The SAP Market Bigger than Ever in 2015
Terry M. Petzold, VP-SAP Recruiting Division, Magee Resource Group
“As we look into the future, boutique consulting firms who offer a product line or specialization for the SAP market are the ones growing”
As we look at 2015, it is clear that the SAP market is again going to be “hot”, and we see this year to be even stronger than last year. Some clear trends are noticeable:
SMB Market Growth
The SMB marketplace is growing as top customers look to SAP as an ERP solution. While larger organizations must have an ERP solution to run their business, smaller to medium-sized companies are grasping the need for a full-scale ERP solution to run their business as well, and SAP is a top-pick to meet the needs of all-sized companies because of its diversified solution offerings.
Permanent Candidate Hiring
The market is speaking: the number of companies implementing or using SAP is at its peak. Companies want people to join their teams, and need to “feel” that a candidate will be a stable employee for many years. But the market is bombarded with consultants at all levels who enjoy the key perks of money and new challenges. They charge a premium for their specialization and have the autonomy to be selective in their projects. Additionally, every new project is a new challenge – something fun, exciting and finite. So as the need for permanent SAP experts grows for end clients, the market is limited in its ability to supply them. There are two fundamental roadblocks: clients won’t pay what consultants are asking for, and SAP projects can lose their challenge over time. It comes down to a few critical issues that clients must face when looking for a great full-time hire: Can we sell a desirable candidate on why they should work here? Are we being competitive enough in our compensation plan to attract talent to our company? Are we offering a long-term challenge, or set of challenges, which would excite someone to work for us?
From a consulting point of view, whether it is an independent consultant, a Big 5 firm or a boutique consulting firm, there is plenty of business to go around. Aside from the oil/gas industry, consultants with 10 or more years of experience, and organizations with a strong record of performance are not having trouble getting business. The trends we noticed in the market years ago toward heavy off-shoring and cost savings have made a full circle back to U.S. based firms and consultants who have proven quality and strong references. As we look into the future, boutique consulting firms who offer a product line or specialization for the SAP market are the ones growing. These firms are typically made-up of SAP experts who have “been there and done that” in the market, so they know what to look for and how to be successful, without the over-charging seen in larger firms.
Quality in the Market
Quality work is an issue in the market, combined with a serious gap of talent. There are senior, high-quality professionals with a perfect mix of technical skills and business acumen to be successful, and there are individuals with the technical knowledge to implement parts of SAP but no business and communication skills to understand the “why” behind the need. Baby boomers are running the SAP show as executives and senior-level professionals with different companies, and they are also the expert consultants making an impact in the market. End clients want to hire these individuals permanently, but it appears a life change is the only thing that will get someone to make the shift from the consulting life to a permanent career.
The current trend for SAP “freshers” (new-skilled professionals) in the market is for a company to silo them into one particular area of expertise. As an example, they might put a configuration analyst or a developer into a specific area, work them for years, and then drop them back into the marketplace if projects slow down. But what clients need in the marketplace are broad-scope skills, not only technically within SAP but also the soft skills found in those people with a background prior to SAP in a certain field (i.e., finance or operations). Interviews for SAP professionals need to move away from the technical, “what’s the t-code to do xxx” to cultural, behavioral-based and scenario-based interviews.
Technology will always be growing and changing, and so will the market that supplies it with people who make the change happen. If we pay attention to what the market tells us, we will be in a better position to help bring about that change more easily and efficiently.
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