Certifications and SAP’s aim to improve quality of implementations by getting more consultants certified continue to stir a lot of conversation in the SAP Blogsphere. We have yet to see more reports and details coming out of the SAP Mentor Webinar that was held yesterday. SAP’s Mark Yolton posted a blog on SDN yesterday to which I posted a comment on. Please find my comment below :
I am a UK based freelance SAP Development Consultant with 12+ years experience. In the past I have participated in many of the SDN discussions and Twitter conversations that you have mentioned in your blog.
Let me first of all start off by emphasizing that SAP customers’ needs for better, more efficient, more reliable and faster implementations are completely understandable. Whether in the past that’s always been entirely skills related is debatable (but that’s also slightly beside the point).
With regards to your blog I was surprised to see that no feedback of today’s SAP Mentor webinar was included. This group, as Dennis Howlett recently pointed out on “Enterprise Geeks” podcast, is an important factor as far as a buy-in into new certification ideas is concerned. Almost none of the SAP Mentors are actually SAP certified, yet are able to do outstanding day-to-day work in SAP-land.
The SAP resource gaps that you have mentioned in your blog are very often filled by experienced SAP experts such as me who work on a contract basis. This is not something that will go away in the short term. My impression (based on working experience in UK and Germany) is that for experienced freelance consultants certification currently is not a guarantee to land that next contract. And I can’t see this changing in the short to medium-term. Why?
- most clients I work for want me to produce examples of real work and value
- agents and end clients are not interested if I am certified in the next hot topic, but without previous experience in it (believe me, I’ve tried it)
- certification courses and admission to TechEd (except Bangalore) are expensive for one-man-bands
- certifications are just a snap-shot. (If you’re CRM 3.0 certified, what use is this for CRM2007 implementations? re-train every 1-2 years?)
Actually, as far as my first 2 points are concerned, partners and SI’s are in a similar situation, because even if their consultants are certified in a particular new area or topic, they still need that first hands-on, exciting project to implement it. In my experience, I have seen a lot of customers who have suffered from being “bleeding edge”, being the first to use new technology in their area.
With regards to the value and depth of SAP certification in its current offering, you said: “Come join us this year in Phoenix, Vienna, Bangalore, or Shanghai … get your hands on the technology via workshops, hear from experts, and sit for the exam soon afterwards.”. If this means that a few workshops and seminars at TechEd are enough to sit (and pass) an exam that makes someone within up to 3 months a certified consultant than I feel more than confirmed in my doubts. I also feel there is a “get them while they’re hot” attitude which doesn’t help to raise the profile of certifications.
What would be a far better idea is if SAP would improve the way how consultants can acquire skills themselves (I mean beyond the current offerings), especially for those without access to partner or customer systems. Why not introduce a 1-consultant subscription scheme for BS7 or ECC6, sitting on top of the SDN subscription scheme, for example? Why? Current offerings for SDN Subscriptions or by 3rd parties such as www.sidmembers.com don’t reach far enough as these either
a) not offer the application stack or
b) can’t offer cross-client code changes.
You can only improve the quality of your work if you have access to hard- and software at any point in time, not just in a SAP training center. In my mind, this would be a much easier solution, which could potentially feed into a different kind of certification approach for the future, with help and ideas from mentors & community.