This is Part three of a four part (currently) series. The full setup is in the first post, Web sites.
First the outline:
- Web sites
- Authorized classes
- Normal classes
- Academy track
- University Alliance
- Unauthorized Classes
- Unauthorized training centers
- Authorized classes
- System Access
Now the detail:
If you're ready to start learning SAP skills (whether or not you want to get certified as well), there are several approaches you could consider:
Contact SAP Education department immediately. (+1-888-777-1727 in the US, check http://www.sap.com/training-and-education/visit-country-sites.epx if you want to take classes outside the United States). There are a ton of options to get authorized SAP training and the best person to help guide you through the process is someone from the SAP Education Department. We'll cover some of the options here to get you familiar of your choices.
If you are unsure of whether or not you want to commit to taking a full series of SAP training classes, or perhaps you want to get your feet wet with just an introductory overview class, then you should look into attending a normal, public class taught by SAP or an SAP Authorized Training Partner. SAP offers a wide variety of overview classes which can be particularly helpful if you are thinking about switching careers into SAP or are very new and need to get a handle on what functionality SAP offers. I'll come back to normal classes again after we cover Academy classes.
SAP offers Academy courses which compress the most essential training for any given specialty down to the minimum amount of consecutive days possible (often 5 weeks). As an example, check out the full SAP Financials curriculum and compare it to the Academy curriculum. If you check the official SAP Training web site in the US, it can at times be very difficult to find an Academy class on the schedule. In general, Academy classes are used by Systems Integrators when they hire a new crop of employees. If the SI uses every available slot, then it might not even hit the web site. If the SI doesn't completely fill the class but it's scheduled on short notice, then SAP will contact whomever is on the waiting list and you might get in that way. If you're interested in an Academy and you can talk 4 of your buddies in to doing the same thing, you could get your own private Academy course taught either on your premise at an SAP training center. (It might actually require more than 5, but it's about there.) In countries that use SAP Authorized Training Centers rather than SAP itself doing the training (most of Asia Pacific, parts of South America, and perhaps other countries as well) , in general, you'll sign up for Academy classes instead of individual classes. ATCs use the same training material that SAP uses when SAP itself teaches classes.
Normal Classes (Redux)
If you are trying to get a broad base in order to be able to be totally functional in an SAP job and you can't get into an Academy class (or don't want to as discussed later), consider the non-academy, normal public courses. Academies are convenient because you can knock out a bunch of training in one shot, but it may not actually be the best way to learn the material in long term. The Academy classes were created by mashing the curricula from various public classes into one class and throwing in a dash of a few other classes. For example, the ABAP Academy courses: TAW10, TAW11, and TAW12, were developed by combining BC400, BC401, BC402, BC425, BC427, and BC430 together (with a small amount of other stuff). For maximum retention of the material, taking each class individually might actually be a better option because you have some time to digest and practice in between. (See Learning SAP when you don't have an SAP job already - System Access for how to get access to a system if you don't have access to a system at work.) The foundational series of classes are typically on the "Guaranteed to Run" list (although most are taught virtually, which has benefits and disadvantages).
If you are fairly disciplined, you might opt for the eAcademy route. Basically SAP gives you all the texts (and Computer Based lecture equivalents) for the Academy courses plus they give you access to a live system on which to practice and a number to call for long distance tutoring. It doesn't save you much, if any, money, but it allows you to work at your own pace. Many of the Authorized Training Centers in Asia Pacific and other countries that use ATCs are moving away from local instructor led classes and instead offering the eAcademy courses on their premises with local expertise to supplement the long distance tutoring.
SAP partners with Universities all over the globe in the University Alliance Program. I believe executive mba/msc programs (whether in the Alliance or not) can provide a good value in many cases. Many companies have minimum education standards for middle and upper management, but that's the least important reason for getting a degree.
For mid career folks, you've had a good chance to experience real world business environments. You now know where your personal weaknesses are and in what areas/fields your interests and passions have led you. Many folks may not have known as an undergraduate where life would lead (or in my case, thought life would progress down a completely different path). MBA programs enable you to shore up weakness and build on strengths/passions.
There are several other potential benefits:
- Academic programs (either undergraduate or Master's level programs) with strong SAP integration will expose you simultaneously to the business concepts and allow you to see/work with SAP systems to practice/learn those concepts.
- Projects undertaken during the program may provide direct benefit to your current job/assignment. You'll be able to pull from your classmates and professor's experience as well.
- Networking with your fellow classmates may provide future opportunities for career advancement and can provide additional support network when you need someone to discuss business opportunities/challenges.
- The program may introduce you to even more areas of interest and will definitely provide you with more tools/ways to think about problems.
- Programs may provide access to career centers (or especially internship programs for undergraduates) which may result in direct recruiting opportunities.
I'm sure other folks may come up with other benefits. You'll have to balance the benefits against the cost of the program and the time required to finish the program. You do want to try to make sure that the program suites your interests and career goals as all programs are not created equal. Interview graduates and get their take on whether or not they felt the program was beneficial.
Hope this helps!