified” from some odd sounding foreign name that I had never heard of.

    So, some of these folks are plainly lying.  But some of them may in fact be getting ripped off if they are paying for some program that CLAIMS to be a certification program. 


    In either case NONE of these issues will be resolved until SAP offers some type of a transcript program. 

    • Great point Bill as I havent heard SAP acknowledge all the certification fraud that is in the marketplace which goes a long way towards its percieved quality.

      I like your idea of a transcript program and I think it is important there is a place where SAP customers can easily log in and find a consultants “offical” certification history from anyone that has ever been certified.

      Mutiple things have to be both with the actual certification as well as raising the awareness in the marketplace.

    • This is a great point, Bill.  Also over the years there are a lot of various SI organizations that conducted their own training and awarded “certifications” that were meant to be equivalent to SAP conferred certifications and may or may not have been – likely some were and some weren’t.  So, it may not even be the organizations we have never heard of, it may be some that we have but don’t really know if they are equivalent.  Mostly, however, the unfortunate fact appears to be “buyer beware”, and as hiring manager you need to due diligence around claims.  Really good point.  Thanks.
      • I took the offical SAP HR training and certification back in 1998 from the SAP Partner Academy and also “got” a certification from a consulting company back in 2000 and I can  first hand tell you that only the SAP one should be counted if SAP ever does something to offically recognize certification in the marketplace.

        Maybe the standards had changed but at that time(2000)the SI companies had a requirement/goal to have X % certified and lets just say there wasnt a lot of controls in place.

        • My point exactly.  I know that some of the partner academies were quality, I know that some were professionally created and conducted.  I also know that some were weak, and based upon meeting internal objectives.  I would also not incorporate these into a database as there would be no quality control.  I am not saying that SAP certifications have always been consistent, but I think more so than others. 
  • If I was a customer and I was looking at implementing SAP, I would feel a level of confidence that the consultants I would have on a project were certified.

    However if the customer looked into the process, (some consultants can come straight out of uni, attend a couple of courses and then take an exam) I may have some concerns.

    I would be more interested in the number of similar implementations the consultant had take part in.

    I believe the entry level course is too simple ( I am just basing this on my own area Finance).

    I would like to see a number of end to end implementations, business experience and a high pass mark to be part of the certification.

    This would ensure the level of consultant would be higher and provide customers a consistent message about certification.

    • Thanks for the comments and I agree the entry level associate certification is “easy” for someone with many years of experience though if you are just starting off it can be a lot of prep/studying.

      I think the professional certification provides more of what you are mentioning above and I know that is the one that the C5 group is working on.

      That said since the market does seem to care about the associate certification what is SAP going to do to ensure the professional certification has the proper respect and credibility in the marketplace so that senior consultant will be motivated to spend the time getting it.

      On a side note a link on the different certification levels offered by SAP ( and note that the masters certification is now missing (although it was never really offered)

  • I totally agree with your comments on certification, although I am not sure that whether or not SAP is providing less expensive testing is the real issue.  Your comment about “older” certifications is one of the issues that I find troublesome also.  I agree that SAP is moving to revise, update, improve the overall certification programs.  I agree that this whole restructuring process cannot come too fast for the industry.  I agree that at some point the years of certifications that took place before this rework of the process have to be rationalized and connected logically to what is being developed today, and such that the cost and effort that went into achieving these in the past is recognized and respected.  Most of all I agree that if someone was certified many years ago and has been working in SAP since, their experience and projects are more important in hiring decisions than current certifications.  The one point that I would disagree with is that, given all of this, programs to encourage more consultants to achieve basic level knowledge of the systems they propose to work on is not a good thing.  As a hiring manager, I would still like to know that at the entry point of any consultant, they did understand (by certification) the material content of what they are claiming expertise in.  After that, experience is a better indicator.  So let’s continue to push SAP to develop the programs and quickly, let’s continue to respect both certification and experience, and let’s not discourage new entrants from learning more about what they are going to working on. 
    • Great comment Art and I have a lot of respect for the work you doing with SAP and the UA.

      Just for clarity, my goal in writing the article was not to discourage new entrants for taking certification as I used it as my entry way into SAP 13 years ago. I am frustrated by both the slow pace of change as well as the lack of respect from SAP and marketplace around certifications. SAP should protect the certification by having an offical database or transcript as Bill Wood (@R3Now) mentions below as well be looking at ways to improve both the associate and professional level certification (lets not talk about Masters) 🙂 and get the message out to the marketplace and customers. From my perspective all that seems important to SAP at this point is the certification revenue.

      On a side note very good article on “Thoughts on the University Alliance Program (Thoughts on the University Alliance Program)

  • I may look at things a little different.  I don’t work in Cisco or any other area of IT other than SAP, but I know there is probably valid perception that the quality level of a certification for Cisco would be considered more professional and quality than a cloudy SAP certification.

    In my mind this is all due to the quality of information on system processes and documentation provided by the company.  If you take a look at the Cisco reading library that is available to everyone you see tons of a technical manuals and detailed information readily available to anyone.   Will you see this quality and amount of information available for SAP?  No.  And the documentation you do have available is not detailed enough and/or complete.  Just look at how they document their function modules.  There is basically no documentation.  How is anyone supposed to really get to know how the system works if there is not enough detailed information.  I have seen many times that documentation at the level of a brief sentence is provided on a specific button or checkbox, but NO CONTEXT at all is provided!  So someone may be able to tell you what the button does, but have no real idea the implications are.  I have also seen many times where I will receive an error message and this error message is not documented. 

