Executives worldwide expect over the next three years that it will become increasingly difficult to recruit and retain key skills such as project management and process design and management, according to a new study commissioned by SAP. But what the study doesn't specify -- yet SAP officials acknowledge -- is that skills related to SAP enterprise resources planning products are among the most sought after and in very short supply around the world.
A global shortage of specific kinds of SAP talent has been brewing for some time as the enterprise software vendor aggressively drives customers onto its newer technology platforms, including NetWeaver and ERP 6.0. The scarcity will only worsen if not addressed, says one analyst.
The shortage of experienced SAP talent is so severe that some companies could be putting their deployments at risk, and in other cases on hold, says David Foote, president and chief research officer of Foote Partners LLC, a research firm that has for more than a decade closely followed IT skills and pay trends, including those related to SAP.
"The worst shortage right now is in SAP -- it's chronic, prolonged, isn't improving," says Foote.
Currently, there is a "deficit" of 30,000 to 40,000 SAP project experts worldwide, Don Bulmer, SAP VP of global industry and influencers, said in an interview with InformationWeek.
That 30,000 to 40,000 figure isn't mentioned in the newly released SAP-sponsored report by Economist Intelligence Unit, which in February and March surveyed 587 executives -- including CIOs, CEOs and CFOs -- from the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and Japan.
The SAP skills shortage goes "beyond the technology" and includes a scarcity of business process knowledge "to maximize the value" of SAP deployments, Bulmer said.
The survey did not question executives about their predictions for skills related to specific technologies or vendor products, but rather asked about their need for more general management skills and knowledge sets within the coming years.
Among the skills or knowledge that organizations predict will be "hardest to source" over the next three years is ability to deal and manage change (47%); ability to think strategically (46%); analytic and problem solving skills (29%); communications and interpersonal skills (26%); project management skills (24%); ability to work on collaborative, virtual global teams (22%); process design and management skills (21%); industry knowledge (19%); and information systems (18%), according to the report. Respondents could pick up to three responses.