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Are the Professionals Working on Your SAP Project Accredited?

by Waldemar Weyhersmueller | SAPinsider

January 1, 2002

by Waldemar Weyhersmueller, Global Director for the SAP Solution Academy Development and Certification Program SAPinsider - 2002 (Volume 3), January (Issue 1)
 

Q: With more than 90 percent of all SAP projects utilizing consultants at some point in the solution's lifecycle, how does SAP ensure there will be enough talent to go around? And how can a customer know with a high degree of certainty that a consultant is even qualified to do the job?

Picking consultants, in my mind, boils down to two things. First, you seek out those that are bright, resourceful, and experienced. There is simply no substitute for that. Second, you get assurances that they possess comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of the SAP solutions for which they are providing services.

Now more than ever, consultants need to be well versed in SAP technology and methodologies, because mySAP.com solutions embrace a number of components, not just one. Few SAP customers now operate R/3 systems in a vacuum. R/3 systems, more often than not, now interoperate with other systems. Consultants who are up-to-date on their training will have the know-how to ensure smooth and reliable cross-system operation. That's why we "certify" professionals. This SAP seal of approval is not granted casually. Consultants go through rigorous training and testing in specialized areas of proficiency to demonstrate they have a thorough grasp of the intricacies of that particular line of expertise.

As to your question about having enough talent to go around: To date, after growing by over 20,000 in 2001, there are close to 90,000 certified SAP professionals worldwide. These certified professionals are more or less evenly distributed across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region. Given these numbers and this distribution, I don't foresee a shortage of qualified talent.

Q: Partners receive training and certification from the SAP Solution Academy, formerly called the SAP Partner Academy. Why did you change the name?

For one thing, the elite training curriculum we offer is not strictly for partners. SAP caters to lots of large customers who have in-house professional staffs and competency centers, many of which rival the quality of the preeminent consultancies. Professionals from these organizations are eligible for this level of training and certification, too.

A stronger motivation, however, is to highlight a new focus. As the new name implies, the SAP Solution Academy provides solution-oriented education. It is critical that professionals recognize that you don't implement or gain skills in a product vacuum anymore. Everything's operating cross-module, cross-system, and cross-vendor, and you need to understand the broader context in which this technology operates and be skilled within that context. The paradigm for expertise has shifted from being knowledgeable in a specific product module to being knowledgeable in an overall solution that is cross-module and cross-product.

Q: You referred to the SAP Solution Academy as having an "elite" training curriculum. What makes its course offerings different from those offered by typical SAP training centers?

The SAP Solution Academy, unlike SAP's standard training centers, places much more emphasis on hands-on case studies, where professionals can delve into the software and test various configurations in a controlled environment that closely approximates a real-world project.

Another key differentiator is our emphasis on certification and the manner in which you attain that accreditation. We offer curriculum tracks that embody a sequence of courses designed to prepare professionals to perform specific tasks or fulfill specific roles.1 Training along these very specialized tracks culminates with the certification examination.

Lastly, our offerings are designed in concert with our major partners to ensure that the courses we develop are in sync with the real-world challenges customers need help with.

Q: Is this certification program entirely in the customer's best interest? And what does SAP get out of it?

The more professionals we educate about how best to evaluate, design, implement, and optimize a solution, particularly in the early phases of a project's lifecycle, the fewer escalation problems customers will experience later on. It is clearly in our customers' best interest, and ours too, to nurture consistent, high-quality professional services, because the byproduct of high-quality services is high-quality implementations that are subject to far fewer problems. This level of service is made possible by creating a rich, accredited SAP ecosystem with a pool of professional talent, all of whom are fully knowledgeable, up-to-date, and trained to help customers get the most from SAP integrated software solutions.


1For a complete list of areas of specialization and certification visit the SAP Service Marketplace at http://service.sap.com.


Waldemar Weyersmueller joined SAP AG in 1992 as Global Sales Director of Basis Components, where he was responsible for the initial rollout of SAP's R/3 client-server technology worldwide. Since 1995, he served as Global Director of the SAP Solution Academy, responsible for development of specific training for SAP partners and SAP's certification program for consultants. Prior to joining SAP, Waldemar spent 19 years with IBM Germany in consulting, sales, and management roles. Waldemar received a master's degree in mathematics at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.

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