    Many times to solve problems I have been full circle from SDN, to “” to OSS to applying notes to SAP and back to SDN to hopefully get a problem solved.  one exmample would be a search of “KM Bookmark”.  I have seen this term right in the web applications of SAP. But, when you search for “KM Bookmark” you find no documentation on this.  Only in SDN will you find this. 
    I remember working in the IBM AS/400 field and pouring over detailed manuals and eventually finding the problems because there was an answer buried in the detailed documentation.

    My personal belief is that until SAP executes the following steps their Certification will always appear to be “Cloudy” at best.

    1. Greatly increase the level of documentation detail.
    2. Make their detailed documentation publicly available
    3. Improve the quality of documenting their system.  Function Modules, add Context, summary, integration information, etc.

    • Thanks for the comment and you bring up some valid points about the documentation that is publically available.

      Part of the battle is being able to find the documentation and I heard that SAP was working to improve their search engine capability.

      On a side note I believe a group of Mentors lead by Tobias Trapp are working on documentation but I am not sure from what angle or perspective.

    • Excellent points.

      You said: I have seen many times that documentation at the level of a brief sentence is provided on a specific button or checkbox, but NO CONTEXT at all is provided! So someone may be able to tell you what the button does, but have no real idea the implications are.

      BW system is a great example. SAP BW is a great product. Whoever developed BW module in SAP deserves a lot of appreciation. Great work! SAP BW is a double edged sword in my opinion. It would help people with DW knowledge build robust BW applications quickly. Unfortunately it also would help people with no DW knowledge design/develop/populate BW infocubes. All they need to do is drag and drop, check/uncheck a button/checkbox and info cube/DSO would be ready. They would learn the implications in production system;in almost all cases, it may either be too late to fix or would take a considerable amount of time/efforts to fix.

      I agree with your points on documentation.


  • Never thought this would generate so much response!


    I’ve been doing SAP since 1994.  Having said that over the years I’ve taken a LOT of SAP classes and have one old (pre Y2K) certification in the ASAP methodology.

    Even with the number of years I’ve been doing SAP I would **seriously** consider getting the SAP certification if there were some gateway process–like a transcript service–to verify training or certifications.

    Without that additional check for me it is worthless.  If I were as unethical as so many of the resumes I review I would just list that I am both SD and MM certified without bothering to take the test.  When I do overall SAP project management gigs, or work as a team lead and have to review resumes it is COMMON to have 1/3 – 1/2 of them completely fabricated or falsified.  And most of them claim some type of “certification.”


    Half price or not, until SAP can provide a mechanism to verify course attendane and certification legitimacy it is not much more than a panacea.

    For folks like Andy who runs a decent organization SAP could offer an “alliance” program like it does with so many of its vendors and participants could be submitted to the SAP transcript registry.


    Come on guys, SAP provides an Educational solution to Colleges and Universities and they can’t use their own application to provide a transcript service?

    • Agree completely Bill. We are currently working with SCN to validate the certification status in the business card function so that that can be used as a validation check for those who opt in. That should cut down the number of falsified resumes.


      • I think that Bill brings up some excellent points and the key to this being successful will be how far back the SCN certification validation check will be available.

        I would expect for example my SAP HR certification from 1998 that was done at SAP training facilities would be part of this new initiative.

      • Can I get more info, or some details around the SCN opt-in for certification validations?  Will it also include classes taken but where there was no certification? 

        For example, between class cost and expenses a week’s worth of training can easily run $5K or more from SAP.  To be able to verify classes taken as well would be powerful.

        It would bring value to the training, the certification, and to SCN as a customer hub.  Want to know if your consultant’s resume is true?  Ask them to include a link to their SCN profile!

        • I am very interested in looking forward to seeing more details around SCN opt-in for certification validation as well.

          It might be difficult to do the individual classes retroactively (SAP Payroll jargon) but I think it is a great idea at least moving forward especially if the infastructure is already built to support historical certifications.

          I think everyone is in agreement that resume fraud is a big issue in our industry and the steps SAP is taking around SCN and certification is a great step in the right direction.

      • I don’t know how accessible this history is with SAP, but I am in agreement.  I started taking SAP courses in 2.2 Jump Start, then transitioned to 3.0 Level 2 and 3 courses in 1995 or 1996.  My recollection is certification in ASAP, but I took 75 days of basically level 2 courses in nearly every function and then figured out how it all integrated by myself (would love to have had TERP 10, which is why I am so passionate about it).  Particularly for folks who have been on project teams for clients and been in business analyst positions, the inclusion of this would be valuable.
    • You bring up a great point as one of the first steps in bringing more credibility in the marketplace to certifications is to ensure people who are claiming to be certified really are.

      From 1998 to 2000 I took every SAP HR training course available as well as got the offical SAP HR certification. It was a great foundation to supplement the project experience I was getting at the same time and helped mold my career so I am a big believer in the benefits of SAP Education.

