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Impressions from SAPPHIRE NOW 2012 Orlando: An SAP Education Perspective

I have attended many SAPPHIREs during my 17-year career at SAP, but SAPPHIRENOW 2012 in Orlando was a really great event; they just get bigger and more impressive every year. The agenda was well represented by the hottest topics of interest to SAP, our customers, and our partners. And the topics neatly tied in to SAP’s five market categories of Cloud, Mobile, Applications, Analytics, and Technology & Database. Watching the executive keynotes, it became clear to me that SAP is putting a lot of innovation into the market across all five of these areas. This in turn means that many people will need to be ramped up, re-skilled, or up-skilled. And our ecosystem needs to be prepared to support this in order to be a force multiplier. So every time I heard about our new innovations and focus areas, that translated immediately into the following question in my mind: what does SAP Education need to do to really support this growth from a customer and partner enablement perspective?

HANA Skills Are in Demand

For me, the biggest topic at this year’s event was HANA, and this was mirrored in many of the interactions I had with other SAPPHIRE attendees. Reflecting on the conversations I had with customers and industry analysts, HANA was a dominant topic. One analyst told me that as he was researching the value of certain SAP skills in the North American market, he discovered that the best paid SAP skills in North America at this time are HANA skills. While this shows that there is significant demand, there is not yet a comparable supply of HANA trained professionals to meet that demand. This is clearly something which we at SAP Education want to tackle. We want to up-skill many more people in this critical area of HANA and fill the resource gaps in the market. SAP Education is continuing to expand our HANA curriculum even as I write this blog. We have released a complete offering for both the modeling role and the administration role, including certifications, which are basically two sides of the same coin in the area of HANA. And given the big push on this topic, the timing couldn’t be better.

Eye-Openers from Customers

During this year’s SAPPHIRE, I also spoke with some big customers who had a large number of SAP specialists in their ranks. They were all concerned about how they can keep the skill sets of their people upgraded flexibly and in a scalable way. This was a big topic for customers, which was something of an eye-opener for me, as I expected this to come primarily from partners. We also gained a lot of traction with customers around the SAP Learning Hub offering which provides 24×7 access to the learning curriculum from SAP Education. We originally introduced the SAP Learning Hub to the market in order to help our partners to be up-skilled in a very scalable way. But this offering also seems to be very appealing to the large customer, so we agreed on quite a few demos and presentations as a follow-up to our SAPPHIRE discussions. We’ve also lowered the entry barrier for the SAP Learning Hub, so the minimum number of users is now 300; this makes the offering very appealing for large customers. So while the SAP Learning Hub is still offered primarily to partners, it was never actually restricted to that audience, so we will continue our discussions with customers and look for ways to get them engaged in it as well.

The Value of Certification is Undisputed

One thing that I noticed which was really different from last year’s SAPPHIRE was the prominence of the certification topic. From the perspectives of customers, partners, and also internally, the need and value of certification seems to be undisputed. Whereas last year, our focus was more around evangelizing certification, this year was more about creating transparency and guiding the demand so people had an understanding of where to get the certification the need. The popularity of certification is also shown in our adoption numbers, which I believe is a direct result of the many innovations which are now coming to the market, where a host of new skills are needed. People are starting to realize that quality assurance really starts with inspecting skills in the market.

Collaboration with Partners

I also had many conversations with partners, and they see quite a lot of improvement in the ways in which they work together with SAP in general and especially with SAP Education. Our partner program has been in place for well over a year now, and that means we have dedicated stakeholders not only in the regions but also globally. This is something which is very much appreciated by the bigger partners who need that level of focus and dedication. We got a lot very of positive feedback from them, and they pointed to the strong results of this improved collaboration; this can be seen in such areas as joint planning exercises and proactively tackling the task of upgrading the workforce together.

One of my main take-aways from SAPPHIRENOW 2012 is this: in general, the market understands our offering and is very accepting of the direction that SAP Education is going with regards to increasing elearning and the move towards more flexible consumption models. As we continue to expand our offerings to meet the demands of the market, it’s becoming increasingly clear that customers and partners are discovering that SAP Education is essential to their success.

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  • Hi Markus,

    It is good to see SAP Education posting blogs on SCN

    Some questions / comments:

    • How can smaller customers access the Learning Hub?  The link you provided takes me to a marketing brochure.
    • The SAP e-learning seems to only work with MS Internet Explorer; will that change in the future for more flexibility?
    • Re: SAP Certification – not sure if the value is undisputed but I think traction is picking up in some areas

    I look forward to your response


    • Hi Tammy,

      I am the global Business Owner of the SAP Learning Hub at SAP Education. The SAP Learning Hub is a fairly new offering and hence we currently have only a limited online presence. We are working on providing more information online in the next few weeks.

      That said the offering is fully available to Partners and Customers. While the offering was initially conceived for our larger Partners we have opened it up to Customers as well and are currently working on reducing the required entry level of users to approximately 300 users – however this is not formally approved and released yet.

      If you let me know which information you would be interested in specifically I will try to provide this information to you asap.

      Best regards,


      • Jan, thank you for responding

        How can smaller customers access this?  For sure the SAP e-learning offered right now is limited and only seems to run on Internet Explorer

        When/where will more information be released.



        • Hi Tammy,

          apologies for the delay, but I had to get the current status on our elearning from our teachnical team first. Below a summary of the current status and what we are working on:

          Current status:

          • Operating system: Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 are supported, courses are currently not compatible with MAC OS-X or handheld devices.
          • Browser: Microsoft IE vers. 7 & 8, Mozilla Firefox 3.6 with Javascipt support in the browser configuration

          What we are working on:

          • Full support of MAC OS-X, IE9, Firefox 8, Chrome and Safari
          • We are planning to re-publish >100 titles in the coming months

          Regarding more online information on the Learning Hub, we will be adding it in the next days on and I will make a point of writing a blog on the SAP Learning Hub on SCN linking to that information.

          Best regards,


  • Hi Markus

    I agree with Tammy that it’s good to see SAP Education posting on SCN.

