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Ok. I am a newly minted Certified SF EC Associate. Yay! I can rightfully claim the honor of one of the few Consultants who have spent the $$ from their own pocket, I used my Vacation $$! (as opposed to the fee being paid by employers). I have plenty to write about the whole experience and how I think it can be improved.

Off the bat here are a positive and a negative.

Positive – I was told that SF Trainings are now open to anyone and we do not have to be sponsored by a Partner.

Negative – The prices have been jacked up. (Well, for those already trained this could be a positive)

I wanted to test out the Positive. So, I went on to the SAP Education Training & Certification Shop and tried to enroll in THR82 – SuccessFactors Performance & Goals Academy. I was able to proceed till the Payment Confirmation page (even though it listed THR80 – Introduction to SuccessFactors HCM Academy as a Pre-Requisite Essential and I do not have that). I stopped here. I can say with confidence that the opening of the SF Trainings to everyone is a huge positive for the SAP Consulting community. Given this direction, I fail to understand the sanctity of the whole ‘PartnerPortal’ concept. Why should an officially trained consultant be tied to a Partner, if he or she can independently enroll in the training otherwise?

Now to the Negative. Last year when I had started my quest to get Trained, the cost of Intro to Mastery was just $ 2,500/- and the cost of EC Mastery was $ 3,500/- adding up to a grand total of $ 6,000/-. Now the Intro to Mastery costs $ 3,325/- and EC Mastery costs $ 6,075/- adding up to an astounding $ 9,400/- ! This will be a huge barrier to entry of the average Independent Consultant who spends a half month’s earnings on getting trained on a software and then not being guaranteed to be able to use that skillset! I think it is already having an effect on the enrollment. The enrollments are still open for courses starting next week as opposed to almost a 6 month wait that I saw last year. Even in my class of 11 Trainees, 2 were last minute SAP employee enrollments! So the demand has come down drastically. I have already commented on this phenomenon and opined that this could be due to a glut of Trained Consultants on the market without a project. I personally know of a Partner company that trained a batch of its employees in Recruitment module and could not place a single employee on a recruitment project. So, now even Partners maybe holding back on their reckless spending on SF trainings that may not get them any ROI.

Let us go to the training itself. The online course is a big positive as it allows consultants to be able to get trained even when they are on a project. I registered for the course starting at 3:00 A.M, so I would be done with Instructor meeting by 6:00 A.M and would head out to work. Then get back home and complete the Online Videos and excercises! As usual (this happened during the Intro course also) there was a lot of confusion with the Webex and JAM Group access and the training system itself being slow. By the end of the course, I had 3 different accounts on JAM! The URL’s often keep getting directed to the wrong pages (LMS log in page gets directed to Sales Demo page and sometimes the Production page itself). Both the Trainers that I had worked with were experienced with Success Factors product, which is good. It would be nice to have Trainers that also have experience in the SAP HCM space as that would add a lot of value to the trainees. The Exercise Workbooks had a few incorrect instructions, which resulted in the trainees spending a lot of time trying to figure it out. If I am paying this kinda money for the class, I would expect 100% correct Exercise Workbooks. Figuring out does help the trainees to get their hands around the system, but when it is a time bound course which has to be completed successfully, there should be no scope for wasting of time by the trainees. However a Case Study 3 could be given to the trainees to be completed at will AFTER the successful completion of the class with no instructor help. This would enable the consultants to get more comfortable with the system.

I don’t know if there is already a training ‘bundle’ available that consists of multiple modules where the cost of the bundle is less than the sum of the individual classes. It would be nice to have a ‘bundle’ that would include say Intro+EC+PGM for a cost of say $ 10K or something like that. Another thought is to allow ‘delta’ at discounts as in say if you have completed Intro+EC, then you can do PGM for a discounted price. Another thought is to just make available the Videos and Exercise workbooks of ALL the courses to the students and have them complete the exercise on their own with no Instructor help. This would generate a great eco system with Consultants using the JAM as a vibrant forum to ask questions and float their ideas.

Finally a Plastic Card that says Certified by SAP would be great. (I still carry around my SuccessFactors Consultant Certification card in my wallet, although I never had the opportunity to show it off!).

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