    • i had the original from 1998 misplaced somewhere, but after consolidating multiple S id’s i have gathered on SCN over the years, i did get another copy of my FI/CO letter. At the time, you could only get it through a partner. it was KPMG for me and only after 5 weeks of training. back in 1998, its value was approaching CPA license here. not sure, if it’s still the case. if i have to debug something which fails in production, none of them help, but i do vote for some kind of electronic verification system.
      • Greg it is interesting as I got certified in 1998 as well and at the time the demand was so strong to get certified in SAP HR that you needed to be with a big partner to even get a slot at the Partner Academy (times seem to have changed). I had a friend that worked for Deloitte get me in and the myth was the certification was only valid when you worked for the firm. I never confirmed if this was true or not as it wouldnt make a lot of sense if so.

        I have have 10-15 S’ids over the years from client sites etc I have no idea what my certification is under but hopefully SAP makes it easy when they roll out the new SCN business card and certification functionality.

        • Jarret
          you can contact NA Education at any time and ask them to merge your cert results under your most current S-user. And no – the certification is not only valid whilst you are working for the firm. You earned it – you get to keep it.


          • Thanks for that clarity on the ability to move to most current S-User and the fact that the certifications stays with you. That must have been a myth from the Big 5 so that you wouldnt leave 🙂
          • I managed to find my certification over this weekn (694921) and on it says “This certificate is valid for the person indicated and ONLY in conjuction with the company listed above”  The company listed above the consulting company. It is interesting this was written that way and expect that is why there was/is confusion. Glad to hear that the wording isnt acurate and the certifications stay with the person.
    • Me too.  I’d consider taking the certification even though, at the moment, there is no direct benefit to me in the market.  It has to be easy to get to and easy to prep for…  but, yes, I’d be willing to get certified.
  • The fact that the certification programs were not easily affordable in the past for just anybody, was in itself a “filter” for the kind of professionals that would start an SAP career. Any average professional had to REALLY want to have a successful SAP career, before choosing to pay for it with his/her own money, as the certification would definitely take a hit on someone’s personal finances; OR your certification had to be financed by your Employer, which in itself meant that your Employer thought you were worthy of their investment.

    If something doesn’t “hurt” much (financially for instance), it becomes a lower-risk decision to make (becoming an SAP professional in this case).

    • Thanks for the comment Verushka as you bring up an interesting point that hasnt been discussed in any of the previous comments.

      The bottom line is if the certification was demanded by the marketplace than SAP wouldnt be discounting and there would be no shortage of people and companies will to pay for it.

      Case in point as back in 1998 for SAP HR there was a waiting list to get into the 5 week partner academy in North America because there was such demand in the marketplace.

      • Sorry Jarret but I’m afraid I have to disagree with your bottom line statement “The bottom line is if the certification was demanded by the marketplace than SAP wouldnt be discounting” again. If you take a look at other very reputable IT certification programs with high levels of demand in the marketplace such as Cisco IBM and Microsoft you will see that they also offer certification discounts. This is not a concept invented by SAP and by no means a reflection of the level of demand in the market.
        I hope that helps to clarify.
        • Susan I have been very impressed with the way you and Kenneth have handled the critism and provided insight into this discussion. To see SAP managment be aware and involved in the social media channels and SCN is excellent.

          I was an economics major in college as well as worked 12 years in retail prior to starting SAP and I can tell you I never have seen a company discount a product for 10 out of 12 month that is having “strong” demand in the marketplace so very suprised to hear you say the sale is ” no means a reflection of the level of demand in the market”

          Also per Ken “certification exams have value to the individual however the price is not affordable at this time”. The exams were definitely not “affordable” when I went for 5 weeks of Partner Academy training and certification in 1998 but they were worth every penny.

        • discount is a valid way to increase sales – and is generally only effective for short duration. When consumer knows that duration is long, there is no urgency, and the chance of using the discount is lower.

          People don’t look at buying decisions by absolute cost alone – they usually compare it to value. Things look pricey when value appears low.

          Back in the day, people paid big money to go to Partner academy – they did so fully knowing that it is recoverable in billing in near future. Unlike today – where you don’t even know if there is a project around the corner any more. So there is less appaetite to spend that money due to risk perception. Also, back in the day – there was very little differentitation based on experience – so certification was an easy differentiator. Not so today obviously.

          So, why keep offering long term discounts? Why can’t the price be reduced to something in tune with today’s value perception? 

          • You bring up a great point as when the current 50% off promotion ends the certification will have been on sale 10 of the past 12 months for people in North America which is a very long duration and for a lot of people the regular price is now the sale price.

            Given the Kenneth mentioned “message was mentioned repeatedly – certification exams have value to the individual however the price is not affordable at this time and “Since the promotion ended last year, I have continued to receive countless messages both privately and through our social media channels regarding the perceived need for further help with exam availability” something tells me SAP Education is seeing this as well.

            Your points on the Partner Academy were spot on as I remember the day back in 1998 I found out that I had been accepted to the HR Academy how excited I was partially because of the difficulty and prestige of even getting in (you had to be with Big 5) but also due to the fact that I was confident if I studied hard and got certified it would help me in my SAP career.

