SAP Watch


August 14, 2008  11:00 AM

Web Dynpro: A surging SAP career opportunity

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

SAP’s resident NetWeaver expert, Axel Angeli, has answered a flurry of reader questions lately, and one of the emerging themes is the strength of Web Dynpro as an SAP career skill. Web Dynpro lies within NetWeaver and is the programming model for Web-based business applications. Axel sees a strong market for it, even though some readers have the mistaken impression that SAP’s Business Server Pages (BSP) is going to replace Web Dynpro. However, Axel points out that learning Web Dynpro can be essential to SAP job success in NetWeaver (click on the link to see what he has to say about BSP).

There are two flavors of Web Dynpro: Web Dynpro Java and Web Dynpro ABAP. Axel has a strong preference for one of these two based on what he sees in the market, and what he considers the strategic direction of SAP. While you should read Axel’s tip to learn more, we won’t be giving anything away by reminding you that Axel was happy to see Java supporter Shai Agassi leave SAP.

If your interest is piqued in Web Dynpro, there are further actions you should take. Begin by discovering what is Web Dynpro, according to SAP itself, and learn how and where you can get training in Web Dynpro if you are interested in taking the next step. If you want to know why Axel argues that Web Dynpro for ABAP is a superior career path, read the ABAP versus Java white paper and also get the Java perspective from consultant Lynton Grice.

Finally, bear in mind that SAP’s commitment to service-oriented architecture (SOA) is further transforming the career skills required to excel in NetWeaver. Stay ahead of the curve by learning more about SAP and SOA.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor

August 7, 2008  10:45 AM

SAP’s Bill McDermott offers growth clues

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Are there acquisitions in SAP’s future?

SAP’s Bill McDermott told SearchSAP.com last week that “…there are many ways that we can grow with our existing accounts.”

The president and CEO of SAP global field operations said SAP can still sell customers more of the SAP suite — such as CRM and SCM, as well as third-party partner products like Duet or Adobe forms.

He also pointed to a recent acquisition this quarter, “Visiprise, which is a small company that essentially provides what we call the perfect plant, how do you make a manufacturing plant more efficient and effective at the operating floor level?” McDermott said. “So these are all ways that we can grow existing accounts.”

It’s the potential acquisitions that have some people talking.

AMR’s Bruce Richardson, brought it up in his First Thing Monday newsletter. SAP’s move to fill top roles with field executives, not developers, signals that SAP will buy more companies rather than trying to develop everything internally, he wrote.

Forrester Research’s Paul Hamerman shared similar thoughts with SearchSAP.com in a previous interview about ERP market share growth.

“It’s a very possible strategy for them to get into the underdeveloped markets,” he said. “China is a very interesting market and one that would lend itself to some acquisitions.”

With regard to the top management, McDermott told SearchSAP.com that they model their management team after the markets they want to compete in.

“What we try to do is have a very diverse management team. So their cultural priorities look a lot like the markets in which we compete,” he said. “And I think that makes a difference, instead of a command-and-control style coming from one state, in one country.”

Will you be buying more from SAP, or will SAP be buying more companies?

Courtney Bjorlin, News Editor


August 5, 2008  12:20 PM

Want an SAP job? Build your SAP intelligence

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

The most popular SAP-related question we see is, “How do I get into SAP?” The promise of a rewarding career with the world’s largest enterprise applications company attracts a lot of interest from university graduates, IT professionals seeking to switch fields and consultants eager for recurring engagements.

There is no single answer to the question of how to get into SAP. However, if you want a long-term SAP job, one thing is for certain: you have to educate yourself about the various business and technical contexts in which SAP operates. The more you learn, the more you’ll learn which part of SAP appeals to you, or even whether SAP is right for you in the first place.

Thus, instead of being guided solely by reports of how much money you can make, build your SAP intelligence. It’s an investment that may not only get you into the SAP door but also keep paying off, as you will acquire the habit of staying up to date with SAP developments even after you get an SAP job.