    I do believe specific areas have proper certifications in place but it’s not a general truth. While a certification can prove someone holds knowledge on a certain topic it does not proof that they can actually do a good job. This degrades the value of a certification in my opinion. I would prefer to see hands-on questions integrated into certifications for example.

    Some certifications questions also hold very little meaning, access to Google would provide the answer in a matter of milliseconds and it doesn’t make any difference if you know it out of your head or not.

    Another problem is outdated certifications. While SAP is innovating quickly and product versions are being increased rapidly, a number of certifications are seriously lagging behind. The same is valid for course content in some cases.

    What I do see is that SAP forces customers / partners in different ways to reach a certain percentage of certification. Since I’m not convinced of the added value of each certification it sometimes looks like SAP is mainly gathering additional revenue this way without having the wanted impact.

    Kind regards


    • Hi Tom,

      just a couple of responses to address your concerns  – re. the relevance of exam questions – this was an issue that was brought up in our external stakeholder survey and an important part of the transformation of the certification program ve the last couple of years. In order to increase the relevance we have shifted all the exams over from  a product function and feature base to a job task analysis base – the job task analysis brings in the involvement of many folks who are at the coalface and gives us hugely valuable feedback on what is actually needed in terms of skill sets on projects. In the last couple of years we have also changed all our exam creation processes to ensure that we have more consultanst with real life experience helping us to write the questions and we have generally had extremely good feedback on the relevance of the questions as a result. With the Certification and Enablement Influence Council we are currently working on defining and implementing a more scalable process for also integrating more external feedback into the JTA process, in the form of a landing page or similar so we should be able to see that soon… Hope that helps to give you some insight into what we are doing on that front. Re the point about outdated certifications – I could not agree more that that is an issue we have struggled with in the past and there is still some work in progress going on there … but as you can imagine it is important to respect existing certifications in the ecosystem and a transition in that area needs to be very well planned to be fir to all… that being said there are a few ctions that we have taken in the last few years to address this – Firstly we introduced a retirement policy 3 years ago which means that only up to date exam releases are available. Then we had an “internal” certification validity policy – as you probably know we had a drive to get 90% of our own consulting workforce certified 2 years ago and ensured that this was only on current releases. The discussions with the CEIC are now around how we can sensibly put something similar into place outside SAP to help our customers understand better the validity of certifications. We are aiming to have that rolled out this year. A further point we have addressed which I think is also tied in to your point about current validity is the availability of strategic exams. One of my team’s primary focuses for this year is to build on the successfully accelerated publishing of the HANA exams ad make that the standard – getting exams and training out to the market more quickly  – especially for new technology areas – adds significant value for the entire ecosystem. Does that help at all?


      • Hi Susan

        Thanks for the update.  If the certification process is so robust and a true measure of SAP knowledge why place the extra barriers for candidates in some of your developing markets such as India?



        • Hi Paul,

          We have a few markets where intellecutal property abuse and false identification are used to gain certification credentials, and in those markets, the process for registering for a certification exam are more rigorous than other markets.  The additional process validates that the candidate has either attended an accredited training program or has valid job experience prior to sitting for the exam.  These additional measures were put in place as a deterrent to prevent further fraud and IP theft. 

          • Hi Mary

            Thanks for the honesty and reinforcing my views why this policy exists.  I will address each one of the issues you raise:

            1. Fraud.

            This is a process issue whereby the identity of the candidate needs to be verified.  I can think of a number of ways this can be achieved.  If this is such an issue, I am unsure how you validate that the right person is sitting the exam when someone proves they have the adequate work experience to qualify for the examination process. 

            2. IP Theft

            Again the purpose of certification is to validate the knowledege and skills of the candidate.  It is designed to ensure that customers can source an appropriate skill level for their projects.  It should not be about revenue generation.  The protection of IP argument is about protecting the SAP Education revenue stream and not about getting skills in the marketplace.  There are a lot of legal educational resources and access to SAP solutions to enable candidates gain enough skills to pass associate level examinations.

            It is unfortunate  that SAP is so concerned about protecting their SAP Education intellectual property that they implement a discriminatory policy.  Well obviously SAP is not so concerned to do anything about IP issues when it brought to their attention.  On 16th April I sent a tweet to @SAPEDU indicating that authorised SAP training materials were available on slideshare and scribd.  A followup tweet from @SAPEDU asked which materials and I indicated CRM etc.  Well today I checked and searched for SAP CRM on slideshare and the second result was the training material.

            It is disappointing that SAP’s priority is too ensure SAP Education revenue over facilitating the availability of skills in developing markets.  This is very short sighted.

            It must be hard to defend such a policy.



          • Paul,

            Please do continue to send any knowledge of copyright infringement to SAP.  There are several cases pending, but we do take this quite seriously, and follow the necessary legal steps to stop the infractions.  Also feel free to send them directly to myself and I will forward them to the appropriate team within SAP.

            I’m also happy to speak live about the situation in India. Just let me know if you would like to have such a conversation.



          • Hi

            I will continue to pass on IP issues and non authorised training companies.  I understand the issues in India as many of my students are from there and I also teach there.  At the end of the day there is a significant risk to SAP and their customers due to lack of skills.  There is the rhetoric about the need to do something about it and because SAP are concerned about the impact on their education revenue stream they create additional hurdles for new skills to enter the market.

            I had a quick look at Oracle certification for a functional consultant and there was no requirement about training or experience.

            I am afraid SAP Education just don’t get it and they never will while they have revenue targets.



          • Paul, the FRAUD is horribly rampant.  Not sure about the revenue stream envy here either.  SAP has a legitimate right to protect its IP.  Period.  What I am frustrated about is the complete and utter failure to get serious about training and certification verification.  If SAP REALLY wanted to protect its revenue stream it would get serious about training and certification “transcript services” because then both the certification and the training would gain stature and value.  There would be no more faking it that couldn’t be verified.

            I can put HANA certification on my resume today and no one would know any different!  The whole certification issue is almost a joke until this is addressed.  The post below outlines some of my personal experiences with the rampant, out of control FRAUD in the marketplace.

            Screening and Interview Methods to Find the Right SAP Consultant

          • Paul,

            We do have one EMEA UA faculty member on the CEIC, and would welcome more engagement with the Universities, as the requirements of the student population are different than our traditional consulting focused programs.