            My first client accepted a business major with 12 years of retail grocery experience and a SAP HR Partner Academy certification (5 weeks) to be their SAP Payroll consultant for a high profile project. That shows a large differenting factor SAP certification was “back in the day”

  • Perhaps SAP are just trying to milk their current certification program for what it is worth.

    Once the changes come in, they can announce new certification packages, make all the old ones outdated and upsell upgrade packages to all the suckers who bought half price certs.

    Anecdotally, the Indian restaurant across the road from me used to call their food “Half Price”. Trading Standards took issue with this because they said that food can’t “always” be half price – it needs to be half the price of a previously sold price.

    So the restaurant got a Sharpie out, crossed out “Half”, wrote “Low” and put a note on the door explaining what Trading Standards had done. Perhaps SAP could also move to the model of “Low Price” certification.

    It’s also possible that it’s Friday and I’m being cynical.

    • Thanks for jumping into the conversation John and you bring up an interesting angle that I hadnt given any thought to.

      The key to the Indian restaurant story is two fold….was the food good…and do you believe they would have had a 1/2 price sale if there was a line up down the street at regular price.

      • Unfortunately similarity betwen the Indian restaurant and SAP Education ends there.

        The food is cheap and cheerful, and they are always packed. The excellent restaurant down the road that is (roughly) double the price is also busy.

        Therefore they have a cost model which makes sense to their targer marketplace. You can charge what you like for certification if the value in the market is there for it – if I could earn another $10k a year, I would spend $5k on my personal development.

        • I would like to offer another view of your comment.  In the world of business operations and consulting, I am unaware of any education that comes with a guarantee.  I know that there have been a few that, when supply was scarce, could claim that, but as with any supply/demand exercise, the market equilibrates and we get back to competition and selling overall value.  My advice is to plan how to continuously advance your knowledge and education towards the goal of becoming a greater contributor to whatever employer you have, and that will always be the best career route for you.  If you do the analysis and believe that SAP certification doesn’t satisfy that for you, you absolutely should not take it.  If, on the other hand, you believe that it will provide additional skills and ability that you can employ to bring value, you should take it as part of a career long (or life long) commitment to learning.  In the long run that is what will create success.  Unfortunately a fact of our current situation is that everything takes longer in a down econonmy, sometimes a lot longer, but basic economics is still basic economics and improving your personal knowledge and skills in the way you believe is best is always a good thing and makes you better able to compete when the business cycle again picks up as it will.
          • Hi Arthur,

            I’ve been an employer of a few technologies through the years – I once employed MS and Cisco professionals, and MSCE (after the NT4 debacle) and CCNP/CCIE certified consultants did not guarantee quality, but certainly brought a higher caliber of candidate.

            As an employer in a SAP Services Partner now, SAP certification status brings almost no bearing on my choice of candidate. We certify people internally for two major reasons.

            1) SAP set a target for us to meet as a Services Partner, of x% certified consultant.

            2) The consultants like it and it’s part of their training and development schedule, which is important for consultant happiness and retention.

            Our certified consultants do not get paid more than uncertified, and I don’t think it increases their chances of getting a new job – but I’d be interested if any other employers would like to challenge me on that.



          • It is great to get your perspective from a SAP Services partner perspective as although there are a lot of comments none have come from that angle. You bring up a few good points that it would be great to get some clarity on.

            1. Does a consultant that gets certified from a services partner have to take the same exam that is being offered in the 50% off sale or is there even a stringent exam at all.

            2. Will SAP be recognizing the Service Partner certified consultants when they roll out the new SDN business card certification program.

            My experience may be dated but I got the SAP HR certification at the SAP Partner Academy where in 1998 there was a about a 45% pass rate and I got my ASAP certification in 1999 from a Services Partner where I could have been asleep and got it as they were all about having x% certified to meet SAP mandates.

          • I think SDN biz card is not the best place to find certification status. A large number of certified cSAP people I know are not on SDN at all. And most customers who hire might not have heard of SDN business card.

            I would much rather have SAP put this feature “on demand” right at, where employers can do a spot check.

          • Hi Vijay
            Yes – this is where we would also like to see the validation process more visible and automated in the future but please see my response to Bill and Jarret on this one – I think it will help to clarify. In a nutshell data protection legislation is the key constraint we need to address.


          • Thanks – happy to help if I can. I’m sure there’s some more of us out there.

            First, it’s worth noting that I don’t think we have the 50% sale in the UK. You’re not allowed to sell things at 50% off for 10 months in 12 here. But to answer your questions.

            1) Yes it’s the same exam. We try to ensure also that people get certified in something relevant to their subject matter expertise. I heard unconfirmed reports that some partners were getting everyone certified in something easy, just to hit the numbers – which is stupid. The exception to this is for things like RunSAP, where we need a certain number of consultants certified in a certain topic. In that instance, we might push exams onto people.

            2) Presumably – although maybe the larger partners can self-certify. Who knows – maybe Vijay can add some more information on this point.

          • Thanks for adding the additional information and I think it makes sense to have consultants certified in something meaningful that they can use to help their clients.

            I would love to hear from someone with insight if the larger partners can self certify or does EVERYONE worldwide take the same exams from SAP with the proper controls in place.

          • Jarret
            to clarify  – there are definitively no agreements with partners in place that allow them to self-certify. EVERYONE worldwide has to take the same exams from SAP and there is only one SAP Certification Program in place. These exams are all delivered in a fully proctored environment by either an SAP Education employee (not an instructor with subject matter expertise) or a certified test center administrator at one of our third party Pearson VUE test centers. There are absolutely no exceptions. I hope that helps to clarify.
          • I really think that this conversation holds a critical point in the discussion.  My question, Sue, is whether this has always been the case.  My recollection is that more than a decade ago either there was a period where certain partners could do their own testing and certification, or they simply did and then didn’t differentiate.  I do remember late in the 90s that partners sponsored their academies but the tests were still SAP, however, was there ever a time that this was skirted?
          • This is an important clarification and it is what I would have expected but leaves no question that all certification have the same testing standards and should be equally recognized.

            The only grey area is Art’s question if this has always been the case and if not could be important in determining which ones will be applicable for business card, transcript validation etc. In my opinion ONLY ones that have taken the offical exam from SAP conducted by and SAP Education employee or certified test center admin from a Pearson VUE test center should be eligible.

            This may not be be applicable and not even been an offical certification but I had a SI put me through what they called an ASAP certification (1 day) back in 1999 and there were definitely not any offical standards.

          • To address Art’s question this has certainly always been the case in the 4-5 years I have been managing the program and for all the data that is being used for the SCN Business Card Integration process. It only relates to SAP exams monitored by SAP or their assigned proctors.
            Hope that helps
          • Just for clarity Sue the functionality for the business cards will be for ANY certification done via SAP or their assigned proctors even if it was done 15 years ago correct?

            On a side note there seems to be some value in ONLY recognizing certifications that were done via the above two methods as you expand out the program to ensure consistency and the proper controls were in place.

  • I haven’t thought about this as much as a lot of people, so I just offer a point of view based only on my personal experience: I don’t currently see the value in certification.

    I come at this from two angles.

    The first is the angle of an individual trying to make a living:

    My career has not been long compared to those talking about 15 years of experience, but I’ve never been asked about certification and I don’t feel my lack of certification has made a difference in my ability to get hired onto a project. Maybe I’m a special case because I have received training from reputable sources other than SAP education and those expert contacts have vouched for me and landed me on projects. Or maybe it’s because people look me up on Twitter, assume I’m a jerk, and then are pleasantly surprised when they meet me in person 😉 I’m not sure.

    From the same angle, I’ll also mention that the last time I seriously looked at certification in one of my areas of expertise (BPC), there was only an associate level training available. Given my experience with the software and having a good standing on the SCN forums for the topic, I didn’t feel that the associate level certification and exam was worth the time. If there had been a professional level exam, I would have considered it more seriously, but only if the associate level exam was not a prerequisite.

    The other angle is as someone who has been involved in the hiring process:

    Here it is more of a mixed bag. I *want* to give credence to claims of certification, but I find that I am unable to do so. The point Bill Wood mentioned is the crux of the matter. I’ve seen so many resumes out there with certification claims where the applicant had minimal real knowledge about the topic during the interview, that I can not responsibly trust claims of certification on a resume.

    There must be a program for obtaining a certified transcript. A notation on the SCN business card is not enough, especially as many people who certify will not have SCN accounts and many companies who interview will not be aware of the SCN business card. In order for a certification claim to be meaningful to me, two things must happen:

    1. Every person who is certified must have the ability to request that SAP independently verify their certification, either via a secure system on, or via cryptographically signed emailed transcripts.

    2. Hiring managers or interview committees must regularly request this information from applicants, they must verify it, and they must be willing to dismiss an applicant out of hand in the event that the applicant claims certification on a resume but is unable to produce confirmation from SAP.

    The first can be achieved via a technical solution available to certified individuals, and if SAP is discounting anything it should make this a free service included in the price of the exam. It is also imperative that historical exam data is included so that people do not simply claim they were certified before the system was in place. Perhaps not exams from 15 years ago, but at least within useful life of a certification – perhaps 8-10 years.

    The second is a tougher nut to crack and will require working with all SAP customers to educate them and to give them the tools to request this information from applicants (by this I mean that all applicants may not be aware of how to do this, so recruiters and hiring managers must be equipped with instructions). Once customers are aware of the ability to request transcript confirmation, I’m sure they will welcome the chance, but spreading the word is going to be tough.

    This is a big responsibility for SAP, because if SAP Education screws up providing a confirmation, then that may cost someone a job. But it is imperative that SAP step up to the task if I am to take certifications seriously in the hiring process.

    • Thanks for the detailed comment as you bring up some great points.

      I thought the SAP business card was a good step forward in the right direction but after hearing your and Vijay’s views it dawned on me that ideally it would be at a place where hiring managers/customers could easily access it. I think could be that place.

      As far as hiring managers or interview committees regularily requesting it I think that is a great long term goal but it would take many years and flawless execution from SAP and Community to get the message out. To me that is at the core of pushing future demand.

