Without a doubt, SAP has completely revolutionized the technology foundation for enterprise applications. Its vision of integration, flexibility and openness continues to manifest in its application software foundation. So much so that it is boasts of over a million business users working for more than 100,000 customers across 120 countries. SAP Certification is an examination administered by SAP Education, a dedicated division of SAP AG for individuals who want to learn the configuration and implementation of SAP systems. So why would you really want to obtain SAP Certification?
As you read this, there are over 50,000 employees and 2,000 SAP implementation and support partners very busy building and implementing a plethora of SAP software and business solutions in over 40 different languages and 50 currencies. This is understandable considering the fact that there are very many software applications and business components in the SAP family capable of being assembled and tailored to address the needs of various businesses out there. To say that the demand for SAP solutions is high would certainly be an understatement. This means that those charged with implementing these solutions are equally in high demand.
Anyone can learn about SAP. There are tons of books and training material out there that can be used to know all there is to know about SAP. You can also go ahead and use SAP in your day to day operations; learning about it in the process. However, obtaining SAP Certification will give you a cutting edge since only certifications gained from SAP Educational facilities or their partners are officially valued and recognized. In fact, SAP AG holds SAP Certification in very high regard that it had this to say about it: ‘Few credentials in the business world carry the value of SAP Certification. Those who hold it have honed their skills through rigorous study and direct experience- and have demonstrated their abilities by passing demanding, process-oriented exams.’
Implementing SAP application software and business solutions is no walk in the park. It requires a particular level of skill and competence that demands significant training. Obtaining SAP Certification is one of the ways of getting on the path to becoming a SAP Software Implementer or SAP Consultant. For many years, SAP Certification has remained immutable. However, just like any professional certification program, its power in the market has been changing over the years. Most SAP customers evolved to expect more seasoned SAP professionals with actual experience in implementing SAP hence the demand for entry level SAP consultants somewhat diminished.
Fortunately, SAP has swiftly responded to the dynamic market needs to rollout the three-tiered certification levels: Associate, Professional and the yet to be unveiled Master level which is still in development. These new certification levels are fine tuned to ensure that the certification validates the skills that SAP customers actually need.
The Associate SAP Certification Level covers the fundamental requirements for a SAP consultant ensuring the acquisition of broad SAP solution and knowledge skills. As you would expect, the Associate SAP Certification Level tests basic text book knowledge. Passing the Associate SAP Certification Level exams therefore does not require SAP implementation experience. On passing the Associate SAP Certification Level, a student would demonstrate broad proficiency is SAP.
One does not necessarily have to pass the Associate SAP Certification Level exams before being allowed to sit for the Professional SAP Certification Level exams. The Professional SAP Certification Level is advanced certification that requires proven project experience, business process knowledge and a more detailed understanding of SAP solutions. One is more likely to be asked questions that are designed to test their SAP implementation experience. Currently, this is the highest SAP Certification Level.
The Master SAP Certification Level is yet to be unveiled by SAP. It would involve demonstrating an expert level of understanding of a specific area of SAP software and the ability to drive innovation and solution optimization through in-depth knowledge and vision. The Master SAP Certification Level would be the ultimate proof of professional competence and due care when it comes to SAP implementation. One would therefore need broad experience, comprehensive knowledge and the ability to envision the role of SAP in future and in complex project environments. On successfully passing this certification level, one would have demonstrated the aptitude to meet any organization’s technical and business requirements.
SAP has gone a step further to introduce 3 focus areas that would go a long way in helping you find the certification that is right for you. These focus areas are: Application, Technology and Development. For the Application focus area, you can sit for the certification level exam after successfully completing the appropriate solution academy course and case study or the equivalent SAP standard curriculum. For the Technology focus area, you can take the technology exam to be certified after completing the solution academy or SAP training classes. The Development focus area is available to individuals who are developing applications for SAP solutions. If you have sufficient experience in all these three focus areas, you can take the exam without attending the course. Participation in the course is nonetheless recommended.
Previously, SAP used to measure broad SAP module knowledge without honing in on the functionality needed in performing particular job functions. SAP has since restructured the SAP Certification Curriculum to focus more on job functions. Job profile based testing will come in handy especially when hiring managers. The introduction and emphasis of the BPX curriculum to SAP’s own consultants and partners could potentially flag and address flaws among current SAP professionals that the traditional certification testing cannot identify. The launch of a website by SAP’s Learning on Demand (LOD) team is likely to engage SAP mentors more in a consistent feedback loop and thereby address various issues.