            Please let me know if you would like to become more engaged in this initiative.



          • Hi Mary

            I am interested in getting involved but it would depend on the level of commitment.  Also I am concerned by some of the comments from the SAP Mentors about the rate of change.



      • Hi Susan

        Can you provide figures (a percentage will do) of how many of SAP’s internal consultants have completed the highest level of certification?



      • Hi Susan

        First off all, thanks for your reply. I’m glad to hear that action is being taken and some progress is being made. Open dialog is really important and a the dialog around a blog post like this makes a strong case to why SAP Community Network is so important for SAP in general.

        Just yesterday I talked to a new customer of SAP and one of the reasons why they choose SAP is because of the community that exists around SAP. The fact that this open dialog exists and the fact that SAP values feedback and has initiatives like the SAP Mentor initiative and the ability to ask questions and get answers from other customers who have gone through the same process is very powerful.

        Of course I checked to what extent education would be a reason to choose SAP but as it turned out they were looking into getting guidance from consultants who have been out on the field doing these kind of things to help them out. They will still send some employees to SAP trainings but they didn’t really see education as a strength of SAP at this point in time.

        While a good percentage of the exam that I did stays valid for Solution Manager 7.1 brushing through the questions and updating the exam should have been done already to avoid the kind of situation that I stated above. Many courses have switched their version from Solution Manager 7.0 to 7.1 but for some strange reason the professional exam (which consists out of many courses) is not there yet while individual certificates of single courses are.

        That being said, I’m glad there is a lot of content out there on SAP HANA like the experiencesaphana website and the free e-book. I know a lot of focus is being placed on very new products like SAP HANA in terms of education. Since I have not yet followed any of those courses I cannot comment on how good/bad the courses actually are.

        What I did notice is the following: for example course TZH200 features a lecture on the installation of SAP HANA. As an administrator I would like to perform such an installation myself, hands-on. Getting hands-on experience on SAP HANA  inside and outside of the SAP courses should be possible in my opinion. Just recently SAP enabled developers to use SAP HANA to a good extent through instances on AWS.

        Why not enable SAP system administrators to leverage AWS and be able to install their own SAP HANA box (not click an image and click deploy) and really get access to administration functionality so they can try out backup / recovery and so on? If they mess up the installation, that’s fine, then they can practice the installation again 🙂 but at least they would be able to get hands-on experience at low cost, at their own pace and they could provide SAP with a lot of feedback of possible improvements and besides that also share knowledge with the larger SAP community. This would definitely help spread HANA knowledge.

        “The discussions with the CEIC are now around how we can sensibly put something similar into place outside SAP to help our customers understand better the validity of certifications.”

        I hope that doesn’t translate into we will try to force our customers / partners to certify more of their employees. In my opinion their are way too many problems that have to be solved first. Surely the SAP Mentor certification five white paper offers an excellent view on what is/has  been going wrong.

        Why not sponsor a number of SAP mentors to attend this CEIC meeting in Walldorf that is coming up? Going over the points of the certification five white paper and taking action on them would already be useful and you are bound to get a lot of valuable feedback on what is discussed during the meeting.

        There are lots of possibilities / ideas that could further help SAP Education to put quality content out there.

        Judging from the comments on this blog post you can see how much engagement you get from the SAP Mentors to discuss this kind of topic. The meaning is not pulling SAP Education down, it’s providing valuable feedback. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

        Best regards


        • Thanks Tom – I will leave a response on the HANA sandbox idea to those who can evaluate that better than I 🙂 but I just wanted to comment that several SAP mentors were already invited to the Walldorf meeting. I can’t tell you whether they are coming to it but are definitely invited.

  • Hi Markus

    I appreciate that you have come back from Sapphire energized as many of us felt the same way but I have to challenge a few of your points in the article.

    “While this shows that there is significant demand, there is not yet a comparable supply of HANA trained professionals to meet that demand”

    Check out the comment thread on this blog for my (and others) thoughts but there are currently WAY more trained and certified HANA folks than there are projects and that doesnt even take into consideration that most customers dont even list HANA certification as one of the job pre-req’s when look to fill roles.


    The Value of Certification is Undisputed

    This comment is ridiculous as SAP certification has HUGE credibility issues in the marketplace and your case that popularity is associated with value is a real stretch especially given how SAP “pushes” partners and internal SAP to be certified.  The SAP Education group loses credibility in the maketplace every-time there there comments like this as it shows how out of touch they are.  For example if it is REALLY “undisputed” how come less that 2% of all US SAP job postings require SAP certification?

    I sure hope this isnt a one way “marketing” conversation like we have seen with others in the SAP Education group and you are going to openly engage in dialog with the community on this important topic.



    • Hi Jarret

      I beg to differ on the statement that the “Value of Certification is Undisputed” is ridiculous. Although, as we have discussed, there needs to be more traction and more job postings etc. and we can doubtless enhance the credibility and the value I must nevertheless ask the question – do you really think SAP would invest so much in a program that does not have value? The hugely beneficial work we have embarked upon with the Certification and Enablement Influence Council is already starting to enhance the value and I think we are all convinced that this is a worthwhile effort. I doubt that we would have so much enthusiasm from customers and partners (including significant efforts from the Mentors) – all of whom have strapped schedules – for a program that is perceived as having no value.  Just my twopence worth 🙂


      • Thanks for jumping into the conversation Sue but I stand 100% behind my comment that saying the “Value of Certification is Undisputed” is ridiculous as you can see by the sampling of the comments that it is very much DISPUTED  plus the fact that very few customers in the US (a large SAP market) are asking for it makes and Undisputed claim not hold much water.

        We had a call yesterday with Sanjay Poonen and he said he loved talking to the SAP Mentors as they often represented what 100’s of community members/customers were thinking and when I see 9 mentors chime in on the comment thread that should mean something.

        As far as your question I have long thought that SAP has treated education and certification more as a means to enhance revenue and as long as that stays strong that no meaningful change will occur. On a side I see some comments from many of the C5 below that do not appear to be that enthusiastic about the pace in which change is occurring especially given how fast SAP is moving in other areas.