      The only slight disagreement I have as I think SAP should strive to include everyone that was offically certified and not just go back 8-10 years (if that is possible). I dont want to be writing “SCN Business Card Certification isnt Fair” because my 1998 certification isnt included 🙂

      On a side note that you may find interesting my post was only 570 words and your comment was 681 so you win the award for length hands down 🙂

    • Hi Ethan
      just to address point 1. that is already possible. Anyone who is certified can contact their local Education team and ask them to provide proof of their results. We also frequently get requests from hiring managers to validate certification. From a data protection standpoint we cannot release this information to hiring managers unless we have a written confirmation from the certified individual saying that we are Ok to release it.
      2. The other options you mention are indeed attractive and I would love to see something like that going forward. The issue currently is again data protection. Certification results cannot be released to third parties without the consent of the individual. That is the reason we are starting off with the SCN Business Card option as this allows you as a certified individual to “opt in” and agree to the release of the information we have on your certification. Once we have the consent via this application we can of course start to get more creative about how we can get the  – admittedly much needed – scaleable validation process into place.
      I hope that helps to clarify.
      • Sue,

        I appreciate the clarification on these issues and fully appreciate them.


        Could you publish contact info (phone, e-mail, physical address, fax) of the verification organization?

        I’m pretty confident that getting this info out into the public domain would be helpful for all of us.


        I would love to have a source to be able to send an authorization for records to.  I would certainly publish it and make as many of the customers I have in my network aware of it.  I’d love to get this spread far and wide in the public domain so that customers understand there is a way to verify this info.

        I have a great friend who is a lawyer who can draft an authorization form which would comply with U.S. laws that I would be happy to make available for free.


        Can you publish the SAP Ed verification contact info here??

        • Hi Bill – that is great. You can use the Education contact information on Please feel free to contact me directly (info in Business Card) if you have any problems.
          All the best
          • I’ve checked


            Who am I supposed to contact there?  The contact information or any resource to be able to verify or validate certifications or training is not readily obvious.

            As an insider can you provide the info?  I’d like to get the key contact info into the public domain for customers to verify certification claims.

            Between my own personal customer contacts, and ASUG, and my extended network we could make this info widely available and resolve part of the problem relatively quickly.

          • Bill I would be very interested as well in getting the specific contact information from SAP so that I could help publicize within my network, clients as well as could write a follow up SCN blog.

            I would also plan to test drive the process early next week to get my certification transcript and report back to the group on my findings.

          • Martin it would be great if you could provide some feedback on the experience and how long it takes.

            It is important to note that in an earlier comment Susan Martin plans to follow up with each of the regions this week to ensure that there are consistent processes in place before they publish anymore information on the current process to get the transcript.

          • I made the request via on the morning of the 28th of March (local time).  I received a notification email pretty much straight away, but (apart from letting SAP know my email was valid) I think this was just a form-mail to meet the 1 day reply SLA. I received validation of my certification on the morning of April 5, an 8 day turnaround. 

            The format is interesting; If I’m going to use this mail to say I’m a Certified BW consultant, it will also tell prospective employers that my BW certifications were done in 2000, on releases 1.2b and 2.0 !!!

            And the email also noted:
            “You can email directly to verify your certifications at any point in time.”

            I don’t know what you do if you’re not in the Asia Pacific region (the apa part of the email user)

          • 6 business days is pretty good! I’m looking forward to hearing back from others.

            A few questions for you:

            What format did the validation take? Email? Paper mail? Fax?

            Would there be an option to have the validation sent directly to a potential employer?

            What information did you need to provide in order to get the certification sent to you?

            I think this is great, though I still worry about the scalability. If this is going to become a normal part of the hiring process (and I think that should be a goal of SAP’s) then the turnaround will need to be more like 1-2 days and SAP will need to be able to handle hundreds of these per week.

            However, documenting and publicizing this process (once SAP gives the OK to publicize it) is an excellent start.


          • I think most others (including myself) are waiting for SAP to publically announce the current process for each region which I would expect this week.

            Martin provided a screen shot of the email he got but in the days of photoshop and other tools it would easy for someone to resuse that. 

            I would like to see a process where the validation could be sent directly to the potential employer once you had opted in to share the information.

            None of these processes are going to be “easy” or “simple” to roll out nor should they.

          • A couple of messages here, in my opinion.  First, I am glad that you were able to get a reply, although I agree that to be effective it needs to be far quicker than 8 days.  For prospective employer requests (however it is submtted), a 24 hour turnaround would not be unreasonable. 
            I think that the fact that it provides the date and version is appropriate – how in the world would SAP want to, or be able to, confirm subsequent activity?  This makes two points that have been made here.  First, there is value in certification as a starting point (my view).  Second, the real value is what the person has done with that knowledge subsequent to certification and this requires an enlightened client (or consultancy) to separate the good from the others.  Without a competent and comprehensive certification ladder through Master’s certification, this is the way it should be, in my opinion.  It also points out the need to get something believable in place for the whole hierarchy including Master’s, but that level has to be a “business” certification, not just technical.
          • I agree with the date and version showing as that is important information especially depending on the area of SAP.

            I think you are spot on with a goal of a 1 day turnaround as a lot of SAP positions especially consulting roles come to the market needing to be filled in under 1 week. 

          • Hi Jarret,
            I received the validation via eMail – see for the format.