An excellent resource to help you build your SAP intelligence is our back catalog of podcasts. Many of these podcasts contain valuable information, advice and direction for SAP job seekers. If you don’t have the time to listen to them immediately, download them and listen to them on a commute to work or on a plane. Podcasts offer detail and context that often can’t be provided in a short article, and will easily repay the time you put into listening to them.

Here are notable recent podcasts for SAP job seekers:

SAP and SOA: Want to know how SOA is changing the SAP careers field? Listen to SAP expert Rabi Jay explain how SOA is changing SAP’s product set and rewarding particular skills over others.

The SAP skills shortage: What it means for you. The good news for SAP job seekers is that SAP demand is higher than qualified supply. Some areas of SAP are more open than others. In this podcast, David Foote explains which SAP areas are paying the most and which areas are not as hot.

SAP explains its certification program: SAP offers three levels of certification. Learn what the levels are, why SAP thinks certification is important for hiring managers and why getting certified by SAP partners instead of by SAP may be pointless.

How can ABAP developers survive in a NetWeaver era?: ABAP is SAP’s proprietary development language, but recent moves towards SOA (particularly in NetWeaver) have offset the once-unchallengeable status of ABAP. Developers should listen to this podcast to learn how to polish their skills for the SAP jobs of tomorrow.

We hope these podcasts build your SAP intelligence! If there’s any topic you’d like to see covered in our upcoming podcasts, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


July 31, 2008  10:35 PM

SAP-related scandal in Burnaby

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

The city of Burnaby, B.C. is playing host to an unfolding SAP-related scandal that is pulling some shady practices into the light.

On May 30, 2005, a report from Burnaby’s Finance and Civic Development Committee officially recommended a purchase of SAP to the Burnaby City Council. The project, however, faltered badly, as original implementation partner Telus walked away after one year later, and Burnaby saw the costs of the SAP project skyrocket from $10 million to $30 million (in Canadian dollars, which are nearly on a par with U.S. dollars these days). That in itself is nothing new, and it isn’t SAP’s fault. There are plenty of ill-prepared project teams and unrealistic CIOs out there, and typically it’s the implementer’s fault that SAP can’t be brought on line properly. But what happened after the failure is beginning to take on the reek of scandal.

Consider that, in late 2007, the Burnaby City Council commissioned a third party to write an assessment of the SAP project. The third party chosen was a company named APT International Business Sciences, which has an odd background: there is no independent mention of the company’s existence before 2007, and the APT Web site (still under construction as of press time) was only registered in November, 2007, and from the address of the Rotary Club of West Vancouver, not an APT office. It seems convenient that APT’s Web site came into existence at almost exactly the same time that the Burnaby City Council needed a report to justify its SAP decision (although APT itself claims to have been founded in 2002). But, more damningly, the registrar of the APT Web site and one of the three co-authors of the Burnaby report was Peter Everett, a former SAP Canada employee currently with Impac Services. Everett’s name does not appear on the APT Web site; indeed, the APT Web site does not contain the names of principals, contact information, customer information or indeed anything else of substance other than a generic welcome message.

Given that SAP Canada sold Burnaby its SAP product, it may well be a conflict of interest to have an ex-SAP Canada employee so closely involved in the writing of the Burnaby SAP project justification report. Combine that with the fact that APT is not a research firm or consultancy with a long track record, and in fact has no verifiable corporate presence other than a shell of a Web site, and it’s possible that the Burnaby City Council colluded with APT (perhaps with Everett running lead) in an effort to justify itself. The Burnaby City Council ended up paying APT $100,000 for a 23-page report and, in return, got a fig leaf of legitimacy for its failed SAP project.

However, neither the report itself nor the city council’s relationship with APT have gone over well with Burnaby resident David Field, who spent months trying to access the report through Canadian Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. Field forwarded SearchSAP a copy of the report, which simply asserts that the costs of the SAP system and consultants are “reasonable,” without defining what “reasonable” might mean.The report contains no numbers or other hard evidence to exonerate Burnaby of incompetence or overspending, and it relies largely on the city and SAP’s notes and records to reach the conclusion that it does.