        I wont lie I was very positive on what was happening after our meeting at Sapphire but seeing an article from the SVP of Education makes me step back and ask if it worth my continued effort to try to bring SAP Certification up to the level I believe it can be.  On a side note I have two certifications which in 14 years of SAP consulting I have never had one customer ask for or about.

        • Hi Jarret,

          yes I have noted from several of the comments below that there is a lack of awareness of what is changing and will discuss with Martin, Jon and Tammy who work with the CEIC on how best to get more detailed information back to the Mentors. I am assuming from your comments above that you are no longer motivated to work with the CEIC and give feedback on the certified community portal, customer validation of credentials, etc. Please let me know ASAP as I am arranging the next meetings today and we need to get this implemented by September at the latest. It would be a shame not to have any Mentor feedback in that task force but I would possibly then have time to find another Mentor with interest in the subject. Maybe Paul would be able to join … he addresses the need for customer validation of accreditations a few times in his posts. Please drop me a line to avoid further delays- thanks.


          • Susan, I can assure you from personal, first-hand experience when *I* manage projects and need resources I shy away from ANYONE who emphasizes certification.  Because the fraud of certification “claims” are so significant I immediately suspect anyone who places emphasis on certification over experience.

            My experience has taught me that the emphasis on certification is a “tell” of fraud.  Because inexperienced neophytes with fake resumes believe their certifications are so important they will emphasize them.  It helps me spot the fakes.  Because of my personal experience with so many of the frauds the certifications are virtually worthless.  Because SAP offers no “transcript” like service such as those you could get to verify a college degree there isn’t much benefit I see.

          • I just want to make sure we don’t get this discussion hijacked by the FRAUD issue. Even if it is an important one.

            SAP Market is mature and certification as it stands today is not of much use. I, for example, hire SAP professionals often with 8-15 yrs range of experience. There is simply no certification available for these guys (it should be the Master one…).

            Also, even if I refer to the low 3-5 year range where Professional certification could mean something, it is currently of very little value. Look at the functional guys for example.

            We need to stop asking the question to the wrong people. Ask field professionals(consultants) and project managers.

            • If a consultant is bragging too much about Certification, well, he/she is not listening what the clients are asking for… (exception for some emerging markets…)
            • If a project manager is relying mostly on certification for hiring, well, he/she is not doing there job correctly…

            It is as simple as that.

            Please don’t use the “Undisputed value” term anymore.

          • Totally agree with you here Bill. As soon as I here someone is certified I also immediately turn off.

            I actually did the abap certification once. The consulting company I was contracting to forced us.

            It was a disgraceful waste of time and out me off doing anything further with sap education. And this was about 10 years ago now. It seems nothing has changed.

  • Markus –

    I am always glad when SAP Education blogs on SCN, though I prefer a more conversational “here’s what we’re doing well; here’s where we need to improve; here’s where we’d like your input” style.

    I must confess I am bitterly disappointed in the tone and content of this post and I also disagree with many of the points made.

    I will start on the good side, I am a big fan of on-demand learning and the Learning Hub seems like an excellent investment for SAP Edu. However there are many customers who don’t know about it, smaller customers who can’t currently access it, and ideally, this should be made available to individuals as well. So I applaud that initiative but there is a long way to go.

    As for the analyst who told you about how hot HANA skills are, I know who you are speaking of. I’d be a little careful. His data, while excellent, applies to permanent employee hiring only. What some (though not all, since HANA still has a small footprint) SAP customers obviously want is to hire experienced HANA folks as permanent employees. Which means, not necessarily certified HANA folks, but those with actual implementation experience – a key distinction. Of course the pay would be high because these folks are mostly full time consultants inside of SAP, and are not available for perm hire. However other SAP SI partners do have HANA consultants ramped up and ready for project work. As SAP shares more of the HANA work, it will go to those partners. These are still largely proof of concept projects so the broad demand for HANA skills will not be huge right off the bat. I think there will be broader HANA skills needs in 2013, but there is time to plan carefully for this without overhyping things. We have to be very careful with SAP skills hype as I’ve heard from literally thousands of aspiring SAP professionals over the years who got certified because of market hype and then became extremely frustrated when the jobs where not out there for them.

    As part of the Certification Five, and also a member of the Certification Influence Council which we advocated for, we have long had a dream that SAP certification could become a gold standard for the SAP ecosystem. With two main purposes: 1. to be a trusted resource for SAP customers to improve hiring quality and therefore the success rate and traction of SAP projects, and 2. to give SAP consultants something to aspire to, a challenging skills roadmap throughout their professional career.

    We have conducted quite of bit of research on this topic and the bottom line is this: while SAP certification at the Associates level has definitely improved significantly due to job task profiling and hard work inside of SAP Edu, the value of SAP certification is hardly “undisputed.” At best it is modest. If you do a search on today, for example, more than 8,000 SAP jobs come up. Do a search on SAP certification (not exact phrase) and the number drops down to 800, or 10 percent of the results. And keep in mind this is not exact phrase so it could be some other certification mentioned. If you do an exact search on “sap certification” the number drops to 71. A search on “SAP certification required” yields one search result. A search on SAP and “certified” in the job title itself yields only five results. I don’t have time to go through the 800 today to see how many are SAP certification and how many list it as required versus preferred, but we get some idea of the low level of traction currently from these stats.

    When I read your post, I despair that SAP certification will ever achieve this gold standard because you cannot reach that kind of goal without an honest accounting of the pros and cons of where things stand now.

    Where things stand now is that some SAP customers place a modest-to-good value on SAP certification for junior level hires, some see certification as nice to have for hires at any level, and many see it as irrelevant. For SAP professionals, I’d largely place certification in the “nice to have” category once you go beyond the three-years-of-SAP-experience level. They can get by just fine without it as things stand.

