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How is SAP certification helping close the skills gap by allowing partners, customers and SAP employees learn and demonstrate their competence with new technologies like HANA? Sue Martin at Online Educa

 

 

I published an interview with Sue Martin of SAP (pictured right) for SCN in January (see Thought leader interview – SAP Certification Manager Sue Martin on Transforming the SAP Certification Programme) and last week I had the opportunity to catch up with Sue at the Educa Online conference in Berlin. During the year, SAP have re-organized their certification efforts into a single SAP-wide team and Sue now runs this team as Global Certification Director.

 

Sue was proud to let me know that SAP brought out the Gain a Competitive Edge with SAP HANA Certification from SAP Education in November, just four months after HANA went into General Availability. Criticism in the past of SAP certification is that exams used to come out a long time after product releases, and a key new initiative is to bring out exams soon after product release, to help get everyone up the learning curve.

 

 

HANAThis four months timespan was a record for SAP – both the learning for the certification and the certification were available in this timescale.  The only way the Certification team could create the certification is with voluminous input from HANA experts, and I understand that this was a real collaboration effort between Consulting and Education – with some of the best and most knowledgeable HANA consultants made available to Education. I can only imagine the demand there must have been on HANA experts in the last few months (as everyone wants to roll it out), so this is a sign of how important SAP see certification and closing the skills gap.

 

And in case you think developing a certification is easy, it’s not! A lot of very careful measurement work is involved. To make a fair exam that genuinely assesses competence, it takes 100s of hours of expert work and review with many questions rejected and sent to the “cutting room floor”, and much analysis input to set a fair pass score for the exam. 

 

SAP have also set up a Certification Influence Council to understand stakeholder needs. You can see some of the requirements from the Council below and how SAP are responding.

Certification Influence Council

 

I should disclose here that the company I work for Questionmark provide the software technology that SAP use to author and deliver certifications. But I’m genuinely impressed at how the SAP certification programme seems to be starting to make a difference for SAP. I believe for instance that 95% of SAP’s internal consultants are now certified. Obviously certification does not on its own ensure that a team implements SAP technology correctly – it needs to be combined with practical experience and other skills, but having a certification helps ensure people know the facts and understand the system well. It mitigates project risk for all.

 

SAP partners and customers are in a very different world to how things were 5 years ago, and if the certification programme can demonstrate that its exams are valid and reliable, and certifications useful in the real world, it will be a major driver towards customer service and satisfaction.  There is still much work to be done, for instance producing more HANA certifications, making the 4-month schedule routine for more new releases, moving towards the Master Certification and so on, but the new team seem to be making an important difference.

 

There is much speculation (see for example CIO magazine article here) that suggests SAP growth could be impacted by a skills gap. As SAP innovates, a key challenge is to get SAP’s own staff and customer/partner employees up to speed with the new technologies.  Ultimately how well this happens and how well HANA and other innovations are deployed may be as important as how clever the innovations are in themselves. Education and certification efforts could go a long way to deal with the skills gap.

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  1. Tom Cenens
    Hello John

    Interesting blog and I’m also curious how SAP will further advance on the topic of certification and education as a whole.

    Since SAP is acquiring lots of companies and then sending out Sales persons to sell those products it’s a real challenge for consultants to keep up with everything that is going on and have even a basic understanding of which products are out there, what the uses cases are and what advice to provide to the customer when they start asking questions.

    Besides the role of being an advisor it’s also a challenge for me as a technical person because customers tend to buy products and then they start asking questions about infrastructural needs which isn’t a good idea of course but it happens.

    So it will definitely be a challenge to keep up on both fronts. While certifications can bring added value, I haven’t really caught the added value in the past beign certified so I hope SAP can change it around.

    Kind regards

    Tom

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  2. Martin English
    Hi John,
      It’s not clear where I will be able to sit this exam. Based on past experiences with SAP Education and the more recent certifications, I have to assume it’s US based.

    If so, ‘ll have to wait till I find a Customer who wants to send me to the US for the HANA Certification exam. Of course, I’ll probably have to pay my own way to any instructor-lead training (including travel and accomodation, since there’s none available in Australia or SE Asia).
    Alternatively if a customer outside the continental US (assuming thats where the certification exams are located) wants certified HANA consultants, where will they come from? The result will be higher expenses for the customer (Flying consultants from the US versus locally based certified people wanting to recoup their expenses).

    The only conclusion I can make is that SAP Education is just an adjunct to the marketing department.
    ther this is avai

    If so, I’ll have to wait till I find a Customer who wants to send me to the US for the HANA Certification exam. Of course, I’ll probably have to pay my own way to any instructor-lead training (including travel and accomodation, since there’s none available in Australia or SE Asia).
    If a customer outside the continental US wants certified HANA consultants, where will they come from? Flying them in from the US increases the TCO, locally based certified people will want to recoup their expenses…

    The only conclusion I can make is that SAP Education is just an adjunct to the marketing department.

    (0) 

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