SAP certifications and beyond: gearing up for project success

SAP project success

Whether it is migrating to the cloud, upgrading software or simply adding new functionality, SAP projects aren’t a small undertaking. As such, it is imperative that organizations have the requisite in-house skills and work with partners that the right level of expertise.

Yet this is no easy feat. While certifications can help a great deal, they’re not a silver bullet for success. Project leaders may need to go beyond certification and accreditation to ensure they have the right skills in place.

The skills challenge

Part of the challenge lies with industry skills shortages. For example, recent UKISUG research reveals that 92 percent of organizations are concerned that a lack of talent will slow their migration to SAP S/4HANA. It’s led to a situation where customers and partners are fighting for talent, all of which is driving up wages and costs.

This is something SAP is well aware of. In June last year, it launched a Partner Talent Initiative designed to help identify and train both new and existing SAP partner talent. Hopefully, the initiative will in time fill the growing skills gap and meet surging demand for skilled SAP-certified professionals.

Getting started on an SAP project

The first task for any SAP customer should be getting the right internal team in place, to support their requirements and ensure projects don’t slip. For large projects, SAP customers should also have experienced enterprise architects ready to work hand-in-hand with SAP and partners to make sure all of the project outcomes are met. Also recommended is a program manager – someone highly skilled in the relevant product areas who would be there from the very start of the project and stay with the business to ensure knowledge is retained.

When looking for the right partner, certification is a useful criterion via which to refine this search, as it will indicate a baseline level of knowledge. Customers should always ensure external consultants’ certification levels are valid for the latest software release version. Asking partners for a  skills matrix can also help by adding more insight into a team’s capabilities.

Beyond certifications

However, as mentioned, certificates aren’t a panacea. Just as price shouldn’t be the primary selection criterion for partners, certifications alone aren’t a guarantee of quality. In fact, focusing myopically on accredited partners and practitioners may end up funneling organizations to the most expensive partners. The bottom line is that nothing can replace real-world SAP implementation expertise.

That’s why end-user organizations should ask prospective partners and consultants how many times they’ve implemented specific SAP products in the past, and for which customers and industry sectors.

Ultimately, the right blend of in-house and partner skills will provide a great foundation for project success – whether those skills have been certified by SAP or not.

UKISUG and SAP have recently published a Guide to Certifications, which is available here.