Once you have chosen the right level of SAP Certification, the next step would be to locate the correct exam based on your strengths. You can simply do this by searching under the SAP Certification web shop for the list of all SAP Certifications in your home country. Once you have chosen the correct exam, you can proceed to obtain the various training courses and material offered by SAP Education to prepare for the exam. Exam preparation becomes simpler once you know the exam syllabi.
In the case of SAP Certification, the syllabus include SAP BI Certification Syllabus, SAP FI Certification Syllabus, SAP MM Certification Syllabus and SAP SD Certification Syllabus. You can also incorporate practice questions in your revisions to have a more solid understanding of what is to come on the test day. SAP exams can be really challenging; you should therefore consider seeking Certification in a particular area where you have already gained functional knowledge, domain knowledge, user/configuration/coding experience and so on. The exam pass rates should therefore not scare you away nor should the banter on ‘popular’ or ‘hot’ exams.
You should gather as much as possible about the exam you are about to sit: the topics covered and the weight to give to each, sample questions, the pass mark or cut score, the number of questions and the time allowed. Getting training from your local SAP Education team will certainly help as they take you through a thorough formal training. One particular exam preparation method cannot be deemed superior to another. Exam preparation boils down to the individual and his or her preferred learning style. You should also develop an expectation of your exam centre as this will give you a psychological edge. On the exam day, you should use all of the allotted time. The SAP Certification questions have proven time and again to be very tricky. You therefore ought to carefully read each question at least twice before even looking at the options.
The exams under SAP Certification are all assessed in blind by SAP. Successful candidates are informed of their results by being issued a certificate bearing a unique identification number. The unsuccessful ones on the other hand will be given a failed feedback pinpointing the identified gaps on their competence. Appeals can however be lodged within 3 months after communication of the result. Unsuccessful candidates can however retake the same examination. A candidate can however not sit the same examination for the same release more than 3 times.
Indeed the cost of SAP Certification is one of the most important factors to consider before proceeding to obtain it. In most cases, it will be your employer who is to worry about this as most employers consider SAP Certification to be valuable employee training. If on the other hand you are the one to foot the bill, you will have to contend whether the benefits of obtaining SAP Certification outweigh the costs of obtaining it.
The cost structure for SAP Certification is straightforward. You will first need to pay an admission fee to SAP Education while registering for the exam to cater for the cost of rent of certification centers, administration expenses and the cost developing and maintaining an up to date curriculum incurred by SAP Education. SAP Certification costs however are largely very similar because SAP Education requires that its partners stick to certain pricing policies. The overall costs may however vary depending on the country in question because in certain countries, SAP mandates people to undergo certain mandatory training courses before being admitted to sit for the test.
In the USA, the price for most of the certifications at the Associate level is 500 USD. In Canada, the cost of the same certifications is 500 CAD. For someone in the Asia-Pacific region including India, one needs SAP implementation experience for a minimum of 1 year or 2 years of support experience and a minimum of 6 months of experience in the module and version he or she seeks to be certified if he or she is to sit for a SAP Certification paper without attending any SAP course. Moreover, the person’s last working experience must be with his or her current employer who must be a customer or a partner of SAP. Having fulfilled these requirements, he or she will need to pay around 4,000 Indian Rupees for certification and registration. In Europe, the cost of exam registration at associate level starts from 350 GBP in the United Kingdom and Ireland to around 400 EUR in other European countries. Just like in the USA and Canada, one will not be subjected to special requirements that may push the overall costs to ridiculously high portions.
It would be unseemly not to talk about the cons of SAP Certification after heaping upon it paeans of praise. There is word going around that SAP Certification is not being recognized by the market (employers) as it should. Practical experience of the certification process by SAP Mentors indicates that there is an inconsistency in the expectation among candidates and that the whole experience is largely rudimentary. Others argue that although SAP software is both mature and innovative, SAP Certification does not take this into account by perpetuating a process driven ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) know how. Moreover, publicly aired implementation failures imply at the very least a level of technical incompetence on the part of professionals with SAP Certification that should not be part of the implementation equation.
SAP has created a huge international job market for individuals who know how to configure and implement SAP systems. SAP Certification remains the only recognized professional qualification in the SAP world and its value is certainly unquestionable. SAP Education is committed to continuously improve SAP Certification to reflect the current market trends and demands. Although quite expensive according to many peoples’ standards, SAP Certification will certainly set you apart in the ERP-centered industries of ours.
The following are the details of various SAP certifications available by modules :-
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