            The only information I had to provide was the S number associated with the certifications, and my name.  Aprt from privacy concerns, this is how you’d get the data frowarded to a potential employer – you ask them to do the request 🙂

            I understand what you mean about the scalability of this, unless there’s some form of automation.  I’m not sure how this would work though; I could use your S number if I wanted an HCM job 🙂  Correlating the S number and a name starts getting difficult with spelling errors, western alphabets being used for non western names, people changing their surnames at marriage and so on.

          • Thanks for providing an update on how long the current process took as well as the format as it wasnt quite what I was expecting but servicable. Enclosed is a picture of my brothers CCIE certification I think the idea of a specific number attached to you and your certification could make validation easier as well.

            As far as the automation it looks like the information came from SAP so it might not be that difficult once a secure process is wrapped around it.

            PS Your not going to get any jobs with my 1998 3.0B HR certification 🙂

          • Hopefully you could do the request and ask that it be sent to a different email address (that of your potential employer) 🙂


          • Hi Bill
            I checked back on this and if you use the e-mail form and choose the Educationlink your enquiry will be routed directly to the Education CS team. If the certified individual applies for it themselves and gives the e-mail of their (potential) recruiter/employer the validation can be sent to that address without problems. Let me know how it goes.
      • Hi Susan,

        Thanks for the response. It’s good to know that it is currently possible to request that this information be sent out, but I doubt that the current (sounds like manual) process will fit within very many hiring processes, and I doubt it scales. Certainly it is not well-known.

        The key is that we need to get a significant percentage of those who employee SAP resources to start checking. The verification needs to be sent out within days, preferably hours, and SAP must guarantee a turnaround within a very specific window of time. Is SAP currently capable of handling inquiries around 5% of hiring decisions in a timely manner? How about 20% or 50%. I think we need to get to at least 20-30% to start significantly cutting down on rampant certification fraud, but if we publicize this information heavily and SAP is not prepared to handle the volume it will cause far more harm than good.

        People will try to game this system, and potential employers should be able to feel confident that if they have not heard from SAP within a certain amount of time, then the candidate either did not follow up and request the transcript, or the candidate was lying about certification status.

        I don’t think there is any need to get creative about it and the legal questions are clearly manageable. Cisco and Oracle both provide the capability for certified individuals to go to a self-service website and request that a transcript be sent out to a possible employer. Other vendors (I checked Microsoft, HP, and VMware) appear to offer this capability, but it is difficult to tell from their websites.

        In my view, this is a must for certification credibility.


        • Actually Ethan, in the U.S., if the prospect signs an authorization to release the information that can be faxed or snail mailed to the organization holding the information.  From there they are generally authorized by law to release that info to the person requesting it.

          I just want to get a source out to folks to verify the claims.  I’m fed up with screening candidates where 50% or more are outright frauds.  And that is not an exaggeration.  On one project where I was the PM I spent 3 days screening resumes.  100% of them were either outright fraudulent or so completely misrepresented it was frightening.  MANY of them had “certified X” listed. 

          That lead to me author this post on the painful verification processes that are necessary:

          Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right SAP Consultant

          And then this follow up post as well:

          Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right Consultant – Part 2

          I’m just tired of screening so many frauds.  I and my clients have much better things to do than waste the time with all of the cons out there.

          • Hi Bill,

            Perhaps that is true in the US, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with that approach if I was getting certified and it sounds to me like SAP wouldn’t be comfortable with it either. It is just too easy to forge a release form like that and I certainly wouldn’t want SAP sending out my personal information to anyone who asked for it (including head-hunters galore, I’m sure). I’d much prefer a self service portal for certified individuals. If I’m interviewing someone and they aren’t capable of following up by going to the self-service portal and getting a transcript sent to the email/mailing address I provide, then I’d guess that they also aren’t capable of reliably working on an SAP system.

            I share your deep frustration. As far as I am concerned, current certification claims on resumes are worthless because they are so often fraudulent, and they are so often fraudulent because they are effectively unverifiable.


          • I am all in favor of anything to help certified individuals easily get a transcript and I plan to follow up with SAP Education next week to get a sense of the current process as well as speed. For all we know it may be a 1 day turnaround right now…..but you brought up a good point earlier that any process has to be scalable.

            On a side note fraud is rampant in the industry with people saying they are certified and all anyone needs to do to add an offical logo to their resume is go to google (

            Should the logo have a number imbedded in it ie 12342 where that can be used to reference me and my certification?

            Lots of great ideas are being passed around in this discussion and I know that the C5 and SAP Education are monitoring the comments. It wouldnt surprise me if some of this is discussed in a lot more detail so hopefully everyone keeps the great feedback coming.

          • Hi Ethan Bill & Jarret
            these are all very valid considerations and it has been great in highlighting where the information gaps are. I will do the following in the coming week  – I will check back with the regions to ensure that there are consistent processes in place and we don’t cause confusion by publishing any information prematurely. I think we are all in agreement that there are a few topics here to address – a)what is the current process – b)how will the SCN business card integration work and c) what are feasible longer term plans to get a more easily accessible self service function in place that will allow hiring managers rapid and easy access to the information without breaching the trust of our certified community. If you give me a couple of days I will reach back out to you with some more information that I would like to get your feedback on – is that OK?
            Thanks in advance
          • Spectacular and thanks for your help and understanding with this.  I know for me personally, having reviewed so many resumes over the years, it will be a major plus.

            I have been looking for some way to verify claims for a long time.

