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Qualifications management is key for the success of any organization. Indeed, attracting qualified people to work on the right job, allowing employees to develop themselves to evolve in the hierarchy and become better persons are some of the main challenges of human resources management. It is thus no surprise that qualifications are a core concept in the SAP ERP Human Capital Management suite. In a series of blogs, I would like to highlight some important features in the process of qualifications management, and how they can be supported in SAP. I will start here with the basics, i.e. defining a qualification catalog and determining the qualification requirements throughout the organizational structure.

Defining a qualifications catalog

The first step to accomplish in order to manage qualifications, is to define which qualifications are important to the organization. In other words, which qualifications will be managed. For instance, a multinational company in Europe will most probably have some languages as qualification, whereas a local US company will probably not. When selecting qualifications, you might want to include certificates (like driving license for instance), soft skills, technical skills, skills required for the candidates you recruit, skills needed to be improved internally, etc. Defining the qualifications you will manage might seem trivial, but it isn't and can be a critical task to the success of your human resources management.

In SAP, qualifications are organized in a tree-structure called the qualifications catalog. It can be managed by HR administrators with the good old OOQA transaction. Qualifications (Q objects) are linked to qualification groups (QK objects) and each qualification is given a scale (quantitative or qualitative) to be able to determine the proficiency level. I always thought the qualifications (and the HR administrators) deserved a better user interface to manage qualifications. Actually I think it is now possible to maintain the catalog using the Nakisa OrgManager application (which is primarily used to maintain the organizational structure), though I never had the opportunity to try this yet.  But if it can, you'll have to go through some customization of OrgManager (we should ask Luke Marson on that one). At least I know it is possible to visualize the qualifications catalog now with the Nakisa OrgChart application, but there again, you will have to customize your Nakisa application.

Determining the qualification requirements

The next step is then to assign a qualification and a proficiency to each position in the organization. In this way, we describe the requirements for the work to be done at this position. This can be performed in SAP via the transaction PPPM, where qualifications (with a proficiency) can be linked to any job (C object) or position (S object) in the organizational structure. Since jobs are linked to positions, all qualifications linked to a job are inherited at the position level. This allows to save time when defining the requirements. Doing so allows for instance to define which qualifications are required to do the job of secretary in our organization - thus linking qualifications to the job of secretary - and then take each secretary position in the organization to add some specific skills a secretary of the CEO should need for instance. All common secretary qualifications are directly inherited from the job, so there's no need to define them again for all secretary positions individually. Also useful is the qualifications block object (QB object), which can be used to group qualifications together (with proficiency level for all selected qualifications), and then assign the block of qualifications at once to a job or position, instead of having to maintain Q-S or Q-C relationships individually. If you wish to use the QB object in the PPPM transaction, you need to apply the SAP note 1422599.

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The process of defining requirements for position has recently been made easier with the introduction of the concepts of job family (JF objects) and functional area (FN objects) with the SAP ERP 6.04 release. Job families allow us to group some similar jobs together and to define qualification requirements on the job family level, instead on the job itself. Functional areas are groups of job families. For instance, the position of Vice-President ICT will have a job Vice-President in the job family Executives, which is part of the functional area Senior Management. Common qualifications for senior managers will be stored at the functional area level. Additional skills required for executives will be stored at the job family level. Additional skills required for Vice-Presidents will be stored at the job level and finally the additional skills required for the VP ICT will be stored at the position level. To define the qualification profiles for job families and functional areas, one can use the transaction PPPM or better HRTMC_PPOM. With this latter transaction, you can actually maintain what is known as the job architecture. This is also possible with the Nakisa TalentFramework application, which offers a better user experience with its web-based screens.

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I will finish on a more technical note, with a picture of the data model for basic objects and relationships in qualification management.

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In future blogs, I would like to highlight the processes of assessing qualifications (with link to the Performance Management module), of developing qualifications (with link to the Learning Solution module) and of hiring qualified candidates (with link to the E-Recruiting module).

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