The point of SAP Education

by Art Worster

February 17, 2011

The Point of SAP Education

This may well seem like a silly topic; however, unfortunately it is not.  We seem to have developed a philosophy and strategy where everything is evaluated in the short term, where the value and application of building foundations of knowledge and learning how to apply them over a career are lost in the planning.  I see way too many people in all technology spaces, but particularly in SAP, asking the question about a direct and short term payback for any investment in their education.  This is somewhat self-serving, but more importantly, it also doesn't take into consideration why clients use SAP in the first place, which is to improve the IT Applications support for their business in order to allow them to improve their business performance (a Return on Investment).  These are smart people, they have achieved the levels they have in their companies and industry through a career of learning, creating, and applying to get them to the point that they are today.  In order to help them now move to yet the next level, they are looking for and need consultants who can understand their problems and the software to help them craft solutions to achieve their needs.  It is unlikely that a single skills course will provide that level of knowledge.

Now, let's look at the consultant, and remember that they are selling themselves to clients as part of the ability to provide complex solutions to complex problems (either directly or through Systems Integrators).  Yes, it is true that there are fundamental elements of knowledge that can provide some immediate value to clients and therefore can well have a short-term payback, but these are primarily task based skills where the skil l is reasonably simple to apply, and the real measure of ability is based upon productivity.  An example of this could be creating conversion programs in ABAP for simple data conversion/migration functions in a project. 

For effective SAP Consulting, this is rarely sufficient.  The additional knowledge required to be an effective consultant in this space has to be the result of a lifelong process of improving one's overall knowledge of business operations, software configuration options, business process management and project/program approaches and tools.  Many of these will not have an immediate return on the educational investment, meaning higher wages because of the coursework, but will provide a better understanding and ability to understand, design and implement business processes to achieve client expectations.  This, over time, will always lead to a greater ability to provide high-value business consulting and will lead to greater rewards.  The list includes nearly everything in this space (with the exception of basic skills) including project management (PMP), functional certifications (CPIM, CPA, etc.), SAP TERP 10 (Associate Certification in Business Process Integration), and other SAP specific and allied education.  While gaining specific skills is a necessary starting point, the rest of SAP Education should always be part of a long term career planning exercise where the goal is to allow the consultant to provide more effective business consulting advice.  If a consultant or client employee does not have this focus, they will make the wrong career decisions, limit their business knowledge and ultimately not be successful in gaining the success that they covet. 

Art Worster

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