    For now, for experienced SAP consultants, there isn’t much to aspire to certification-wise because very few jobs require it and the advanced curriculum is limited and imperfect The emphasis in SAP hiring beyond junior level is still on proven field experience. Sadly, despite several years of concerted effort, we have yet to fully convince SAP Education that the Professional Level certification should be more than a multiple choice test. (I actually think even the Associates level should be more than multiple choice, but that’s a pipe dream for now). As Tom Cenens rightly points out, some kind of hands-on experience validation is needed here. And don’t even get me started on business process know-how, something that is essential for most successful SAP professionals but largely left to the underrated TERP10 curriculum that most of the community is unaware of and is largely focused on recent graduates only.

    As for the Master level, despite arguing passionately and on many occasions for the need for a rigorous Master level program to complete the skills roadmap, myself and the rest of the C5 have been unable to convince SAP Education to go forward with this investment. To me, that would be the “undisputed value” you are talking about.

    Right now, for most, SAP certification remains in the “nice to have” category, with the unfortunate exception of individuals who are oversold on what certification can do for them rather than understanding that SAP success requires lifelong learning and skills mastery not just an Associates Level certification. That does not negate the hard work many inside of SAP Education has done. But there is a way to commend the progress made while still taking an hard look at what remains to be done. My fear is that if you repeat the “undisputed value” mantra too much, folks will pat themselves on the back instead of chasing the real prize – innovative market leadership.

    As far as I can tell, many (though not all!!!) inside of SAP Education seem content to settle for “pretty good” or “good enough” when it comes to SAP certification, leaving other vendors like IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft to set a true gold standard. Or maybe, they read a glowing post like yours and assume they are leading the market – I sure hope not. Inside of IBM, the internal consultant certification is a true rigorous test and a hard-won badge of honor with levels of achievement that create a genuine culture of achievement. There is nothing like that in the SAP ecosystem right now. I for one think it’s a darn shame.

    • Jon-

      You raise many good points regarding the status of SAP’s certification program. While progress has been made – especially in the areas of validated job roles, tasks profiles, enablement content and delivery, and validated exams – we are definitely not finished with this journey that we embarked on a few years ago.

      What is very interesting is that now that we have reset the program, with the goal of establishing a program comparable to the other  ‘gold’ industry standard as our own objective, certification has moved from being a rarely discussed topic at SAP to one that is now being perceived by many as a fundamental requirement for the strategic solutions being released into the market.  Our initial Certification and Enablement Influence Council (CEIC) meeting was held just one year ago at SAPPHIRE Orlando 2011, and with the priorities established by that collective group, we have managed to define processes for establishing certification role priorities, validation processes, retirement/recertification requirements, etc.  I honestly do believe this increased focus is mainly the result of the work done by the CEIC and the various task forces that support the program. I also believe that it provides some validation that the ecosystem does want increased competence in the marketplace, and that they do believe that  proper enablement and certification programs are fundamental elements to ensure an ecosystem that can maximize customer value of their SAP investments.  

      We still have several more challenges in front of us to achieve the status of a ‘gold’ program that is not just about IT certification, but is also focused on business applications as well as the end to end lifecycle for enablement. But now that we have collectively managed to raise expectations and accountability, we can proceed with additional objectives that enable our customers to build and sustain their own work force in a more efficient manner, provide clearer learning paths for SAP professionals, ensure our education and certification programs are available in the market during ramp-up and in a flexible method of delivery, and address more roles in the ecosystem.  

      Expectations are rising, and thanks to our collaboration with the CEIC, we are experiencing a roughly 30% increase in certifications compared to the same period last year. Most growth is found in the newer solution areas/innovation topics as well as the emerging markets – both areas where risk is highest in the marketplace, as there are no multi-year experienced resources available to support the customers.  And as we have always said, while certification is part of a resume/CV it should never be positioned as a standalone measure of qualification. Rather, it should be considered as part of an overall resume/CV with additional education and experience criteria.

      I look forward to further discussion and engagement on this topic with you and other SAP Mentors, customers, and partners at our next CEIC meeting to be held in Walldorf on June 28.



  • Completely agree with Jon on this.

    Maybe the “Undisputed” term was meaning that we can’t dispute that Certification is currently irrelevant on the market and for sure no one can dispute the fact that I have 2 certifications and I *never* had the opportunity to use it. Customers largely don’t care.

    It is a pity cause as part of the Certification 5, I am a big believer in what Certification could mean one day. However, we are still far from that…

  • Hello Markus

    I am glad to see SAP Education folks blogging on SCN, and I hope you and your team continue to do so and engage with the community here.

    There are a few points where I think some nuance is called for

    1. Hana

    hana surely is the next big thing, and training and certification are needed. What is not yet true is that demand is greater than supply. There are only 145 implementations of HANA and between SAP and SI partners, I am sure a few thousands have been trained.

    Also, could you elaborate on steps you are taking to keep up with constantly evolving products like hana ?

    2. undisputed value of certification

    hmmm…that is an extreme stretch for SAP education to make that claim. The way certification is done today, only an absolute minority of your certifications are useful. And I am rather upset that the promise of a master level certification has not been realized yet, despite the community voicing it many times. Very few SAP jobs – if any – ask for certification .  An update on where you guys are now on making certification better will be greatly appreciated.

    3. Market understands SAP education direction

    that is also an interesting claim, and I have not seen it yet. Since we all define market in ways that suit us – I will not criticize on this point. I will just add that most customers I work with do not have much of an idea on what direction you are taking. But then, I only work with a few.



    • Hi Vijay,

      The Training&Education community aims to drive an integrated customer centic social media platform benefiting for the whole ecosystem, prospects, customers, trainers, education consultants etc. So sure, the education experts will continously share their view, insights via blog here.

      With regards to HANA, you can find many HANA courses in ‘Featured Courses’ section in the community’s homepage.

      Thank you and best regards


  • Hi Markus,

      These comments are from the perspective of a BASIS guy who, even when he had an employer to pay for him, hasn’t found a useful SAP Education course in the last five years.  So they may be a bit negative 🙂

    1) HANA Skills Are in Demand

    Lots of proof of concept projects, but very few ‘real’ systems.  And quite frankly, someone who knows their way around Linux would be more useful installing and maintaining a HANA box than any number of ‘certified’ HANA experts.  BASIS / SAP Admin work deals as much with the specifics of the platforms (Operating System / DBMS) and other supporting infrastructure as it does with the SAP software being supported.  In fact, someone who only had SAP certification and skills would be very limited in installing and supporting SAP systems.

