SAP Watch

Oct 2 2007   6:08PM GMT

New SAP certification options

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

The value of formal certification differ quite a bit depending on your situation. A formal certificate may be the golden ticket to getting a foot in the door for a junior position. However, “Practical experience is King” is the mantra most of our experts rely on.

“If you can show two or more years of good results, whether you have certification or not is completely irrelevant,” said Matthew Billingham in his guest column The Keys to ABAP success last month.

This potential for diminished value of certification is obviously a problem for SAP, but it seems SAP recognized it. Announced at TechEd, there are now three levels of certification for SAP professionals:

  • SAP Certified Associate is the basic stamp of approval for budding SAP professionals, suitable for recent college grads and those who recently moved to the SAP world.
  • SAP Certified Professional goes one step further, requiring proven experience and good understanding of SAP basics. This step is suitable for those with at least two years practical, hands-on experience.
  • SAP Certified Master is the trial-by-fire achievement that is likely to involve practical testing as well as interviews and written tests. I say “likely” because this flavor of certification is still under development and won’t be available until 2008.

On that note, there are still branches of the Professional level that are under development too, although I’m told this will be resolved shortly. Another quirk worth mentioning: For Associate and Professional levels, you choose a technical or functional angle for the topic you seek certification in; for Master level, you have to know both sides of the fence, said Michael Smith, eLearning Manager at SAP America in Atlanta, Georgia.

“One notable difference with the new certifications is the type of questions,” Smith said. “Instead of multiple choice questions from the study material, you get more open questions like ‘If you’re faced with problem X, how do you solve it?'”

That’s probably a good thing, seeing how there have been grumbles about SAP certification holders with subpar practical know-how — which typically doesn’t become evident until the project goes awry, be it a consultant or salaried employee.

“As a rule, SAP professionals tend to overestimate the power of certification,” said SAP career expert Jon Reed. “My experience is that most hiring managers are far more impressed by strong project track record than they are with a piece of paper.”

Reed will take an in-depth look at SAP’s new certification program in the weeks ahead, providing practical advice for new and current SAP professionals on what options are best suited to their current skills and interests.

Matt Danielsson
Editor

18  Comments on this Post

 
There was an error processing your information. Please try again later.
Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.
Send me notifications when other members comment.