Local elections in Burnaby are coming up, and some disgruntled voters are going to express their displeasure about the millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on SAP cost overruns (to say nothing of the $100,000 report) by voting down the city’s mayor.

Peter Everett did not respond to an opportunity to comment on this blog entry.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


July 31, 2008  10:15 AM

SAP opens the door to Rimini Street

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Rimini Street, which offers technical support for end users running Oracle, SAP, and other enterprise applications, recently reported a strong first half of 2008, buoyed partly by an influx of SAP customers.Two SAP decisions are making the rest of 2008 look even brighter for Rimini Street. First, SAP decided to increase SAP support pricing so that all end users will eventually have to pay 22% of license revenue for support. Secondly, SAP decided to close TomorrowNow, a Rimini Street competitor.

To those SAP users up in arms about the increase in the cost of SAP support, Rimini Street is offering a simple value proposition: “We will charge you 50% of what you’re paying your vendor for support,” says Dave Rowe, VP of Marketing with Las Vegas-based Rimini Street. Anecdotally, Rowe notes that many SAP users have already reached out to Rimini Street to learn more. “The phone is ringing off the hook,” he enthuses.

SAP’s angle, which new SAP Executive Board member Bill McDermott reiterated for SearchSAP yesterday, is that the increased price of support simply reflects a higher level of SAP service. Even so, some SAP users will not be needing that level of service and will consequently look to shave off the cost of support by migrating to providers such as Rimini Street. For its part, SAP may have little choice in raising the cost of support, as this is part of a margin war with Oracle and other enterprise applications software providers. Anyway, if SAP end up losing support customers, it could always buy Rimini Street — although, after the bitter pill of the TomorrowNow acquisition, any such move is probably unlikely.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


July 30, 2008  12:42 PM

Gartner: SAP tops in ERP, CRM and SCM

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Research firm Gartner has ranked SAP #1 in 2007 market share in enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and supply chain management. This is the third straight year in which SAP dominated all of these categories.
According to Gartner, in 2007 SAP controlled:

  • 27.5% of the ERP market.
  • 25.35% of the CRM market.
  • 22.4% of the SCM market.

Inside the larger ERP category, SAP was also the leader in financials and human capital management (HCM), a category whose leader in thought and market share used to be Oracle-acquired PeopleSoft. However, Oracle and its vast number of acquired companies have proven unable to catch SAP in market share numbers.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


July 29, 2008  11:37 AM

Users rebel over SAP’s higher maintenance fees

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Recently, SAP decided to raise support costs from 17% to 22% percent of licensing costs on the basis that all users would henceforth receive Enterprise Support instead of the more basic Standard Support. The change, which will be immediate for new customers and phased in for existing customers, is meeting with stiff and public resistance from the UK and Ireland SAP Users Group. Alan Bowling, Chairman of the group, issued a press release stating that, “The mandatory nature of this change along with the increase in cost has received hugely negative feedback from our membership to date.” Bowling further characterized the increased fees as “particularly difficult…to accept.”

The UK and Ireland SAP Users Group even included DSAG, the German-speaking SAP user group, in the spirit of revolt, noting that, “along with…DSAG we are sceptical that the Enterprise Support offering is sized appropriately and we remain concerned on its suitability for many small and medium-sized enterprises.”

SAP has consistently maintained that the increase in support costs was a customer-driven phenomenon, but the UK and Ireland SAP Users Group’s press release puts that claim into serious dispute. Even before the press release, it was clear that many smaller SAP users would simply have no use for Enterprise Support.

It’ll be worth watching to see if smaller SAP users intend merely to complain about the cost of support, or whether they will take action, perhaps by migrating to a third-party support provider.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


July 17, 2008  1:17 PM

Kagermann: SAP “too male” but not too German

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Henning Kagermann, co-CEO of SAP, had some interesting things to tell Germany’s Die Welt recently. Here are some of his more colorful disclosures:

  • SAP, having added four non-Germans to its Executive Board, no longer considers itself “too German”; however, Kagermann recognizes that the company is “too male.” It remains to be seen if this recognition will result in the appointment of any women to the highest echelons of SAP.
  • Kagermann thinks that SAP should add a senior executive and/or Executive Board member from Asia.
  • SAP will be spending 12% of sales on R&D, down from its current 14%. This will improve SAP’s profitability.
  • Don’t expect SAP to dilute its commitment to its native Germany. SAP plans to maintain its German development resources despite Germany’s shortage of engineers and environment of high wages.

In terms of executive diversity, maybe SAP can take some tips from arch-rival Oracle’s appointments of Charles Phillips and Safra Catz.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


July 16, 2008  10:41 AM

Levis blames SAP for falling profitability

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Levi Strauss, the iconic jeans company, has experienced a 19% drop-off in U.S. sales, and a 98% collapse in Q2 08 profitability. In an SEC filing and subsequent conference call, Levi Strauss placed much of the blame for the bad performance on SAP.

Levi Strauss, which began to roll out SAP globally in 2003, has certainly faced a challenging technology environment of late. From an IT perspective, the earlier part of this decade was dominated by trying to achieve compliance with Wal-Mart’s electronic trading mandates; afterwards, Levi Strauss installed SAP in its Asia-Pacific operations. The subsequent SAP project in the U.S. may have been rushed. Whatever the case, things came to a head in Q2 08 as Levi Strauss’ electronic systems simply shut down for a week. In addition to the platform problems, the company has also had to cope with falling demand for Dockers.

Levi Strauss hasn’t abandoned SAP, and is in fact hiring as many as 11 SAP consultants and experts to work in the company’s San Francisco headquarters. Nor has the company claimed that the SAP software is buggy; indeed, as most of Levi Strauss’ direct competitors successfully use SAP, that would be a hard claim to make.

CIO David Bergen, who was the SAP champion at Levi Strauss, is apparently no longer with the company, as his picture and biography on the Levi Strauss Web site were quietly dropped earlier this year (however, Bergen’s LinkedIn page still claims that he is CIO of Levi Strauss).

It’s worth noting that ex-CIO Bergen came from the IT application development world. He had only two years of experience as a CIO before joining Levi Strauss in 2000. From a risk management perspective, it was unjustifiable for Levi Strauss not to hire a senior CIO, well-versed in process-driven implementations and project management, to preside over the company’s IT strategy at such a critical time. Perhaps the company has paid the price for this decision.

In any case, SAP says that the software problem at Levi-Strauss is over: “We have a strong relationship with Levi Strauss and they successfully leverage SAP solutions to support many areas of their business,” stated SAP spokesperson Lindsey Held. “As part of this close partnership we work together to quickly resolve any challenges that arise. The software-specific challenge noted in their earnings was immediately addressed by the organizations involved and is largely solved at this point.”

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


July 15, 2008  11:09 AM

SAP explains certification

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

After a long period of official silence on matters related to certification, SAP finally made some things clear to SearchSAP in a recent podcast. Here are the big takeaways:

*According to an internal SAP survey, 82 percent of hiring managers find SAP certification to be important or very important when making a hiring decision.

*if you’re going to invest in certification, invest in SAP’s own three-tiered certification offering, which is the only official, SAP-recognized certification offering in the marketplace. Lots of third parties currently offer SAP ‘certification,’ but SAP is going to be more aggressive about regulating these kinds of claims.

*According to SAP’s tracking of its 120,000 certified consultants, certification is most important at the early stages of an SAP career, but fades in importance later on. It is in response to this that SAP offers a ‘master’ tier of certification to recognize and reward senior-level consultants.

*SAP’s certification seeks to encourage and enable lifelong learning. It is part of the process of becoming a better SAP consultant. Thus, certification is not an end but a means.

It’s human nature to be afraid of open-ended processes. The biggest problem in the SAP careers marketplace is the skills shortage, which is itself a function not just of a manpower shortage but of a conniving attitude to SAP credentials. On many SAP job boards, it isn’t unusual to learn of SAP newcomers attempting to cheat on their interviews, inflating their experience, or otherwise misrepresenting their skills. We’ve long maintained that SAP has to take the lead in addressing this problem, and the SAP certification podcast indicates that it is very much on Walldorf’s mind.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor


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