            Thank you again and again for your help and understanding…

          • Hi Sue

            I think that seems very reasonable and you have captured the 3 topics regarding validating the certifications and very open to anything you would like feedback on.

            Once you have publish the information on the current process I can give the N/A region a test drive to see how it is working.

            It is impressive to see you following this thread as well as listening to some of the feedback in the comments.



          • Hi Sue

            I thought I would follow up to see if you had an update as I have had several people reach out to me in the past week to get clarity on the process for their transcript.

            Thanks in advance.


          • Hi Sue,

            This sounds great to me as well. Thanks for being so responsive in this thread. I look forward to hearing more about the existing process, and more importantly to the work on the SCN business cards and on getting a self-service process in place that is available to all certified individuals.


          • This is slightly off topic but we have inteviewed about 50 candidates over the past year and it is mind boggling the amount of resume fraud and stretch the truth that is present RIGHT NOW is the SAP industry. A good interview process and reference checking can go a long way but to give you persepective we have hired 1 of those 50.  Bill has some great information that he has attached above and I recently wrote on the topic called “Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant” [original link is broken] [original link is broken] I didnt mention certification but it was an oversight on my part as I wasnt aware until this discussion there was a process in which that could be validated.
          • Not only is this not off topic (as the topic is the reliability of any current certification reporting or verification systems), but it is right on.  One point I would add is that it is not always the consultant who falsifies the resume either (in your case where you were hiring, it probably was), as I have seen staffing agencies who tap into potential staff available from independents or small body shops actually then rewrite resumes without the knowledge of the consultant.  I learned this the hard way in 1997 while leading a small boutique and one of these predatory staffing groups so totally misrepresented one of my consultants it created a very ugly situation.  I have since seen others do this also – so, the answer is that we must always do extensive verification of skills, experience and ability before hiring or presenting someone to a client.  The lack of the ability to at least verify this credential really does hurt the overall credibility of the certification process and may have a lot to do with how it has gotten to this point.  This needs to be solved for the system to have integrity in the eyes of hiring agencies and clients, however that is done.
          • You bring up a great point and rewriting resumes to match the job posting is something that is very common even today. One quick and easy way is to compare linkedin profile to resume to see if it is the same but the bottom line that companies should ALWAYS do an extensive verification of skills, experience and ability before hiring someone in the SAP industry. I dont think it is common knowledge rammpant fraud is in the SAP industry and Bill Wood(@R3Now)has done a commendable job over the years trying to get the message out.

            Most people that have the necessary skills they are claiming actually enjoy going through a rigorous process (I know I do).

  • Just got a mass email that must have went out to folks on the SAP Eductation mailing list regarding the certification sale and in it stated “There’s nothing like SAP certification to give you prestige in the business world”. What are your thoughts on the verbiage as I found them interesting to say the least as I wish they were true (and they used to be true)

    On a side note I am slightly disappointed we havent heard back from SAP on the certification transcript process and if it was ready for more volume as I know many are interested in trying it out to get their information.

    • Hi Jarrett,
      I guess all they’re trying to do is marketing. I don’t see anything wrong with that or May be I’m missing something.
      “(and they used to be true)”: Due to demand/supply situation, yes they used to be true. Not because certification quality was better than today. I know people who used to spell SAP(this is a bit of exaggeration, but you know what I mean) were making a lot of money 12-15 years ago. Does that mean consultants’ quality was better 12-15 years ago?
      I support C5’s recommendations. That’s however a different topic IMO. And IMO even if all C5’s recommendations are implemented, the certificate alone is not going to get a job. The certificate may help someone in getting an interview letter.


      • Hi Bala

        I think the issue is that MANY “freshers” or new people to SAP think that the certification is going to help last them a job with a consulting company and marketing statements such as “”There’s nothing like SAP certification to give you prestige in the business world” only reinforce that as if you have prestige than getting a job should be simple.

        I think even SAP realizes there is additional work to do on their certification and working with the C5 is a great step forward though it will be awhile before actual change occurs.



    • Jarret,
        Personally, I’m inclined to dismiss the “prestige in the business world” line as pure marketing BS, and I would suggest most people would be the same.

      I feel the heart of the matter is the fact that this (supposedly) valuable and prestigious certification is available at a discounted rate. This matters, because a large part of how we value things is their $$ cost. We are seeing that SAP are discounting part of the value of certification (and perhaps even their brand). 

      BTW, it’s pleasing that there’s been no suggestion that people who get the cheap exam rate get any special consideration, they still have to know as much as anyone else sitting the exam. It indicates that the overall community do trust SAP to manage the Certification process, regardless of our opinion of the process itself.

      • I personnally trust SAP to manage the certification process though it is very unclear how that process was managed by SI and partner ouside of the last few years which is a little scary.

        I get the feeling this will be the last “sale” but you never know given what a big revenue producer certification and education is for SAP. On a side I much rather them offer SAP training courses for 1/2 prices so more customers could take advantage of them.

  • Why there is a discount in SAP Certification for countries like US and Canada? Why cant there be a discount for other countries that is main question??

    Giving discounts will not motivate consultants to appear for an exam It In turn will reduces concentration to appear for certification

    When we say  There is a discount There should be discount for all

    SAP should given importance to all.