There is a lot more happening at SAP that isn’t widely known about, and I’d like to share in this blog how SAP is involved in the testing industry.
I’m sure you know that SAP is one in the top three of the world’s largest software companies. But did you know that SAP is also one of the world’s largest IT training companies? SAP directly train 300,000 individuals annually, with many more trained by partner companies. A February 2012 IDC report positioned SAP as a Market Leader in IT Education and Training.
Having certified over 350,000 individuals, SAP is also a significant company in the testing and assessment industry. SAP is a prominent member of the Association of Test Publishers(ATP), the industry organization for test publishers – other members include Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Pearson, my own company Questionmark and many others. The ATP is meeting this week for their annual conference in the USA.
The ATP also has a conference in Europe, this year in Berlin. And Sue Martin, Global Director of Certification at SAP is Chair of the European division of ATP and she is chairing and leading this conference.
Why does this matter?
SAP has made certification a high strategic priority as a responsibility to customers to provide reliable benchmarks and to help educate people to make the right choices in implementation and maintenance. Certification encourages people to learn, allows SAP to set the right messages in practice within the community and helps SAP customers and partners recruit.
SAP used to be criticized that its certification exams were too low level (testing facts rather than understanding and application) and also that certification was seen too much as a revenue stream rather than as an enabler of good practice. But this perception is gradually changing as the program changes of the last few years with more job task orientation and validity start to have an impact. I believe over 2,200 SAP partner companies are training and certifying their staff.
Engaging with the industry within the ATP and similar organizations matters in two ways:
Firstly, technology is changing rapidly. There is a huge pace of technological change in the testing industry. It’s now commonplace to take exams, on demand, live over the Internet, and indeed most SAP certification exams now do this (using Questionmark technology).
There is a lot of interest in the industry in using iPads and other tablets for exams to make easily transportable mobile test centers. Another application for iPads is for observational assessments– where an observer assesses someone’s practical skills in the workplace, by filling in a checklist or answering questions on someone’s skill while observing them doing a practical task.
Other innovations in the industry include remote proctoring (being observed taking the exam by video or computer surveillance), ways to create and review new questions quicker and more collaboratively online and improvements in how translation is managed to make it easier to translate certifications. Involvement in the industry allows SAP to remain on the leading curve.
The other area where industry collaboration matters is legislation. SAP’s certification programme is Europe’s largest, and there are lots of important government and legal issues around assessments. Firstly exam results need to be kept private and confidential and delivering exams needs to fit into data protection laws. And if certifications are used to help who to recruit or who to promote, then the certification procedure has to be fair, valid and reliable. One area that the ATP has been working to help is in the development of a new ISO Standard on Assessment Service Delivery – see my earlier SCN blog entry A new year, a new ISO assessment standard.
A lot goes on under the surface in SAP, and I hope you found this insight into SAP’s involvement with ATP interesting. If you want to find out more, a good place to do so is the LinkedIngroups for E-ATP and Association of Test Publishers.