SAP Watch

Apr 8 2008   8:31AM GMT

SAP certification: anatomy of a false promise

JackDanahy Jack Danahy Profile: JackDanahy

Is SAP certification worth much? It depends on who you ask. The JKT-SAP Solution Academy of India is a firm believer in the value of certification, making the following assurances on its website:

1. The certificate shows that the consultant has sound knowledge of the SAP system in the area in which he/she has been tested.

2. The certificate provides customers with assurance that the consultant has passed the SAP Project know-how, which is required to successfully implement SAP for customers.

3. The Academy ends with a certification where your acquired skills of SAP are tested and evaluated by SAP, which is a benchmark to enter the SAP industry.

Each of these claims is contestable.

Let’s start with Claim 1. While JKT Academy states that certification demonstrates “sound knowledge” on the part of the trainee, consider that the company considers a score of 70% a passing grade. By comparison, you need to get 83% on the California DMV Written Test to get your driver’s license. If you don’t get 70% on the JKT Academy SAP certification test, you can retake the test a total of three times within three months (after paying a fee for each attempt). The bottom line is that 70% and three tries do not reasonably demonstrate “sound knowledge” of SAP. SAP projects can involve hundreds and millions of dollars and the fates of companies. Would consultants who received 70% on an SAP test really instill confidence in clients?

Now for Claim 2, which claims that certification “is required to successfully implement SAP for customers.” This is straightforwardly false, as very few, if any, SAP jobs require certification. However, JKT Academy claims otherwise, creating a misleading impression of the SAP job market (and, thereby, making its own product more attractive).

Claim 3 is in a similar vein. Certification, JKT Academy claims, “is a benchmark to enter the SAP industry.” It is not fully clear what this means, but it appears to be a variation on Claim 2. The purpose in both of these instances is to convince gullible IT graduates from India into forking over $625 (plus housing, transportation, and some meals) for certification, in a country whose per capita income is only four times this amount. Certification is neither a benchmark nor a qualification.

It seems that JKT Academy and its peers cleverly convince young Indians, who grow up in a centralized bureaucracy, that the SAP job market is some kind of monolithic entity that cannot be entered without some kind of diploma in hand. The belief in the power of paperwork is a legacy of British rule in India, and the magical belief in ‘qualification’ pervades everything from SAP certification to the matrimonial market. SAP customers, however, are far more interested in people who have played roles in actual SAP projects than in certificate holders. Paper won’t get you through the door; however, in highly bureaucratized India, this is a frightening idea. It’s much easier to believe in the predictable power of qualification than in the messy improvisation of real life.

Technically, JKT Academy doesn’t promise an SAP job. Instead, in a oddly-worded disclaimer, the company concedes that “SAP and its education partners inform candidates about the opportunity available in companies who have a requirement for SAP consultants certified consultants.” [This raises a tangential point–would you, as a student, give four months of your salary to a teaching organization capable of writing this bizarre sentence?] So, essentially, JKT Academy can’t offer its certificate holders any placement services different from those of the free

Of course JKT Academy, Genovate, and other third-party SAP training and certification companies provide a legitimate service by teaching people about the nuts and bolts of SAP, albeit in imaginary environments. This is not a question of scamming. However, there is a very fine line between merely misleading the gullible and robbing them.

JKT Academy’s marketing materials are designed to convince people that certification is an important part of being an SAP consultant, whereas the feedback SearchSAP receives from professional recruiters, consultants, and industry experts holds is that this is simply not so.

Demir Barlas, Site Editor

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