    2) Eye-Openers from Customers

    Speaking as someone who spent 12 years working for a major global partner, I would suggest that SAP Education does not provide the courses that we needed; either they were the right course, but of old releases (just like IDES systems, btw …), or just not providing the courses we needed at the times we needed.  Just a few examples from the 2012 AU/NZ Classroom Education calendar (PDF) include:

    2 Object Oriented ABAP courses scheduled for the entire year,

    4 Web Dynpro courses scheduled for the entire year,

    • 2 are NET310_92 Fundamentals of Web Dynpro
    • 2 are NET311_91 Advanced Web Dynpro for ABAP

    3 SolutionMgr Operations courses for the entire year, obviously coinciding with someone’s travel (All 3 offerings of this four day course occcur in May)

    The Value of Certification is Undisputed

    Interview and Resume fraud are rife.  The true value of certification can be determined by the amount of Certification fraud; certainly, I hear no anecdotal evidence, despite the fact that SAP do nothing to prevent it !!

    As it stands, It is pointless discussing the value of certification when there is no clear and simple way for prospective employers to get hold of transcripts or verify them.  In Australia, I can get a copy of my transcript, but who is to say whether the one I pass on in my CV is the one I got from SAP (or has it had a little judicious manipulation…) ?

    SAP Learning Hub

    It’s particularly damning that the only link you provide us for this ‘product’ is a marketing brochure.  Is the SAP Learning hub the one at ?

    thanks for reading.

    • Hi Martin,

      As Jan mentioned in an earlier response, the SAP Learning Hub is a fairly new offering and we are in the process of expanding the scope of this offering and open it up to more customers.  There will be some new communication on this subject real soon and we appreciate your patience.



    • Hi Martin

      I just wanted to address your valid point around the accreditation check for customers. This continues to come up and we do need a well publicized and globally consistent process. The plan the last couple of years was to change the SCN business card so that the certification status is a validated field but we are currently also researching other alternatives so that we can definitely have an option in place for that to work by Q3 – either  in addition to or instead of the SCN Business Card enhancement. We are currently working on that with the CEIC and will keep you posted as soon as we have reliable information. I hope that helps


    • It’s a pitty I can’t give multiple likes for your reply Martin.

      I clicked at least 7 times on the “like” link, for the dilbert comic alone.

      I too, have always had the idea that Certifications are irrelevant in most case. I myself have none, but none of my customers will ever claim that my value is less because of it.

      On the other hand, I have seen many people barge in with double certifications and fail after two days.

      A certification based on multiple choice questions, is not a certification to me. There should at least be an interview after the exam, to validate that the correct answers were not just a fluke, but that there is effective knowledge. I understood that, once, there was a “master” level, which had such an interview. It’s a pitty such interview is not a requirement on all levels. It would actually work as an incentive to me, to follow a certification track, because I know that then, it will actually hold value, rather than being a lottery or a clickfest.

      The master level unfortunately no longer exists. The highest degree of certification however still does.

      The Mentorship

      Mentorship assigned by the community and other experts, based on proven expertise, and the ability to transfer knowledge on to others, beyond all education of SAP. At least SAP mentors should then have a say in the certification and education process.

      (and it’s good to read that they have been invited to the discussions. Kudos for that)

      • How much do you want to bet I can find several resumes that list “Master’s Certifications” of some kind on them for SAP?  😉

  • Hi

    I agree with many of the comments.  In regards to certification I was intending to write a blog on this issue but this seems like an appropriate place to express my views.  Firstly some background.  I am a university academic and SAP certified in 3 different areas.  I teach TERP10 SAP certification to students and academics.  My university offers a range of SAP certifications through eAcademies.  So I have an understanding of many of the issues.

    I always thought that the point of certification was to verify the level of someone’s knowldege.  I like the idea that SAP have developed different levels of certification and believe that the different levels should be encouraged.  This would help people and customers understand the difference between the traditional entry level certification (Associate) and the more advanced levels.

    The thing that gets up my nose in regards to certification is how it is implemented around the world.  In most coutries if a person believes they have the right knowledge they can walk in off the street, pay the fee and sit the exam.  However in some countries (India) people are not allowed to sit the exam unless the demonstrate years of experience or pay SAP Education to do the associated course.  It has been explained to me it is market dynamics.  Surely the exam is a stand alone test of knowledge so it should not matter whether somebody has done a course or not unless it is for extra revenue generation.

    India has been described on many occasions as a growth market where SAP skills are in demand.  So why create barriers for certification.  Maybe somebody could explain what are the market dynamics that result in this discriminatory policy.

    Until SAP allows customers to verify somebody’s certification status certification will continue to struggle.  The real concern in regards to this blog and comments is that most of the comments which are saying things need to be fixed are coming from SAP Mentors and these sentiments have been around for a long time.  I have thought about writing a research paper on the value of SAP certification.  I would collect data in 2 ways:  jobs sites and a poll of SAP Mentors on their opinions.  I have a fair understanding of what the findings would be.  My concern is that might facilitate change but it might also be used by other vendors for their ends.

    I feel sorry for you Markus.  Did you ever think that a simple blog would open up such a can of worms.



    • Hi Paul – you are aware the C5 ran a detailed survey on the value of SAP Certification, obtained 500+ responses and published same? I am sure you’ve forgotten more about statistical sampling than I’ll ever remember but I recall sense and re-sense testing the methodology before going out to get results.

      We fed ALL that data back to SAP for which there was a polite ‘thank you’ and pretty much radio silence from then on.

      ‘Nuff said.

      • Hi Dennis

        Yes I read the report and found it well written and informative.  I was going to reach out to the C5 to write an academic paper so the findings could get coverage in a different arena.  The idea of doing a survey with the SAP Mentors was not to cover the same ground from a research perspective but from a more political perspective.  Since the report was written the profile of SAP Mentors has increased significantly.  I would expect the survey findings would reiterate the C5 report and it would keep the issue alive and in the face of SAP and demonstrate how unresponsive they have been in this area.  In the words of a catch phrase from an Australian political party “keeping the bastards honest”.

        Interestingly there is supposed to be an upcoming webcast by SAP on developments in certification.  Can’t wait for the spin.



      • Hi Dennis

        the report was acknowledged and was a huge support  for us to channel the efforts into driving change in the program as it helped to highlight the needs for the individuals seeing or having obtained certification. The work with the Certification and Enablement Influence Council has also focused on this amongst other elements and having a forum of customers, partners and SAP Mentors driving that change means that we have a good solid basis for prioritizing which parts to tackle first and set priorities. I am sorry that you feel there has been radio silence on that good work. You can find an overview of what is being done here  and I will be happy to discuss with the SAP Mentors/C5 members who are involved how we can get more detailed information back to the C5.

        Hope that helps,


        • @sue – I am not going to pick on anyone in particular but the glacial pace and strange remarks made by the author about HANA certification are not inspiring. 18 months from the time Bill McD turned to Jon and I saying: ‘Let’s get this done’ to inception of CEIC and another year wherein we see incremental rather than radical change at a time when elsewhere we are being urged to support the ‘new SAP’ that is attempting to get out of its slow moving rut doesn’t jibe with what little progress I see.

          Sorry for sounding negative but to see so little real change after devoting 18 months of my life to the C5 project is hardly an encouragement to view things in a positive light.

          It doesn’t help that questions raised above are mostly met with apologies and ‘not ready yet’ answers.

          It all comes back to the fundamental points about setting the gold standard which the C5 raised years ago and which to this day have not been adequately addressed. From my perch it doesn’t look as though they’re even getting off the starting blocks however SAP Edu tries to spin it.

          When Jon says:

          Sadly, despite several years of concerted effort, we have yet to fully convince SAP Education that the Professional Level certification should be more than a multiple choice test. (I actually think even the Associates level should be more than multiple choice, but that’s a pipe dream for now). As Tom Cenens rightly points out, some kind of hands-on experience validation is needed here. And don’t even get me started on business process know-how, something that is essential for most successful SAP professionals but largely left to the underrated TERP10 curriculum that most of the community is unaware of and is largely focused on recent graduates only.

          As for the Master level, despite arguing passionately and on many occasions for the need for a rigorous Master level program to complete the skills roadmap, myself and the rest of the C5 have been unable to convince SAP Education to go forward with this investment. To me, that would be the “undisputed value” you are talking about.

          I can only admire his courage for sticking with what for me would be a thankless task.

          • Hi Dennis

            In regards to TERP10 yes it is underrated.  I was flabbergasted in a conference call on the future developments for TERP10 when it was stated by the person responsible for the course that it was not a consultant certification course.  They could not clarify what type of course it was which required an examination on completion.  I wonder whether this has always been the status of this course or it changed when uni students started doing it.



  • Wow, I love the comments here. I’m hoping that Education are listening because this is a damning commentary. Here is the view of a consulting manager:

    1) HANA Skills Are in Demand

    If you are a HANA consultant with excellent SQL skills, project lifecycle experience or a real working knowledge of the product then I’d love to hear from you. Unfortunately the CVs that cross my desk are more often than not people have the useless TZHANA or TZH100 certifications. The certification in HANA devalues consultants.

    2) SAP Learning Hub

    Watch out for the inevitable criticism that this is a means for large partners to increase the number of certified consultants without increasing the quality.

    3) The Value of Certification is Undisputed

    Amazing how the work of the Certification 5 has gone unlistened after 5 years. I am a consulting manager and I do not value certification. I value great people with great skills and customer focus. Some of them are certified. There is no correlation between great people and certification and there is a correlation between under qualified people and certification.

    4) Collaboration with Partners

    I’ve never had a call asking me what I think the HANA certification should look like from SAP Education, though I have from other parts of the organisation.

    Overall and honestly I think this is a case of believing what you say, when the evidence – especially the comments in the blogs – points directly against it. Please – step back and listen to what people have been saying for 5 years and engage with the community. If you do this, they will be on your side and they will help strive make things better.

    • Hi John,

      We are listening, and welcome the dialog.  We are also actively soliciting additional participation from the SAP mentors in the ongoing task forces within the CEIC.

      The Certification and Enablement Influence Council includes 2 representatives of the C5, 5 customers nominated throught their user groups, and 6 partner organizations, who jointly work together to set the priorities for SAP’s enablement and certification council.  In addition to 2 of the C5, there are also 2 additional mentors working with the task forces, to ensure the decisions, solutions and processes designed by this team meet the requirements of the mentors. 

      As you can imagine, not all opinions and priorities are the same across the various members, but they have been very effective at embracing an open dialog for defining program requirements and then working through the details via the task forces.

      Currently,the active task forces have set the following as priority 1 for 2012 (there are additional lists for prio 2 and 3)

      -definition of scalable processes for integration external feedback into job task analyses (both for education and certification)

      -definition of scalable processes for integration external feedback in the portfolio planning process (education and certification)

      -review of enhancement options to drive value of professional certification

      -definition of recertiication concept


      – it seems to me that 3 of these 4 priorities are exactly in line with your own feedback. 

      We completely agree with you, certification adds no value if it is not measuring the right skills and competencies, but making sure it is the right requires external engagement.

      We absolutely need more mentors to become actively involved in these groups to ensure the results are relevant and meaningful.  Whether it is yourself or other mentors, we need more engagement to ensure this program has impact the customers, partners and individuals.

      Finally, one comment regarding the Learning Hub and other flexible enablement methods.  We absolutely recognized that our historical dependency on classroom training has been is a significant barrier for many to obtain appropriate education.  We have introduced several programs that ‘protect the billable day’, while also removing the access limitations that exist around synchronous training and physical classroom.  The Learning Hub is one such program that provides subscription access to our entire education library for use as either self-paced or internally organized learning programs.  And the cost is less ~35% of 1 billable day per consultant for an entire years access.   Our ultimate goal is to maximize customers investment in their SAP solutions by ensuring our ecosystem is competent. With the addition of Learning Hub, and the Certification bundles, eAcademy, etc, we have been able to lower the cost of learning by more than 60%, but, we also know there is very little awareness in the market regarding these new options, leaving us with a significant disconnect between what is available and what is being consumed in the market.

