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Jon Reed is an SAP Mentor and the President of  JonERP.com - he  blogs, Tweets and podcasts on SAP skills and market  trends.

Martin  Gillet SAP  Consultant, SAP trainer and SAP MentorBelgium

Michael Koch, SAP Mentor and Independent SAP Consultant.
Working  in IT since 1990, I've been involved in the SAP arena since 1997. Doing  the needful.

Leonardo De Araujo has been a SAP Logistics  Functional and Technical consultant for more than 12 years. Based in  Montreal-Quebec,  Canada. 

quality
Last year when Should you be certified?, no-one could have foreseen where that would lead. At the time, his post inflamed the passions of those who think certification is a waste of time (principally Mentors that are not certified but are doing great things) and those who see it as an absolute necessity. @blag created a brilliant cartoon, Michael Koch presented some fascinating statistics (zip download link) at an Inside Track event and Martin Gillet gave a short video interview on the topic.

The upshot of all those conversations was the formation of the Certification Five - as dubbed by SAP community leader and chief SAP Mentor wrangler Mark Finnern. The five are: Martin Gillet, Michael Koch, Leonardo De Araujo, Jon Reed and Dennis Howlett. 
 
Over the summer and fall of 2009, the C5 developed, agonized, refined and redeveloped a paper on the topic. To say it was a labor of love would be a stretch but all of us have a vested interest in the topic from one angle or another and that came through in our deliberations about where we believe SAP should be heading. The winter came and went over which period we trudged through the routine of batting the paper back and forth with SAP, getting feedback, hearing about what they're doing and then refining some more. That process is now concluded and we are pleased to present the paper to the Community as our stake in the ground, a statement of our aspirations for Certification and a roadmap to where we think it should go. 

We cannot claim to have convinced SAP that our approach is one they can fully execute upon. The company says it has or is incorporating many of the things we are recommending as part of the ongoing certification program development. But there are some major sticking points over which we hold different positions, some of which we believe represent important opportunities for everyone who touches SAP in any meaningful way. 

We do not pretend that anything we're suggesting is easy but then SAP is the company that likes to solve tough problems. Right? Even so, we don't believe practical problems and barriers should be a reason for not taking the opportunity to set out a vision for world class service. We see that as being articulated through people who are not only great at what they do but who demonstrate that through the holding of a recognized qualification that has value in the market place. If Cisco and Microsoft can do it, so can SAP. 

To its credit, SAP is happy to take further input from the C5 around the practical 'plumbing' elements of the program they already have in place. We maintain our belief that SAP has to be more radical in its thinking.

To the specifics. The paper is a 55 page document entitled: SAP Certification:A Fresh Perspective.(PDF download) It is organized around four core areas:
 
  • Introducing the issues
  • Current state of conversation
  • Where SAP certification falls short
  • Recommendations for improving certification

In an effort to help you make a decision as to whether it is worth your time investment in reading the paper, we set out below the headline items we believe form both the heart of the arguments we make and the answers we view as both actionable and desirable.

Issues
  • Certification is perceived to bring little value to the hiring process and is not as trusted in the industry as it should be
  • Certification is slowly improving, but needs sweeping overhaul
  • The 3-tiered certification is still not available
  • Multiple choice question exams are currently the only method used to validate knowledge
  • Current certification does not recognize the process-oriented approach that ERP 6.0 is promoting
Recommended action items
  • Tie certification more closely to relevant field experience and problem solving skills, especially at the professional level
  • Establish a certification 'influence council' of customers, partners, and community leaders
  • Provide a timetable for the now-postponed Master level certification
  • Help customers by educating them on how to evaluate and hire SAP professionals
  • Increase LOD offerings and strengthen online exam preparation
We could have added many more items to the above list - such as the need for localized certification rather then the broader 'global standard' which we believe will ensure a higher quality of local knowledge - but we had to draw the line somewhere. If these topics encourage you to read then we've done our job.

Over-arching all our deliberations is the notion that being an SAP engineer is not something you do for a few years and then move on. More often than not, it is a lifetime's vocation. As such we believe that being an SAP certified engineer should be viewed in the same way you might view a qualified doctor, dentist, lawyer or accountant. It should be a mark of quality, reliability and assurance that implementations are in safe hands. We think  the changes we suggest are critical to that vision, are actionable and will lead to SAP engineers not just being viewed as exemplars of quality but downright amazing at what they do.  

Other links on this topic
Over to the community. What's your point of view? Do you agree/disagree? Have we gone far enough or is it too little? Will our ideas, if implemented, generate a positive outcome for all concerned or is it a waste of time and money? 

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