SAP has revamped its certification program, introducing an e-learning option — although students who want to sit the course at home will be disappointed.
According to Angie Vaux, manager of SAP's ANZ education unit, professionals have been putting off SAP certification because of the lost earnings and difficulties involved in taking two to four weeks off work to attend courses. "Because of the skills shortage and the rates they can earn, it's difficult to get people into the classroom," she told ZDNet.com.au.
SAP's answer is to start offering the courses through self-paced e-academies, allowing consultants to learn outside of working hours. The two- to four-week course has been translated into 200 hours of work to be completed within five months, in a program run by consulting company Ajilon.
According to SAP, the e-learning courses will cost 40 per cent less than traditional instructor-led classes.
However, despite the SAP's emphasis on the flexibility of the e-learning program, consultants won't be able to take the course at home, instead, they will have to complete it in dedicated centres in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra.
If there is enough demand, Ajilon will consider setting up centres in regional centres, Brett Findlay, Ajilon APJ regional director, SAP Services said.
According to Findlay, the centres will most likely be open from 7am to 11pm on weekdays and from 9am to 6pm or 9pm on weekends, although the times are not set.
The reason for keeping the course in the centres is to protect the courses from being pirated and distributed, a SAP spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au.
If students get stuck with the program, they can contact India-based subject matter experts via IM or VoIP.
Vaux expects around 500 students will use the program in the next 12 months.
SAP turns universities into SAP factories
SAP is also pushing itself in universities, making sure "the students are learning the native SAP skills".
The company already provides 21 universities with access to SAP software and training curricula as well as guest lecturers to teach undergraduates SAP skills, for which universities pay AU$5,000 to AU$10,000 a year.
Postgraduate programs will now receive a touch of SAP, as the company is now working with universities on postgraduate SAP certification. Victoria University will be offering a postgraduate course in ERP which it will be starting in the third-quarter of this year, while the Sydney Institute of ERP will also launch a postgraduate course in October. Students taking the course will leave as an associate level certified consultant.
Vaux believes there will be around 500 students coming through these programs in the next 12 to 18 months.Not all SAP consultants were created equal
SAP is also changing its certification regime to recognise that some SAP consultants have greater experience than others. Previously, Vaux said, there was only one level of certification with "no difference if a consultant has three years experience or 10 years experience".
The ERP company has decided to rate certified consultants on their professional experience, technical proficiency and how-up-to-date the consultant's knowledge is.
Consultants with fundamental SAP knowledge and one to three years industry experience achieve associate level certification. If the consultant also has proven project experience, business process knowledge and industry knowledge from three to seven years experience as a SAP consultant and team leader, they receive professional level certification. Those who are experts in specific aspects of SAP software can innovate to meet an organisation's technical and business requirements and have more than seven years experience receive master level certification.
The same certification program will be used globally, Vaux said. "We are testing exactly the same thing," she said.