      We would be more than happy to host a session with the mentors to discuss what has occured in the past 12 months, what is on the horizon, and how they can become more involved to help drive more change and improve the competency of the ecosytem for the benefit of our customers.


      • Hi Mary,

        I also feel quite strongly on this subject having come from the classic BOBJ base and also feeling certifications could be improved.

        My feedback is more granular, but along the same themes:

        • Several large gaps in certification coverage – for instance Sybase IQ, as well as Universe Design – this is a massive one for me, as universes underpin your entire BI deployment!
        • Certifications on technical competencies that aren’t as important as other areas where there aren’t certifications – for instance, Webi now has a certification (which you can probably pass after a two day course plus some intense study), but Universe Design (which is so much more important and much more difficult to be an expert at) doesn’t have a certification
        • There are certifications that haven’t been updated – take for instance Data Integrator XI R2, that is now 3 versions old, Data Services 4.0 has been released!  This is especially interesting when there was a comment above that old releases aren’t allowed to have certifications anymore!
        • The certification exams don’t have enough real-world material, it is just pulled from the training manuals and all questions are multi-choice, doesn’t make it very difficult to pass
        • SAP Certification has a concept of Associate > Professional > Master level, which I think is a great idea! However, the BI exams are all limited to Associate only, so there is no career path beyond achieving one certification for each technical solution

        As a new Mentor, I’d really like to assist and provide feedback in much more detail, so please let me know how I can get engaged.



  • @Markus and all…  I would like to add a little perspective here.

    My personal belief is that there is so much passion around this issue and so much frustration because we all WANT the certification to be taken seriously.  I know I do and I only have one, very old ASAP certification that I do not even know if it is recorded (even though I have the book and certificate).  I also have a bunch of SD classes that I have the original books and certs for (old 3.0 and 3.1 courses).  No cert for SD though.

    My guess is that we WANT to see value in this.  Frankly if the certification WAS valued in the market I would consider getting a couple of them even though my experience doesn’t require it!

    • Thank you Tammy and Marilyn for organising this.

      Here was an opportunity for SAP to explain what they have achieved and what they are going to achieve in the next few months especially after all the social media activity.  Unfortunately it was more about rhetoric about what we want to do and who we have been talking with.  It did not address any of the comments posted in different forums.  Not much different from the message from this video from 2009 .  I watched this again and the same sentiment exists about everybody’s perception of certification is wrong and SAP have to do something about it.

      A couple of issues with the recent webcast:

      1.  “You will not be able to pass the associate level certification by studying the material only.  You will need some experience”.  If this is the case then I would expect this is to be made clear to participants through pre-requisites for classroom training leading to certification.  The eAcademy provides virtual training based on the classroom education material leading to certification.  It does not have pre-requisites for someone to undertake a course.  Matter of fact SAP, in some regions, are trying to sell this option to university students who may have never logged onto SAP.  I think this has more to do about reaching certification KPI numbers than revenue generation.

      2.  Professional/Master Certification validation.  If SAP struggle to get all their consultants to the professional/master level certification then how can it be considered to be a valid measure by customers.

      3.  Certification Community:  You have to be kidding in terms of a priority!  There are already an area of SCN for certification and opportunities fro people to extend this. To put time into creating another community when there are so many other pressing issues demonstrates a lack of understanding of customer issues.  If it is designed to be a community for certified professionals then it is going to be a small group.  SAP you can dispute this by indicating how many people have attained professional level certification.

      4.   Accreditation Validation.  Here was an opportunity to mention about the new validation approach being launched in a few months.  This would have provided the audience with tangible information and changed their perception on this issue.  Unfortunately it was not discussed.

      Overall the webcast supported my perceptions about the problems with certification.


      • Hi Paul,

        thanks for your feedback and especial thanks to Tammy for helping to organize this. To address your points in more detail:

        1. Associate certification is designed to validate the skills of individuals who have either had some initial project experience or hands-on training with real business case examples. So the statement made is absolutely correct. The aspiring Associate would be badly advised to try reading the book and taking the exam. The eAcademy is virtual training with the support of a trainer and not just the book. That being said we also monitor regularly pass and fail rates based on the different enablement models to ensure that we are fulfilling the requirement. We try to steer away from “set in stone” prerequisites – especially training prerequisites – as project experience can be equally effective and we do not discriminate.

        2. There is currently no Master certification. Agreed – there is a lack of awareness around the Professional level certification. But it depends very much which end of the argument you pick up first as to whether that means that it should or should not be a valid measure for customers. As Jarret says earlier in the comments to this blog “your case that popularity is associated with value is a real stretch”.

        3. The confusion here is obviously around the term “Community”. You are absolutely right. It would not be worthwhile devoting time to building up a separate community to SCN. That is not what we are doing. What SCN can offer is a community in the social media context and we plan to link the two. We are creating a Community offering in a much broader context as we have been criticized in the past for not offering sufficient benefits to certified folks. This platform will allow us to do that  – offering credential verification for customers, discounted and free offerings to certified folk, self service capabilities for dwnloading logos, merging S-user IDs, having certificates resent,advice and tailored learning maps, etc. – and privileged access to a Communitywhich we are hoping to manage together with SCN. It will not only be for Professional certified people but for all those who have certified.

        4. As you rightly say, standard and easy to use global processes for accreditation validation are a big issue and have been the subject for many lively discussions around certificate fraud, etc. It is a shame this wasn’t discussed in depth as this is indeed a very important point for customers. The new portal will provide us with an accreditation validation process and should be implemented towards the end of Q3. This means that a customer or prospective employer has the ability to check a candidate’s certification credentials. We will of course also continue to pursue the solution whereby the certification status in the SCN business card is validated information and not free form text to lend it more meaning but we don’t yet have a date for that.

        I hope that helps to clarify some of the open points Paul. Thanks for pointing them out,


  • I would be curious to get the SAP Education teams response to this recent blog on SAP HANA certification

    I was a little surprised to see that you only need 59% to pass and that the individual took it and passed without any preparation.