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Commentary

SAP Isn't As Easy As ABC

Having a hard time finding professionals to staff your SAP software rollouts? That's apparently the case for many organizations implementing NetWeaver, ERP 6.0, and other SAP technologies, as well as the third-party companies assisting in the deployments.
Having a hard time finding professionals to staff your SAP software rollouts? That's apparently the case for many organizations implementing NetWeaver, ERP 6.0, and other SAP technologies, as well as the third-party companies assisting in the deployments.SAP officials estimate that there's a current global shortage of about 30,000 to 40,000 SAP experts -- including project managers, business analysts, developers, and others -- who can help companies "maximize" the value of their SAP deployments. SAP is trying to get more talent into the pipeline over the next several years through alliances with thousands of universities worldwide that will have free access to SAP systems for their business-process-related curriculum.

If you're thinking that SAP is just hyping the idea that there's a shortage of professionals who understand the company's software in some kind of attempt to fuel the products' popularity, outsiders say that's not the case. In fact, some think SAP could be even downplaying the shortage for fear that customers will be scared off from deploying the software due to a lack of talent -- or the high price to hire those pros.

David Foote, president and chief research officer of Foote Partners, has been closely following skills and pay trends for about 16 years, and he says there's a lot of evidence that the shortage of SAP talent is real.

Based on interviews and surveys with thousands of hiring executives in North America, Foote tracks pay for 330 IT skills and certifications, including 166 "noncertified skills." Over the last six- and 12-month periods, pay "premiums" for SAP-related skills have climbed more than any other group of skills, he says. Foote's firm will be providing more details about exactly how steeply pay is rising for SAP talent in an upcoming "quarterly skills pay and demand trend report."

While SAP tries to get more college students familiar with the company's products prior to their graduation, Foote says what companies are really looking for is experience. Some hiring managers, for instance, are seeking project managers with a minimum of six years SAP experience; SAP analysts with five years of experience, business analysts with three to five years, at a minimum, says Foote.

The university effort "doesn't help anyone now or in the next couple of years," says Foote.

Is your organization having problems finding or keeping SAP talent? Or, are there other skill sets that are giving you even more trouble?

We'd like to know.