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
  • JackDanahy
    In my opinion this is just another clever way for SAP to make some money. I've worked in the industry for over 11 years. Clients are not interested in whether your are certified or what the level of your certification is but whether you can do the job or not. They can very quickly establish this and by showing the required skillsets you can quickly build up a reputation as someone who can deliver a quality solution. To me this new grading system is a pot of rubbish and I feel sorry for the individuals who are going to spend thousands of dollars to get a certificate that means nothing more than the paper it is printed on.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    Joe Soap: Wow, that's harsh. Don't you think it'd be useful for a junior SAP person though? It's HARD to get your foot in the door these days. How do you get the chance to prove that you can provide quality work if you don't have anything to set yourself apart in the first place?
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    I don't necessarily look at this as a cash grab, though Joe is right that referenceable project work is always the best criteria for the evaluation of consultants. No question SAP is in business to make money, but I don't see certification as primarily money-driven. SAP can make a lot more money from companies spending millions on its software than it can from a handful of job-seeking developers and functional consultants. I think this is like any other idea - the credibility will depend a lot on the execution. Joe is right that certifications don't matter that much, but I do find that companies are biased towards Platinum consultants. But that's an internal definition you can't achieve if you don't work for SAP. If these kinds of certifications allowed companies to perceive consultants who don't work for SAP in the same regard as those Platinums who work for SAP, that would actually be a nice way of rewarding some of the great independent consultants out there who don't actually work for SAP. True, it will be hard to quantify and evaluate "proven experience," but I think certifications will be more useful if they involve more than just passing a test. I'd like to see SAP improve its certification levels and processes. If this works, it will help the market, but it will never replace the credibility of great project references. I can understand the skepticism but I'm going to reserve judgement until this plays out further. Jon Reed JonERP.com
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    I agree with Joe -- this smells of Quick Buck Syndrome just waiting to be bungled. A person with a decade's worth of proven track record could care less about some piece of paper, and the newcomers are already finding that traditional SAP certification isn't enough to cut the mustard. How will slapping "Associate" on that piece of paper change this fundamental fact?
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    I think SAP is now up for the monies. These different certification levels are quite good, the world can now distinquish between different consultants, though emphasis on practical experience should be msjor.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    I am with Jon Reed on this. Well simply have to wait and see wether the new certificates carry the kind of proffessional weight as platinum consultants, but the old certificates were largely useless once you were past your fresher days. If SAP will indeed make the professional and master certificates prestigius enough, which is achieved by employing the highest standards rather than turn it into a diploma mill, this just may be worth the money. But will SAP resist the temptation of just rubberstamping certificates to bad consultants? Thats remains to be seen. Vijay
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Sai
    I just passed out from college. I wrote the certification exam in BI. Preparing for the exam and writing the exam made me a better Person in SAP than i was before .It helped me to become thorough with the concepts. Certification exam may not mean anything for senior consultants..but for junior and entry level people like me..it definetly helps.. I would like to thank Jon Reed for writing good articles on the value of certification and how it helps to get thorough with the Subject for junior consultants and entry level people...
    5 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    No doubts, it is a next try to run cash machine for SAP. But the idea is not that bad. I got certified in BW 3.0 and then in BI 7.0, but it was worthless, even when I had inteview with SAP itself :) All they were asking is just experience, and this is what new levels are about to prove. Do I need SAP's certificate to prove my experience? Life will show. What wonders me though, is SAP's approach to market not developed things. Like this time, SAP announces 3 levels, but provides certification only in the first one, which is nothing else, but the same exam you took before. Other levels (at least for BW) will be available just in 6 months.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    Jon, I agree with your comments on SAP Certification.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Kent
    If I read Sai correctly, he wrote the BI exam. And he is just out of college? Where is the practical experience? If this is indeed correct we have an exam written by a person who is "green" in the SAP world. This smacks of a money grab by SAP if you ask me.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    like most I have been cynical about the SAP certification program for some time. It has added little value beyond a rubber stamping exercise and in some case hampers implementations. The new program is a breath of fresh air as it is focused on delivering a business solution and a technical complient solution. Its motivation is to ensure that SAP is implemented and updated with to requirment of the business foremsot not IT. I for one praise SAP for having its eye on tomorrow, with what is an attempt to position and support its products and solutions with the business community
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    I agree with most of the above comments on experience talks than the certification. one of my friend did the course and completed the certification in SD. Ofcos, he is new to SAP world but when it comes to the job all asking for experience and he is still jobless after 3 months of his certification. The SAP education center where he did was very responsible during & until he finishes the course. Infact, they informed that they will assist for the placement before joining the course ofcos i agree no guarantee on this but atleast the assistance should be given to the freshers who are spending thousands of dollars which is not a small amount. When following up for the job to the SAP education centre, he got irresponsible answers like "we are not responsible for that" without even trying for the student. SAP should atleast assist with the freshers who are spending money for the real course to do the certification in order for them to get in to a company with atleast some experience. Does this messege reach to SAP management? The money a student is spending can be a peanut to SAP but for that student it is really a big.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    It is a mixed bag. I have studied for other certifications in the past for material that I've been experienced in for years, like Oracle DBA etc., and quickly realized by studying material that I did not know as much as I thought. I think the certification can complement (not replace) the experience and vice versa.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    Certification is a reference point. Between a consultant who tells me what he knows about SAP Portal and another one who shows me his SAP Portal certification, I would feel more confident to go with the one who is certified. If you know SAP's certification program, you will understand my decision. It is not easy to succeed in a certification test. You have more than two thousand pages to read and the questions, although multiple-choices, are pretty tricky. So, reading the course alone is not enough to ensure success. You have to understand and, more importantly, to be able to master the subject i.e. to remember accurately what you read; because usually the multiple choices differ only by a shade. And the best way to master a subject is a lot of hands-on or, namely, experience. In fact, SAP consultants should not take a certification test just for the sake of being certified. It should be the confirmation of their experience on a specific topic. The challenge for SAP then is to filter out those who use their memory to remember and keep only those who use their experience to get through. That is probably what the "new certifications the type of questions" are all about. Pete
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    My experience has been that those SAP professionals who have commented that "sap certification" does not matter....are the same individuals who do not have the certification....TAKE the test...I have witnessed, many senior consultants walk out of the test very upset after not passing the test....experience is great...but if you don't understand the basics....you are just another project team member talking trash.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    I am a certified BI solution consultant. I know how tough the test is. I do believe that there are senior BI consultants who fail the test. On the other hand, I also do believe that there are certified BI consultants who do not know how to properly activate a business content object, or how to get to the error message when a process chain fails in order to determine the cause of the failure. Or, they would back out if you put them in front of the Query Designer and ask them to set up query that tells whether the top 20 customers are buying as much as they did last year at this time. Certification is a reference point but not everything.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    Hello I would like to say i'm a passerby who happened to come across this page and I think it's really great. Personal experience from senior consultants is what many junior consultants need to hear. I would like to share my sap experience. I too was fresh out of university, with a degree in electronics, then I suddenly decided to do sap since this was in the market in my new area. I am now in Sales & Distribution. I have more then a year experience and seriously I am still trying to get thru the certification exam. I sat right after the academy and failed it with a 60%. So a year later i'm preparing for my retake which is in about 20 days. But really guys I suggest you get some experience even from the user side. Right after the academy when I sat for the exam the first question given to me I was like woa what the heck does this mean? It was as if I never read these questions in the manuals. Those questions are tricky times 10. If you don't see the screens in your head yet, then please don't attempt the exam till you get that experience. I am lucky I was given a consultancy job though. But really in my consultancy firm there are many senior people who are still not certified, and they are up the ladder. While juniors who have no experience but are certified are just putting there feet on the ladder. So in some consultancy firms(depends on the country)they don't care of the certification requirement. If you have it then good if you don't "Dont worry we will give you a job so you gain some experience." And there are those consultants who are ONLY book consultants, and then you have your real consultants who give company's real best practices. Good luck guys
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • JackDanahy
    I'm now certified! :)
    0 pointsBadges:
    report

Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: