Tips and Tricks for Staffing SAP Professionals

By Terry Petzold, VP, SAP Recruiting Division

As recruiting and staffing experts in the SAP market since 1999, we’ve witnessed and participated in a number of notable market shifts. This increased market pressure for good talent exacerbates the propensity for companies to fall prey to some common pitfalls. Here are four of them:

Lost Quality = Failed SAP Implementations

The market is saturated with SAP lightweights, often poorly trained and with little experience. Time and again we see shoddy implementations and businesses struggling to adapt to those failed projects. The driver behind this is often lack of expertise by the people doing the implementation. These individuals are often “certified” in a crash course by large consulting organizations whose business model is to maximize profits by using the cheapest resources.

The solution for companies? Be very selective. Work only with organizations with verifiable resources that have the proven capacity to implement SAP across multiple functions. Personally interview all of the consultants on the team directly and cross-reference their resumes with their references and other social media tools. Any smart organization that is going to implement SAP is going to want the project completed on time and on budget.

Siloed Skills = The Need to Hire More People

The SAP market is, by its nature, mainly comprised of individuals with siloed skills in certain fields. For example, a candidate may have five or 10 years of experience in a particular area of SAP, like Order to Cash, but completely lack integration skills in other areas. The most impactful individuals are those who become an expert in one area but have very broad, far-reaching skills integrating with other key SAP modules.

The solution for companies? Retain consultants who possess broad knowledge across multiple areas of SAP. Understand their motivation. Evaluate their skills and experience prior to their SAP experience. Realize that if a company only hires junior, siloed individuals, it is setting the stage for serious leadership and integration challenges that can easily derail a SAP implementation.

Off shoring = The Perceived ROI Is Not Worth the Risk

Sure, it makes sense – offshore the SAP project and hire four people for the price of one. We’ve seen dozens and dozens of organizations take this approach, either on their own or with a consulting firm who employs mostly offshore resources. About six to 12 months later we hear the inevitable autopsy results. Most organizations discontinue the offshore model, at least for the majority of their critical areas, because in the end the lost quality doesn’t justify the original ROI that was so clear in the beginning.

The solution for companies? Consider off shoring some, but never all, of your SAP solution. Some companies are not off-shoring implementation, but are waiting until sustainability and support mode to offshore only a subset of their solution, such as portions of infrastructure and light development.

Permanent Hiring = A Long-Term Solution, But Companies Struggling Doing So

Companies want long-term, sustainable, permanent employees who will make a long-term impact in their organization. In 2015, the market is screaming for permanent employees. While the market is beginning to shift in favor of companies, a scarcity of quality candidates still exists. The reason? Companies pay a third of what most individuals have made consulting and the ones who know their stuff and are truly looking for stability and a career change. Professionals that began their SAP careers in the early 90’s are now leaders of SAP teams worldwide. They see the lack of quality in the market but can’t afford to attract the good ones because their companies just can’t offer a competitive compensation or a long-term challenge.

The solution for companies? First, realize that the best, most well-rounded candidates come at a premium. Work with your internal HR team to recalibrate the position to the market. If a company can’t pay more, a second option is to attract candidates with less overall experience, but with the combined technical skills to learn and grow with the organization. And in return, do everything possible to broaden their skills, keep them challenged and compensated fairly given the market.