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July 12, 2017

Silver bullets or arrows for the quiver? The value of SAP certifications

My latest SAP-related blog for client Red SAP Solutions is posted here, and also shared below. (I'm publishing this as published, with the inclusion of my British editor's UK spellings and punctuation.)

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What is the value of SAP certifications? SAP offers over 150 certifications, which are supplied with resources to coach consultants into displaying their technical and professional knowledge of SAP solutions. However, certifications can be expensive – so how should you prioritise SAP certifications as a tool for enhancing your SAP career?

SAP says: "SAP certification is an important benchmark to help you make smart business decisions on engaging, recruiting or up-skilling the people essential for your business success with SAP."

Note the word “benchmark.” Certifications will document your knowledge of SAP solutions, they validate to the world that you have achieved certain professional knowledge and are qualified to implement the work.

Alongside this, the SAP Credential Manager portal is a complimentary service which “helps you more easily manage and administer certification-related tasks” – simply put, it’s a searchable directory of certified consultants. If you complete a certification with SAP, you’ll be invited to register to the list. It’s not a bad thing to do.

Do employers consider certification when looking for new employees? Chances are, the first thing they’re looking for is third-party validation: “Reference checks for SAP project positions are not a ‘nice to have’ but rather a critical piece of data used to validate how well a prospective new hire might fit into an organization.” (SAP Implementation Unleashed: A Business and Technical Roadmap to Deploying SAP, Anderson, Nilson, Rhodes,, 2009) All the professional knowledge in the world is of little value to a worker who lacks the discipline to apply that knowledge in a mature and effective way. Those references – the project manager of your most recent implementation, client-side testimonials to the accuracy and superiority of your work, and co-workers – speak loudly indeed to prospective employers.

Likely the next criterion is experience. What specific projects have you worked on and how relevant are they to the company contemplating your resume or CV? An employer will look carefully at the business processes on which you’ve engaged, the vertical industries, the company sizes, project duration, and, of course, the technologies involved.

Where do certifications fit in? They’re the icing on the cake. Again – they’re benchmarks that speak to your ability to study, learn and pass an exam. But they say nothing about you: the kind of worker you are, your potential fit into the hiring company’s environment and culture, and your personal work ethic. If you’ve had a successful engagement on a successfully completed SAP implementation, and references directly familiar with that project who will speak favorably of you: that will speak louder than any other voice when it comes to hiring consideration.

This is not to suggest that certifications aren’t valuable. They are extremely valuable. However, we know from deep experience in the recruiting industry for the SAP community that your best pathway to success lies in your own professional and technical experience. An SAP career is best managed by doing SAP-related work, doing it well, and accumulating a stack of professionals who will speak highly and proudly of the quality of your work.

And by all means – as time and money permit – pursuing certifications can help put the extra polish onto that brilliant career. And for your next career step: talk to us. We’re the leading experts that the world’s greatest companies turn to for SAP talent.

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